Show and Tell: Cancellation policies. What’s yours?

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  • Avatar
    michael beeston

    Hi everyone   (Jezwitaker).You are right..cancellations are a pain !!!.and Booking.com are partly to blame, advertising MOST Hotels/Apartments offer  FREE  Cancellation..NO WAY !!! we used to not charge any deposit and received many cancellation NOW charge 30% deposit ( refundable if an emergency) upon reservation and our cancellations have dropped by 95%...we still get the odd one but there always (if true) will be there......................I even charge 30% deposit if the booking is made for 3/6 months in advance...We found if the credit card was declined for the 30% deposit, in most cases when I asked the guest to clarify , immediately it was cancelled so now it is routine..30% deposit and cancellation fees apply if cancelled with 7 days of the booking.....Thank goodness it has not happened so good news...........Plus if there is an emergency ( a death for instance we will gladly refund...life sometimes has it downers !!!)..hope that is helpful...Thanks everyone....Michael.

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    Lu_Madrid

    Hi!

    Our property is fairly new (opened in April this year) and we used to have a 1 day cancellation policy. After a couple of months, we realized that was too short notice. People would take advantage of that and not cancel until last minute, making us lose money on possible bookings. We were too unexperienced.

    We called Booking.com to ask for recommendations (they suggested 7 days), but it seemed to be to strict to us too, so we ended up setting it to 72h in advance. 

    We have received less bookings, but we do have, at least, the certainty that we will have the chance to book the room out again after a customer cancels.

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    Bridgewatermotel

    I guess we all learn as we go regarding the cancellation policy.  We also used to have a 24 hour cancellation policy.  Recently I have upped that to 48 hours on multiple days but also have added time to our weekly, monthly and 5-10 room blocks.  7 day weekly is now a 3-day cancellation.  Monthly requires 3 weeks minimum.  Without that they can be charged up to 50% of the reservation depending upon the circumstances.  We do allow some flexibility with manager (my) approval.

    It has cut down on the loss of revenue due to cancellations and declined cards.

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    k2u

    Welcome Bridgewatermotel !

    I see you say you have guests that you allow to stay for a month.. is that considered on a 4 week basis ? Some months have 5 weeks. We used to do a month rate, but then changed it only per week because then the guest would get 1 week free if that month had 5 weeks not 4. 

    And yes, I (manager) am the only one that can approve any long term weekly/monthly guest and rate. As for cancellation that occurs within our cancellation policy, which this also depends on the guest circumstance. 

  • Avatar
    Jezwhitaker

    It might be interesting to know the type or accommodation people are selling here as we have a few properties ranging from Homestay for 1 - 2 guests up to 3 bedroom apartments sleeping 8. We have moved to 30% deposit upon booking with 24 hour grace period of free cancellation and no refund within 1 month for all properties. We're in Queenstown so there are a lot of hotels and 100's of Airbnbs. Cancellations for 1-2 guests aren't generally a problem BUT groups of 8 don't generally book last minute so if we were lenient and let gets cancel we don't resell. This is particularly annoying when Black Friday sales are on (both Booking.com and Expedia Group do them), even if you don't offer a sale on Black Friday each year we still get a whole bunch of cancellations as other hotels are stupid enough to offer 40% discounts in high season?!? $30,000 of cancellations on Black Friday is what has finally pushed us to 30% non-refundable deposit - we missed it this year but next year it will be enforced fully.

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    k2u

    Hi everyone. Hope you all had a great week so far. 

    I see a lot of you asking for deposits, how many of you have to give that back ? or is the deposit Non-Refundable ? I ask this because the Owners of the Motel, used to years ago would ask for a refundable deposit from all of our guests, until we were loosing revenue. Then we decided to ask for a Non - Refundable deposit (not that much of a deposit at that point) which then were loosing bookings. So we decided to completely get rid of the deposit period. Which worked in our favor, less cancellations and receiving many more bookings. I believe the guests see the deposits and get scared off, whether refundable or non - refundable. 

    Before me becoming manager, the owners did not even have a cancellation policy. And they wondered why they were loosing bookings the day of and giving that deposit back at the time they did the deposits. What a loss of money !! Now as I've said, we have a non-holiday cancellation policy of 72 hours,  Holiday cancellation policy of 7 days and a 30 day Special cancellation policy (Only for those who do block of rooms, we only accept those over the phone or in person)   Works very well !! : )

  • Avatar
    Bridgewatermotel

    In response to the question regarding monthly stay...it is based on a 30-day stay. Our state allows us to do monthly rates without any tax, but it is non-refundable.  If a guest decides to leave earlier, the state requires us to apply the tax to all the days the guest actually stays and they end up owing us more than our monthly rate.  If the extend any days beyond the 30-day stay but less than another 30 days, we are allowed the same rate but have to apply the tax to those extended days.  As to the deposits, we only take deposits(at check-in) for cash payments which are returned after the room is inspected at check out. We do take a non-refundable deposit for bookings blocking multiple rooms which can be applied to the overall cost when all guests check in.

  • Avatar
    k2u

    Jezwhitaker, You ask what type of accommodations we all have..

    Hi, I am from the US, NY state (not NYC, people get confused when hearing NY). We are a Motel of 26 units. During our busy season, I sometimes allow a guest to cancel free of charge with my approval only, actually the day of which is well within our cancellation policy, because we most likely will resell our rooms. During our busy season (Spring, Summer and Fall) each weekend we usually have no vacancies, so I do not have worry about to much loss. Now, its Winter, not at all our busy time, so I have to be very strict with our cancellation policy. We welcome a lot of temporary longer term guests, we are located in the Berkshire Mountains which border NY, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Which we are just about a mile from a very popular Ski area, not a resort.

    We also are near a lot of private schools, so we have guests from all over the world. We love to meet people from different countries. So once the ski areas open up for their season, we then begin to get busy again.. but not as much as the other seasons.

    Have a great weekend !!  

  • Avatar
    k2u

    Hi again Bridgewater, 

    Thank you !! Your state seems to have a lot of tax conditions : ) 

    Yes we used to do the deposits for the Blocks of rooms as well, but it seemed they (the owners) ended up refunding the deposits (again they ran the Motel prior to me). They decided to get rid of the deposits. Which then we had less cancellations. We still do the blocks of rooms, so I now have a date of confirmation put in place by all the guests within the block. If by a certain time and not all rooms are booked within the block, I reach out to who the contact person is (not always a guest, just the person who blocked the rooms). We then agree to open those left over rooms, then I open the rooms back up, usually the timeline for confirmation is 6 weeks prior to arrival date.

    Also the contact person is told of our Special cancellation. Only then is a special cancellation policy put in place.  The special cancellation policy is 30 days prior to arrival, anything within the cancellation policy is charged to the guest if we cannot resell the room.  The contact person is told this at time of booking the block of rooms as well as each guest. This way all is notified well in advance. 

  • Avatar
    Lu_Madrid

    Hi k2u ,

    Our property is really small but very well-located, meaning that it is usually full when it comes to high season. I believe cancellation policies should be more or less strict depending on how easy you might get new reservations.

    We also do the same. As a business, we want to have our small guesthouse (6 private rooms for ranging from 1-2 persons) busy as much as we can. However, as a person who usually travels, I would not like to be charged either if something out of my control happens and I cannot make it.

    That is why we try not to be too strict when it is high season and we know we will resell that room. If it is low season and people usually book a very long time in advance, but the customer does not cancel till last minute without any reason, we do charge that amount. I think it is fair to us to do so since we won't be able to resell the room again.

  • Avatar
    k2u

    Hi Lu Madrid,

    Yes I agree with you, anything can happen. That is why I had said in an earlier comment that we will absolutely make exceptions for emergencies. I had shared a story from a past guest that had to cancel due to emergency, I allowed it free of charge. I actually called BDC on their behalf to help them out in this situation. 

    Now this goes for present guests that must leave for emergencies at home, ect. We will definitely refund them. You have to show them that you care and its not all about money, you have to have a heart !! :)

  • Avatar
    Lu_Madrid

    Hi k2u ,

    Yeah, I agree. I read your comment, that is why I wanted to share our experience and point of view too. I believe that caring about our guests is the best tool to have a good impression and to make them come back next time :)

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    M Adamopoulou

    No deposit.The guest can cancel free of charge until 7 days before arrival. The guest will be charged the total price if they cancel in the 7 days before arrival. If the guest doesn’t show up they will be charged the total price. Flexible enough. If emergencies occur of course we don’t charge. We try to keep our r guests happy with not to strict policies and rules, after all they are on holidays.
    Cheers!!!

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    k2u

    Thank you Lu Madrid and M Adamopoulou !! 

    Have a great weekend. The Ski mountain (a mile from us) opens tomorrow... hoping people will realize its opening ! Need some business. 

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    M Adamopoulou

    Oh I love ski. A wish I was near you to enjoy it. Think pink and your guests will come before you know it. Good luck for the ski season....

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    michael beeston

    Hi Everyone.I have to ask a question, yes we all go out of our way to make the guest as happy and relaxed as possible..Tea/Coffee/biscuits ..whatever  BUT ..how many return a second or third time ???..We have had about 130 guests so far with Booking.com Stayz and Airbnb  and have had ONLY 3 people ever returning a second time ???.Is this normal for everyone of just me......Would love some answers back...Thanks.

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    M Adamopoulou

    michael-beeston I am sorry I can’t be of help since this is my first year. As a traveler I prefer to discover new places, meet new people have new experiences, so I never book the same place even though I had great time. My opinion is it’s very normal that you don’t have many people returning back. It all depends. As far as your place is full all the time you shouldn’t worry. Your guests are probably sharing their nice experience with friends and you get famous at no time. Cheers!!!

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    michael beeston

    Good morning "M"........Tea this morning (haha)  Thank you for your reply and I certainly agree...Rita and I travel at least 4 times per year and NEVER stay at the same place twice, like you we like to see different things, meet many different people and stay in different properties..and yes , we are so fortunate that our property is always ( so far ) full full...its wonderful.During September/October and November ONLY 7 days vacant in total and then my daughter stayed there (haha)..As always thank you for the info and have a super day, its raining in Queensland and its summer. and a bit cold 24 degrees......strange  !!

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    M Adamopoulou

    Good morning it’s 00.06 here and I am having a super night having drinks with some friends. The temperature right now is 8 and cold but in the morning we had a fabulous sunshine. Hope your weather gets better.
    Massive pleasure to exchange our worries. Take care.

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    k2u

    Michael Beeston, Yes it is normal, it all depends on where your guests are from. If your guests are somewhat local, they will come back if they enjoyed their stay. However, if your guests are "Travelers" and only in your country lets say for a specific reason you may never see them again. Send your past guests a thank you card... to show you appreciated them. They would remember that and if back in your City/Country they would most likely look you up. Especially now the holidays are upon us send them a card for the holidays but remember not everyone is the same religion or have the same traditions as you... Just send a Happy Holiday Card or something in that sense

    You will meet so many wonderful guests.. a lot of great memories !! 

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    k2u

    Haha, I see its morning time for some of you. So Good morning have a wonderful day 

    For me its night time now 8pm, so soon bedtime

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    k2u

    M Adamopoulou, Well if you are ever here, look me up !! Me personally not the skier nor snowboarder, my luck I would injure myself hehe. 

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    michael beeston

    Hi "M" and K2u.....Understand completely....I have been an expatriate and lived in 14 countries over 30 years, so always make sure I send a Happy Holiday card.....................we also have a three (3) bedroom apartment in Dubai, so all is very cool..and a big thanks for all the info and talk.....LOVE IT.................we have friends coming over tonight for some Xmas drinks so will have a few for you guys..x

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    michael beeston

    the start of a good evening with Friends for Xmas.......an early start but why not. !!

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    M Adamopoulou

    k2u I don’t believe it you are not a skier leaving in a ski resort. Common break a leg!!!!

    michael-beestonWow a very nice start indeed. Stin ygeia sas.... Meaning I drink to your health....
    The Xmas spirit has gotten in to us....

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    Lu_Madrid

    michael beeston  That looks amazing! I hope you enjoyed your dinner!

    As for your question regarding people going back to somebody's property, I believe it really depends on the location of your property and the reason why they went. Our guesthouse, for example, is small but very central located in Madrid. It is a big city with people coming for different reasons: holidays, work, conferences, etc. 

    We opened in the end of April and we have had clear high and low seasons already. We have also had 3-4 people coming back to our property but they are usually people who come to Madrid for work or conferences. 
    In that case, since it is a tedious work to look for a place to stay, they will try to book with the lodgings they were comfortable with. They do not want to spend that much time on research since they have to do it every now and then.

    I believe people who go on holidays will recommend it to their friends or family if they liked the place, for sure, but probably will never go back. As a enthusiastic traveller, I rarely go to the same city again. However, if I was comfortable in a place, I sure tell my friends and family!

    I hope that helps :)

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    michael beeston

    Thanks Lu.....................and yes I agree..the people that returned were ALL business people( easy for them to just rebook) but some of their friends have stayed so it works in both directions..many thanks for the input..cheers Michael.

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    michael beeston

    Thanks K2U...they have just left !!!!.a great  night.  The Xmas spirit is alive and well......

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    k2u

    Haha "M" live near the ski area... no skiing for me lol. Afraid I may run into something and that may not be good ! 

    Michael, looks delicious. Hi to your friend :) Thanks for the drink haha. Yes the Xmas spirit is alive this year for sure !! 

  • Avatar
    michael beeston

    I had two or three for everyone..haha

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