As a vacation rental owner, you have likely faced many cancellations and a loss of revenue during the past year due to unpredictable travel restrictions and lockdowns. Lost bookings disrupt your business and increase your administrative workload while also leaving you feeling unsure about what the future holds for your vacation rental business. We’ve compiled 7 tips to help you effectively manage cancellations, as well as how you can embrace a loss of bookings even in the most uncertain of times.
Be Understanding of the Current Situation and Offer Flexibility
Flexible cancellation policies are attractive for travelers now more than ever due to the uncertainty surrounding travel. With ever-changing restrictions, a stricter policy may make potential guests feel nervous about booking. Although having a flexible cancellation policy might seem counterintuitive, this may actually benefit you as a vacation rental owner in the long run. Being understanding of the current situation and offering flexibility will encourage guests to choose your accommodation and make it an overall more attractive option.
Tip: With Bookiply, you can choose between a strict, firm, and moderate cancellation policy for all your channels. Check out our blog post to learn how to choose the best policy for you.
Good Communication is King
Communication is key. Therefore, you should always reply to guests quickly and efficiently. This leaves a good first impression. Furthermore, make sure to always check in on guests after their booking and before arrival. This builds trust and helps you form a personal relationship with them.
Building a more personal relationship with your guests from the get-go means they are less likely to cancel their reservation, or if they must, they are more likely to consider your accommodation in the future. By communicating with them directly, you may also encourage them to rebook for a different date instead of cancelling altogether.
Tip: Go that extra mile and personalize all your messages to your guests. Be sure to always communicate in a friendly and welcoming tone. If you are short on time, you can schedule these messages in advance.
An Updated Calendar is Your Key to Success
Keep your vacation rental calendar up-to-date to avoid double bookings for the same period. Of course, this can be done manually, but there is always the risk that you may forget to add a new booking during busy times. If you end up having overlapping bookings, you will have to cancel one of your guest’s reservations. This may leave them frustrated, and, likely, they won’t want to book with you again or recommend your property to a friend.
Tip: We highly recommend working with a channel manager to ensure that your calendar is always up-to-date. At Bookiply, we offer homeowners a synchronized calendar across all channels that is automatically updated. This saves you having to worry about double bookings and that extra manual work.
Don’t Be Shy About Your House Rules
Provide clarity on your house rules from the very start. Is smoking forbidden? Or hosting events not allowed? Don’t shy away from including this in your listing. Omitting key information or rules to make your property seem more attractive will only lead to dissatisfied guests and potential cancellations. Being clear about your rules and regulations before a guest makes a booking will benefit you both in the long run.
Tip: Define your house rules from the very start. Be clear on every point and have them displayed in your description text. Additionally, you can display these in your rental using our free house rules poster.
Let Your Guests Know They’re in Safe Hands
Most travelers cancelling holidays at the moment are doing so due to restrictions or because they feel unsafe. Make sure that you are following all correct cleaning procedures to fight Covid-19. Make your guests aware in advance of the sanitation measures you are taking and ensure them that you are doing everything you can to make them feel safe in your vacation rental.
Tip: Advertise your cleaning measures in your description text to encourage guests to book their stay with you. If you offer complimentary products in your rental, such as hand sanitizer or masks, mention this too.
A Good Channel Manager and Customer Service Team Make Life a Lot Easier
Working with a channel manager will make your life as a vacation rental owner significantly easier. Not only will you be present on more channels, gain more visibility, and have synchronized calendars, but it will also lighten your administrative workload. Cancellations can be a complex topic, and a good channel manager with a customer service team can simplify the whole process for you.
For example, our customer service team at Bookiply facilitates multilingual communication between homeowners and travelers and assists in the cancellation process. Whether it be a cancellation made by the traveler or by the host, our customer service team will clarify the reasons, explain the conditions to both sides, and help ensure an overall smooth process. If any tricky or unwarranted situations arise, they are at your side to advise you in the best way possible.
Tip: Leave the administration work to your channel manager and enjoy more time to focus on connecting with your guests and providing a memorable experience. Working with a channel manager takes away any extra stress and gives you peace of mind knowing your vacation rental is in good hands.
Embrace Your Cancellations and Know That Things Will Get Better
It may be hard to see the positives in cancelled reservations and loss of revenue during challenging times. However, we advise you to embrace these difficult moments and see them as an opportunity to grow and optimize your vacation rental business. Although you may have lost a booking, it has also allowed you to connect with guests and increase your visibility. Reservations mean your property is attractive to channels, and this may improve its ranking in the future.
Make the most of your cancellations! Reach out to guests and offer them the possibility to book with you again. Cancellations can be difficult for both parties, so being understanding and respectful of the situation is always the best way to go.
Tip: If you have to cancel a guest’s booking, be sure to do so as soon as possible. Be apologetic and offer them the chance to book for another time. This will help maintain a good relationship between you and your guests and may even help secure future bookings.