I received a phone call recently – the type of phone call I’ve received many times before:

“Hi Garreth. Jim here. I hear you can help me boost my direct bookings at my luxury safari lodge?”

“Hi Jim, great to hear from you! Yes, I most certainly can help you boost your bookings. Tell me more about your business and let’s see what I can do.”

I can hear the excitement in Jim’s voice as we discuss the many opportunities available to him, followed by a sigh as he has the epiphany that there is no ‘quick fix’ to boosting your bookings!

But enough about Jim:

Let’s talk about boosting YOUR bookings

Sure, there are a few tweaks that can show immediate results, but to really boost your bookings over the long term requires a deep look into how you run your business. You may even challenge some fundamentals. Things that you (and the industry at large) have taken for granted for years.

But boy, will the bulb light up when the bookings start rolling in.

So, how do you go about boosting your bookings?

  1. Do you try to increase the overall value of your bookings?
  2. How about getting your guests to book more often and spread the word?
  3. What about getting better at turning enquiries into bookings?
  4. Try converting more website traffic into enquiries?
  5. Or do you drive more traffic to your website, Social Media pages, or through OTAs?

No doubt some of these are already on your to-do list – but are all of them? The reality is that you need a harmonious approach that considers all of these. An ongoing pursuit that translates into a seamless, personalised and powerful guest experience.

It would be logical for me to start at the beginning of this journey, but let’s rather get to the really exciting stuff:

The Power of the Pre Stay!

I didn’t use ‘power’ in the heading just for effect. The time between your guests making their booking and arriving at your property truly is when you hold the ‘Power’.

They’ve booked, the formalities are out of the way, and they’re excited for their trip. You, however, are yet to deliver on your promise and any communication you send will have your guests’ rapt attention – they’re in the palm of your hand.

Here’s a stat to drive my point home: email open / click-through rates are as much as 250% higher during the pre stay period than at any other time during the guest lifecycle.

What does this tell us?

  • Firstly, it tells us that the pre stay period is the perfect time to promote your value-added offerings (activities, spa treatments, restaurants, tours) and possibly even get them to pre book.
  • Secondly, it is an excellent opportunity to get your guests to tell you about their interests and preferences. The more information you get about your guests before they arrive, the more you can tailor their experience.

4 ways to leverage the pre stay period to boost your bookings

So how can you best leverage the attention of your guests during the pre stay period? Here are 4 of the most effective ways:

1. Share your content – You probably spend a lot of time and money crafting content that showcases your property and the experiences available to guests. It’s a shame to let all of these blogs, images, videos, guides etc. go to waste. Why not choose some of your most popular content and share it with guests to get them excited about their stay.

2. Encourage Value Added Bookings – Following on from my point above, by delighting your guests with content on what you have on offer, you can entice them to book their experiences ahead of time. You’ll be surprised at how many pre bookings you can generate with a well-timed and well-placed enquiry form.

3.Get to Know Your Guests – The pre stay period is when you can truly get to know your guests. Learn about their interests and preferences, and discover what will make their stay extra special. Share this with your in-house team before arrival and eureka: You’re in a position to deliver an experience that will make them come back for more.

4.Set the foundation for an ongoing relationship – Don’t stop with learning about your guests’ interests and preferences, consider what information will give you a reason to get in touch with them again. Ask guests for their birthday and anniversary dates. Get info about their home country, travelling habits, bucket lists and personal tastes in sport, music or theatre – whatever you can use to build a personalised and meaningful relationship with them after their stay.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at our showcase for Samara Private Game Reserve. And remember, there’s no quick fix to boosting your bookings, but this is one helluva start!