Archive for the ‘Bookings’ Category

Just how late do you book your holiday?

One of the hassles in the hotel trade is that people seem to be booking their holidays later every year so it’s really hard to plan.

For example, a week ago we had hardly anyone booked for the coming week yet now we’re virtually full. Not only that but several of the bookings which are filling us up aren’t the overnight stays that you normally expect from late bookings but quite chunky ones of three days to a week.

Now obviously we don’t want to be running out of stuff but on the other hand we don’t want to have massive stocks of perishables that we’d end up throwing out. Therefore, we find ourselves needing to do a spot of restocking tomorrow (it’s a public holiday today so that’s out).

The other problem that exists locally is that many hotels close very promptly for the year in just a few weeks or so. That’s handy for us since we stay open but I suspect that there’s a lot of last minute attempted booking going on that just ain’t happening because the hotels being sought are closed (although, funnily enough, not all are closed on the reservation systems, so beware!).

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

The impact of GPS on the hotel trade

As I’m sure you noticed, all kinds of shops were stacked high with various satellite navigation units last year now that the prices have fallen into the “impulse buy” area.

The impact of that is now being felt locally in a big way in terms of the sheer number of cars going along roads that were never intended for the level of traffic that they get now. What’s also apparent is that the effect of so many people using GPS on their holidays is changing the places where they are staying.

Interestingly, in our area the effect seems to have been to send people along the old highways rather than the new ones. Since the construction of the new motorways, the majority of traffic has gone along them but now people appear to be returning to the old routes and finding that many of the hotels that formerly lived on the passing trade have long since closed down.

We’re at the very end of one of those old routes ourselves and are finding that each morning is starting with a series of panic phonecalls from various hotel owners further along the route looking for accommodation for their departing guests (or, in some cases, overflow from double bookings). For example, this morning we’d several separate calls from different hotels in a town about 45 minutes drive from us. Along that route you’ll pass around half a dozen hotels that have closed down over the years since the motorway was built which gives some idea of the traffic that this road used to have. Unfortunately, with the construction of the motorway, development of our road stopped and therefore it’s not really up to the volume of traffic that it’s starting to get (ie missing passing places and so on).

As part of the planning for the extra traffic that’s been building up (largely courtesy of GPS I suspect), they’re building a bypass for the village just beside us. However, I wonder if it would be a lot more economic to pay TomTom et al to remove the village from the routes it plans? Certainly, it’s never going to be economic to build a bypass for all the little villages that are going to be affected by GPS routing.

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

Late arrivals

One thing that you can always depend on is that the Spanish will arrival after everyone else and, usually, expect to be able to eat out in a restaurant no matter how late it is.

Quite why they’re so late is anyone’s guess as they usually have the least distance to travel, normally at most a couple of hours from Barcelona. Naturally, they expect to be able to eat quite late as that’s how things work in Spain but it’s quite a different matter in France where locally the restaurants usually won’t serve you after 8.30pm. That’s something of a problem in that the Spanish normally don’t even think about going out for their evening meal until 10pm by which time they’re limited to McDonalds.

Quite why we’ve so many Spanish arrivals this year I don’t know but it’s probably for similar reasons to our large German contingent ie high euro plus expensive “discount” flights meaning that the advantage is towards people who are going to drive here. August is a peak holiday season in Spain but in years gone by all the gaps that they’ve been booking this year have already been filled by the brits.

Of course, the big question is what’ll happen at the notional end of the holiday season here which falls this year on August 23rd? Historically, we’ve been fairly full with UK guests in the final week of the month but, as I say, there’s not so many coming from there this year (funnily enough those that have come have stayed for longer than the average of previous years).

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

They’ve all gone…

If you cast your mind back to the early part of the year you might remember that we picked up a really big booking from a German family in February. So large that what started off as a couple of rooms for a few days ended up totalling 30 nights worth of accommodation over the course of a week or so.

The snag was that they never responded to any of our e-mails so it wasn’t until they arrived that we found out they were here to go to a wedding and spending the extra time to get aquainted with the French half of the family who live locally. The downside of that for us was that we only picked up the money for the rooms as they didn’t even take breakfast whilst they were here so we’ve had a relatively restful week.

For them, the lack of response meant that they weren’t even aware that our booking conditions for groups are quite different from those for individual rooms until they checked out this morning. For normal bookings we only charge for the rooms when people leave and if they cancel at least 24 hours in advance they don’t have to pay anything. For groups, we charge the full balance for the rooms a week before they arrive and it’s not refundable unless we can rebook the rooms.

So, we’re sitting with the place half-empty in the peak of summer at the moment. Although we’ll almost certainly rebook some of the rooms it doesn’t seem too likely that we’ll rebook the whole lot as we only found out this morning that they were leaving four days early which is just a few days before the main French holiday of August (the 15th) ie most people coming to the region on holiday will already have booked their accommodation and therefore there’s a fair chance that we’ll remain relatively empty for the next few days.

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

When can we checkin?

That’s an obvious question to ask but, of course, most people know roughly what the answer will be for hotels in general ie after lunch to late evening.

In fact, we state that it’s from 3pm to 10pm although there’s usually some flexibility at either end of that time. So, for example, we can normally let people check in from around noon if they let us know in advance. Similarly, whilst we officially close the office at 10pm it generally takes us ’til around 11pm to actually get everything locked up.

However, despite us being clear on the hours, we still get people saying that they’ll be arriving at 1am or 5am now and again. Historically the 1am people have rarely made it on schedule so we routinely reply that their reservation has been cancelled.

The 5am people are always Parisiens who have booked “Saturday” and are planning on spending the entire weekend in the south of France but only paying for one day in a hotel. It takes quite some time to explain to them that actually hotels are booked by the night and if they want in at 5am on Saturday then they’re going to have to book Friday too or the room won’t be available ’til noon at the earliest.

Anyway, I’m sitting now for someone who should have been here some hours ago and will be billing them as a noshow once I finish off this post.

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