Understanding and Preventing Guest No-Shows

There is perhaps nothing more peevish for hoteliers than guests that never show up to claim their reserved rooms. Not only can a no-show feel disrespectful, but they also hurt your bottom line. At best, the would-be guest is charged for the room for one night and the hotel eats the cost for the remainder of the reserved time. At worst, the guest disputes the charge. If this sounds like your hotel, you’re not alone. A recent study on hotel trends conducted by Visa found that no-shows cost the hospitality industry up to $100 million per year.

It can be tempting to say that no-shows are just forgetful and idiotic (and, in some cases, that is no doubt true) but the same Visa study found that no-shows result from a string of structural problems. Many guests will research multiple hotels online before a trip, and some will reserve hotel rooms at their favorite locations. When these guests finally choose a hotel, they may forget to cancel their other reservations. In some instances, guests are never given a confirmation number for their stay, and so they’ll end up cancelling the wrong reservation. For larger chains (Marriott, Weston, etc.) guests frequently book a room with the correct company but at the wrong location.

Many other no-shows are just cancellations that were not properly logged. If a guest books a room and then immediately calls back to cancel, their cancellation may not be filed because the reservation is still being processed. Guests who call to cancel their reservations after the deadline are also recorded as no-shows instead of cancellations. Likewise, guests staying with larger hotel chains may accidentally call the corporate office or wrong location to cancel. When they are told they have the wrong number, they give up making contact altogether. In addition, up to 5% of recorded “no-shows” are actually guests who were booked with incorrect information.

There may be no way to avoid the forgetful dog-ate-my-homework guests, but you can still reduce your number of no-shows by using quality hotel reservations software. The best hotel management software has real-time updates and a simple reservation process, ensuring that all guest communication is recorded. One of the newer hotel trends is online booking, so it’s great if you can find an easy-to-use system that integrates these reservations with your calendar.

Even if a guest no-shows due to their own forgetfulness (or arrogance), it’s worthwhile to let clients know your booking and cancellation policies as much as possible. Guests remember perceived slights more than anything else, so ensuring positive interactions is as important as keeping a good record of your interactions. For all the growing hotel trends in technology, good customer service is still the most important part of any business.