What's your booking ratio?
3 questions that could potentially help to double your bookings.
Marketing is, and will always be a major apart of operating a vacation rental business. We all know it. It’s why we spend so much time looking for more ways to attract more travellers.
But have you ever thought about your booking ratio?
Your booking ratio is the percentage (%) of inquiries that actually convert into a confirmed booking. For example; if you received 100 inquiries last year, and only closed 5 bookings, then your booking ratio is 5%.
Increasing your booking ratio is not as hard as you might think, and it can make a difference that could literally translate into tens of thousands of dollars. Jumping from 5% to 10% can be achieved with a few simple adjustments, and that’s already doubling your occupancy!
Now for the good stuff.
The quickest and easiest way to increase your booking ratio is to improve the way you handle inquiries.
Below are 3 questions you should ask yourself.
Your answers will help you understand how you currently handle inquiries, and hopefully steer you into a direction that could increase your bookings for next year.
1. Are you reluctant to answer the phone?
Never underestimate the number of travellers that need to put a voice to the property they’re about to book. They could be planning a last minute trip, trying to be diligent in their research, or just plain prefer to talk than use email. Either way, disregarding a phone inquiry is basically throwing money out the window.
Maybe you’re reluctant to answer the phone because you receive so many on your cell phone you can’t keep track anymore?
Maybe you’re reluctant because you keep getting sales calls and you’re just really not in the mood to listen to another sales pitch.
What to do:
The good news is, if you do tend be hesitant, there are a couple of solutions to your problem.
1) Power through and deal with it.
Yes… You might you might have to deal with a sales pitch or two, and you might even be that person who always has the Bluetoothpiece in their ear, but you’re also going to close more bookings and make more money. But if you just cant fathom being a slave to your phone, there is one other option.
2) Get a designated booking line.
It is so much healthier to separate your business from your personal life. Keep your cell phone number for friends and family, and only advertise your designated booking line.
There's an amazing company called Grasshopper that will give you a designated toll free number that you can forward to any number you choose (including your cell phone). Grasshopper will help make handling phone inquiries that much easier. It will also make you sound like a fortune 500 company, giving your potential renters a great first impression!
2. How fast are you responding to inquiries?
The fact is; every inquiry is a lead. And your response time to each inquiry will have a major effect on your ability to close a booking.
So if your answer was something like; within 24 hours, or same day, or within a couple of hours, this might come as a surprise, but neither of those answers are enough.
A survey conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT showed that waiting even 30 minutes to contact a fresh lead could drastically reduce the chances for success.
The study showed that the odds of making contact with your new lead drop significantly after just five minutes!
How much you ask?
Well, more specifically, you’re 100 times less likely to make contact after 30 minutes than you would be within the first 5.
Even scarier, your odds drop another 3000x if you wait 5 hours.
So basically, you’ve got to figure out a way to respond within the first 5 minutes, or your toast.
What to do:
Luckily, there are a couple of easy solutions that will allow you to do so without much effort at all.
1) For all inquiries to come through by email, set up an autoresponder.
This will automatically send out a response email to the person who just inquired. The information you should put in this email should include at the very least; a thank you message, a time-frame in which you will be reaching out to the by phone, and your personal contact info so they can reach you immediately if they want to.
2) For all inquiries that come through over the phone, pick up!
And if you miss the call, it’s important that you call back as soon as possible, whether they leave a voicemail or not. Remember, your chances of making contact decrease dramatically with every minute, so time is of the essence. Which brings us to our next question.
3. Last, but not least: How proactive are you really?
Simply waiting around for people to say “yes” is not going to help anyone close more bookings. Being a proactive go getter will make the world of difference.
What to do:
1) Keep every inquiry you receive
Every inquiry has the potential to be a booking. Inviting people to be a part of your mailing list for future deals and updates will allow you to stay in contact and hopefully close the deal down the line.
2) Follow up, follow up, follow up.
If an inquiry doesn’t work out right away, they just might be on the fence about it, or maybe they’re plans have changed.
3) Give them options
Although most are, not everyone’s trip is set in stone. If you have other properties or nights available, don’t be afraid to offer them as an alternative. If you have a good rapport with the person, there’s a good chance they just might take you up on your offer.
4) Go the extra mile
Exceed expectations right out of the gate is a great way to make a first impression. Offer information or links to local activities, restaurants, attractions, nightlife, festivals, etc...
Not only does establishing your expertise of the local scene build trust, but it will also add a value to your destination that will increase your chances to close the booking.
If you haven't yet, it’s important to start thinking about your booking ratio, and how you can improve it. The great thing about it is there is almost always room for improvement and it won’t cost you a dime. If your current booking ratio is 5%, try to get it to 10%. If its at 10%, why not try for 15%?
Your preparation for handling inquiries is the foundation for increasing your booking ratio. If you are not properly set up to take full advantage of every inquiry that comes in, you will be limited in what you can achieve.
On the other hand, if you are, you could quite literally double your occupancy.