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That's a great comment about no review is a bad review. My co-manager, Scott, feels the same way. I am working on sharing that attitude! My hang-up is that I sometimes take it personally. (sheepish grin)
But we have a formula for answering reviews, good and negative. We do what you do and use it as an opportunity for education about the B&B. And we try our hardest to fix the issue if we can (i.e. bad mattress, something not operational in the room etc.)
We also answer each review immediately.
We get guests from all over the world. And we've learned that what is wonderful treatment for Canadians, is not wonderful treatment for Chinese. So we learn a teeny bit about the different cultures and keep that in mind at all times. :)
I was nervous as well when we implemented the new policy. But it had to be done. People were booking on a 33-day average from arrival, and cancelling in only two days. The math didn't allow for new bookings. Our booking averages are more in the two-week mark now.
We are watching our occupancy climb year by year. Even after changing our cancellation policy. We even raised our rates this year--which we haven't done in 14 years. We have a good product here; and we just had to make the move to making life easier on ourselves (hence the seven-day policy).
Two years ago, we completely rebuilt our website, made it mobile friendly, added a security key, used only top-notch photos, and faithfully sent guests email links to TripAdvisor asking for reviews after every stay.
We also implemented better communication (using templates so that we always used the same information). We stepped up our concierge services, and all-in-all, we're delighted with our occupancy rate. Even in our two shoulder times (April and October).
In Canada (perhaps North America??), it is no longer legal to collect the CVC in our industry.
Our debit machine does not ask for it.
I wonder if you can talk to your debit machine help line and see if you can change your setting? This is said in innocence of exactly how the technology works. :)
I wish Booking.com customer service was more helpful in cases like yours. I don't deal with them unless I absolutely have to. I only work with our regional office because they seem more on the ball.
I forgot to include that at the end of every month I send a link to the guest to review their experience on TripAdvisor, and prompt them about how to write a review (i.e. "talk about what you liked or didn't and why".) when we get bad reviews (about 2%), we use them as opportunities to explain things about the B&B. We also use those reviews as opportunities to fine-tune our service or amenities.
Sometimes the guest is just cranky and too hard to please. In that case, we let them know we regret that they didn't enjoy themselves and hope their next vacation is better. But we never grovel. Lol.
Thank you, Karin!
We had a two-day cancellation policy. It felt like we were doing more cancellations than bookings!
As soon as we changed to a more strict policy, our cancellations decreased dramatically.
If you have these types of issues, work with your booking.com rep for your area. They can gives loads of advice.
We are a four-bedroom B&B in Whitehorse, Canada.
We do not charge deposits, and rarely have a problem collecting for no-shows.
Our cancellation policy is stated on Booking.com; and guests agree to all policies when the make their reservations. Our second step in our cancellation policy is to reiterate the policy in our confirmation email (template).
We have another template for "no-shows". It reminds the guest of what they agree to. We tell them how much we are going to charge their credit card; and we go ahead and charge the credit card on file.
We have only had one dispute in three years. The guest ended up having to pay the cancellation fee because I could clearly demonstrate that they cancelled their reservation without the requisite number of days (seven days in our case).
Since we changed to a seven-day cancellation policy, we have way fewer cancellations as well.
Hope that helps!