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Six steps to securing repeat bookings

14th January 2014
Home | Latest News | Six steps to securing repeat bookings
 

We saw in Where Do Your Bookings Come From? that “repeat bookings” are one of the SuperControl’s top booking sources. There are no smoke and mirrors involved, with the help of these 6 short steps you can make the most of this cost-effective strategy.

1. Be honest and truthful

Being open and honest from the very beginning establishes the foundations of your future relationship. Do photos on your website (and on your listings on other marketing sites) depict your property truthfully? If your photos are 10 years old and everything isn’t quite as new and shiny as it once was, it is better to update them than to provide misleading information to your guests. Doing that leaves you wide open for criticism and little chance of securing repeat bookings. Similarly if you have fitted a new kitchen, redecorated, or replaced that old sofa, take the opportunity to update your photos (and then share links in your newsletters and social media to let your previous guests know about the updates). Is the information on your website up-to-date? Provide what your guests expect you to, and only promise what you know you can deliver. Under-promise and over-deliver.

2. Build a profile

From the moment you receive a booking from a brand new guest, you can start to build a picture of who they are and what they like. Through what channel did they place their booking – on your website, through Facebook, on a marketing website? Did they book well in advance or leave it till last minute? What options and extras did they book – a massage & pamper session, a fishing trip, mountain bike hire? How do they prefer to be contacted? A good management system is an essential tool to help accommodation owners remember the important things – from the names of the guests (yes, even the dog) to dates including birthdays (“We need to get a birthday cake for Saturday, it’s my husbands 50th) and anniversaries (“It’s our twentieth wedding anniversary on the Tuesday, can you recommend a good place to eat?”). Understanding who your guest is – from their buyer behaviour to how they communicate to what ticks their boxes – will help you personalise your messages in the future for better targeting.

3. Ask for feedback

There are lots of reasons why asking your guests for feedback is a good idea (see previous posts), but it is also the most direct route to take to encourage repeat bookings. Guests will come back if you provide everything they require from the holiday accommodation they choose. How do you know what that is? By asking. You can send a stand-alone review request by email to your guest, or build a link into other correspondence taking them to your listing on a verified review site (e.g. UpFront Reviews). Inviting your guests to submit reviews (either publicly or privately) enables you to stay up-to-date with your guests expectations. In our ever-changing world what might have been considered a luxury item two years ago could well be expected to be included as standard today (free WiFi is a great example of this). It is important to stay in the loop. Asking for your guests feedback and then acting on it shows that you care what they think, you value their opinion and want to provide them with the fantastic experience they expect. You want them to come back.

4. Stay in touch

Whether it is through social media, newsletters or emails, find a way to keep in touch that you can maintain. Connect with your guests on social media and look out for posts you can interact with – comments you can reply to, testimonials and photos you can share, +1, like or retweet. Use newsletters to give your previous guests the heads up when there is something new to talk about – a little bit of insider knowledge can not only make people feel very special, it also gives guests a reason to return when you have something new to offer or someone new for them to meet. Lastly, don’t forget the old favourite – sending a personal email is a small gesture but can be very effective in making your guests feel special. Segment your database and be relevant – a good management system will enable you to send specific message to specific groups of people. Remember the guests that hired mountain bikes as an extra? Bet they would love to hear about the new cycle trail that has just opened nearby.

5. Provide incentives

This is where the profile you have built up in number 2 really comes into play. E.g. Look at your guests who left it until last minute to book in the past. What time of year did they visit? Do you have late availability this year that might suit their needs? You could send an email to people that fit a certain profile to optimise occupancy and try to fill those quieter weeks. You could send vouchers providing e.g. a 15% discount if they book a 4 night stay between certain dates you have available. If you have built up a good reputation with a local cookery school or restaurant,  can you run a special offer in conjunction with them? Is there a festival happening that you could , or inform them about a special offers your are offering or loyalty rewards for repeat visitors.

6. Be extraordinary

Make sure that the whole visitor journey – from checking availability, to placing the booking, to communicating important information prior to arrival, to providing everything you promised when they arrive. Be remarkable – go above and beyond, give them something to talk about

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