Do you give away guest rooms if they don't show up and don't answer their phone?

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Madeleine's picture
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Multi-part question:

  • If a guest does not show up by check-in and you cannot contact them, do you book the room out to someone else who knocks on the door?
  • If a guest is booked in for a couple of nights and no shows the first night do you try to rent the room on the subsequent nights? Would you try to contact the guest?

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I'm dumbfounded to read how many people don't take deposits or first one or two nights. 

We have a two-night minimum, 3 nights on weekend holidays, take 50% up front and the balance 30 days out.  Cancel prior to 30 days before arrival and you are charged a 15% penalty against the entire reservation, not just on the deposit amount.  Cancel 30 to 14 days prior and the penalty is 25%.  Cancel less than 14 days prior to arrival; no refund on deposit unless it can be rebooked.  And NO refund whatsoever for early departure regardless of the reason. 

Why would you leave yourself open to abuse and extreme inconvenience doing otherwise?  You have to protect your inventory.

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Interesting that your cancellation policy is so far out at 30 days.  As a former owner/innkeeper and frequent B&B guest, I would probably not book your place.  But, I guess that you're really busy so can have that kind of a policy in place which is fantastic.  There's no way that we could have had that restrictive of a policy here.  But we had an urban B&B and a lot of our guests were here for specific events and we had a large group of biz travelers through our university. I had a 72 hour policy and had hardly any cancellations. 

I think most innkeepers here have firm policies in place.  But sometimes, making an exception avoids heartburn for the innkeeper and the guest.

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We also have a 30 day policy for cancellations and we stick to it during our busy summer season.   We get some folks who reserve a week during the summer as early as January and then wait until the last minute to cancel to get their refund.  If we had a shorter period they would wait longer and we might not be able to rebook the entire reservation period.  But during the slow season, although the policy is in place, we can make exceptions...and we do.  But it is our choice, not our obligation.  

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Are you sure you have a B & B? Policies like that would leave me open to abuse, inconvenience, and empty rooms. Being flexible is what keeps me in business. It gives me happy guests who come back and who tell others how wonderful we are.

Madeleine's picture
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You must be in a high occupancy area. A lot of us are not.

We just started taking deposits 2 years ago. Last year we went to having a flat fee for cancellations. We have a one week cancellation period.

We started operations with a 14 day cancellation period and no deposit. We had people screaming at us on the phone when we told them we were going to charge their card if no one booked their room. No amount of money is worth that kind of abuse.

Now we find other B&B's in walking distance to us have lowered their cancellation periods to 72 hours and they don't charge a deposit. 3 night min? Never in a million years. It's hard to get a 2-night min on a holiday.

The reason I mention this is because not every area supports the kind of policy you have. Of course you can force that policy but you take the chance of not getting the reservations you need to survive. If I implemented a year-round 2-night min, I'd be empty 80% of the year.

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Madeleine wrote:

You must be in a high occupancy area. A lot of us are not.

We just started taking deposits 2 years ago. Last year we went to having a flat fee for cancellations. We have a one week cancellation period.

We started operations with a 14 day cancellation period and no deposit. We had people screaming at us on the phone when we told them we were going to charge their card if no one booked their room. No amount of money is worth that kind of abuse.

Now we find other B&B's in walking distance to us have lowered their cancellation periods to 72 hours and they don't charge a deposit. 3 night min? Never in a million years. It's hard to get a 2-night min on a holiday.

The reason I mention this is because not every area supports the kind of policy you have. Of course you can force that policy but you take the chance of not getting the reservations you need to survive. If I implemented a year-round 2-night min, I'd be empty 80% of the year.

Yes, we're in a high occupancy area for summer only.  The rest of the time guests have choices.  It's all in how you go about it.  State your policy from the beginning.  And make it an integral part of your ON-LINE reservation policy.  Meaning, that before they click on "send" they have to check that they read AND UNDERSTAND the cancellation/charge procedure. (If you are not using an on-line reservation system you're shooting yourself in the foot on several levels.)  Then, if they are sizing you up for a refund they will think twice about asking for refunds because THEY KNOW what they agreed to.  And your job of turning them down or securing your funds from the reservation is that much easier.  We NEVER have problems securing final payment 30 days out.  If the reservation is made within the 30 days prior to arrival GET 100% OF THE RESERVATION!

I recently stayed in a very nice boutique hotel in Aspen, and made the reservations about 3 weeks in advance.  The documentation said "30 days prior we secure all funds".  The on-line reservation system was down, so I called and she made the reservation for just the first night.  I reminding her we were within 30 days and she apologized and took the whole amount for the reservation. (I wanted to have it paid anyway...). 

The more wiggle room you give your guests the more they will take advantage of it. 

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When did our guests become the enemy?

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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

When did our guests become the enemy?

I don't mean to make it sound that way, they are not...  I just think you have to try to reduce losses by sticking to clearly delineated refund and charge policies and then enforcing them to a greater extent.  I LOVE guests, but I hate losing money because I find it hard to say no.  Sorry, I certainly did not mean to convey that wrong idea!

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Well, your policies are speaking volumes. How are they translating into reservations? Are people booking at the last minute or booking months in advance? 

Are you their first choice or their last choice? Are you filling because they want to stay with you or because they can't find elsewhere? 

My reservations for December are already ahead of last year. My competition? I checked their December... not a reservation. 

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tar4heel2 wrote:

Yes, we're in a high occupancy area for summer only.  The rest of the time guests have choices.  It's all in how you go about it.  State your policy from the beginning.  And make it an integral part of your ON-LINE reservation policy.  Meaning, that before they click on "send" they have to check that they read AND UNDERSTAND the cancellation/charge procedure. (If you are not using an on-line reservation system you're shooting yourself in the foot on several levels.)  Then, if they are sizing you up for a refund they will think twice about asking for refunds because THEY KNOW what they agreed to.  And your job of turning them down or securing your funds from the reservation is that much easier.  We NEVER have problems securing final payment 30 days out.  If the reservation is made within the 30 days prior to arrival GET 100% OF THE RESERVATION!

The more wiggle room you give your guests the more they will take advantage of it. 

I have a very clear policy on my website and the same clear policy in my online booking software. I'm comfortable collecting the deposit on booking and the rest on arrival.

Altho I can say unreservedly that we NEVER 'gave away' the thousands of dollars you mention, the year we 'lost' $1800 in one week due to bad credit cards and no shows or late cancellations or leaving early was the year we instituted the deposit policy.

This year, with the deposit in place, we have had fewer cancellations at any point in the process and we have kept the deposits in only 2 instances where the guest either canceled too late and we did not rebook or they failed to show up at all.

You are happy with your system and I am happy with mine. And that's what makes the world go 'round.

 

 

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Madeleine wrote:

tar4heel2 wrote:

Yes, we're in a high occupancy area for summer only.  The rest of the time guests have choices.  It's all in how you go about it.  State your policy from the beginning.  And make it an integral part of your ON-LINE reservation policy.  Meaning, that before they click on "send" they have to check that they read AND UNDERSTAND the cancellation/charge procedure. (If you are not using an on-line reservation system you're shooting yourself in the foot on several levels.)  Then, if they are sizing you up for a refund they will think twice about asking for refunds because THEY KNOW what they agreed to.  And your job of turning them down or securing your funds from the reservation is that much easier.  We NEVER have problems securing final payment 30 days out.  If the reservation is made within the 30 days prior to arrival GET 100% OF THE RESERVATION!

The more wiggle room you give your guests the more they will take advantage of it. 

I have a very clear policy on my website and the same clear policy in my online booking software. I'm comfortable collecting the deposit on booking and the rest on arrival.

Altho I can say unreservedly that we NEVER 'gave away' the thousands of dollars you mention, the year we 'lost' $1800 in one week due to bad credit cards and no shows or late cancellations or leaving early was the year we instituted the deposit policy.

This year, with the deposit in place, we have had fewer cancellations at any point in the process and we have kept the deposits in only 2 instances where the guest either canceled too late and we did not rebook or they failed to show up at all.

You are happy with your system and I am happy with mine. And that's what makes the world go 'round.

Amen!  Can't argue with that!  Smiling

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tar4heel2 wrote:

I'm dumbfounded to read how many people don't take deposits or first one or two nights. 

We have a two-night minimum, 3 nights on weekend holidays, take 50% up front and the balance 30 days out.  Cancel prior to 30 days before arrival and you are charged a 15% penalty against the entire reservation, not just on the deposit amount.  Cancel 30 to 14 days prior and the penalty is 25%.  Cancel less than 14 days prior to arrival; no refund on deposit unless it can be rebooked.  And NO refund whatsoever for early departure regardless of the reason. 

Why would you leave yourself open to abuse and extreme inconvenience doing otherwise?  You have to protect your inventory.

different strokes for different folks. Sometimes being the "post-it police" is not worth it, the hassle, the time, the irritation. Having an overabundance of rules for a few who ruffle our feathers is just not on.

We will refund if we want to, we won't penalize people by having extreme cancellation policies. Stuff happens, we run a business that is all about people, we are in the people business. They are in our home. Nuff said.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

tar4heel2 wrote:

I'm dumbfounded to read how many people don't take deposits or first one or two nights. 

We have a two-night minimum, 3 nights on weekend holidays, take 50% up front and the balance 30 days out.  Cancel prior to 30 days before arrival and you are charged a 15% penalty against the entire reservation, not just on the deposit amount.  Cancel 30 to 14 days prior and the penalty is 25%.  Cancel less than 14 days prior to arrival; no refund on deposit unless it can be rebooked.  And NO refund whatsoever for early departure regardless of the reason. 

Why would you leave yourself open to abuse and extreme inconvenience doing otherwise?  You have to protect your inventory.

"ruffle our feathers"?

we run a business that is all about people, we are in the people business. They are in our home. Nuff said.

I understand your sentiment, but not securing the payment for your services is just not good business.  I respectfully submit that losing 2 or 3 nights revenue is a bit more than "...ruffling our feathers".

Yes, you run a business, NOT a flop-house.  Before we changed our view on this we did about what you describe; try to work with people, be sympathetic, not enforcing policies every time...  then we took a look and were shocked to discover we were GIVING AWAY $40 to $60,000 a year in refunds and last minute cancellations! 

Take a minute and seriously examine exactly how much money you are flat-out GIVING AWAY by folding for people who can't get their act together.  You can't conduct yourself as a "sometime-free-service" and "sometime-paid-service"!  You can be pleasant but business-like, firm but respectful, and not alienate the public.

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tar4heel2 wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

tar4heel2 wrote:

I'm dumbfounded to read how many people don't take deposits or first one or two nights. 

We have a two-night minimum, 3 nights on weekend holidays, take 50% up front and the balance 30 days out.  Cancel prior to 30 days before arrival and you are charged a 15% penalty against the entire reservation, not just on the deposit amount.  Cancel 30 to 14 days prior and the penalty is 25%.  Cancel less than 14 days prior to arrival; no refund on deposit unless it can be rebooked.  And NO refund whatsoever for early departure regardless of the reason. 

Why would you leave yourself open to abuse and extreme inconvenience doing otherwise?  You have to protect your inventory.

"ruffle our feathers"?

we run a business that is all about people, we are in the people business. They are in our home. Nuff said.

I understand your sentiment, but not securing the payment for your services is just not good business.  I respectfully submit that losing 2 or 3 nights revenue is a bit more than "...ruffling our feathers".

Yes, you run a business, NOT a flop-house.  Before we changed our view on this we did about what you describe; try to work with people, be sympathetic, not enforcing policies every time...  then we took a look and were shocked to discover we were GIVING AWAY $40 to $60,000 a year in refunds and last minute cancellations! 

Take a minute and seriously examine exactly how much money you are flat-out GIVING AWAY by folding for people who can't get their act together.  You can't conduct yourself as a "sometime-free-service" and "sometime-paid-service"!  You can be pleasant but business-like, firm but respectful, and not alienate the public.

You know what needs to be professional, a website. You see the guests we have are not like your guests apparently, ours show up, they pay up. I have only had one cancellation this year because the dude's best friend called off the wedding, and they paid for the stay anyway. I am not giving away ANY THING.

We obv have different guest demographics.

My business is GREAT BUSINESS. I love what I do. I do not want a business of being a hall monitor and treating guests poorly. I am not a hotel, I am a real person. Again, back to the website thing, that says a lot about the place where you are staying. Do you have online reservations set up? People will have to click and agree to your policies.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

tar4heel2 wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

tar4heel2 wrote:

I'm dumbfounded to read how many people don't take deposits or first one or two nights. 

We have a two-night minimum, 3 nights on weekend holidays, take 50% up front and the balance 30 days out.  Cancel prior to 30 days before arrival and you are charged a 15% penalty against the entire reservation, not just on the deposit amount.  Cancel 30 to 14 days prior and the penalty is 25%.  Cancel less than 14 days prior to arrival; no refund on deposit unless it can be rebooked.  And NO refund whatsoever for early departure regardless of the reason. 

Why would you leave yourself open to abuse and extreme inconvenience doing otherwise?  You have to protect your inventory.

"ruffle our feathers"?

we run a business that is all about people, we are in the people business. They are in our home. Nuff said.

I understand your sentiment, but not securing the payment for your services is just not good business.  I respectfully submit that losing 2 or 3 nights revenue is a bit more than "...ruffling our feathers".

Yes, you run a business, NOT a flop-house.  Before we changed our view on this we did about what you describe; try to work with people, be sympathetic, not enforcing policies every time...  then we took a look and were shocked to discover we were GIVING AWAY $40 to $60,000 a year in refunds and last minute cancellations! 

Take a minute and seriously examine exactly how much money you are flat-out GIVING AWAY by folding for people who can't get their act together.  You can't conduct yourself as a "sometime-free-service" and "sometime-paid-service"!  You can be pleasant but business-like, firm but respectful, and not alienate the public.

You know what needs to be professional, a website. You see the guests we have are not like your guests apparently, ours show up, they pay up. I have only had one cancellation this year because the dude's best friend called off the wedding, and they paid for the stay anyway. I am not giving away ANY THING.

We obv have different guest demographics.

My business is GREAT BUSINESS. I love what I do. I do not want a business of being a hall monitor and treating guests poorly. I am not a hotel, I am a real person. Again, back to the website thing, that says a lot about the place where you are staying. Do you have online reservations set up? People will have to click and agree to your policies.

Yep, absolutely!  I think you've been very lucky so far...  I love what I do too, but I'm getting very impatient with people who want me to pay for their problems.  And I'm seeing more and more of the "refund trollers".  More power to you if it works for you, but again, I respectfully suggest you might look and see what real impact your practices are having.  Maybe none, but you should examine it anyway.  But in reading posts from other people, I'm not so sure others are as lucky as you!!

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[/quote]

Yep, absolutely!  I think you've been very lucky so far...  I love what I do too, but I'm getting very impatient with people who want me to pay for their problems.  And I'm seeing more and more of the "refund trollers".  More power to you if it works for you, but again, I respectfully suggest you might look and see what real impact your practices are having.  Maybe none, but you should examine it anyway.  But in reading posts from other people, I'm not so sure others are as lucky as you!!

[/quote]

Okay I will stop posting on this thread, I have found your inn online, and the TA reviews. 

Joey Camb's picture
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I believe early departure conditions depend on the situation - ie one of my regulars who has 3 rooms for 7 nights twice a year - had a room this time that needed to go back to the factory due to a problem after 3 nights - however they even found a chap to stay in the room for me - so didn't loose out in any way (we have a chamber maid so additional work of a change was minimal) and kept a big spending regular happy.

As a normal policy we don't however but feel you have to see how it goes.

Think it also depends on your competition and demand - where I am the places with the most restrictive policies book last and are left with the scraps of bookings that no one wants because people won't pay 50% in advance 12 months ahead of time when there are 70 other places that will.

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We had the same problem last week...we don't take deposit or fully charge until day of arrival.  This woman booked the most expensive room for 2 nights and no show.  We called her several times the next day and no answer.

We tried to charge to credit card, and it was declined. 

 

Silverspoon's picture
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 Well we take a 2-night deposit for all advanced bookings so, no, we do not give the room away since it is already paid for.  If, however, we had a last minute reservation and did not take the deposit, then all bets are off.  It's first come first serve for walkins with cash.

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This is partly why if someone rings - oh we are 10 mins away do we have to give a card - the answer is yes and I will be processing it imediately. Had a chap ring - 2 hours later never arrived - that was the last time!

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Madeleine wrote:

Multi-part question:

  • If a guest does not show up by check-in and you cannot contact them, do you book the room out to someone else who knocks on the door?
  • If a guest is booked in for a couple of nights and no shows the first night do you try to rent the room on the subsequent nights? Would you try to contact the guest?

No. The room is guaranteed, that means they paid for it. Some hotels hold until midnight, later needs a special request. If you have a CC on file, it is guaranteed arrival.

Yes. I try to reach them, to make sure it wasn't an error on their part for the arrival day. At that point by 8AM the next morning the room is considered bookable, even if they have paid for it as a no-show. 

gillumhouse's picture
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My policies state a full reservation charge plu tax will be charged if cancelled less than 48 hours prior to expected arrival or no-show. I am not messing with my 100 year old front door (it is gorgeous) for a key pad lock. Besides, i do not have enough no-shows or late arrivals (my late arrivals need guidance to the stable anyway). So if I have waited up and they have not called and did not show - full charge and if I can rent the room the second night I will but it is unlikely to happen. Not in my location.

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no

yes

Highlands John's picture
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We take a deposit and we don't have a "check in by" time, so wouldn't let a room go.

However if if they'd booked two nights and didn't show up the first night I would re-let the room, after trying to contact them. In fact if they showed up the 2nd night I'd turn them away. 

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Joey Camb's picture
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we had this last saturday - rang person at 6pm as they were the only people not in, we were going out to a play and my mother was sitting in for us. just go the machine on his mobile. went out came back about 10pm, dropped my mum home tied all loose ends and it was 10.30 - I was worried they were at a wedding and were going to try and check in about 2am or something. Rang again still only the machine ran the card which worked.

Next day they rang me about 10am - oh we were comming for a wedding and it was cancelled and we forgot to cancel the room.
this is why men shouldn't book they don't answer their phones! If he had rung back at 6 we could have resold and at least got him some of his money (ie we would just have charged the difference if resold for a cheaper price)

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If I had a deposit, I would not re-rent that room for that first night. It's possible they could show up very, very late. If by the next day I haven't heard from them, I would charge the 2nd night on the card they gave me since our policy is that they are responsible for all nights of their reservation. If I was able to re-book that room and all my other rooms are full, I would give the no show a refund. If I had other rooms still available, I would keep the money. The reason for that is that if the first folks had showed up, I would then have an additional room filled by the last minute folks.

I would not attempt to call the no-show.

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Maddie, more info is needed... did you take a deposit?  If so did it cover the 1 night's room rate or more/less?

As far as for me, I take a deposit so the room is officially theirs for the night, whether they show or not.

If they did not show for the 1st night, I will try to rent it out for the remaining nights.  I would not call, I feel it is their responsiblility to call me!  A hotel would not call.  My policy, which is agreed to when booking, is that unless they cancel within the agreed timeframe they are responsible for the entire period they reserved.  I would rather fill the rooms and NOT charge the remaining nights but business is business!  I am in business!

Madeleine's picture
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More info- the guest(s) showed up 2 hours early and when I asked them to come back (we weren't done with the cleaning process) she told me she had a 'guaranteed' reservation and I wasn't giving her room to someone else, was I?

I was just wondering where this might have happened to her.

All of our reservations are 'guaranteed' if you've received a confirmation. But she was using 'hotel-speak' when we are obviously not a hotel. So I wondered about it.

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