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Hi Iain - You got lucky on this occasion, but just make sure you put in place measures to ensure you're not at risk of this happening again in the future.
i.e. I'm not sure if you register guest details upon arrival, but having their contact details such as phone, email address would certainly be helpful.
You'll find on this forum that a few of us have been in this situation before. You rightfully process the fee for a no-show or cancellation, only for the guest to report it to their bank as being fraudulent or unauthorised. In this situation, your bank will more often than not (or at least in my case) have to reimburse the money back to the guest. You can provide all the supporting documents you want, but if the transaction was processed without and explicit consent or the guest, or without the physical card being present, the odds are stacked against you.
It sucks, I know.
I'd follow Leandri's advice, and be vigilant in case it's a scam email.
If in doubt, just call your Account Manager or even Customer Services and get them to re-send the email whilst you're still on the phone. Better to be safe than sorry.
Interesting point about the universal adapters there, Joey. I hadn't considered they could problematic in the way you had described and will certainly bear it in mind.
The worst guests we had in terms of damage caused was an Aussie/Polish couple who on their second night got into a blazing row in their room in the middle of the night. Our night shift manager did interrupt them to diffuse the situation, until they started off again. After a short while, the guy then came out of the room and spoke to my staff in quite an aggressive manner. I was also overseas at the time these guests stayed with us, so it was difficult for me to deal with the problem first hand. Anyway, when the maids checked their room as part of our daily housekeeping service the next day, they reported the bed frame had been broken and a number of cans of alcohol scattered around the room - there were suspicions as to whether or not they were drug users too, although no concrete evidence was found in the room. When the guests were later confronted about the issue, they denied the damage and even denied having an argument and being disruptive. The guy later used threatening behavior towards my staff, at which point I spoke to them on the phone, and determined I no longer needed their custom and had no hesitation to eject them from the property and report them to booking for misconduct.
I think it's important to also realise that unless you're a 5 star property, guests cannot realistically expect all the perks in a posh hotel and only have to pay a 2 star or 3 star price for the privilege.
Of course, we as hoteliers are constantly looking at ways to improve the guest experience, but there also needs to be a balance in the price of the room/accommodation too.
Having said that, I always try to find time to talk to guests and find out about how they are enjoying their stay in the city, but I always sneak in questions about their experience of staying in my property and ways for me to improve the offering. You will often find that the guest will make polite recommendations on how things that can be perhaps enhanced in the knowledge that they want to help you improve your business too. You'd be surprised at some of the simple things that may have not been explored which the guests have pointed out.
Assuming your bookings are only accepted if credit card details are provided, you can mark the reservation as invalid and cancel immediately after 24 hours.
If credit card details are not compulsory, send the guest a message with a request for a deposit/credit card details stipulating the booking will be cancelled if they don't respond within 24 hours. Assuming they don't, contact booking to cancel it.
Perhaps both methods are tedious and a little cumbersome, but hopefully you'll get the end result you want.
Hi Carmen - I did read somewhere that the bank account needs to be held in the same country that your property is located in. Someone else might be able to explain the specifics as to why.
Hi Francocaruso - Booking might be able to exert pressure on the guest to pay the fee, and they might be able to send you a supporting covering letter by email, but they will expect you to sort the issue out with the guest.