With each online reservation you receive, remember that guests have already accepted the terms of your cancellation policy. Nevertheless, sometimes guests cancel inside of your policy and seek to avoid cancellation fees. Here are some ways to alleviate headaches, avoid a negative review and encourage a positive experience for the manager and guest when this happens.
There is a time and place for an exception to your cancellation policy for the online traveler. What you lose in revenue can come back to you in a future reservation and a happy guest who's a fan of your property.
There are going to be guests who have plans change or personal emergencies that cause them to change the dates of their stay. In some cases there are external factors (flu outbreak, hurricane, wildfire or death in the family) outside of their control. Providing an exception to policy can leave a good taste in their mouths and encourage a future stay.
If you are thinking about giving a guest a waiver, you may want to take these factors into consideration:
Are all rooms reserved and guests have been turned away?
Can you rebook the room?
How long has the reservation been booked?
Do the guests plan to reserve a future date/are they regular guests who have stayed with you before?
Will granting an exception keep a guest happy enough to come again?
Many properties offer different options such as rain checks or gift certificates, or allowing another guest to stay on the reservation.
Cancellation policies are in place to protect your interests with respect to the online reservations program. Always remain courteous to guests to ensure a positive experience. In a case where you are not granting an exception to your cancellation policy, please be sure to explain the reasons for your position and inability to offer an exception. Many guests will feel less negative about the fees they owe to your property when they have a better understanding of how it affects you.
Online reservations can provide more guests reservations. They can also provide more inquiries about cancellation policies. Treating each guest inquiry as an opportunity and providing some exceptions can go a long way toward promoting your business in a positive fashion.