What percentage of replies do you get to your replies to booking enquiries?

Sorry the title sounds a bit like a tongue twister...

I would be interested to know what percentage of replies you receive to your responses to booking enquiries? I find it extrememly frustrating when I take the time to reply and supply any information requested in a booking enquiry not to at least have it acknowledged. I understand that this is the "norm" but it would be useful to know how others fare. I try to respond as soon as possible, politely thanking them for their enquiry, answering their questions, providing a rate for any dates requested and encouraging them to come back with any questions. I also point them to our website which has loads of information: http://lostinfinistere.weebly.com/. Finally I try to keep it fairly brief so they don't have too much to read and a friendly tone but not too casual.

Hello Maria,

Wikibnb is looking B&B'ish at present because that is mostly what I do - although we do have three apartments as well - the aim is to open the idea to everyone who has anything to do with accommodation and hospitality, both owners and guests - I have just posted a newsletter on wikibnb.org about this (we get our knuckles rapped by James if we post links) - do subscribe.

laymyhat is excellent and covers a lot of points, I have looked at it for many years - the forum is very useful, but it is not really interactive and those who wish to develop marketing are still left doing the work from the top - my aim is to share skills and resources and for everyone to get more from it by putting in a little of what they can do - this may just be criticism or opinion - but this is possibly the most important thing for anyone.

Hope you join us


I hear stories about unanswered enquries too, it's pretty crap, the same as not keeping your availability calendars up to date so people waste their time asking about dates that are already taken - there are faults on both sides of the system.


I have only telephoned in reply when people have specifically indicated that they would like me to call or when they supply an incorrect email address (which happened just the other day and that turned into a booking!). Personally if I wanted to speak to someone on the phone I would call them in the first place but everyone is different.


I've had look at your site Tony, it seems B&B centric though it talks about all types of rentals. I not sure what I would be able to contribute to it being reasonably new to all this, though I might be able to make more sense of it once I get over my jet-lag! I actually make use of Lay My Hat http://www.laymyhat.com/ which is aimed at rental owners and have found it quite useful. Thanks for posting and good luck with the website.


How many people telephone in answer to booking enquiries, instead of emailing? Is this a better way of responding?

I had an interesting chat on the telephone with a potential client today. She told me that she had sent emails to a couple of gite owners about a booking at Easter and one of them had not bothered to reply at all. I guess it works both ways and is obviously just as irritating for clients who send requests and do not receive replies.

Hi guys,

An interesting discussion that I wanted to add to.

We are currently in South Africa and for a while I rented out a holiday flat in Cape Town and had similar issues. By year two I had written a stock reply that could be copied and pasted and added to, re relevant questions they may have including a link to the full website. (This reminds them which accomodation they asked about!) I then moved the enquiry to a pending box and would mentally forget about it. If they replied that they wanted to book then I would give them 48 hours to complete the booking form and make the deposit. This stopped me having to "hold" accommodation without a firm booking.

I do believe the speed at which the business replies to enquiries is key to getting a booking and if this is a main income then checking emails daily has to be done. This was interesting when we booked a gite last year in France as I made about 8 enquiries and only 2 replied!!!! Equally if you already have a booking for those dates, then a stock reply that is timeous often brings business at another time when you can accomodate them just because you are giving a good service re response.

I also think to avoid endless enquiries for accomodation that is not what someone wants can be avoided by clearly stating number of rooms/persons and price.

P.S The weekly rates seems to be a very French thing....at least here and in U.K most accomodation is per day (except high season obviously)....might be something to think about in the rates section for non French guests. It was certainly confusing for me when I wanted a booking from Mon to Sat and was left wondering if it was rude to ask for a better rate or whether I would be stuck paying for the week regardless?? :-)

We find that people using the "holiday websites" tend to send enquiries to many people. We had one enquirer who came back in reply to my e-mail offering terms, asking who we were as he had sent out so many enquiries.

When I worked we sent out thousands of quotations a year and very rarely got back any feedback to I rather expected it with the gite business over here.

We do ask if they could let us have a reply stating that they were/were not interested but they rarely do.

I am afraid that we have to accept that, to them, it is just not their job to say no - only to reply if they are interested.

As to web stats we go by visits rather than hits - it is more accurate.

Hi Yvonne,

I believe we are in fiercly competitive market for what is perhaps a slightly shrinking customer/income base. Visitor numbers overall to many destinations are not increasing, although there are a lot of market displacement factors which affect the statistics. I am seeing locally that a villa or apartment rental is at the same price it was over ten years ago, for example.

To succeed in the visitor accommodation business we must be firmly in control of our marketing. It can be operated by others, but we have to understand the methods which work and keep up-to-date with the routes to market and response mechanisms ourselves and then direct the relevant services to act for us.

Failure to do this will result in not only lost business, but failure of the business.

Your offer of help - I could sit down and make a "plan" or start some of the ideas I have listed on http://wikibnb.org in the blog - but I would rather start by talking and writing about how to start . What should we do first, how to use our time and energy to begin with. Should I work on setting up a forum to discuss this on the site - or should I/we work with other forums, like this excellent one (which is why I am posting) and Linkedin etc. Should I/We make a listing engine to consolidate offers and attempt to standardise the pattern for presentation to the myriad of other advertising and listing sites (and the plethora of calendar systems). Should I/We concentrate on the integration of social networking methods and media through resources like Socialoomph and the recent acquisition of Chomp by Apple.

There is so much to do and I cannot do it all (or very much really), so my thought is to exchange thoughts by mail, or better still perhaps sit around a table, and make a plan of action with a like-minded people, make a team or teams and get something done to the benefit of all.

HI Tony, I totally agree with you. It's useless to rely on others to do your marketing for you. We have to educate ourselves and keep up to speed with all that's going on. We have to listen to our guests and meet their needs, and yes, everything is getting much more personal than it was. I'm going to stick my neck out and say that large directories won't exist in the years to come. Besides when you take charge of your own marketing, joint venturing with others to bring potential guests a unique experience, you take charge of your life, your income and your future.

Let me know how I can help you :-)

My direct answer to the question is, at present, (rhe last three months) between 85 and 90 percent of our direct enquiries turn into bookings. When we started 15 years ago, for the first three years we got a conversion of 95 percent. However is you are analysing "page views" to bookings, this is about 3 percent and has been since we started (I am not counting bounces or robots in page views).
But - things are changing fast and another "sea-change" is, I predict, about to happen.
My work and activity over the last 15 years and therefore my understanding, thoughts and comments are based only on Internet marketing. Since 1996 I have only used the Internet to find clients for our rental accommodation in France - Holiday apartments and now B&B..
At first there were no rental listing sites, so I invented my own. The browsers were slow and erratic, so we kept things very simple. Search engines did not exist, so we listed in directories.
There have been a lot of changes, but basically things are just the same. The bottom line is that..."There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".
What I mean is that at first I was up until four every morning learning to create websites and to get them seen. Today, to keep competitive, I have to continually learn new skills and techniques to get clients. At the moment I am struggling with HTML5 to get an understanding of Microdata ( http://dev.w3.org/html5/md/ ) - so back to some 4 am nights :(
The alternative is to farm this work out and to rely on advertising sites - but my experience suggests to me that things are moving so fast that the "experts" are always behind the techniques which work. For example, advertising listing sites like VRBO (I was once bigger than them) are no longer as effective as they were and are losing ground to PPA (Pay Per Action) sites like airbnb.com.
Search engines are morphing into mobile "apps" - computers are morphing into phones/tablets/readers - all "search" is getting local and personalised. Social networking techniques are getting me more enquiries for our own B&B than traditional SEO, for example I got more feedback (and thus bookings) from Pinterest than Google Places last week, and I work hard at Google and have hardly started on Pinterest.
I realise I cannot now do the necessary marketing, development and technical work on my own, so I am trying to get a self-help group of like-minded people to get together to form a co-ownership team for promoting our accommodation businesses (B&Bs, Gites etc) - to start something rolling I made a little site at http://wikibnb.org - all it is doing at present is to offer a free one-way link to any relevant website (and that is just about everyone) - I hope to be able to form ways of structuring mutual help for development, marketing etc.
This is not a plug for this new initiative - I would hope that James will benefit from this sort of structure through advertising and visitors - perhaps SF can be a discussion forum for us French accommodation providers.

Hi, yes I agree with you and we find it very frustrating not to receive any reply from an enquiry after sending them detailed information. Infact people only seem to reply if they are serious about making a booking. Those who reply to say "thanks but no thanks" are very rare - maybe 5% or 10%. After reading some of the comments in this discussion I was wondering about adding a line to my emails when replying to an enquiry, asking for a response with feedback as to why people have decided not to reserve, whether it's due to price, location etc. which might help us to improve or make changes. However I think that people just don't think it is important to reply or say thank you if they are not going to follow through with a booking - annoying, but that's how it is!

Interesting discussion, thanks! Clara

I read this with interest.

We're just coming up to our sixth year letting only the one gite and I've noticed a huge increase with this years enquiries all doing exactly what you've described - many more than ever before. I usually give it a week or so then drop them a line and say "oh sorry to bother you again but we've had someone else enquiring about those same dates - can you let me know if you are still interested?" It rarely works, but it makes me feel I've done everything I can....

Just to add overall enquiries are down too....

Good luck!

Having attended Yvonne's presentation on marketing (for B&B's) I really don't feel that an online booking system is suitable for gites - or not for us anyway...

Can you use booking.com for Gites do you know?

in my first year b&b last year (actually we didn't open til mid-summer) i'd say 80%+ don't reply.... actually even if they DO book and i send them directions etc 80%+ don't reply again...

i've had a fair few scam emails too - anyone who wants 5 rooms for 20 days in march is def a scammer! i just send a standard email saying please pay 50% deposit into our account - and i never hear again...

re: auto booking system - have you thought about booking.com? you can have a button on your website and it's a 3% charge... (my rooms are 70 euro - so it's 2.10) which is nothing i think - and i find Americans and those from Asia REALLY trust that site... plus they do all the emailing for you


x teresa

Hi Teresa

A heart-felt response there! I guess it helps to know that you are not alone in this (or maybe not...)

I have been tempted to send a follow up email a couple of times, just to try to find out if there was a problem, but my hubby reckons that would be seen as hassling them. But, yes, I agree, I think it is rude, a simple thank-you to acknowledge the email would suffice!


Hi Maria,

I completely agree with what you have said. As soon as an enquiry comes in we respond in a nice and friendly way, only to find that the other end don't have the decency or politeness to respond back! A simple no thankyou would be appreciated!! I sometimes email later a couple days later, just to be sure and make some feeble excuse about my pc losing connection, but again these people don't respond!! I get so frustrated with their rudeness and just wonder what sort of guest they would turn out to be if they arrived! I also wonder if their email is one of the "scammers". You just never know.

Having been on the other side as a potential guest to a property, I always ensure i reply either way! Why don't they!!


I think you are right there Maria! i had 2 enquiries last week which were for 2/3night stays.Got quite excited as we don`t get a lot of those but both have disappeared. PAH!