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Most generally I do not acquire a penalty from booking.com as I always reconcile my invoices in the 4 day period after the month closing and see that any rooms that they are showing occupied - but were cancelled - are removed form that invoice. This applies to both our OTAs. I have not had a problem with that issue and do stand very firm on our different cancellation policies. I do not offer credits for rebooking unless the guest emergency has been determined legitimate and particularly unless they have been repeat guests over time.
Excellent defining of the issues. As it happens, we have found that allowing Expedia to collect the fees caused us extra paperwork and wasn't particularly friendly to our guests. As it stands now, we collect the fees when the guest arrives. We have had an increase in cancellations over the last couple of years from booking.com but since we hold a very firm line on charging for cancellations outside our policy we are usually able to fill the rooms particularly for big events during our heavy occupation months of January thru the end of May, first of June. During our hotter months we are able to pull in some construction crews and International visitors. We also provide our guests with a method for late arrivals that usually encourages them to become return visitors.
Very pleased to hear of your rating. You are correct, it is very difficult to achieve even 1/10th of a point in a rating but we have been moving up over the past few years. Our staff, cleanliness and location most always achieve a 10 with 7.5 for our other amenities. It has proven over time, that when we get a low review, it is almost always from someone that has been refused a refund. Unfortunately that does seem to be part of our business. For the most part, our guests have been very happy with us and return for other dates. We are a small, older independent 37 unit motel in the center of a string of high and low end motels and very happy with our rating but as always, continue to strive for a move upward with our services, amenities and special perks.
Right on. While I find booking.com brings us a fair amount of bookings, a short while ago we went thru a stage where they determined to "on our behalf" refund the guests money when they registered a complaint (usually invalid). After one email to booking.com and then 2 direct calls to our rep, I explained, fully, they did not have the right to make that call and I was the only one allowed to determine a refund since I was the manager and on-site, the situation has not reoccurred. Unfortunately, I doubt that when a guest has a no-show or damages connected to a credit card and it is declined, we all know the guest isn't likely to give anyone a valid credit card.
We have a variety of cancellation policies as follows. Standard - 48 hours - anything under that is 50% - if a no show or cancellation the day of arrival it is the full amount. Events - 1 week policy to avoid full payment. A 30 day stay - no refund for early departure (there is no tax on our 30-day rate and if the guest leaves early, the state requires we add the tax onto the full amount of days occupancy) Our guests usually do not request a refund as they would end up owing us more money that the original charge. If the 30/60 day stay is made over 4 months prior to arrival, the guest is made aware that if cancellation is necessary it must be done a full 30 days prior to their arrival date. If not it is 50% of the entire amount and increases as cancellation gets closer to their arrival date. I will, sometimes, make allowances for what I believe to be true emergencies and those I know from past years. But, as stated from another partner, I do not ever post or give out this information as people have known to be very creative in producing emergencies where none exist. We do need to respond to bookiing.com when they call and my answer most generally is a No. We are a smaller motel and someone changing their mind for whatever reason after I have lost bookings due to no vacancy, is not something I am willing to accept.
We do have a pet policy. It is stated on our web site and posted on the reception desk. It is also in the registration document they sign at check-in. We do only allow dogs, 50 lbs or under (sometimes I waive the weight restriction) No pet left alone in the room at any time unless the guest is in the room, always leashed on the property, no aggressive breeds. There is a $20+tax fee/night. But, sometimes I moderate that to a lesser amount of days if - I know the people and their pet, or they are staying 5-7 days. That does seem to somewhat alleviate both miscommunication and a destroyed room. For the most part, we do not allow dogs on the second floor. We make the guests aware that there is a $150 automatic charge if a dog is not disclosed. Of course, you cannot deny or charge for a service dog. Legally we can only ask them what service their dog provides. No requests for papers or the service dog vest is legal. That does seem to somewhat alleviate both miscommunication and a destroyed room. Not perfect but better than if we just allowed everyone to show up with their pet/pets.
I do use Facebook to promote our motel. The biggest advantage is being able to post upcoming events, both big ones and the everyday theater presentations, walks, parades, etc. I also use it, when necessary, to post for jobs and get a decent amount of response. I don't pay for "sponsoring" so there is no cost to our budget.
Since I do not apply the "boost" option to my event or job postings, I do not know the answers. I do know that I receive responses/viewings and applications without spending any money.