Cranleigh Boutique owner marks 96% zero-commission occupancy


In 2014, the Cranleigh Boutique achieved over 96% of its bookings through direct channels. Having been in the boutique hotel game now for nearly 10 years, I know that what we’ve been able to achieve here is not typical.

But then, neither is our approach to marketing.

My team and I make a point of subscribing to the emails of hundreds of hotels who have a similar product offering to what we have in the Lake District and what’s abundantly clear is that none of these hotels are sending enough emails.

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This notion that one ‘email newsletter’ per month, or worse, sending every two months is frankly absurd. It’s dated and from experience I can tell you that it’s costing these hotels thousands in lost bookings.

Broadly speaking, every time we press send on an email, we fill bedrooms – at zero commission. Now of course we have a complex strategy to ensure we’re offering enticing content with each broadcast, but the stats don’t lie – staying in touch with our customers regularly has helped us to remove reliance on OTAs.

The obstacle most hoteliers must overcome it seems is the worry that “bombarding” customers with multiple emails in a short space of time will leave them more likely to unsubscribe and disengage with the brand.

Well, that happens; you won’t get around it. But the cost of not engaging with enticing and interesting content several times per month via email is far more expensive than having the odd disgruntled customer unsubscribe.

Here are my top tips to driving more direct business from email

– Ensure that your email’s subject line creates intrigue relevant to the content of the email, and doesn’t simply summarise the content

– Don’t overtly sell in every email

– Resend every email 24 hours later to anyone that didn’t open it first time around.

For more advice on how to maximise ROI from email marketing, visit

Stephen Hargreaves is the CEO and Founder of the Cranleigh Boutique Brand, and has recently Founded Cranleigh Marketing – designed specifically to provide award-winning marketing to independent hoteliers who want to reduce OTA commission.