What one change have you seen have the biggest impact on reservation frequency/duration. Good or bad!

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  • Hello Steven,

    I can do a list for what I've experienced so far.

    Good and extremely good:
    - 40% off BDC Deal of the Day
    - no credit card required for last minute bookings
    - no deposit required, ever
    - non-refundable rates with a good discount
    - rates without breakfast
    - classified ads

    What went wrong or was utterly horrible:
    - social media promotions, bunch of money wasted for nothing
    - no credit card required for bookings
    - no clear cancellation policies
    - guests not confirming arrival times
    - letting guests book directly after they've booked and cancelled through an online channel. This can go so horribly wrong when he scams the hotel and channel.

    Hope these help,
    Zsolt - www.thuild.com

  • Avatar
    Pita Lie

    Hi Steven

    Know your own niche and your customers. Every place has different niche and customers and what work for others might work or not work for you. Spend time with your customers and talk with them so you know what they want and what they do not like. 

    We have very strict policy of non refundable and full deposit and we are perfectly fine with our booking. We rely on social media promotions as our niche is youngsters with age range between 18 - 25 years old that use socmed and we have more bookings than other places with similar niches in our area. So know your own strength and weaknesses are the key. Sell things what your customers want not what you want. 

  • Avatar
    Leandri Klopper

    Hi Steven,

    Zsolt makes a fair amount of Excellent points that I agree with. 

    Pita Lie  says it right, it will depend on what type of property you have, who is working for you, how large the property is etc. For instance Arrival times has very little impact on me but it impacts Zsolt or partners who have Guesthouses/B&B's. We have security guards at the gate that can assist 24/7 but we prefer that the clients make arrangements if they will be too late to catch the Check In time.

    Ons Major change:

    As our property has many chalets and have several clubs/platforms booking for the same resort it's not wise for us to accept bookings without credit cards on the day of check in. So I've made the "smart choice" by disabling the option for our guests to make a reservation without a Credit card thinking that this will make getting payment and cancelling false bookings much easier. WOW Did I experience a Massive decrease in bookings. And what I noticed was that some of the bookings coming through with a card is also not 100% solid, even though it is much easier to cancel it if it was made with a credit card.

    Needless to say ...I will be righting my wrong soon, enabling 'no card required' bookings and returning to my old ways with my tail between my legs. At least I've learnt a Very nifty procedure that Booking.com has in place for us to cancel such bookings should we not get payment. 

    All in a day's work. 

    Keep well all!

  • Avatar
    Bandara Hotels & Resorts

    very interesting topic.

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    Sara Jarvis

    I have had more bookings since giving a discount to single travelers.

  • Avatar
    SaKats

    I rent a villa in a very touristic area in Greece with very high competition from other similar properties in the area.

    What I have noticed from experience or from my guests comments that has given me an advantage over the competition is first of all professional photos and having hired a decorator and choosing the most special artistic photo for the profile.

    If you see my property in booking.com listings among all other similar properties in the area, it will stick out. It's not the usual photo of a swimming pool or sun terrace or stone house that are like a dime a dozen.

    Secondly offering for at least 3 months before, a big discount to guests who stay for at least 5 days (not in the high season of August). Most owners near here only offer at last minute or at most a month before these offers. 

    Thirdly not allowing anymore last minute or local area bookings without credit card has saved me a lot of trouble with no shows.

    With the booking.com programms I have noticed that leaving the Genius program has improved the quality of my guests and joining the PPP I can't overstate how much it has helped even after elevating the price to compensate for the 20% commision.

    If you are a small businness owner my advice is to have a photo as your main to stick out among the crowd. Even if it's a simple beautiful photo of let's say a pink hat in the sun lol. Guests have been browsing all the listings with all similar appearances and grow apathetic at some point, you want them to click on your property  even out of curiosity. Grab the attention. :)

  • Avatar
    Laura, Community Manager

    Thanks for sharing these tips SaKats! We have thread going on about professional photography that you might like.

    And do feel free to share photos of your property - the community would love to see them! :)

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    M Adamopoulou

    Sakats you have a point about pictures. I have a picture of a little lamb and my guest are very anxious to have a look as soon as they arrive!!!

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    cassid

    I just recently did the rates without breakfast.

    It came from around 10 guests who ate like locusts. They all sat down for about 2 hours and ate amounts I did not think was humanely possible,

    I am doing this many years and I never limit breakfast, I would even do up packs for guests on red eyes. We are extremely generous with what we provide. 

    But after I had 2 guests who got bags and emptied every cereal container, took 2 fresh loaves of bread, 4 new tins of coffee, 8 yogurts, 3 types of cheese, 3 packs of smoked/regular ham, bowl of fresh fruit, 8 chocolate croissants and 8 brioche, 3 packs of crackers, 2 packs of rice cakes, 3 different types of tea, 4 different jars of chocolate spread, 30 packs of jams, 30 packs of butter and I think it was 8 homemade scones and homemade chocolate/walnut cake (the whole thing ). After this fabulous mother and son, I have just stopped breakfast, if you want it, now you pay for it. Am still a tad annoyed by these pair, they paid 40 a night ( price was incorrect but I accepted as am a nice host) They also took all the tea/coffee out of their rooms. 

    It was an eye opener and I don't give free food anything anymore, except for  complimentary tray in the rooms

     

  • Avatar
    Katerinka12

    Wow, amazing. Did they also bring home toilet paper and towels?

    That's why I believe that every additional service must have a charge. Then people understand those rates with or without breakfast.

    And something from my own experience, when I was a Guest. Housekeeping even approached me, if I would like more free toiletries? It means I will pay, and they will load me with everything they have. What does it mean? No supervision.

    And I experienced that when the happy hour is not finished yet, the staff will not give you wine and even food. Different kinds of excuses. Too much of supervision. 

    All those situations happened in 5 star hotels and were generously paid. In second case, I stayed for 1 month and paid for lounge, not to mention other things.

    And I am very sorry to say... It's just telling you my experiences, not to blame anyone, but the worth review in my hosting life I got from "mother +son"...

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    Katerinka12

    30 packs of jams and 30 packs of butter? Wow. They definitely took advantage of you.

    If you combine all those things were stolen, how much is this?

  • Avatar
    SaKats

    I am surprised they didnt even steal the plates and the forks while they were at it. Amazing 

    Unfortunately as Katerinka said when something is free people take advantage of it with no consideration.

  • Avatar
    Leandri Klopper

    cassid ,

    Wow, sorry that happened to you! Thanks for sharing though. It really makes me think of vultures. Still picking the bones clean after they are full. Makes me think of another small change I've picked up on...

    So the new change is not influencing bookings dramatically but I can see the reaction. Our one resort normally had a smallish Key and Breakage deposit which we have increased to a signigicantly higher amount. This was due to more and more incidents occuring where guests behave badly and then refuse to cough up the money to repair the damages. 

    So far I get a lot of Cancellation requests After I have processed the payment and sent them the confirmation letter where the amount for the deposit is shown. Their reactions are astounding! And all I can tell them is that, if they don't break anything then they get it back. It's a deposit. I'm not talking about breaking a drinking glass or a plate, I advise them that should they not burn the place down and dance on the smoldering ashes, they will get their money back (perhaps not so dramatic but it needs to be a Severely and Blatantly disrespectful action that will prompt us to keep the deposit). 

    I have it on the Fine Print (I realised no one really reads it considering the reactions I get from the guests), but my new Reservation Process now included asking the guest if they saw the amount of the key and breakage deposit Before we proceed with payment. 

    Very nice Topic Stevenrudge 

  • Avatar
    Adagio Accommodation - Nera

    At my apartment guests took away hair drier, iron (twice) coffe maker . . Bad experience

  • Avatar
    Weigelt

    There's an inverse relationship between minimum stay and the total number of guests who book.  If you need more money and don't mind more work, ;make your minimum stay one night.  If you don't need so much money or work, make it a three night minimum.

  • Avatar
    Jonathan

    A big boost for us has been to allow small indoor animals. Yes, people take advantage and their opinion of what small is may differ to what I perceive small to be. Yes, there is a bit more cleaning to do (mainly animal hair) but really there is no trace that a dog or a cat has resided in the room.

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    Weigelt

    SaKats (above) wrote about the value of the PPP program.  Not sure what that is.  Can someone explain, please?

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    Leandri Klopper

    Hey Weigelt 

    All you need to know about the Preferred partner programme <- there is a nice article for you to read about it. 

    And here is a thread: Preferred Partner Programme which might prove interesting to continue your thoughts. .

    Let's not hijack this post :-P

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    Sara Jarvis

    Wow Cassie that’s theft.Im stunned, only had 4 matching cushions stolen so far but why??????they were a set of 6.

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    Zoinks

    Sara - what do you mean why? 4 cushions make a set :-) I'm sorry for the theft I've had some things taken too and some of the thefts leave me asking myself ' why'  like you asked. 

    I read somewhere that it is good to leave something for guests to steal (some shampoo and shower gel etc) because some people want to get their money's worth and it is their way of ensuring that they got their value for money. 

    Sad.... I know :-( 

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    Zoinks

    Leandri Klopper I used to regularly have the problem of guests not knowing about the security deposit.  Now I send a reminder about the security deposit on the day they are due to arrive. I have a template set up and it goes out automatically. I find now that very few guests 'do not know' about the deposit. I still get the occasional ones who tell me they have no cash and I point them to the ATM some metres away from my place. 

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    Sara Jarvis

    Joey I provide high end toiletries for all guests and expect them to take them home, but since I stopped putting them in a gift basket most people do not even use them.The nice me that gave everyone a little gift basket gave up....however I buy a gift for nice guests who are really a pleasure, I gave a tin of short bread in a London bus to a girl recently she was delighted.......I’m sick of offering wine or beer to people who do not drink....it’s a minefield....easier with return guests.....2 Americans went to Harry and Meghansvwedding and forget their souvenirs which I have kept for their next trip in December.whats the funniest thing you all have had left behind by a guest?

  • Avatar
    Zoinks

    Sara I had to Google Harry and Meghan :-)  As regards toiletries I provide branded shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, sun block, after sun etc. Strangely enough those are not taken! But I had towels taken (I suppose that is ' normal'). One guest took 3 picture frames. One girl kept asking me for knives and none came back. A couple of girls stole a hard drive from the bedroom (I have hard disks connected to a media players so apart from internet TV there are also a hundred or so all time favourite films.)

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    Katerinka12

    "Now I send a reminder about the security deposit on the day they are due to arrive."

    Is it also in your listing? Fine print? Do guests complain about the time of the notice, which is the due date to arrive? Meaning cancelation is not possible?

    Sara, it is so nice of you to provide high end toiletries as I understand your place is not 5 stars. I keep all those memories in form of toiletries from 5 stars hotels, but life goes on. I never came back to those places with exception of chain hotels.

    Joey uses the same word as my caretaker - "normal". She says its normal to steal towels. That's after I bought luxury towels.

    I think towels are just so easy to steal. They don't need much space,it's easy to find even into ladies purse. They are not too expensive for many people. If you will tell to police that your towels worth of 100 euros, they will not understand. Also, there is very easy escape. If caught, guest will say: oh, I took it by mistake. I brought my towels too. I thought it was mine.

    What do you think of putting an embroidery with your hotel name? Do you think it will prevent theft?

  • Avatar
    Zoinks

    Katerinka - I am talking about the damage deposit. I take it as cash and give it back as cash. Unfortunately booking.com offers me 2 options either to send the automated message when they book or on the day of their arrival. I used to send it on the day of their booking but I thought that it looked sort of ugly to send such a message the moment they book so recently started sending it on the day they were due to arrive. Yes it is in the fine print.

    Regarding towels - just after writing the post I had the same thought as you - adding some embroidery or some sort of sign. But then I thought - why would that stop people from stealing towels? And going to the police because of a towel after the guests have left the country? What can the police do? 

    Edit: I don't have any 100 euro towels. Didn't know such things existed :-) The most I will spend on a towel is Euro 20.

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    Katerinka12

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. We are working now on policies, so please expect many questions from me :)

    Putting an embroidery will not stop stealing but somehow can minimize that? Would anyone enjoy to worry of being caught with carrying someone else's towels just because there is a name on it, which already a proof that this item belongs to someone else.

    And how about branding? Being professional? Embroidery doesn't cost much...

  • Avatar
    Zoinks

    What if some nice embroidered logo has the opposite effect  and makes guests want to take the towel as a souvenir. ? :-P 

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    Katerinka12

    Nice thought! The bottom line is.. If they want to steal, they will steal

  • Avatar
    Leandri Klopper

    Hi Joey ,

    lol well done. Yeh, we literally have ATM's on some of our resorts and the clients still refuse sometimes. But then it's very easy, if you refuse to pay then we refuse that you stay. 

    I would like to throw my towel-opion in here. All of our resorts have branded towels. At the security gate the guards sometimes do spot checks, and it will be very clear to see if the guest took one of our towels. Yes, sometimes the one car that the guards didn't check will have taken a towel but you buy it in bulk. So then it's not that expense. (Keep in mind, I'm talking from the point of view of large resorts). 

    Keep well!

  • Not sure how much your towels cost, but I never had a single one stolen before. Hope to keep it like this.

    Actually, we only had a USB charger stolen once, that's all in the almost 2 years since we function.

    Guests left more here than the value of that USB charger :)

    My towels are of a premium quality and I got them really cheap because I also bought them bulk and directly from the source, so a big 140x70 cm towel cost us $6. 

    However, I do provide the guests with 25 toiletries and accessories (mostly accessories). So they have about everything they would need. Only twice it happened that someone took all of it. These are all included in the price so it seems that my guests don't like taking things.

    Cheers,

    Zsolt - www.thuild.com

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