Archive for the ‘Bookings’ Category

The expenses of being a “noshow”

In these days when virtually everyone books their accommodation online it’s particularly important to read the small-print regarding cancelling your trip or simply not turning up at all at your accommodation.

If you simply don’t turn up almost all hotels will charge you for the first night of your stay but some resort style hotels will charge you for the entire stay. In both cases this is a non-refundable charge.

However, you don’t necessarily need to pay it. In most cases, if you call the hotel a day in advance of your stay you’ll generally not have to pay anything further. Even cancelling the same day can sometimes save you money. For example, although we can charge for a noshow unless the reservation is cancelled a day in advance, in reality we waive this if we can get someone else for the room following the cancellation. Incidentally, it’s really not necessary for you to make up some excuse to explain your cancellation: hotels have heard them all before and it’ll make no difference as to whether or not they charge you.

Do watch any deposit payments that you’ve made though as in many instances these are kept by the reservation system that you used and are usually not refundable. If you find a hotel listed on a reservation system it’s usually worthwhile to contact them directly as this will save you the booking fee and you may get a discount too.

You might think that these “noshow” charges are just profiteering on the part of the hotel. They aren’t. Whenever you make a guaranteed reservation online the hotel is obliged to keep the room for you even if other people turn up asking for a room. In some cases we have turned away as many as a dozen couples looking for a room because our last room was subject to a guaranteed reservation only to find out that the people who’d booked it never turned up.

And a final plea… read the description of the hotel and particularly its location. Hotels are usually listed by “resort” which means that all hotels within about 25 miles of a city will come up as being attached to that city. This means that hotels well into the country are listed as associated with cities. Cancelling because you discover that a hotel you expected to be in the city centre is actually in the country doesn’t save a “noshow” charge if you only discover that when you arrive in the city.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Gaps in the summer reservations

Although you’d expect that most holiday accommodation would be completely full over the majority of the peak summer that’s not always the case.

For instance, whilst we’re expecting to be close to full capacity over the period, in fact we had several days last week when we were completely empty. How come? Well, what happens is that the place fills up completely at the weekend relatively early in the year which in turn means that people who are looking for a longer holiday often can’t get booked in if it crosses the weekend.

Now, in principle, we could block out a few rooms over the weekends for those longer holidays but then that’s taking the risk that those blocked out rooms wouldn’t fill at all. In practical terms it’s quite difficult to do that blocking out anyway as many online reservation sites don’t allow for that to be done, or at least not in a way that saves those rooms for longer bookings.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Assumptions that people make which aren’t quite right for their holiday accommodation

When they’re booking a place for their holidays people often make assumptions about what that place will be like not so much from the description (which few seem to read) but rather from the place that they’re booking it through.

For instance, we’re in that hazy middle ground between B&B and hotel which means that we’re listed on a wider range of sites than a place that fell exclusively into either category would be. As a rule those coming to us from the hotel listings tend to expect a level of services that we simply can’t meet at busy times when we’ve found that some expect a level of staffing more appropriate to a 50 bedroom place than our own humble 10 room place. So, for example, we’ve found that some people can’t understand that we’ve only one internet terminal when “hotels” always have three or four. Well, 50 bedroom hotels might well have three or four but since we’ve only 1/5th of that number of rooms we obviously have to scale other things down too. On the other hand, those coming to us via a B&B listing sometimes have the expectation of encountering a cute country cottage which we aren’t and don’t claim to be either.

However, perhaps the most peculiar expectation we encountered came from one couple who were looking for a “country retreat”. It took us a while to work out what they were looking for but apparently it came from an Australian listing that we have which is one of many created by asking us one set of questions and producing a listing that answers an entirely different set of questions. In this case one of their questions was “is there a nudist colony nearby” to which the answer is “yes”. However, on their site our answer means that we’re listed as being a “nudist retreat” which we’re definitely not. It seems that “country retreat” is one of those ways of referring to nudist retreats, hence the confusion from that particular couple!

Thanks to the way that listing sites group properties by “resort” (usually the nearest large town) it’s quite important to check just where your holiday property actually is. For instance, we’re generally listed as being attached to Perpignan yet we’re actually 25km outside it. That’s not a problem if you’re coming in a car as it’s only 20 minutes drive but clearly more of an issue if you’re relying on public transport to get around. There’s not really a lot that holiday properties can do about that on the whole as if listings sites simply listed only the properties within a town then it would be next to impossible to find accommodation outside a town. After all, would you know the name of all the little villages within 10 miles or so of your home town? Even if you did, would you have the patience to look up each one in turn in search of accommodation?

To avoid making assumptions that don’t fit with the reality it’s best to have a good read of the description of your holiday accommodation. Most owners spend a fair bit of time to get their description as accurate as they can as it’s obviously much better to have people coming who want to stay in the type of place you have. Despite that it sometimes seems that potential guests don’t even read the first line and go purely on price then complain that, for example, a place billed as being in the country isn’t in the city (yes, we’ve had that).

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Loking at the booking stats

I’ve been looking at our booking stats covering the last year and wondering if we can go about running the place somewhat better in the coming year.

Thanks to the recession rolling around the world at the moment particular categories of guest don’t turn up much anymore. In particular, those looking for cheapo short breaks are obviously fairly thin on the ground in that the euro is pretty high compared to just about all the other currencies and also the flight prices from the various discount airlines are way up too (around five times the price in June 2008 compared to June 2007). That combination clearly has an effect on the booking patterns.

Now, on the whole we figure that whilst we’re here, we may as well be open. Fairly logical really. However, in that outside the main April to September season this makes for very few guests checking in we’ve been thinking that it would make more sense for us to be elsewhere over that time and we’re looking into the logistics of such a thing at the moment.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Less than organised groups

We don’t get an awful lot of group bookings but, whilst welcome in terms of the money, they’re consistently very disorganised in comparison to either normal bookings or what you’d expect from an “organised” group.

For example, we’ve one group of 12 at the moment who booked nearly two months ago. They’re here for a very popular local festival which tends to fill up all available accommodation for miles around and puts severe pressure on the tourism infrastructure as a consequence of the scale of it. Everyone knows that and therefore books the various components necessary for their trip quite early. This lot? Well, they arrived and wanted to rent a car. There was one 2+2 seater sportscar left in the rental car park so they’ve ended up spending around 6 hours a day ferrying people back and forth to see the festival. Taxis? Nope, all at the festival and refusing to do any short runs at the moment. Meals? Well, it’s hard enough to get 12 people booked in at the best of times so I’m guessing they’re living on pizzas.

The other summer group was that made for a family wedding held locally. They started out with 2 rooms for 3 nights and ended up with a total of 29 room nights. Family weddings are a bit of a nuisance at the best of times as the people rarely eat anywhere except with their family so you often don’t even sell as much as a breakfast and they’re always wanting a discount. Since they’re usually held at the height of summer, we could easily book the rooms with people who’d be taking breakfast and meals and wouldn’t ask for a discount. The bunch this year went even further though as the wedding didn’t go too well and decided that that must have been our fault and that they’d like to get all their money back (this despite us not even knowing that they were here for a wedding ’til they arrived!). Net effect? Well, we’ll be cancelling any reservations in future that look as though they might be for a wedding: it’s just too much hassle for no real reward.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.