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The ‘no-show’ is the hospitality industry’s version of being stood up on a first date – and it’s equally devastating.
Whether you’re on reception waiting for that last check in of the day, or if you’ve personally prepared their room and left a welcome note on the desk, a no show is not only disappointing but is also a problem for profits. Damage limitation thus often includes a struggle to procure your no show fee without angering the absent guest. Often, it’s extremely difficult to get in contact with the guest and when you are able to, a long reel of excuses and challenges means that more of your time is wasted. A tricky process, all in all.
Ideally, these situations would be avoided and when they can’t be, a contingency plan is essential. However, at Inn Style we’re aware that this is much more easily said than done. So, to make things easier, we’ve not only composed a five-part survival guide, but we’ve also designed Inn Style to help you prevent no-shows and deal with those that do occur.
From the beginning, it’s essential to make check in times clear when a booking is made. If a guest has a specific arrival time due to travel or other circumstances, make sure this is logged against their booking, to ensure that time isn’t wasted tracking down guest who’ve already warned you of likely tardiness.
It’s also essential to set out clear deadlines by which any cancellations must be made to avoid a charge. Twenty-four hours is the most common, but in busier periods or for weekends, some hoteliers choose to make this fourty-eight or seventy-two. Whatever your decision is, it’s essential that these rules are made clear – not only to help guests stick to these guidelines, but to ensure that they have no excuses if they miss the deadline.
Make it clear what the charge incurred will be and how this will be collected. As long as check in times, cancellation deadlines and your no-show fee are clear upon booking, it will be extremely difficult for guests to escape paying a no-show fee.
Thankfully, Inn Style enables you to do all these things quickly and easily.
Check in and out times can be set to let guests what times you’d like them to arrive and leave whilst there is a space to enter specific check-in times for guests who are expected late. When guests book online with Inn Style, they will be prompted to enter an estimated arrival time, which will be displayed on the booking and on your dashboard on the day of check-in.
What’s more, Inn Style’s policies section means that you can lay down the law on everything from cancellation deadlines, no-show fees and how these will be charged. Guests will be notified of these when they book online, they will be visible on confirmation emails and they can be recanted when bookings are made over the phone or in person.
One big reason for no-show issues is simply misunderstanding.
If a guest calls to cancel a booking and the wrong booking is deleted or their booking is not found, their still-existing booking will inevitably become a no-show. Equally, if a guest calls to warn they will be late or to move a booking, similar mistakes can be made.
Confirmation or booking numbers are therefore extremely important. If you don’t already have a system up and running, this is certainly something to address. They also make it much easier when confronting a guest about a booking that has been missed – they are specific and cut out any room for confusion.
Inn Style’s booking system delivers the guest’s booking reference number directly to them in an automatically generated confirmation email. The reference number will be visible on the booking itself and on spreadsheets containing that booking. Should a guest book online, this number will also be visible in your confirmation email, thus:
There’s no escaping the fact that people sometimes change their mind.
If guests book without any real conviction, it’s highly likely that they may change their mind closer to the date. Deposits upon booking mean guests have to show some commitment. Deposits ensure that guests truly want the booking they are making and mean that they’re less likely to simply duck out without giving you due notice.
If you’re taking a booking in Inn Style, you can also take and record the deposit or full payment through Inn Style. All guests booking online will be required to pay their deposit in order to secure their booking. This deposit can be set by you at either a fixed price or a percentage of the total cost – and if you wish to charge the full cost upon booking, just set it to 100%. Guests will pay the deposit, this will be marked against their booking and will also show up in their confirmation email:
So – hopefully you’ve persuaded the mind-changers to give you a call and warn in advance with that deposit. But what about the people who just forget?
The forgetful offenders are usually those who make bookings made long in advance and corporate guests (because often the booking is made for them). Confirmation emails to the address provided (to ensure that these corporate travellers are aware of the details and have them readily available in their inbox) and reminder emails (for the sieve brains) are therefore extremely useful.
In the notifications feature on Inn Style, you can set your account to send automatic confirmation emails to guests when a booking is logged and you can also select automatic reminder-emails which arrive in the guest’s inbox five days before their stay. No excuses!
You’ve explained and warned and reminded – good work! But, sigh!, there’ll always be the guest who simply does not show and becomes somewhat uncontactable.
If you’ve only got a name and a number, this isn’t a lot of help. Short of starting an investigation into their whereabouts, there is often little that can be done. It’s therefore essential to get as many details as possible upon booking. However, unless you’re a credit card company, it’s simply not feasible for security purposes to store card details.
Which means you’re out of pocket.
Or does it?
With Inn Style, the minimum details required from a guest booking online are their name, phone number, home address and email. When you enter a guest’s booking into Inn Style, these aren’t mandatory but it’s best to get them down. What’s more, when a deposit is taken through our integrated payment system, Stripe, these card details are securely stored against the customer’s booking.
If the customer does arrive, these details can be used to make any further payments necessary. However, if they’re a no-show you can still use these details to take your agreed no-show fee. Stripe’s rules regarding this are simple: do everything you can to avoid a dispute. You’re free to re-charge a customer’s card at any point. It’s your responsibility to make sure this is okay with the customer – so if you’re taking payment for their stay, it’s best to show them the final amount before doing so and let them know and if you’re charging a no-show, ensure that you’ve tried a few phone calls and an explanatory email first.
This way, you’ve got the peace of mind that you’ll be able to charge for no-shows and guests who do show up don’t have to haul themselves over to the check-out desk and recount their card details in order to pay.
Everyone’s a winner.
The post Stand up to being stood up: five tips for coping with no-shows. appeared first on Overnight Success.
1. Because you shouldn’t have to battle dusty diaries and irksome spreadsheets every day
Keeping a record of bookings in a diary is hard. If you open it up to Tuesday and see a page of bookings, you know those guests are staying on Tuesday, but you’ve no idea when they booked, or when they’re checking in or out. Calendars are too small to provide enough meaningful information on each of your bookings. And spreadsheets give you more flexibility, but they’re difficult to maintain when you’ve got lots of bookings, and have no real interface for searching data that isn’t there – i.e. your availability!
Inn Style solves this with beautiful calendar views that show your availability in an instant. Click a booked day (they’re the red ones) to see details of guests, pricing and bookings notes. Click an available day (the green ones) to start a new booking. Our bookings page is similarly intuitive: each booking is grouped by the day it was made, and our search box lets you find the one you’re after at lightning speed.
2. Because you shouldn’t have to keep potential guests on hold while you find their booking
Thumbing back and forth through a diary to work out whether somebody can stay four nights is especially awkward when that person is hanging on the telephone. And if you can write an Excel query that fast, then you’re in the wrong job.
Step-forward Inn Style’s calendar view, a blissfully simple way to see when you’re booked and when you’re not, making those availability enquiries a great deal easier to field. (Especially if somebody’s moved the diary!)
3. Because you shouldn’t have to staple receipts into a diary
There’s nothing quite like the stress of a busy day of breakfasts and check-outs. And those frantic last minute bill calculations when guests are trying to leave can lead to errors and omissions – especially if you let guests add food and wine to the bill during their stay.
Inn Style can handle all this for you, keeping track of additions, subtractions and part-payments. This page is even printable as a statement, so guests can see their final bill in black and white before handing over their payment.
4. Because you shouldn’t have to send guests to the cash machine
Once you’ve presented your guests with their final bill (see above), you’ve then got to take payment. At this point, you don’t want the embarrassment of explaining that you only take cash and cheques while the guest is standing there offering his Black American Express.
With Inn Style’s clever payment system, debit and credit card payments (including Amex) are splendidly easy. What’s more, we enable you to recharge the credit card used to make the initial deposit – all without the customer being present. Couple this with printed statements and check-out can be done while the guest is finishing their cup of tea of breakfast. A much nicer experience for all involved.
5. Because you shouldn’t have to work out the housekeeping duties every morning
Okay, so organising which rooms to clean is preferable to doing the actual cleaning. But instead of going through the motions every morning, why not let a computer work it all out for you?
Inn Style sends you an email every morning at 6am. This pretty little note arrives in your inbox with an overview of comings and goings at your accommodation. It also includes a room-by-room, yurt-by-yurt and caravan-by-caravan account of guest activity. So when you see The Joneses at breakfast, you’ll know whether to ask them about dinner tonight.
Each one of these features has been implemented at the request of accommodation owners – and over time we’ve made them better and better, faster and faster. We guarantee they’ll save you plenty of time every single day – time you can spend being the host, not the secretary …
The post Five reasons why you should sign up for Inn Style today appeared first on Overnight Success.