Practical tips for dealing with last-minute cancellations and bookings

Tips for dealing with last-minute cancellations and bookings

Although a growing majority of travelers tend to book accommodation well in advance, a vacation rental business will never be free of last-minute bookings and cancellations. For hosts, these situations can come at the most inopportune time and throw in booking plans. That’s why preparing to handle them in the best possible way is vital if you want to avoid losses and gain peace of mind.

Join us in analyzing the factors that boost both booking cancellations and last-minute cancellations to get ahead of them and learn in depth the tips and strategies that will help you deal with those that do occur.

Last-minute cancellations: how to manage and avoid them in the future

Gaps in your booking calendar, especially at times like peak season, state holidays, and vacations is not a good thing mainly because it can mean a financial loss and will increase the difficulty of finding new potential customers.

 Itis essential to set cancellation policies that will protect you as a host and prevent loss of revenue. The first step is to choose a cancellation policy that suits your needs and gives you leeway in case the guest chooses to cancel the reservation at the last minute.

Let’s look at some effective strategies to avoid unexpected cancellations.

A flexible cancellation policy is more attractive to travelers

When it comes to making a reservation or choosing one vacation rental over another, a vast majority of travelers (as this analysis by Expedia shows) prefer accommodations with a flexible cancellation policy. Ads that are offered with this type of policy also receive more views and an increased occupancy rate.

A flexible cancellation, therefore, encourages travelers to book the accommodation while protecting you from last-minute cancellations, as you will receive a percentage of the final price or the full price of the booking, depending on how far in advance the guest has given notice.

Be as clear and transparent as possible in the ads and communications

The cancellation policy you choose should be clear, especially regarding cancellation fees. Whether in advertisements on rental platforms, communications you have with guests, the Guest Guide, or house rules, information regarding cancellation fees and refund policies should be easy to understand and transparent.

Communicate with guests

An important aspect that can make the difference between a good experience and a bad one is how you treat your guests. Making sure they feel cared for and knowing how their travel plans are going will help you know if there may be a last-minute cancellation.

If the reservation was made a long time ago, it is normal for travelers to have forgotten some details. A good strategy is to send automatic reminders from time to time, and then personalized reminders as the arrival date approaches.

This way, your guests will feel more cared for, and will prevent them from considering canceling the reservation.

Adjust the “instant booking” option on OTAs

Although accepting instant bookings has many advantages, you should consider whether it might be the best fit for your vacation rental. Many travelers take advantage of the instant booking option to book without thinking too much about it, since it will be very easy to cancel later if they have found a more attractive accommodation or if they have changed their destination.

Although the main advantage of allowing immediate bookings is to get more direct bookings, the risk of cancellation is higher. Therefore, if you have had a bad experience in the past due to these impulsive cancellations, you may be better off accepting bookings manually, as it will give you room to assess the profiles of the guests and whether the booking is worthwhile.

These strategies will allow you to protect yourself from unexpected cancellations, or at least reduce them. For more details and tips on cancellation policies, see our guide for more information.

Managing last-minute bookings

At the same time, the opposite may be true: you may receive last-minute bookings. Last-minute bookings are always welcome, especially if you’ve had a cancellation or have a gap in your calendar that you still need to fill. To attract and manage them most effectively and encourage them, you can put these tricks into action.

Promote rates and offers

Before setting a last-minute rate, analyze historical demand and seasonality. In periods of low occupancy, offer reduced rates to attract more bookings. In periods of high demand, consider increasing rates to maximize revenue.

It is important to define on which platforms you will offer last-minute deals. You can choose to promote them only on your website to encourage direct bookings without third-party commissions, or also on OTAs to increase visibility.

You can also target last-minute offers to different customer segments by using email marketing to contact recurring and loyal customers or paid advertising campaigns on Google or social media to attract new guests.

Facilitate the booking and check-in process

Make sure your booking system is accessible and easy to use from mobile devices. Many travelers make last-minute bookings while traveling, so a smooth and intuitive user experience is crucial.

One way to save time is to allow guests to register their details before arrival to streamline the check-in process, which will decrease the waiting process.

Service differentiation

Offer different levels of service between basic and last-minute rates. For example, last-minute rates may exclude certain additional services such as meals or access to premium facilities, thus justifying the price difference.

Ask guests

Getting feedback from travelers will help you improve the last-minute booking experience. Implement improvements based on suggestions and feedback to increase guest satisfaction, such as inviting them to write reviews after they have checked out.

Don’t let last-minute cancellations and bookings affect your vacation rental business 

As we have seen, poor management can lead to complications in your vacation rental business. The best way, in addition to the above tips, to get better results and make sure your business is in good hands is to use a channel manager like Smoobu. The 14-day free trial is the best way to discover all the advantages it offers, sign up now!

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