First Cancellation: Did I handle it the right way?

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Yeah, yeah, welcome to the club. Had 3 nights scheduled beginning next Monday. She just wrote and cancelled. A fellow worker's illness means she has to work elsewhere next week rather than coming here, though she says she may be reassigned to come here next month.

She paid the first 2 nights in advance, though only 1 night's deposit is required. Here's how I responded. Is this how YOU do it?

 

(guest first name),

So sorry to hear that you cannot make it as previously planned, but I understand that things like this happen. I have cancelled your reservation for next week.

When a reservation is confirmed, we turn down any other requests for the apartment in order to hold the reservation for you, so our posted cancellation policy is as follows:

A deposit equal to one night’s stay is required at the time of reservation. Cancellation more than 7 days before the reserved date will result in refund of the deposit (less a $25 service charge). Cancellation 7 days or fewer before the reserved date will result in forfeiture of the deposit.

Since your arrival was to be only five days from now, this results in forfeiture of the initial $134.17 deposit you made, for the first night, but I have processed a refund on the additional $134.17 payment you made for the second night.

In addition, I will be happy to track this and apply the $134.17 forfeited first night’s deposit to a future stay. When you’re ready to re-schedule, just e-mail me with your arrival/departure plans and I’ll see that your $134.17 deposit for this stay is applied to your future stay, so you don’t lose a penny!

Best regards, and looking forward to doing it another time,

(Me, my place)

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I had a pretty lenient cancellation policy here.  But, for biz guests I was even more lax and it paid big dividends.  The biz guests were the second largest part of my business and I wanted to keep it that way. 

Let us know how this worked out.  You might want to relax your policy for business guests.

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Arks's picture
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Samster wrote:

Let us know how this worked out.  You might want to relax your policy for business guests.

She thanked me very much for applying the credit to a future stay, and had me send her an receipt so she could get reimbursed by her employer. So the credit is for the company now, not necessarily her. She  said it will probably be someone else coming next month, but she'll let them know mine is the place to stay!

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Excellent!

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05/30/2008

Sounds like it worked out.  Good job!!

Arks's picture
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Yes, this was a business traveler and she says she, or someone from her company, is here yearly, so I'd like to encourage the repeat business.

Also had a business traveler last night. A one-night stay but she's an executive with the bank chain that holds my mortgage, so I made an exception to the 2-night minimum!

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06/24/2008

A very nicely worded reply.  We all have our policies and ways we bend them;)

I do have a different policy for business guests meeting certain criteria:  1 person, traveling Sun-Thurs. and I have a shorter time frame to cancel.  This came along as I saw how my business grew and a way to attract business travelers who would prefer to stay at a smaller property than the big chains.  Business travel can be nixed at any given time so being more flexible may be rewarded with more business.  

Glad for this discussion, some of these other ideas I am taking mental note of to incorporate. 

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copperhead wrote:

A very nicely worded reply.  We all have our policies and ways we bend them;)

I do have a different policy for business guests meeting certain criteria:  1 person, traveling Sun-Thurs. and I have a shorter time frame to cancel.  This came along as I saw how my business grew and a way to attract business travelers who would prefer to stay at a smaller property than the big chains.  Business travel can be nixed at any given time so being more flexible may be rewarded with more business.  

Glad for this discussion, some of these other ideas I am taking mental note of to incorporate. 

How do you know if they're business travelers?  

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Proud Texan wrote:

copperhead wrote:

A very nicely worded reply.  We all have our policies and ways we bend them;)

I do have a different policy for business guests meeting certain criteria:  1 person, traveling Sun-Thurs. and I have a shorter time frame to cancel.  This came along as I saw how my business grew and a way to attract business travelers who would prefer to stay at a smaller property than the big chains.  Business travel can be nixed at any given time so being more flexible may be rewarded with more business.  

Glad for this discussion, some of these other ideas I am taking mental note of to incorporate. 

How do you know if they're business travelers?  

I ask!  99% are going to one of the gov. facilities around here and are using a gov issued CC as well. 

Madeleine's picture
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Proud Texan wrote:

copperhead wrote:

A very nicely worded reply.  We all have our policies and ways we bend them;)

I do have a different policy for business guests meeting certain criteria:  1 person, traveling Sun-Thurs. and I have a shorter time frame to cancel.  This came along as I saw how my business grew and a way to attract business travelers who would prefer to stay at a smaller property than the big chains.  Business travel can be nixed at any given time so being more flexible may be rewarded with more business.  

Glad for this discussion, some of these other ideas I am taking mental note of to incorporate. 

How do you know if they're business travelers?  

I usually grant the lenient terms AFTER they've stayed once and I know they're biz travelers. We get some fast characters here who are on vacation but tell us they have a 'biz mtg' in town and then it's 'off for some fun'! OK, so one night at the biz rate, the rest of it at vacation prices.

We don't advertise a biz rate to avoid this sort of thing. Which means I don't get very many of them.

Some of them, like the lawyer we had a few years ago, are downright nasty when they call to cancel day of arrival.

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Looking back at what I wrote, I said I'd apply the forfeited deposit to a future stay. I did call it forfeited, so it won't be going back to her under any circumstances.

And I didn't say it would be the new deposit for a future stay, just applied to the stay. So technically, I think I'm OK, but I do need to get more clear wording of the policy in place. Thanks a bunch!

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Yeah, you read it one way the guest reads it the way they want to read it. That what it is important that the credit be for a different amount, so that they know that it's goodwill and expiring good will. You will be surprised at how happy they are to receive it that way and how often it will go unused. But if you use the same amounts you may have to keep it on your books and in a few states actually send it in to the government after 5 years.

Definitely make it say accommodations only, so they know that it can't be used as a deposit again.

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Innkeep's picture
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If indeed she is a business customer, you might also decide if you want to create a set of policies for business guests, assuming that they may elect staying with you more than once.  Some innkeepers are more lenient with business people than with leisure guests.

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Innkeep wrote:

If indeed she is a business customer, you might also decide if you want to create a set of policies for business guests, assuming that they may elect staying with you more than once.  Some innkeepers are more lenient with business people than with leisure guests.

I totally am. Even tho I get the shaft most of the time, but feel if they are here locally for business I want to maintain a good rapport with the local businesses. Of which I am one, and no one cares whether they have a rapport with us.

I still try though. I know they can stay at no-tell motel and cancel on the same day.

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Madeleine's picture
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I would take it, from what you said, that the DEPOSIT has been paid already.

Proud Texan's picture
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05/30/2008

We handle our cancelations in a similar manner, but we impose a six month time frame for a new reservation.

This is reasonable and we don't have to keep them on the books indefinitely.

 

Iris's picture
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06/08/2009

I think you wrote a very nice note but I also think that you were too nice to offer to apply the $134 on a future booking.  
I look at it this way, you were counting on the income. You lost it. Who knows if you can re-book this particular time frame. She makes another reservation and you'll lose that too because you'll apply the money.  

I am not that nice and when people know that before hand, they better get with it and be ready to lose the money

Here is what I write:

As stated in our 'Cancelation Policy', which you agree to at the time you made your reservation, we have charged your credit card (the card# that you provided at booking time) for the full amount of the reservation.
We will make every effort to re- book the cottage/s and may be able to return to you some or all of your payment minus the cancelation fee.

 

 

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Generic's picture
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I would have also specified that the credit applies only to accommodations and cannot be used for a deposit. But that is just me.

Arks's picture
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Eric Arthur Blair wrote:

I would have also specified that the credit applies only to accommodations and cannot be used for a deposit. But that is just me.

Ah, so they'd need to make a new deposit (and could book online in the standard way), but the credit from the first round would go for the second night (I have a 2 night minimum so this could work). Interesting! You think outside my box, as it were, and that's valuable. Doing it that way, they would make a new reservation, an new deposit charged, and the initial credit applied only if they show. Cancel again and I have TWO deposits in the till. I like!

Generic's picture
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Absolutely, otherwise next time they have no skin in the game.

One other thing, because you issued it in the same amount it has the legal status of money in many states, so you can't issue it with an expiration date (unless your state doesn't have that rule). My basic rule about that is to not do the two together or for the same amount...

1) Here is the cancellation charge of $134.17. Thanks. (It's clear that you are charging a cancellation charge and it's just a cancellation charge.

2) We hope we can make it up to you, so here is a gift certificate for $135.00 good against the cost of accommodations valid until the end of 2014. Please note that it has no value and can only be used against the cost of accommodations, not the deposit. 

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

I agree with Maddie. Make up a template so you just have to fill in the blanks

You might want to re-evaluated your policy when you start to get really busy.

Arks's picture
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Breakfast Diva wrote:

...when you start to get really busy.

I appreciate the optimism! Yes, I'll re-evaluate if that day comes! (fingers crossed)

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Yes, I saved it for future re-use. But I forgot about the "if I'm able to re-book the dates" stuff. I'd have added that if I had thought of it, and given a full refund if somebody else took the days.

Maybe some day when/if I'm more booked, I'd impose a full stay penalty, the way some do, for a cancellation so close to arrival date. But at this point, I'm satisfied with one night's rate! $134 with no extra work is OK by me.

We'll see if she books later as she mentioned. Maybe, but that's also exactly what someone would say who's hoping for a full deposit refund!

Madeleine's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

Yes, I saved it for future re-use. But I forgot about the "if I'm able to re-book the dates" stuff. I'd have added that if I had thought of it, and given a full refund if somebody else took the days.

Maybe some day when/if I'm more booked, I'd impose a full stay penalty, the way some do, for a cancellation so close to arrival date. But at this point, I'm satisfied with one night's rate! $134 with no extra work is OK by me.

We'll see if she books later as she mentioned. Maybe, but that's also exactly what someone would say who's hoping for a full deposit refund!

One other thing you will find is the guest who cancels and rebooks and cancels again to get the deposit back. Make the deposit non-refundable once the original check-in date has passed.

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Madeleine wrote:

Arkansawyer wrote:

Yes, I saved it for future re-use. But I forgot about the "if I'm able to re-book the dates" stuff. I'd have added that if I had thought of it, and given a full refund if somebody else took the days.

Maybe some day when/if I'm more booked, I'd impose a full stay penalty, the way some do, for a cancellation so close to arrival date. But at this point, I'm satisfied with one night's rate! $134 with no extra work is OK by me.

We'll see if she books later as she mentioned. Maybe, but that's also exactly what someone would say who's hoping for a full deposit refund!

One other thing you will find is the guest who cancels and rebooks and cancels again to get the deposit back. Make the deposit non-refundable once the original check-in date has passed.

They will try this a few times. We have all been there done that and been duped until we put the policy in place.

Madeleine's picture
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If that's how you want to handle it, it was nicely done. Hopefully, you have a canned template that you just fill in the blanks and don't rewrite every time.

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