Why Is It So Hard To Spend My money?

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Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

I know we've discussed this before, but I'm in the process of booking our New England trip and I'm appalled at how difficult many businesses make it to book with them. I'm not particularly singling out the US, I know it's the same when I've booked places in the UK.

Complicated web designs, unhelpful email replies and I'm getting to the point of avoiding places that use we ber avti ons.

I emailed a place that we wanted to book, their online calendar says they have a vacancy but also has a footnote saying that the calendar may not be up to date and hasn't been updated since 20th (What's the point of it if even if the room you want looks available you have to email and ask if it really is?). I emailed and said, politely, is it available, how much, how do I book. I had to wait 12 hours for a reply becuase of the time difference which tells me it's available, the price, but doesn't tell me how I book, so I've now got to wait anoher 12 hours, presumably.

I've come across two sites where the room ID in we berv ati ons doesn't match the desciption on the main site, so you've then got try and work out which room is which by clicking on the description of each. I don't like the tiny window it appears in either, but I suspect these are problems with business implementations of the system, rather than the system itself.

I'm sitting here with my credit card ready to book places, but nobody wants my money!!!! If someone with 8 years experience running a B&B and 20 years IT experience finds these sites complicated, what hope is there for your average holidaymaker.

 

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Thanks for the topic.  We just redid our site and thought how cool, even more informative it is etc.  Then went to look after this topic and while we do cover EVERYTHING, it is not SMACK out at ya!

We have 2 links on every page instead of one for our booking system one says Book NOW, the other Check Availability - we added this one a couple years ago after another thread about people who are afraid to just check availability on the booking site! 

But I am going to add another part to the avail. link - Check Availability and RATES.  And will also place a link under each page where we do have a Rate range... "Check rates for your dates here.    It is overkill but what the heck!  Anything to get people to look. 

 

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May I suggest on the room page itself having a "CHECK ROOM RATE" button? Looking at it I don't see any room rates, then I have to check avail or book online, when all I really want to do is see the room rate (which I get may be a range of rates, so you want them to put in the dates to find out specifically).  This is me, and I know where I could find them, but others may not.

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08/04/2008

We ran into the same problem a few weeks ago.  I don't want to have to call. I'm online. Let me book online.

If I was trying to book an entire vacation where we stayed on night here, two nights there, another night somewhere else, I most likely would book at a hotel. It's just EASIER. And sometimes 'easy' is fine by me. I don't want my vacation to start three or four months earlier on a sour note just becuase I'm frustrated by the process of being able to lay my head down at night.  /rant

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Penelope wrote:

We ran into the same problem a few weeks ago.  I don't want to have to call. I'm online. Let me book online.

If I was trying to book an entire vacation where we stayed on night here, two nights there, another night somewhere else, I most likely would book at a hotel. It's just EASIER. And sometimes 'easy' is fine by me. I don't want my vacation to start three or four months earlier on a sour note just becuase I'm frustrated by the process of being able to lay my head down at night.  /rant

This is a great topic, one we all need to look at from the guest pov. We know this, but we think it is just okay when people don't complain, I am always needing reminders to K.I.S.S. 

I was against online reservations year-one. I have since changed my tune.  In fact the opposite is true. Those who call are the pitas and those who book online are the deeeeelightful guests (98% of the time!).

OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

OK, we're one of those in the dark ages. We do not have online booking and we don't take credit cards (unless we have to). But then we're not a B&B, renting rooms by the night -- we're renting housekeeping (aka self-catering) cottages, preferably by the week (although we will take shorter stays).

Our problem with online booking is that we haven't yet found a system that can deal with the way we do business. Returning guests get first dibs on their cottage for their week for the following year, and we give them until the 1st of the year or so to get their requests in. After that, it is first-come, first-served. But of course if we know we have an opening, we do want to make that available to new guests as well.  So we need a system that offers an availability calendar with more options than just available/not available -- we need at least a third option that says "this unit is not booked yet, but you can not book it online at this time"  in other words, "pending" or "on hold, keeping a waitlist" or something like that.

We are using an online availability calendar that displays four different statuses: avaialble, not availabler, pending, and special offer (any of which you can re-define if you want) (www.dateblocker.com) We keep the calendar up to date, because that is what WE look at to see if something is available when someone inquires!

We think our published rates are pretty straightforward, but most of our inquiries still ask us for a quote. Maybe they don't trust their own abilities to do arithmetic (e.g. calculating the amount of tax)?

So if you want to make a reservation with us, call or send us an e-mail telling us which cottage and the dates -- we'll mark you down as pending and, depending on the timeframe, ask you to mail us a check for your confirmation deposit (pay the balance when you arrive, cash or chedk) or if your stay is only a week or two away, we'll forgo the confirmation deposit (pay the total when you arrive, cash or check). If mailing a check is a problem, we'll work with you to pay the deposit via PayPal. Maybe old-fashioned, but so far it does still work (for us).

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Sorry, I missed the whole section on what you are using. Oops.

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Harborfields wrote:

OK, we're one of those in the dark ages. We do not have online booking and we don't take credit cards (unless we have to). But then we're not a B&B, renting rooms by the night -- we're renting housekeeping (aka self-catering) cottages, preferably by the week (although we will take shorter stays).

Our problem with online booking is that we haven't yet found a system that can deal with the way we do business. Returning guests get first dibs on their cottage for their week for the following year, and we give them until the 1st of the year or so to get their requests in. After that, it is first-come, first-served. But of course if we know we have an opening, we do want to make that available to new guests as well.  So we need a system that offers an availability calendar with more options than just available/not available -- we need at least a third option that says "this unit is not booked yet, but you can not book it online at this time"  in other words, "pending" or "on hold, keeping a waitlist" or something like that.

We are using an online availability calendar that displays four different statuses: avaialble, not availabler, pending, and special offer (any of which you can re-define if you want) (www.dateblocker.com) We keep the calendar up to date, because that is what WE look at to see if something is available when someone inquires!

We think our published rates are pretty straightforward, but most of our inquiries still ask us for a quote. Maybe they don't trust their own abilities to do arithmetic (e.g. calculating the amount of tax)?

So if you want to make a reservation with us, call or send us an e-mail telling us which cottage and the dates -- we'll mark you down as pending and, depending on the timeframe, ask you to mail us a check for your confirmation deposit (pay the balance when you arrive, cash or chedk) or if your stay is only a week or two away, we'll forgo the confirmation deposit (pay the total when you arrive, cash or check). If mailing a check is a problem, we'll work with you to pay the deposit via PayPal. Maybe old-fashioned, but so far it does still work (for us).

I found that same system in Florida, I gave up and went somewhere else, when I make plans for a vacation they need to be concrete, I am booking airlines, and blocking off dates from work, etc. I am just letting you know, but if you are 100% occupancy year-round then more power to you. 

You do not know the guests who do not book with you. You will never know.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Here's what I do for repeats...I block their room nights when they check out and then do what you do- give them a deadline to pay. Once that deadline has passed and they haven't booked (usually 6 months in advance) I release the rooms for everyone to book.

I also have a wait list so I can contact other guests immediately.

It's not pretty but it does accomplish what you're trying to do. I set up a reminder for each prebooking and email them a week before their deadline is up.

You can then set your minimum stay based on where the schedule falls. If everyone usually leaves on Sunday you can set up that there are no check-ins on any day other than Sunday unless you get a 4-nighter and you want to fill the other 3 nights before the next guests show up.

The very least you could try to do is a Google calendar that shows what is open and the minimum stay. You can X out the booked days, put a ? for the potentially booked days and leave the open days blank. You'll need a legend that explains the chart. Explain guests should call for the ? and the blank days and that the X dates are full.

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

this is why I have live online booking - it tells you to the date and day the price - this is because my prices vary on a daily basis due to demand ie a particular tuesday can be mad busy where as the next tuesday could be dead.

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Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

And another thing.........................

 

It's really annoying that on some sites when you click onto the tariff page it says $95-$295.

What does that mean, I don't care what the annual price range is, I want to know how much it is the week I want to book, and I don't want to have to email to ask and wait for a reply when I'm sitting here trying to arrange 2 weeks worth of accommodation.

 

AAAaaarrrggg

 

 

Madeleine's picture
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I took that comment to heart a few years ago, plus it helps to not have that range in peak season because everyone wants the $95 room in August!

I do have a range still but it is small ($30) and most of the rooms are the lower number. The calendar has the full info.

Depending on when you are arriving, some places close in the middle of Oct and they don't tell you that on the website!

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I'LL take your money! I don't have webervations so you haven't tried to book here.

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10/07/2008

HJ I love you man!

This is what I say every time I try to plan a getaway and end up with hotels, as they are easy to book, and easy to cancel!

B&B's stink! They really do, 65%+ of them online suck! When oh when will they get a clue? This is their first impression, the storefron to invite the visitor into the shop!  Sad part is, even some who have been on this forum for years still make it difficult to book a room with them. (A few, not a generalization) but they come here and ignore any decent advice and continue on their merry way, then complain about callers and guests.

You put it in a nutshell, there you are with credit card in hand and can't give away your hard earned money!

Remember HJ the Blue Ridge Parkway...America's Favorite Drive in the fall...more variety of leafy trees than even in Japan (you know where to find me) any time, would love to have you mate. 

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

John, that was my experience when I wanted to book in France last year, except of course it was worse because they expected me to send them money via PayPal and to pay their PayPal fees and I have actually Euros that I want to spend, not pay exchange to PayPal, never mind asking me to tag on another % so they don't have to pay for PayPal. In the end, we had to contact them, ask if they were willing or in some cases, unwilling and just give up.

It's one of the reasons that I have online booking that is always up to date. But still, I get people emailing me all the time asking for prices instead of just looking it up themselves.

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Madeleine's picture
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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

It's one of the reasons that I have online booking that is always up to date. But still, I get people emailing me all the time asking for prices instead of just looking it up themselves.

Because of the issues John mentions, we get calls all the time saying, 'I'm looking at the calendar, is the room REALLY available?'

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

It drives me crazy. And I have two prices, one for online booking and one for telephone. So I have to specify that the rate includes the online booking discount. I want to make it as easy as possible. And for the most part most get it, but some don't.

We also say that reservations are 100% online and that we do not hold back rooms, ever. Not if you call me on the telephone, not if you decide to email back and forth. The first to reserve gets it. I've only had one person ever think that they had reserved in email. I asked them for a copy of their confirmation. She didn't have one. And that was my point. Our confirmation emails all have serial numbers and come from a different email address.

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02/09/2010

 John,

Unfortunately, what you're experiencing is all too common - even in this "digital age" - and a good lesson for us all. 

If more of us would search like potential guests, and walk through the booking steps just as a guest would (including looking at room descriptions, etc.), we would make better choices for our websites and our booking engines.

When you see one that consistently has the same issues, evaluate whether it is the innkeeper (perhaps innkeepers in a particular region, or of a particular size) or the software, something isn't serving the guest's needs.

Don't use those ideas/descriptions/platforms (except as an example of what not to do).

Scott

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