Did you know?
As per Google, in the past 5 years searches for ‘stay today and tonight’ have grown by 519%!
That’s why hoteliers these days are promoting last-minute bookings among their guests. If you want to know more about them, you are in the right place.
In this blog, I will guide you on…
What are last-minute bookings?
Room reservations made at the last hour or prior to the hotels’ day end process are coined as last-minute bookings.
Achieving 100% occupancy is essential yet a crucial process for hoteliers, and last-minute bookings are what save them from such unbearable losses.
Business professionals or leisure travelers have spontaneous travel plans. Hence, they book hotels at the last hour.
As per an article published by Peek,
44% of leisure travelers and 56% of business travelers chose to opt for last-minute bookings.
Last-minute bookings are beneficial for both guests as well as hotels. It’s an opportunity for your guests to book rooms at a lower price, and for the hoteliers to maximise their occupancy.
How can hotels increase last-minute bookings?
Last-minute bookings are fruitful for hotels. Here are some strategies to increase last-minute bookings.
1. Market last-minute offers on OTAs and other platforms
OTAs and websites are one of the best online platforms to source bookings at your property. Here are some intriguing statistics shared by Condor Ferries,
An average of 148.3 million hotel bookings were made every year (Before the pandemic). Out of these, 82% of bookings were made online on OTA apps and hotels websites.
Going by these figures, you can realise the importance of having an online presence. So, I would recommend running some last-minute offers and promoting them across online booking platforms.
For OTAs, you can connect with your property’s account manager or business development officer, and ask them to activate last-minute offers. Most of these platforms have various deals on payment methods like credit cards, debit cards, and net banking.
On clubbing last-minute offers with those deals, guests get a captivating discount that makes them book a room at your hotel.
You need to implement these offers on your website also. There are various ways to do this, such as coupon codes, flat discounts on tariffs, or cashback on specific modes of payment.
But, don’t forget to update the offer’s end date on OTAs, as well as your hotel’s website.
2. Promote offers to the target audience
One of the important rules while deploying any last-minute marketing strategy is determining your target audience and pitching them the right deals.
You can use data analytics to understand your guests’ booking patterns and filter out the ones who have made maximum last-minute bookings.
Most of the target audiences are millennials and GenZ. Apart from them, check for your corporate guests; they have client meetings on the spur of the moment.
3. Create mobile-booking offers
Smartphones have indeed made our lives easier. With multiple hotel booking applications available for android and iOS devices, one can easily reserve a room at a property within minutes.
As per the infographics share by Condor Ferries,
72% of last-minute bookings are made on mobile within 48 hours of Google search.
That’s definitely a big percentage. You can facilitate bookings by creating app-only offers. However, this is only applicable to OTAs and your brand’s mobile application.
Alternatively, you can run this offer on your website. But ensure your website is mobile-optimised and gives a smooth user experience while making a reservation.
4. Dynamic pricing is the solution
Another way to increase last-minute bookings is through dynamic pricing. You might be aware of how the flight prices keep on increasing during the last hour. That’s an example of dynamic pricing.
For hotels, it would work in the opposite way. If you need to achieve 100% occupancy but have a couple of saleable rooms left, you can slash down the tariff for that day.
However, avoid a prolonged use of this last-minute marketing strategy, or else it would result in a catastrophic situation.
5. Introduce short-stay rates
Travelers visiting the town for a day or having early morning flights look for a hotel to freshen up and relax.
They do have some options such as airport lounges, transit hotels, or low-budget lodges. Hotels can be an alternative choice, but a majority of them need to be booked for a day.
This is where you can introduce short-stay rates. You can go with a day-use tariff for such guests.
Alternatively, you can also introduce special tariffs for guests having late check-ins.
6. Do not miss long weekends
Working professionals, families, students or a group of friends often plan for a weekend getaway.
As a hotelier, this is a great opportunity for you to increase last-minute bookings at your property. You can simply reduce your cut-off period and create some weekend combo offers on several room types.
Once you create the deals, start promoting them at least 2 weeks in advance. You can market these offers as exclusive deals for loyalty program members.
7. Get registered on last-minute booking websites
There are various websites that specialise in last-minute bookings. Similar to OTAs, they deal in every hospitality business. Some of the known ones are:
If your property is not listed on these websites, register NOW.
8. Don’t forget travel agents
Travel agents often have enquiries for spontaneous group bookings or an event where there is a sudden rush of guests. In case you have saleable rooms on any day, try connecting with travel agents.
If they have a quick booking available for that particular day, you can share your best offer and seize the opportunity.
9. Invest in revenue management services
If you are struggling with what kind of deals to rollout, you can hire a revenue management service provider.
They would make a thorough analysis of your property’s traits, guests’ booking patterns, and other such factors. On the basis of an audit report, they will guide you on the best offers to create without risking your revenue generation.
What are the implications of last-minute booking?
Last-minute bookings are profitable for hotels. Yet, they have certain backdrops. One of the negative impacts is that many of your guests wait for such discounts.
This creates an unnecessary surge in last-minute bookings, which in the long run can result in a loss of revenue. Apart from this, the hospitality industry saw a major drop in advanced bookings, which raised concern among hoteliers.
In fact, many guests cancel their existing reservations to create a new booking at subsequently lower rates. This is yet another backdrop of last-minute bookings.
As they say, ‘unplanned journeys give the best memories’. I do agree with this point. However, one problem with these kinds of trips is booking hotels.
The hospitality industry introduced last-minute bookings for such guests. Indeed, with this concept hotels saw an upsurge in reservations.
Travelers are now opting to book properties on the go. In this blog, I’ve mentioned various strategies to increase last-minute bookings at your hotel.
It’s time to implement them at your property and see the results yourself.