Hotel Booking Follow-Up: Why Should You Invest in This Sales Strategy?

Dec 6, 2021 | Revenue Management | Reading Time: 13 minutes

Does your hotel reach out to potential guests that contacted you but didn’t book a room at your hotel? Have you ever wondered why they didn’t follow through with the reservation and how it can impact your revenue?

Follow-ups are a well-known strategy in sales. However, as it is a concept frequently used with B2B (Business to Business) negotiations, many hoteliers simply do not invest in it.

This can be a huge mistake. After all, when we talk about reservations, we are talking about complex sales, where the purchase is not always made in the first contact between customer and company. Often, leads (i.e. potential guests) have many concerns in mind and tend to get lost in the infinitude of hotel options.

There are several factors that make booking a hotel a complex decision such as :

  • Depending on other people to help make the decision
  • Checking the budget to see what is within their reach
  • Evaluating the options based on the property and amenities

That is why it is important that the hotel takes the initiative by contacting and following up with potential guests throughout the entire booking process. This truly increases the chances of successfully converting more bookings.

Contrary to what many people think, follow-up is not a synonym of being insistent and boring. Businesses — in our case, hotels — must get rid of that image of being “pushy” with bookings.

It’s also critical that hotels develop new ways of approaching potential guests. Using the old strategy of “just checking if they’ve been able to take a look at the proposal” is not the road to take anymore.

There are more effective ways to keep in touch with potential guests and persuade them to book with you.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • Sales follow-up
  • The main reasons travelers abandon reservations
  • A step-by-step guide to applying the follow-up strategy in different channels

Enjoy the reading!

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What are Follow-Ups?

In the sales context (in our case, we are talking about reservations), follow-up means taking actions after a contact or proposal presentation to make the lead advance in the booking process.

This strategy aims to:

  • Shorten the booking cycle
  • Reduce the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), optimizing the business’ results.

A follow-up can also be applied when the guest or future guest has given up on making the reservation and abandoned the online booking process. When this happens, a salesperson should try to contact that lead to find out what happened.

More often than you might think, a well-done follow-up strategy can revert these cases and convince the lead to proceed with the reservation.

As hotels have been embracing new technologies, follow-up becomes even more important. Nowadays most part of the booking process (if not all of it) is performed by the potential guests themselves, with no help from any salesperson or hotel employee.

That means it is easier for the customers to walk away from the process at any time before completing the booking. In other words, to “abandon the hotel cart”.

🎧 In this episode of the Hotel Cast Podcast, we chat with Jutta Moore about the role of commissions in Hotel Sales. Jutta shares the best practices in Sales that help your hotel sell more. Listen here:

Why Are Guests Abandoning Reservations?

There are many reasons why a person would abandon a cart during a reservation that has nothing to do with your website or your strategy. 

But let’s start by focusing on online reservations and what you can control – your website navigation. There are some things that leads can find annoying and will push them out of your website.

If the booking process is too complicated, your potential guests will end up searching for easier and safer ways of doing it elsewhere. 

Here are of interesting stats:

  •  9% of clients leave carts when they find the check-out confusing or too difficult.
  •  Around 15% of customers have concerns about paying online and for that reason, they also abandon the cart.
  • 22% of customers find it irritating having to create a new account for booking a room or buying an upsell.

These numbers were taken from the research conducted by Barilliance. They represent the most common reasons why online visitors don’t conclude online transactions. The good news is that these problems can be easily fixed.

The first tip is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. This means you should try the buyer cycle on your website. That way you will be able to check if the booking process is running smoothly.  

The second tip is about online payment. As travelers are insecure about putting their sensitive data on different websites, you should let your future guest know what you are doing to secure the payment process.

For instance, is your payment page opening up in another tab? If so, you can fix this by making a redirect from the previous page to build up your guest’s trust in your website, and your payment system.

Having to create a new account can be annoying for some people. If you think that this is a hurdle, you can ask your hotel’s development team to add the “sign in with Google’’ option.

These are a few quick fixes that can apply now and that will have a great impact on your online bookings. No more empty carts for small reasons.This means less abandoned carts and more completed bookings.

follow-up hotel booking - empty cart

How Does a Unified Service in Different Channels Impact Hotel Conversions?

In its 2020 retail report, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience jumped from 20% in 2012 surveys to more than 80% in 2020.

The Experience Impact report, released by Merkle in 2019, states that 66% of consumers indicated that they care more about the experience than the price of the product or service.

This data makes clear the urgency for brands and suppliers to implement an omnichannel strategy to take advantage of its limitless opportunities.

What Is Omnichannel Customer Service?

In the hotel industry, an omnichannel approach is a strategy that seeks to provide guests with a seamless experience, whether they are booking through an online platform (using a desktop or mobile device), over the phone, offline, or through any other channel used by the company.

The most important point is the integration between the multiple channels. This creates a sense of continuity for the consumer as they can use and m

It’s not just about reaching as many people as possible through individual channels. it’s about understanding your ideal guest’s online behavior and increasing the visibility of your brand in the different channels..

Are you having problems organizing guests’ data and knowing your audience better? Fill out this free template with the information about your potential and existing guests. By analyzing this data, you will be able to build your Ideal Guest profile:

Checklist Ideal Guest

In other words, omnichannel is a strategy that offers the potential guest an integrated experience. This integration must exist between the distribution, promotion, communication, and follow-up channels.

The full integration between channels also helps prevent the “leakage” of leads – i.e. when you lose a potential guest while exchanging the service channel. Most of the time, when customers need to change channels, they have to repeat themselves causing great frustration. And making them leave.

If you provide omnichannel customer service, allowing your staff to have control and access to previous conversations taken between your hotel and customers, they have no more excuse to leave you talking alone! 

How to Improve Your Hotel Revenue With a Follow-Up Strategy

follow-up hotel booking strategy

Ok, so we’ve established follow-up is an important Sales strategy. But many hotels and professionals don’t know how to do it. There are several techniques for persuading the potential guest and making advances towards a follow-up hotel booking.

However, it’s not a “one size fits all ” recipe. Which technique is best depends on the characteristics of the business and the type of lead.

It’s worth testing them and seeing what works best in each case. But it only makes sense if there’s planning and repetition. If you use the follow-up strategy once in a while, you won’t be able to accurately identify the most effective ones for your hotel.

 Here is a 7 step-by-step guide to help you apply this sales strategy.

1. Choose the Appropriate Channels

Good follow-up practices include different channels:

  • Email
  • WhatsApp
  • Live Chat or chatbot
  • Calls
  • Texting
  • Videocalls
  • Social media
  • Face-to-face interactions.

The goal is to increase the chances of getting the potential guests’ attention and converting sales. Since customers have different preferred communications channels, diversifying your contact channels is highly recommended.

When planning follow-ups, think about the best channel to get the message across and set the timing you think it’s best. Always take into account the habits of your ideal guest.

The most important thing is to understand how to best communicate with each lead.

Plan your strategy carefully, prioritizing the leads’ preferences. 

1.1. Calls

This channel provides more direct and closer contact with the lead. Precisely for that reason, you need to follow some practical techniques. Pay close attention to each one of them so that your communication is the best possible.

For instance, if the potential guest tells you to call next week, you should schedule it at exactly the date and time the guest asked you. This will increase the trust between you and will avoid that you becoming inconvenient for coating them in inappropriate times, 

Another pro tip when it comes to approaching leads by phone: listen more than talk and never leave a question unanswered. Many salespeople are so eager in talking about the promotions and the wonders of staying at the hotel that forget to give time to the customers to talk.

When you let them talk, you will find more information that will help you close the deal. Customers will feel appreciated if they feel that you listened. Also, if you let them make their questions and properly answer them, the odds of making a reservation grow.

1. 2. Email

Emails can also be used for follow-up in hotel booking. However, some features make this channel more efficient to formalize commercial proposals. 

In this sense, an email marketing tool that allows you to send business proposals by email can be of great help.

But don’t get too carried away when composing your emails. According to Boomerang, only one in three emails longer than 2500 words are replied to.

The size of the content is not the only point that deserves attention. The subject, appearance, and body of the email are also important.

When communicating through this channel, consider all these points. Knowing how to write good emails is essential for a successful follow-up.

1. 3. Hotel Forms

Hotel forms are a great way to collect information from travelers. Whether they are online or offline, those forms are a great way to learn more about your leads and personalize their experience.

Whether you are performing research online or offline, remember you always have to ask for their permission before collecting their data.

And pay attention not to create forms that are too long. Otherwise, customers won’t have the patience to answer them completely.

1. 4. Social Media

Social media showcases products and services that hotels offer. Currently, the best known and most used for sales are Facebook and InstagramHowever, TikTok has become a social platform that hotels should pay attention to since it is growing very fast.

If you use these platforms for online booking, they will also serve as a means of doing a follow-up for hotel booking. It is possible to contact your potential guests and close reservation via Instagram direct or Facebook Messenger.

During the negotiation, you can send suggestions for rooms/services or a social media post with the hotel’s news. These actions are part of the booking follow-up on social media.

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1. 5. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a widely-used means of communication nowadays. Unlike what you might think, this channel is no longer considered exclusively for personal matters. Most customers accept it as a channel for doing business.

As you may know, however, messaging is a completely different way of communicating. When establishing contact with your potential customer through WhatsApp, make sure you are doing it in the best way possible and respecting your potential guest’s privacy.

👉 In this free complete guide, you will learn about Whatsapp Business for hotels, how to provide service for greater direct booking conversions and  the best practices for Whatsapp for hotels


1. 6. Automation Platforms

Automation and communication tools, whether for email or messaging, allow you to keep track of customers’ interactions and analyze their behavior.

They are a way to achieve effective results in attracting and managing potential guests regularly, in addition to facilitating the relationship with prospects through messaging platforms that are already part of the day-to-day activities of these contacts.

Chatbots are automated communication software that can work with messaging applications such as Instagram,  Google Message, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, and allow you to automatically communicate with potential guests. 

You can either do it by sending messages to prospects — created and programmed by your team in a similar way to what happens with email marketing — or simply replying to their contact. If you don’t have a software to help you, templates can go a long way. 

follow-up hotel booking automation

2. Choose When

It is common to associate the follow-up only with the contact after sending the reservation proposal, but it can also occur at other times in the booking process. The first step in planning follow-up is to identify when to make contact.

Here are your options:

  • Right after the contact: send an email/message with content related to the leads’ information that you gathered after they reach out to you. Make yourself available to answer any questions and invite them to talk or advance on the booking process.
  • Right after a proposal: send an email/message with a summary of what was covered during prior conversations and invite them to the next steps.
  • “X” days after the proposal: send an email/message containing engaging content from your website/blog/social media Add some personal notes and take the opportunity to talk about the proposal.

These are just a few options on when to send a  sales follow-up. Choosing which tactic is best depends on the conversation and agreement with the potential guests and their preferences.

Mapping the best time to approach them, and the content/objective of the follow-up increase your chances of succeeding. Turn the follow-up strategy into a process, that should be followed by every team member.

3. Set the Variables

Timing is an important factor in this strategy, but not the only one. There are several points to consider for an effective follow-up strategy:

  • Frequency: The number of contacts and the interval between them vary according to the booking cycle and negotiation needs. It’s best to use common sense and set a limit so you don’t become pushy and inconvenient.
  • Opportunity:  Try to associate your follow-up contact to an event – meetings, market news, company news. This will make your message more interesting and get your prospect’s attention For instance, there is a lot of news from the tourism industry now, especially about border restrictions. Why don’t you get in touch with your leads and give them valuable information about travel while asking how you could help them with their next trip?
  • Effort: Follow-up cannot represent the greatest effort in your booking process. Especially after the proposal, it should last a maximum of one-third of the booking cycle time.

4. Deliver Value

 Follow-ups are an opportunity to position yourself as a ‘problem-solver” for potential guests.

To make the best use of this moment, offer quality content, related to the leads’ pain points and context, and be open to listening and answering any doubts they may have.

Take the opportunity to dig deeper into their problems and explore the implications of not choosing you to be their partner in this experience.

Success stories, for instance, are an excellent way to speed up bookings. If the potential guests are in doubt after receiving the proposal, show them information and stories of how other customers had a great time at your property.

You can show how other guests had fun at your place and the surrounding areas. If they are considering your property for an event, show them how previous events have succeeded at your place.

This kind of mental trigger can influence decision-making. The more familiar your examples are to the traveler’s context, the better. 

5. Establish Next Steps

Whenever you do a follow-up, define what the next step is. After all, the purpose of follow-up is to move forward in the negotiation, and having the next step clear is the best way to ensure that it will happen.

For instance, if the travelers say they need to analyze the proposal with their group or family, ask how much time is needed and agree on an appropriate date or time for you to return.

Always set appointments and deadlines. That way, you strengthen the relationship, stimulate the lead’s commitment and gain trust.

follow-up hotel booking next step

6. Don’t forget the “Cold Leads”

“Cold” leads are the people that had already contacted you a long time ago but didn’t continue the conversation. They simply stopped to contact or answer you.

.Sometimes, you can tell they were interested in your hotel, but for a (un)known reason, they simply “vanish into thin air”. Maybe it was the budget at that time? Or they chose to travel to another city?

If you feel there’s a chance of turning these potential guests into actual ones, do not hesitate to contact them again. Just keep in mind to reach out to them through the channels they contacted you.

7. Strengthen Long-term Relationships

It is important to show your regular guests that you care about them. In other words, keep the relationship strong and alive with the guests who keep coming back.

For instance, from time to time, you can contact them and inform them about a specific offer, or even create a loyalty program to stimulate their return.

👉 In this article, we explain 6 crucial steps in maintaining hotel customer retention: [Read here]

8. Explore the Possibility of Doing Upsells

A follow-up is not always related to an abandoned cart or an indecisive traveler looking around. It can also be the perfect opportunity to upsell your products, following your future guests’ profiles.

You can analyze the information you have on them, and see what other products you have that may spark an interest. You may even offer some discount on the service, to make sure the customer will have a taste of your quality.

Sales Follow-Up: Why Should You Invest in This Sale Strategy?

There are a lot of ways to execute a follow-up, but as you read in this article, it all begins with data gathering and a careful analysis of what your guest wants.

Listen to their needs, discover their favorite channels, and explore the possibilities in each one of them.

Don’t limit yourself to a simple call, and don’t give up on the first try. Persuasion is everything in sales, and in the hotel industry, it is no different. It’s a matter of balance: don’t give up too easily, but don’t be pushy.

We’ve hoped that this article helped you structure or review your follow-up strategy.

If you are interested in boosting your hotel sales even more through digital marketing, check out our free eBook on how online channels can help you win direct bookings:


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