Online Payments and Policies

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Hillbilly's picture
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I am currently using Webervations 2 for our reservation program.  I have been waiting for over 2 years for them to have online payment options.  I feel that they are never going to finish this program.  I have talked to several program companies and have decided to go with Reservation Key.  Out of all of them they have had the best customer service and willing to help you any day of the week.
    I switched to online only reservations 2 years ago and have almost doubled my reservations.  I have had a cancellation policy in place and so on.  I have not been charging cards before arrival.   I have tried to keep the honor system going but I am afraid it has got to come to an end.  We lost a lot of money this year with no shows and cancellations with declined cards.
    My question is this.  “If you charge a person a head of time, how and what has worked best for you?”  Have you had guests upset when you do not refund their money?  How have you handled this?  Do you allow them to move to a different day?   Have you had people try and do a charge back on the credit card?  I have been doing this for 14 years and I am always looking for a better easier way to do something.
Thank you for your help!

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I am new to the forums but not the industry.  Own a B&B in Salt Lake City for 6 years now.  I have never charged a deposit unless the reservation was for 5 nights or more.  Do you get a lot of no shows?  I can count on one hand the total number of no shows we have had.  I always thought it was best to take payment at check-in - this gives me better control over cash flow coming in. 

Never tried Res Key but love Res Nexus and would never consider changing.  Used Rezovation for a winter season running a B&B in Aspen and did not care for that system.  Rex Nexus will not allow a fake credit card to be entered if a guest is booking online - I don't have to worry about manually verifying. 

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Parrish Place B&B

 

Madeleine's picture
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OMG! I love that house! You guys were great on that show! Did you end up turning that room in the back into a massage area?

Everyone's right, I feel like I know you, too!

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Thanks Madeleine!  Yes we did for a while but it became very difficult to keep the tempature comfortable in there.  We also tried taking away one of the guest rooms for a massage room.  That was a revenue wash, so we scrapped that too.  No more massage on property although my wife has a great practice just down the road.

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it reminds me of a hotel inspector episode with two brothers running a small hotel in black pool brother 1 had a background in cruses and ran a spa on a cruise boat brother 2 was good at DIY and building but he lived about a 2 hour drive away and drove there and back every day. Brother 1 was determined they were going to have a spa despite the fact the rest of the place needed a complete makeover and they had very little money. I would have boutiqued the place up and then maybe done a spa when there was more money comming in. For myself I would have made a deal with a neaby spa as a start people don't go to a hotel in Blackpool to get their legs waxed! Plus with your wife just down the road you can easily send referals as an when with no extra cost. There was a B&B on 4 in a bed where the lady was a beautician in a previous life and she did nails and beauty stuff  makeovers as an add on as you don't really need a dedicated space for either and the equipment is easily stored. The trouble was they hod no idea how demanding it was and thought they could carry on living somewhere else that wasn't event close!

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EmptyNest's picture
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 HEY JEFF...WELCOME...saw you two on house hunters a while ago. Wondered how you liked it. Didn't say you were a previous owner...that is a good thing. Gosh..feel like  I know you already...best wishes.

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too funny... glad you caught our show.  That was a good decision to do the House Hunters show.  Still have guests that already know who we are.  Thanks for the welcoming! 

gillumhouse's picture
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I don't watch TV (cannot stand the remote jerking the programs on me) but welcome.

Tom
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Welcome!

I too am happy with Resnexus, but a warning, they won't accept a b.s credit card number - the cards have to meet a certain internal error check checksum - but that doesn't mean the card is a good card, i.e. with  a paying customer behind it.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luhn_algorithm

And, we have not had a problem with no-show/deadbeats so we do not charge in advance.

 

 

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Jeff Gauvin wrote:

I am new to the forums but not the industry.  Own a B&B in Salt Lake City for 6 years now.  I have never charged a deposit unless the reservation was for 5 nights or more.  Do you get a lot of no shows?  I can count on one hand the total number of no shows we have had.  I always thought it was best to take payment at check-in - this gives me better control over cash flow coming in. 

Never tried Res Key but love Res Nexus and would never consider changing.  Used Rezovation for a winter season running a B&B in Aspen and did not care for that system.  Rex Nexus will not allow a fake credit card to be entered if a guest is booking online - I don't have to worry about manually verifying. 


Welcome to the forum Jeff! I had guests this week from SLC and her folks live in St Geo.

I agree with you, I don't take deposits unless I have an iffy feeling, or it is a sold out for months ahead of time event, I also don't take payment until check out. Not many of us around that do this. 

But there are a couple equations the higher the occupancy the more likely hood of:

1) bad guests, or no shows, or bad cards - not fake cards declined or expired cards.

2) Location may be an issue, for whatever reason, we definately do not all get the same mix of guests, price point, location, child friendly, many variables. 

As for ResNexxus the cost is quite a bit more. But if you have an online system that workds, by all means don't change it! We are bombarded with new directories, cc processors, etc. If it ain't broke!

Jump on in the water's fine!  PS I didn't see a blog link on your site, I hope you will consider blogging. I bet there are a lot of things to do in the area you can blog about. 

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Rezkey users new feature:

Nothing like a new year for launching a new feature. Now turn additional photos into slick slideshows - http://t.co/a1ZmXOpm

This is cool because the thumbnail images on the main rezkey screen now BUMPOUT if someone clicks on them for a larger view with this slideshow.  I thought it meant slideshow with my additional photos when you click on "more details" but it was from the main page. So make sure you have your captions on there with your images. Smiling

wait there's more...and you can click and MOVE the image.  Not sure how many guests would do this, but it is pretty nifty! http://imm.io/dXqX << this is where I grabbed the image and moved it.

Arks's picture
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We use Authorize.Net too. Cards are charged at time reservation is made and (I assume) it declines the reservation for bad cards automatically. I haven't tested to see exactly what happens if they enter a bad card number.

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Hillbilly's picture
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Do you charge a one night stay, or a percentage?  I see that with the system I have the option of having the system charge at booking and then later.  I was thinking of charging a one night nonrefundable charge.  Then 30 days from their arrival to charge half.  My thinking is, if they cancel it would give us 30 days to try and rebook the room.  Im wondering what would happen if at 30 days the card declines.  Does the system tell you it declined? If so does it change the reservation color on the  Availability Calendar?  My wife thinks it will be a mess doing it this way.  She thinks we should charge what Breakfast Diva had mentioned.  One night stay on making a reservation and 50% charge for 4 or more nights.  I am really enjoying everyones comments.  Im still not sure what we are going to do.  I’m still having a hard time with what to do when a cancellation comes up.  People now days are TripAdvisor happy.  I need to decide soon as we are making reservations that I would like to have run through the new system.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Seems to me you might want to do a deposit when reservation comes in (refundable minus a cx fee), and the balance is charged at the 30 non-refundable date. What is the standard in your area? Do the other properties have a 30 day cancellation policy? Every location is different...there's no way a 30 day cx would work in my area. I wish I could!

You want to make it as simple as possible for both you and your guests.

gillumhouse's picture
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 People now days are TripAdvisor happy.  I need to decide soon as we are making reservations that I would like to have run through the new system.

It is your BUSINESS - do not live in fear of T A (aka 1000 lb gorilla). IF anyone posts a negative, answer with a management response  that this is the policy posted and checked as read..... Run your business the way it is best for YOU.

Edited to add - I use RezKey and LOVE it.

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Arkansawyer wrote:

We use Authorize.Net too. Cards are charged at time reservation is made and (I assume) it declines the reservation for bad cards automatically. I haven't tested to see exactly what happens if they enter a bad card number.

I Love ReservationKey!  We also use Authorize.net.    When a bad card is run or they forget to include their zipcode,  they get a "card declined" error message stating the reason for the decline.

We have a checkbox for policies with link back to the policies that opens a new window.   We also attach a copy of the policies and directions to the confirmation.

It works like a dream and has cut down on a lot of double data entry into Quickbooks.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I also used to use Weber, but switched over to Res Key a little more than 1 year ago. Huge difference, love Res Key. As Joey said, you can make it so they have to actually click they have read and agreed to the policies.

On the day we receive the reservation, we charge a 1 night deposit or a 50% deposit if 4 or more nights. Bad card...no reservation! $25 cancellation fee. We have a 10 day cancellation policy, so if they want to change dates it's no problem as long as they do it at least 10 days before their arrival. After that, it's their room, whether they're in it or not. 

The only time we get upset people are the ones who booked over the phone. If they booked online, they know they're on the hook for the money. After a very bad incident this past summer with a phone reservation, we now have a system on our website where they have to click they have read and agreed to our policy. With a phone reservation, if they don't click that, then they don't have a reservation.

There is an innkeeper on the forum "Proud Texan" who recently switched to Res Key and is using the authorize.net processing which actually charges the card at the time they make the reservation online. If the card is bad, the reservation won't go through. That is probably what we'll end up doing in the future.

As far as charge backs, if they have clicked that they have read and agreed to your policies, the credit card company will side with you. That was the problem we had with the phone reservation over the summer, we were denied a chargeback because we couldn't prove that the guest read and agreed to our policy, so that's why we changed our phone reservations.

Good luck with the switch to ResKey, you won't regret it!

Madeleine's picture
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Breakfast Diva wrote:

As far as charge backs, if they have clicked that they have read and agreed to your policies, the credit card company will side with you. That was the problem we had with the phone reservation over the summer, we were denied a chargeback because we couldn't prove that the guest read and agreed to our policy, so that's why we changed our phone reservations.

Good luck with the switch to ResKey, you won't regret it!

I keep wishing I remembered this when I do a phone rez. I would do the phone rez via the same system the guest would use and tell them exactly what the online rez states. OR, require a reply to the confirmation email. Either way would work.

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 Bob it is a hassle. I hear you. I say "if you say you are charging a deposit, then charge it." You will cut down on no shows and cancellations and bad cards. Or take the risk... I do both, depending on time of year. I have more user error on my part when I run them all in advance, but I KNOW I SHOULD BE doing this.

Madeleine's picture
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Bob wrote:

    My question is this.  “If you charge a person a head of time, how and what has worked best for you?”  Have you had guests upset when you do not refund their money?  How have you handled this?  Do you allow them to move to a different day?   Have you had people try and do a charge back on the credit card?  I have been doing this for 14 years and I am always looking for a better easier way to do something.
Thank you for your help!

Up until a few weeks ago we were taking the deposit one week prior to arrival (when our cancellation policy kicked in) and I found a substantial number of declined cards in the lot. I made a lot of phone calls to get good cards. It was a lot of extra work.

So, policy change- we now take the deposit when the rez is made. We've only had one cancellation since starting this and we refunded them less the $25 fee. (OK, take that back, we had 2 but one person called before the card had processed so I just voided the transaction.)

Yes, we allow guests to change dates without charge. I would get testy if they changed a lot.

Yes, we have had guests scream at us when we refused to let them off at the last minute. I tell them I will have to call the GM to handle their complaint and I hang up (before I say something I will regret later on!) and then I let DH call them back as he's saner than I am. It always helps that the guest then thinks they have gone over my head to some important person and it gives us a chance to decide if it's worth it.

EmptyNest's picture
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 oH YOU SLY FOX!  Good for you

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We use reskey, and love it. We have an attachment with our policies so when it 'automatically' generates the confirmation email, the policies are attached to the email.

Its up to the guests if they read them or not. If NOT, and they have a 'concern (gripe)' then we kindly remind them that the policies are stated on our website and in the confirmation email they recieved with their reservation.

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Arks's picture
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Every time I make online reservations at a Holiday Inn they take the full amount up front and tell me it is non-refundable. I accept that in return for getting their best rate. All hotels that do allow a cancellation window stick to their stated policy. That's becoming the norm and most people understand it and expect you will stick to your policy.

Like catlady, a while back I set friends up to take reskey online reservations. In addition to helping them, I learned a lot about it so I'll be ready when I get my own place ready to open.

From what I recall, though, reskey doesn't force people to accept terms and cancellation policy before paying. It has a link above the "make reservation" button that will display the terms and cancellation policy if they click the link, but it doesn't make them read it or acknowledge it.

Has anybody asked John about adding this? Or is it there and I've missed it?

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 From what I recall, though, reskey doesn't force people to accept terms and cancellation policy before paying. It has a link above the "make reservation" button that will display the terms and cancellation policy if they click the link, but it doesn't make them read it or acknowledge it.

Absolutely, there is a tick box they must tick before submitting the reservation. It also shows on their confirmation, that they ticked the box and agreeed to policies. (Add it to yours if you have not - anyone reading this, like Sunshine who stated she sends out a separate form) Smiling

John is super!

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Absolutely, there is a tick box they must tick before submitting the reservation. It also shows on their confirmation, that they ticked the box and agreeed to policies.

I sure can't find it (there are a lot of places a setting like that can hide in reskey). If you remember off hand where the setting is to turn that on, let me know. Otherwise I'll go ask John.

Thanks for the info!

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Arkansawyer wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

Absolutely, there is a tick box they must tick before submitting the reservation. It also shows on their confirmation, that they ticked the box and agreeed to policies.

I sure can't find it (there are a lot of places a setting like that can hide in reskey). If you remember off hand where the setting is to turn that on, let me know. Otherwise I'll go ask John.

Thanks for the info!

http://imm.io/dXpt

Reservation pages

CUSTOM FIELDS (where you add the check in times, reason for your visit, etc)

and ADD custom field at the top.  Select CHECK BOX, then insert your info there as you want it to be viewed. Have it set to REQUIRED.

Arks's picture
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Thanks JB! I'd never even looked at custom fields before. You've studied this stuff a lot deeper than I have.

I did have a problem, though. I definitely have it set as Required, and the checkbox and text shows up on the reservation page, but I did a test reservation, without checking the checkbox, to make sure it required the box be checked, and the reservation went through and charged my credit card!

And when I check the reservation I made in the Reservation Manager, it shows the text "I have read and agree..." with an unchecked checkbox. So it did let me make the reservation without checking the box.

One thing I have to check: when I used the values Yes# as in your example, it put a checkbox both before and after the word Yes on the reservation page, since the # indicates that there is a second choice, which is blank in this case. I removed the # and it gave me just a single checkbox to the left of the word Yes. But perhaps having only one choice throws it off. I'll try it with Yes#No.

(You don't have to spend time on this...I'll work it out with John.)

Thanks again! You've opened up new possibilities with these custom fields!

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 Sorry, remove the # after the yes.

EmptyNest's picture
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 Lots of folks switching to Res Key who have had it with web r va tion s. I set it up for a friend of mine. John has been terffic assistance with questions etc. I think you will see all sorts of praises here for Res key.  Lots of other info here about charging up front and everything else you asked about as well.  These days you HAVE to take a credit card and charge a deposit up front. Like you said, too many no shows, declined cards etc.  RUN the card first to see if it is good and CHARGE a deposit. You are a business and you have to protect yourself as best you can.  There is only so much you can do, but seems like people want to try and get away with  anything they can these days.

Honor system be 

You have a large place in a popular destination. You MUST HAVE ON LINE RESERVATIONS! Yes of course you have now seen an increase in reservations. Now continue on as a real lodging business and take their credit card and charge a deposit. 

Make sure they know up front if there is a cancellation within your "time frame" they will forfeit the deposit.  You have to stick to your guns on this. There should be a place where they agree to this so if there is a chargeback you have some sort of amunition to back it up with the company.  Others here will have lots more to say on this I am sure.  If you want to allow folks to move to another day, feel free to do so, if it isn't going to mess up your life. Otherwise, don't.

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