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I'm not! I don't like my guests at this time of the year - they are all attending weddings and parties nearby and they return blind drunk in the early hours, vomit and pee the bed and won't get up for breakfast the next day! They want to check-in at 10am but complain when we advise check-out is 11am! Bah humbug!
I am also a small operator and signed up to an on-line diary and channel manager for £50 a month. It's a brilliant system and carries out card verification checks at the point the reservation comes from Booking.com. We get notified of fails and I can then mark them on B.com. Our policy is advance payment for 1st night to be taken 7-10 days before arrival. We tried taking payment at time of booking but it really upset my accounts!We have a 7 day cancellation policy so our pre-payment window allows us the opportunity to re-sell a room if things go awry and with the payment.
Our on-line diary allows us to be more savvy and weed out the potential no-shows as we take payment and send an automated confirmation.
There are always guests who make a booking at the start of the year for months later and then forget about their booking - a debit on their card is a sharp reminder to check the terms and conditions!