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sonatainn

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Alllllllriiiighty then...here goes.
Seeing as I am not anonymous here, I risk making my business look bad, but I need a tad of advice.
I had a client call in for a reservation few weeks back...holding a room for a night....this night turned into a fully booked night...I turned away three potential clients that I personally took...I don't know how many potentials my innkeeper took, I will ignore that from the equation.
The client EMAILS (no calls,) on the morning of the check in, and tells me that they will not be coming because of a scheduling conflict with their child, but tells me that they will rebook another time later in July. I email them saying that if I don't manage to rebook the room, I will have to charge them.
In Charlottetown, walk ins are fairly rare...they happen, but it's rare...and The Sonata Inn, being new...does not receive too much local exposure yet.
So, the room was not sold that night...so I charged them for one night....the client now complains, because she says she did not cancel...just changed the date....even though, she didn't really place a reservation for the future, just said that she would.
My cancellation policy => http://www.sonatainn.com/canc.html
I realize that my policy does not really delve into "changing dates," but I fail to see how the customer does not see this is a cancelation when the modification is done on the day of check in...it makes no sense to me. However, even if the customer comes back in the future I don't think I should refund them anyways...because that's still lost revenue to me.
I find many people don't see how making reservation is very much like selling limited inventory. If you work in retail, a similar scenario would be if someone bought a tv from you...then smashed it with a sledge hammer...and demanded a full refund...can you sell the TV again? Nope....can I sell a room after time passes...nope....I'm not Marty McFly.
Any advice on the ethics of what transpired here?
 

hawley

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
 

gillumhouse

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It is a cancel. If she booked July 10, there is only one July 10 in the month. Room nights do not reschedule. IF she "reschedules" it is a new reservation. It is your call whether you charge. Personally, I would and do - especially if it is the day of. BOTH printout and save the e-mail on your system as well as any communication between you as backup. It is a problem very few innkeepers get to not have to deal with. The first one is always traumatic.
 

egoodell

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation..
hawley said:
If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
Problem with that is it does not educate the guest. You have to gently let them know that they contracted for a night that has now passed. That is income that was taken because you turned away business.
If they rebook that is still a night in the future that is available to be sold.
Following their thinking you should charge them double for the next booking. One for the night lost and one for the night used.
Riki
 

hawley

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation..
hawley said:
If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
Problem with that is it does not educate the guest. You have to gently let them know that they contracted for a night that has now passed. That is income that was taken because you turned away business.
If they rebook that is still a night in the future that is available to be sold.
Following their thinking you should charge them double for the next booking. One for the night lost and one for the night used.
Riki
.
I agreed with her, she should charge for the night, they didn't cancel.
I only made a note that IF they booked in the future, she might offer them something to make them feel better.
 

sonatainn

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation..
hawley said:
If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
Problem with that is it does not educate the guest. You have to gently let them know that they contracted for a night that has now passed. That is income that was taken because you turned away business.
If they rebook that is still a night in the future that is available to be sold.
Following their thinking you should charge them double for the next booking. One for the night lost and one for the night used.
Riki
.
I agreed with her, she should charge for the night, they didn't cancel.
I only made a note that IF they booked in the future, she might offer them something to make them feel better.
.
I see what you're saying....offer something to entice them to come back..
However, I think Riki is right...it doesn't educate the guest...but then again...I think educating clients is always a lose-lose situation huh?
ps: I'm male :p hehe
 

Suzie Q

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My policy: If you cancel single nights, I require 48 hours notice. If multiple nights, 1 week. I have charged with this policy. I haven't had a problem...yet. I also offer a night/s in the future once the card is charged. I have had 2 no shows in 6 years. Two have cancelled the day of, and I extend them credit for a future date, within a year.
C
 

Morticia

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation..
hawley said:
If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
Problem with that is it does not educate the guest. You have to gently let them know that they contracted for a night that has now passed. That is income that was taken because you turned away business.
If they rebook that is still a night in the future that is available to be sold.
Following their thinking you should charge them double for the next booking. One for the night lost and one for the night used.
Riki
.
I agreed with her, she should charge for the night, they didn't cancel.
I only made a note that IF they booked in the future, she might offer them something to make them feel better.
.
I see what you're saying....offer something to entice them to come back..
However, I think Riki is right...it doesn't educate the guest...but then again...I think educating clients is always a lose-lose situation huh?
ps: I'm male :p hehe
.
sonatainn said:
I see what you're saying....offer something to entice them to come back..
However, I think Riki is right...it doesn't educate the guest...but then again...I think educating clients is always a lose-lose situation huh?
ps: I'm male :p hehe
My experience has been that trying to educate guests makes you (me, whoever) look like a martinet. If the guests are already in your place and you'd like to make sure they are welcome to return, then yes, ok to tell them the kitchen is off limits, the porch is the only place smoking should occur, etc.
Trying to educate them by going into the details of your business plan and how their lack of responsibility hurts your bottom line, just doesn't work. You can do a short version but sticking to, 'Our cancellation period is (fill in the blank), we will try to rebook the room, but if we cannot, your deposit will be used to cover your cancellation.' (Or whatever you want to say.)
I like that many innkeepers try to educate guests by having on their websites how small they are and how cancellations affect them greatly, but most guests don't even read it.
 

Morticia

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You can decide to handle this in several different ways. You could accept a change in plans and a rebooking at a later date as 'ok'. However, this person did not rebook. When we allow this 'change of plans' the guest must rebook at time of cancellation, because it IS a cancellation. Because she did not rebook right then and there, she cancelled.
I'm going to ask about your wording...you said you were 'holding' the room. Did that mean she had a firm reservation or a tentative 'pencil me in'?
Guess what? What happened is a very common scenario. You'll need to decide how you want to handle this because it will happen again and again. If you did not lead her to believe she could call back at any time in the future to resched, and she did not resched right there in the email, then she cancelled. Day of arrival no less. If parents can't keep track of their kids, not your problem.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Definitely charge her. Your cancellation policy is very clear. Her excuse is because of scheduling problems with her child not a death in the family. The first time you do this is the toughest, but do it anyway. Most guests really don't "get" that it doesn't matter if they intend on coming back or not...it's lost revenue!
 

sonatainn

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You can decide to handle this in several different ways. You could accept a change in plans and a rebooking at a later date as 'ok'. However, this person did not rebook. When we allow this 'change of plans' the guest must rebook at time of cancellation, because it IS a cancellation. Because she did not rebook right then and there, she cancelled.
I'm going to ask about your wording...you said you were 'holding' the room. Did that mean she had a firm reservation or a tentative 'pencil me in'?
Guess what? What happened is a very common scenario. You'll need to decide how you want to handle this because it will happen again and again. If you did not lead her to believe she could call back at any time in the future to resched, and she did not resched right there in the email, then she cancelled. Day of arrival no less. If parents can't keep track of their kids, not your problem..
Sorry about the wording...it was a solid reservation....over phone...cancelation policy explained (although...we don't really talk about MOVING the date,) confirmation sent...cc information taken.
Cancelation policy is on the confirmation as well.
 

wendydk

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My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with.
 

The Farmers Daughter

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It is a cancel. If she booked July 10, there is only one July 10 in the month. Room nights do not reschedule. IF she "reschedules" it is a new reservation. It is your call whether you charge. Personally, I would and do - especially if it is the day of. BOTH printout and save the e-mail on your system as well as any communication between you as backup. It is a problem very few innkeepers get to not have to deal with. The first one is always traumatic..
That is a cancellation.
My cancellation policy is 15 days prior to arrival, no charge. Cancellations within 15 days will forfeit 50% of their stay. Cancellations within 24 hours of arrival will forfeit the entire amount of the stay.
Changing a date is a cancellation in my book. However, I do go over this with guests when they book, so they are well informed in advance.
Edit - Single night stays on weekends and holidays have a 30 day prior to arrival cancellation policy. Since I rarely take 1 nights, they are extremely hard to rebook. If they cancel within 30 days they forfeit the cost of the room plus taxes.
 

Breakfast Diva

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My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with..
Little Blue said:
My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with.
Even if you hadn't of been sold out, the likelyhood of them rebooking on a day when you would be sold out is high. Again, with that scenario you would be on the losing end. If it were me and I felt like I wanted to be flexible I would issue a certificate with an expiration date AND date conditions which would be in my slower season.
 

JBloggs

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My 2 cents worth are the contract/agreement was agreed upon, whether you rebook or are sold out. Don't let people walk all over you, stick to your policies - I call them boundaries. You will be happier, there is never any second guessing. Everyone should be treated the same, that is why you have policies in place.
Rebooking a room to avoid penalty is not something new, they will rebook and cancel within the policies for the new date. Be warned.
 

wendydk

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My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with..
Little Blue said:
My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with.
Even if you hadn't of been sold out, the likelyhood of them rebooking on a day when you would be sold out is high. Again, with that scenario you would be on the losing end. If it were me and I felt like I wanted to be flexible I would issue a certificate with an expiration date AND date conditions which would be in my slower season.
.
Like I said "In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with." I was able to live with the decisions I made...and that made them right for me, so there is nothing I would have done differently, even going into my seventh summer.
Being the one to make the decisions is what drove me to start my own Inn, as I'm sure is the case for each of us.
 

Breakfast Diva

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My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with..
Little Blue said:
My cancellation policy on the website and in my mailed or emailed confirmations states: "A 7 day notice is required to cancel, change your dates or shorten your stay."
Short, but direct and to the point. Haven't had many issues since the beginning...and that was really caused by me not being as clear as I am now. Of course, in the beginning, I needed the business and was a little more flexible, especially considering we didn't sell out like we do now. If I was not sold out, I would allow them to use the deposit for a future date. Nowadays, because we sell out so often, it really is lost revenue...especially when I've turned away numerous inquiries and could have sold the room over and over.
In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with.
Even if you hadn't of been sold out, the likelyhood of them rebooking on a day when you would be sold out is high. Again, with that scenario you would be on the losing end. If it were me and I felt like I wanted to be flexible I would issue a certificate with an expiration date AND date conditions which would be in my slower season.
.
Like I said "In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with." I was able to live with the decisions I made...and that made them right for me, so there is nothing I would have done differently, even going into my seventh summer.
Being the one to make the decisions is what drove me to start my own Inn, as I'm sure is the case for each of us.
.
Little Blue said:
Like I said "In the beginning, it's a tightrope walk...you do what you're comfortable with and can live with." I was able to live with the decisions I made...and that made them right for me, so there is nothing I would have done differently, even going into my seventh summer.
Being the one to make the decisions is what drove me to start my own Inn, as I'm sure is the case for each of us.
I hope you didn't think I was criticizing your decisions. I was just trying to point out to Sonata both sides. As a new innkeeper sometimes it's difficult to see how the decision you make today, will affect you tomorrow.
 

Morticia

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You can decide to handle this in several different ways. You could accept a change in plans and a rebooking at a later date as 'ok'. However, this person did not rebook. When we allow this 'change of plans' the guest must rebook at time of cancellation, because it IS a cancellation. Because she did not rebook right then and there, she cancelled.
I'm going to ask about your wording...you said you were 'holding' the room. Did that mean she had a firm reservation or a tentative 'pencil me in'?
Guess what? What happened is a very common scenario. You'll need to decide how you want to handle this because it will happen again and again. If you did not lead her to believe she could call back at any time in the future to resched, and she did not resched right there in the email, then she cancelled. Day of arrival no less. If parents can't keep track of their kids, not your problem..
Sorry about the wording...it was a solid reservation....over phone...cancelation policy explained (although...we don't really talk about MOVING the date,) confirmation sent...cc information taken.
Cancelation policy is on the confirmation as well.
.
sonatainn said:
Sorry about the wording...it was a solid reservation....over phone...cancelation policy explained (although...we don't really talk about MOVING the date,) confirmation sent...cc information taken.
Cancelation policy is on the confirmation as well.
I would not 'suggest' to a guest that they can move their reservation around. Nothing good comes of it! Policy in confirmation email is great. Spoken policy on phone is also great. Having to deal with this, not so great, but it's part of the business.
I still say she cancelled.
 

Copperhead

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If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation..
hawley said:
If they book again, you might offer them a second night at half price or free. It wouldn't cost you that much and might make them feel better.
I agree, they didn't cancel according to the rules. Changing dates wasn't an option on the day of the reservation.
Problem with that is it does not educate the guest. You have to gently let them know that they contracted for a night that has now passed. That is income that was taken because you turned away business.
If they rebook that is still a night in the future that is available to be sold.
Following their thinking you should charge them double for the next booking. One for the night lost and one for the night used.
Riki
.
I agreed with her, she should charge for the night, they didn't cancel.
I only made a note that IF they booked in the future, she might offer them something to make them feel better.
.
I see what you're saying....offer something to entice them to come back..
However, I think Riki is right...it doesn't educate the guest...but then again...I think educating clients is always a lose-lose situation huh?
ps: I'm male :p hehe
.
sonatainn said:
I see what you're saying....offer something to entice them to come back..
However, I think Riki is right...it doesn't educate the guest...but then again...I think educating clients is always a lose-lose situation huh?
ps: I'm male :p hehe
My experience has been that trying to educate guests makes you (me, whoever) look like a martinet. If the guests are already in your place and you'd like to make sure they are welcome to return, then yes, ok to tell them the kitchen is off limits, the porch is the only place smoking should occur, etc.
Trying to educate them by going into the details of your business plan and how their lack of responsibility hurts your bottom line, just doesn't work. You can do a short version but sticking to, 'Our cancellation period is (fill in the blank), we will try to rebook the room, but if we cannot, your deposit will be used to cover your cancellation.' (Or whatever you want to say.)
I like that many innkeepers try to educate guests by having on their websites how small they are and how cancellations affect them greatly, but most guests don't even read it.
.
Bree said:
I like that many innkeepers try to educate guests by having on their websites how small they are and how cancellations affect them greatly, but most guests don't even read it.
If I had written this sentence it would have ended with 'but most guests don't even give a
and that is why they don't read it.
 

Copperhead

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I agree - the reservation was cancelled, not changed. Your policy does not even suggest a reservation change avoids charges. Stick to your guns. It seems harsh and cold right now but after you have a few under your belt, you will see it is what is needed to be done.
My policy states that changes to the reservation must be made by cancel by date - something like Blue's. As time goes on you will see where your weak (or less clear) points are in your policies and then you can tweek them to firm them up. Make them and keep them as clear and to the point as possible. If you are contstantly questioned or challanged over your policies you will know they need to be revised.
 

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