Top 5 reasons why guests don’t book (and how to make sure they do!)

Finding it difficult to encourage holidaymakers to book after they’ve sent you an enquiry? We ask holidaymakers all the time about why they decided not to book. Read on to find out their top reasons and what you can do to secure those all-important bookings.

Tip #1 Keep your calendar up to date

We recently received this email from one disgruntled holidaymaker:

“Dear Holiday Lettings,

My son and I spent a considerable amount of time over three nights sifting through the villas on offer until we found exactly what we were looking for, available at the time we wanted and for at a price we could afford. Sadly, we allowed ourselves to get excited about the prospect of our sunny Italian holiday.

The reality was something of a letdown when we found that the availability dates were wrong and that the villa had been let for some considerable time. We looked again, only to find the same result. This was followed by another similar experience.”

Out of date availability is one of the main gripes that holidaymakers have when trying to make a booking. This can easily be avoided by updating your calendar as often as possible by logging into your account and going to Properties > Availability. They might keep your ad in mind for next year if it’s booked this time, but will steer clear in future if they have a bad experience.

Tip #2 Respond as soon as possible

Sadly, many enquiries that are sent through the site never receive a response. Even if you can’t accept a particular stay, responding is crucial if you want to be considered again. Speed is also key if you’re going to be the one to secure the booking before anyone else.

“The owner never responded to my request! Every time we called the mobile number provided, it just rang out to answer phone. This upset us, as obviously we wanted to book. However, we have booked another home through your site, which we are all looking forward to. Shame about the other villa owner. “

“I did not book the cottage as someone else got back to me a little sooner.”

“I have had no response from the owner of the property, I am disappointed that I have not heard anything back, I was a genuine customer wanting to let this property but because of this I have arranged to book another apartment.”

As it’s now possible for owners to take online payments via their Holiday Lettings advert, guests can book straight away. If you don’t use online bookings, you’ll need to bear that in mind and respond to enquiries as soon as they come in. Want to start taking online bookings? Find out more. You can also respond to enquiries on the go by downloading the Holiday Lettings app. This way, it doesn’t matter where you are – you’ll easily be able to respond to enquiries and booking requests.

Tip #3 Set your changeover day and length of stay

“… I did have a prompt reply from the owner but it seems that during peak periods you can only take a letting for 2 weeks min. It would be helpful if this was flagged up more clearly so time is not wasted on properties that are unavailable.”

“We have found somewhere else that was able to offer a Friday start date.”

It’s really important to make it clear on your advert what your minimum stay and changeover day is so you don’t have to disappoint anyone. It’s easy to specify –just go to Properties > Prices > General settings and give extra details if you need to in the Notes section on the same page.

Tip #4 Keep your prices up to date

“I was very interested in renting this property but the price quoted when I enquired was substantially more than that stated on the website for the period I’m interested in so I have decided not pursued this further.”

“When I had a reply the price was nearly £20 a night more than was quoted on your site, which was very disappointing as it was then over our budget.”

“We changed our minds because the price quoted on the price list was £1000 per week but it came through at £2000. We are looking at other options.”

Whether you’re using online booking or not, it’s important that your prices are right. Update often but also, keep your prices all inclusive so there are no hidden charges that might put holidaymakers off at a later date. Go to Properties > Prices to update.

Tip #5 A complete advert is an enquired about advert

“I haven’t booked, as I was hoping to see further photos of the property (only the bedroom and kitchen are shown.)”

“They weren’t clear about how I can pay. I want to know that the process is secure.”

“I did send them a message but now I’m worried because they don’t have reviews. Has someone else stayed there?”

Did you know that just one review can boost your enquiries by 40%? Find out more.

You’ve got space for 24 photos so fill your gallery with plenty of pictures of your home and the surrounding area. Log in and visit Properties > Photos upload your images.

Online booking gives guests extra peace of mind by giving them a safe and secure way of paying (and saves you the hassle of chasing up payments!). If you’re not using online booking, make sure your advert says how you accept payments, for example, bank transfer.  We recommend guests never pay by wire money transfer (such as Western Union).

See more tips about keeping your ad in shape to keep the bookings rolling in all year round.

32 thoughts on “Top 5 reasons why guests don’t book (and how to make sure they do!)

  1. Mike Scher

    This is a great article, but I can assure you I am doing all of these things. I have been responding to many, many, requests for our villa but a very small percentage ever get back to me. The prices on the site are correct and my response is usually something like “thank you for your interest in our property, it is available on the dates you have requested, the price is X. Can we confirm your reservation?”. I came to the page because I was trying to figure out if I am doing something wrong. The sense I have is that people are expecting me to give them a quote which is well below what we have published on the website and when I don’t, they simply look for a cheaper property. The question is: is there a way to clinch the deal every time? A perfect wording to make it hard for them NOT to book?

    1. Kate Harries Post author

      Hi Mike. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m not sure that they would express an interest if they weren’t prepared to pay the prices that they’ve already seen on your ad. Do you always send a quote with your reply? If so, you won’t need to confirm what the price is in your message to them as they’ll be able to see a breakdown of the costs in their quote. It’s really important that you send a quote right off the bat to make it easy for them to book and pay online straight away. It’s also a good idea to take a look at our other advice articles about how to make sure your advert is in tip top condition. Visit to read advice about everything from taking fantastic photos to marketing your home to different groups. A new blog post all about how to write descriptions that will get guests booking is coming soon so watch this space! Thanks. Kate.

  2. Amanda

    Im a new client of yours and i have 2 reviews on tripadvisor. When i log into my holiday letting web page its only at 80% and states that i have no reviews, please can you advise me how to publish them, thanks

    1. Kate Harries Post author

      Hello Amanda. Sorry to hear your reviews aren’t being displayed yet. It sounds like there might be a technical problem going on there. Please contact our customer services team and they’ll be able to look into this for you: Thank you.

  3. David

    As other people have already said several times (but Holiday Lettings don’t listen) the biggest problem with your Site is the entirely misleading average price per night. This price is for one week at the cheapest time of year which is not what the “average” person is looking for. It makes far more work for the Holiday Home Owner replying to people who enquire but can’t afford to book and upsets the potential person who wants to book because they think the Home Owner is inflating the price. Bad practice and leaves a terrible impression all round….but no-one listens at Holiday Lettings anyway nowadays. Pity. (what do I know anyway with 3 Properties on the Site for 5 years – nothing apparently)

  4. bicycle

    Everyone loves what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve added you guys to my personal blogroll.

  5. Steve

    Thank you for the useful and informative post. I am the manager of 5 properties and I receive a lot of enquiries through holiday lettings. However, many of the enquiries for a short break are a waste of my time as they are attracted by the low headline price which I understand is is our lowest weekly price divided by 7. Of course a break for 3 or 4 nights can not be sold for the same ‘per night’ cost as a weekly break. Our rate for 3 nights is 70% of the weekly rate and for 4 nights is 80% of the weekly rate. Also, the price for a break in January is much less than one in August. Yet many guests expect to pay the advertised price of £50 per night in peak season. This ‘nightly’ price issue has caused countless angry emails and phone calls from disgruntled potential guests and reflects badly on my and your reputation. Am I doing something wrong, or is it a glitch in your software that misleads so many potential guests on the price they will actually be paying? This is a very big concern for me.

    1. Reba

      I absolutely agree with your comments and have addressed this with Holiday Lettings who do not seem to consider it an issue. As for their five reasons for non-booking, well none of these apply to my cottage.

    2. Pamela

      I notice that one of the top 5 reasons given for not booking is because the price is not as quoted and yet, as Steve has pointed out, this is not the owner’s fault. He explains very well the difficulty many of us have with the simplistic pricing policy advertised and yet when you highlight this as a problem to HL you are told to make sure you put in your nightly prices – I don’t do nightly prices! I do short break prices. It looks very bad on you as an owner when you have to get back to enquirers to explain the pricing system is wrong. They just think you are trying to rip them off. I think far from telling owners that this is a problem for them, it ought to be addressed with a change to the software.

      1. Tina

        I completely agree. I have been accused of misrepresentation a couple of times – very unpleasant. This ‘headline’ rate is ridiculous & unrepresentative. But will HL listen – I doubt it.

  6. Chris White

    I am currently unable to upload photos for one of my adverts, the other adverts work fine. I receive a server-side error explaining that the ‘pic_id’ database column has a duplicate value of 1000. Is it just me or are others having the same problem?

    1. Kate Post author

      Hi Chris. Please can you contact our customer services team if you’re still getting this error by emailing: so they can take a look into this for you. Thank you.

  7. Victoria McCabe

    also – it would be far more helpful to have a “Paid by other means ” facility. Many customers want to pay by bank transfer or cheque, especially when they are paying balances in excess of £2000 and Paypal then needs them to verify in order to send payment. Meaning late payments for many whilst it takes a few days to sort that out. Also the renewing Expire quotes option has never worked for any of my 5 listings which is a massive pain as i have to start again every time. If i select show only expired quotes it says I have none, this being fixed would be advantageous as the point of the online system is to save time.

    1. Theresa

      I agree that a ‘paid by other means’ is essential so that the booking does not automatically get cancelled if not paid bus PayPal. I also think that the dividing the lowest weekly rate by 7 can be misleading for potential guests. I have also had 3 guests who have contacted me and apologised that whilst they really wanted to leave me a review they were unable to do it through TA successfully, with one saying theirs was ‘not accepted’ and although they contacted TA they didn’t get a resolution. So 3 valuable lost reviews. Theresa

  8. Victoria McCabe

    I have 5 listings on Holiday Lettings, the pricing charts do not offer enough flexibility to display my prices correctly which leads to many an angry email from customers despite the fact I have on all my listings that they must enquire directly for the correct nightly price. I display my Weekly rate, but for example my two night price is calculated at 60% of the weekly rate, but Holiday Lettings displays on my listing “nightly rate from X” – whereby HL calculates X at weekly rate divided by 7. This is so unhelpful – I wish it could be removed from my listing but the system/customer service seems too unflexible to be able to do this, which is a shame as it annoys customers and they get quite irate about it.

  9. Jean McDonald

    I would like to turn this round to the owner’s perspective. Enquirers just appear to skip through the listing, ignoring prices, changeover days and sometimes even the property details. My availability and prices are always up to date, the former automatically through the online booking system we have used for 6 years. I think you should have a guide for enquirers as to what they should look for before making an enquiry ie look carefully through the listing, number in the party, arrival and departure dates, cost and availability to ensure it meets their requirements and budget. I reply to my enquiries promptly and if I have heard nothing in 2 days send an email to see if they are still interested or a question about why they have decided not to book. Replies are not often sent. I think it should be a condition on your site that owners or agents must have their prices and availability updated on the listings. More price details would be helpful ie 2 or 3 night stays. I would think not may owners would allow 1 night stays as from a housekeeping perspective and our other overheads it is not economically viable. I whole heartedly agree with the comment from Ed Found

  10. Jill

    I agree with the comment above – I have been letting directly for over 20 years and there was nothing there I didn’t already know. There are a few other comments I would like to make ! I don’t like the recording of all my emails on your sight — I feel as though I am being spied on! I have only one booking through you so far —- my old alternative web site has produced more bookings during the time I have been with you. I get asked for extra photographs – of which there are many on my own web site —– but there is no link from Trip Advisor to my web site — only from Holiday Lettings. I also think there could be an improvement in the design of the booking calendar. I DO keep mine up to date —- bets wishes Jill

    1. Kate Post author

      Hi Jill. Thanks for your comments. It’s great to know that, with your experience, you’re already doing everything you can to keep the bookings coming in. However, for those that are new to letting, we wanted to highlight the barriers some holidaymakers have to booking and how to overcome them. Thank you for your other feedback which will be noted and passed on to the relevant team. Kate H at Holiday Lettings.

  11. Phillipa Suarez

    I find most of my enquirers ask for information which could not be clearer from the advert, such as price and availability, which I keep up to date all the time. I reply politely of course and give them the information again, and a few encouraging words about making a booking. Honestly I then wonder why they bothered at all because eight out of ten never get back to me, even following the polite nudge one week later. I have only had one ‘thanks but no thanks’ message all year! So tell us all about the site fees Michael Shepherd mentions above, this is news to me…

  12. Nigel McKinley

    I am listed on Holiday lettings as a Chambre d’hote (B&B) however all my inquiries are for weekly rentals (as a holiday home) and I have been told it is not clear that I am listed as a Chambre d’hote.

    1. Kate Post author

      Hi Nigel. Your listing definitely says it’s a B&B but it’s not clear (as far as I can see) that you won’t accept weekly stays. Some B&Bs will accept a weekly stay so it’s not unheard of. We’d recommend going to Properties > Prices in your account and making it clear what length of stay you accept in the ‘Notes’ section. This should avoid enquiries for stays that you can’t accommodate. Thanks, Kate H at Holiday Lettings.

  13. Michael Shepherd

    I thought the reasons so many of my enquiries don’t book was because your site fees are not made clear to the renter in advance. No one likes the surprize of a fee tacked on at the end of the process.

    1. Kate Post author

      Hi Michael. We don’t add on any fees at the end of the process. The advertiser themselves can choose to add extra fees, such as charges for pets and cleaning, but these are still made clear to the guest before any payment is made. Thanks, Kate H at Holiday Lettings.

  14. Francis Harris

    I have been letting for 10 years and have had great reviews. I also have a couple of gripes. 1.. Potential enquiries who ask to hold whilst they make arrangements , re, flights etc. Then never comeback to say they do not want the accommodation. Mean while I may have some other client who wants the property and is put off by the wait. 2. Clients who book and then do not send deposit. Even after a couple of [polite reminders.

  15. Elaine Forster

    What about the problems potential guests have with your web-site? I had several guests last year who had difficulty working through your sitebut found me and booked via another. Also, there were hose who attempted to leave a review but couldn’t. I am disappointed in this site compared to my alternative.

  16. Brian Wright

    As you suggest I usually respond within minutes. However, at the moment most requests stand no chance of being accepted. I’ve just refused one which said ‘our budget is £700 for 2 weeks for 4 adults’ (to Florida). Although our advertsied price is £635 PER WEEK! In effect they want me (and others presumably), to subsidise their holiday. Did they ask for a free seat on BA? Will they ask for free entry to Disney or the other parks? I’ve replied with a very polite response & I wish them luck in finding what they want,but it begs the question, why should it be the accommodation be cheap? Imagine the TA reviews then!

  17. jackie shaw

    All my bookings this year have been through…. 1. re bookings from past two years…or 2. through good trip advisor-holidaylettings reviews.

  18. Meg Shephard

    I found this useful. However, I do prefer to keep in direct contact with my potential clients and take my own payments. Perhaps your team think that I’ve never replied to any enquiries when in fact, I usually reply within 6 hours.

  19. ed found

    Holiday lettings could help stop wasting enquirers time when properties are booked by flagging up automatically that they are enquiring about a date that is no longer available. I have to field enquiries with my calender up to date about dates which are already booked because they have not bothered to look at the calender.

  20. Michael Leigh

    Hi. I thought I would be interested in your 5 reasons why guests don’t book, but it did not tell me anything I could do to boost my bookings except you say I have 24 photos to show my apartment, when I joined holiday lettings I was told the panoramic photos are being stopped so I can only have 20 photos ?. If owners don’t do the other 4 reasons they don’t deserve to get booking. Regards. M A Leigh.


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