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Ways to Reduce No Shows at Your Hotel

Julie Frost
March 8, 2024

You cleaned the room, washed linens, and prepared a free wine bottle, and the guest didn't show up. This is inconvenient during a slow night, but it's nearly disastrous when you're booked all weekend and could have sold that room, plus food, amenities, and add-ons, to another guest.

Cancellations are inevitable, but no-shows strain your finances because you miss the chance to find another lodger. They also decrease customer satisfaction. Imagine how happy an exhausted traveler would've been if they found a last-minute vacancy at your business.

Reducing hotel no-shows can increase sales, maximize vacancies, and impress guests with your quick-thinking skills. This month's vacation didn't work out, but you made canceling so convenient that they'll consider you again.

Charge Cancellation Fees

Fees and Charges

Cash is an important factor as you learn how to reduce hotel no-shows. Trips are already expensive, and vacationers look for ways to save. They're less likely to disappear if they pay a fee for a room they didn't use.

Some businesses use a tiered structure, such as:

  1. No fee if you cancel at least 24 hours before your stay
  2. $25 if you cancel within 24 hours
  3. $50 if you cancel within 12 hours

Make sure you emphasize this policy on the booking page. A guaranteed charge will reduce no-shows more than a vague mention.

Require Deposits

Deposits are up-front fees that guests pay when they choose a room. You'll incorporate the deposit into the room price or return the money when they leave. If they don't show up, you keep the money, creating an incentive to keep the date.

Guests may hesitate to pay deposits, but getting their money back is better than paying a cancellation charge. Plus, they'll feel like responsible adults who keep their commitments. Learn how to get more direct bookings to set up deposits and eliminate commission fees.

Encourage Advance Booking

Boooking Hotel online

Lodgers will accept non-refundable bookings if you add incentives, such as upgrades, discounts, or free food. You'll have an organized schedule, and they'll look forward to vacationing in a month or two. Just emphasize the "non-refundable" part--they can still cancel but won't get their money back.

For more sales, offer packages with flights, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Bundles are harder to cancel because they involve multiple businesses. Plus, you'll increase customer satisfaction by adding a package discount.

Outline your Cancellation Policy

Now that you've decided how to reduce hotel no-shows, share your cancellation policy on your website and app. Make your policy clear, readable, and easy to find so guests know what to expect. Consider mentioning the policy in reminder emails--while you don't want to encourage cancellations, you'd prefer a call ahead over a guest "forgetting" to arrive.

Send Reminders

People looking at their hotel reminder

It's hard to believe, but if someone's having a stressful month, they could forget their trip or think they canceled already. Email reminders refresh their memory, giving them time to get ready or change their booking. You can also subtly advertise your hotel's features, such as:

  1. Nearby attractions
  2. In-house amenities
  3. Current holiday season
  4. Free food and drinks
  5. Clean rooms and facilities
  6. Complimentary WiFi
  7. Friendly, attentive staff

Your guest reads the email and starts imagining a relaxing vacation with poolside drinks. They were thinking about canceling, but they decided to treat themselves. A single email eliminated a no-show, thanks to your clever marketing. If they do change their mind, your reminder encourages them to cancel early, creating vacancies for other lodgers.

Make Cancelling Easy

Cancel button in a keyboard

Easy cancellation sounds counterintuitive, but it increases your bookings. When travelers can't figure out how to cancel, they give up and leave you with an unused room. If they could've changed their visit, another visitor would've bought the room, and the first traveler might've returned on another weekend.

Fast cancellation also builds customer trust. Have you ever heard someone complain about their gym making it nearly impossible to end their subscription? The gym enjoys short-term profits but drives away guests with negative word-of-mouth. Lost subscribers might have returned later if the gym made leaving easier.

To streamline cancellation, make the instructions clear and easy to find on your website. Highlight fees so that they don't catch travelers off guard. Allow clients to adjust, upgrade, and remove their bookings online and through your app, showing guests that you prioritize their convenience over immediate profits.

Appreciate Your Guests

Great customer service is the key to just about everything, including reducing no-shows. Imagine how you'd feel in this scenario:

  1. You book a room through the hotel's app or website. The site is clean, informational, and easy to navigate, allowing you to check out in seconds.
  2. Excitement grows when the hotel sends you a reminder email. They discuss the hotel's features and emphasize their anticipation for your arrival.
  3. The lobby is clean and quiet when you check-in. Friendly, cheerful staff members surprise you with a gift before you relax in a spotless room with free WiFi.
  4. When you need help, staff responds within minutes. In-house amenities like the restaurant and spa offer the same professionalism.
  5. You quickly check out in the morning and smile when you receive a thank-you email. The hotel truly understood your personal needs!

A near-perfect experience makes travelers choose you for their next visit. They're less likely to cancel, and if they do, they'll probably cancel ahead because they appreciate your time.

Boost Your Profile

Positioning yourself as an industry leader can reduce no-shows. Travelers see you as a dedicated, legitimate business and respect your professionalism. Bridgetown Revenue Management Solutions' hotel revenue management services make you the first choice for businesses, event directors, and vacationers in your region.

Reach out today to discuss your business. Where are you succeeding? Which elements need improvement? Where do you want to be a year from now? We'll develop a customized plan that increases your visibility, organizes your internal structure, and multiplies your revenue.