From a conversation on the old forum:
A guest phoned in a reservation for one of our largest rooms for this past Saturday. My housekeeper wrote in the reservation and took his name, telephone number, address, credit card number, and credit card expiration date.
She told him what our check-in time was, advised him that we have a 3 day of advance notice cancellation policy, and also advised told him what our late arrival check-in procedure is.
The guest thanked her and hung up.
Saturday rolled around and the guest didn’t arrive. At 5 PM, I closed the inn. Before closing, I wrote the name of the guest on an envelope. A welcome letter describing our amenties, keys to the inn, and hot breakfast order forms were placed inside the envelope. The envelope was put inside a plastic box attached to the front door. The light over the front steps was turned on. I shut the door, secured the inn, and closed for the day.
Before turning in at 9 PM, I did my customary walk through of the facility and noticed that the guests had still not arrived.
When I got up to make breakfast on Sunday morning – surprise, surprise – the envelope was still in the door. There were no calls on my answering machine. The guest had simply failed to show up.
I tried to bill the guest for his reservation but the credit card declined the bill. My T-7 scanner unit clattered as the printer printed out a slip with the words, “General decline.”
Why was the credit card declined?
The card may have been lost or stolen or maxed out.
The question is, what do I do now? Will I have to eat this loss? Should I call the guest and find out what happened? Should I send him an invoice?
Saturday was a busy day. I could have rented out this room but since it had a reservation, I held the room for the guest in question. The guest never showed up and now I have nothing to show for this reservation.
This is a new experience for me. During the nearly two years that I’ve been in business, nothing like this has ever happened.
Does anyone have any constructive advice?
3 thoughts on “What to do about a no-show reservation?”
It’s worth a shot, sending a bill. Just don’t expect too much to come of it. It sounds like they sent you a bogus card. Seriously, this kind of thing can consume an innkeeper with anger. Don’t let it get the best of you.
This is why many inns charge a deposit to hold the room. This way you know whether the card is legitimate or not before you hold the room.
Question: What % might be charged to hold a room?
Question: What happens if the guest cancels the reservation after you’ve taken the deposit? Do you think most inns offer refundable deposits or non-refundable deposits.
And yes – your point is well taken about deposits. Last year I had the entire inn booked by a law firm for a retreat. They cancelled the reservation at the last minute before my no cancellation policy would have kicked in. (We have a 3 day advance notice of cancellation policy – which I think is generous since I’ve been to inns that have a 1 week policy. I even know of a few expensive inns in the New England States that have a 3 month advance notice of cancellation policy which quite frankly seems excessive).
And no – I’m not upset about this. I am quite frankly astonished that this hasn’t happened before. I guess I had a good run of luck.
We charge one night’s stay as a deposit. But I do know that many other B&B s charge between 30% and 50% for a stay and some charge 100% for holiday weekends or other popular travel holidays.
If they give more than 2 weeks notice, we refund their deposit to their credit card. If they cancel with less than 14 days notice, we credit them only if we are able to re-book the room. Many inns charge a processing fee of between $10 and 25$ for a cancelation even if they are able to re-book the room. The problem with the refund (at least for our credit card processing company) is that we get charged the usual processing fees when we charge the deposit, but if we issue a refund, we don’t get the processing fees refunded, so we end up eating the 2% fee. We consider it a small price to pay to avoid dealing with checks.
I know the 2 week limit is pretty standard in our area. I think some of it depends on whether most of your traffic is tourism based or business based. Tourists don’t seem to have any objection to a 14 day refund policy.
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