May Customer Service Matters – Non Refundable!
Matt Patterson – Front line Customer Service Manager, roomsXML, talks about non refundable bookings
“Hi, we’d like to cancel booking….”
“We can cancel, but it’s non refundable, you are liable for the fees and charges”
“Yes but it’s not for another 2 months, why should I pay?”
“Because you accepted the terms and conditions 3 times at the time of booking…”
Booking conditions are becoming an increasingly important factor, whether it is accommodation, transfers, tours or even flights.
But how much do agents take notice of them? How about their customers?
From a hotels perspective, non-refundable bookings are the most effective way to confirm occupancy and also provide less administration costs as the booking allows no amendments or changes. It’s a kind of hedging operation that brings forward cash flow through the supply chain.
Sure the price may be much cheaper than the more flexible rates, however if the booking is over 6 months away is it worth booking? There is a lot that can happen in 6 months.
Also as an agent, without up-front payment from the client and an understanding that the booking carries non-refundable conditions, this can represent a major risk.
To offset this in roomsXML, we’ve made it impossible to make an IP booking without being aware. The confirm button is hidden unless you hit accept 3 times. There’s no opportunity for a communication error. We have to follow this process as when you hit accept, we are also bound instantly by our wholesale network to complete the transaction.
Whilst on occasion we will follow up and try our luck on getting relief on an IP booking, 95% of the time (extraordinary circumstances aside) the answer is the same “the agent accepted the T&C’s, not our problem”. We’d love to think we can manually check every booking made across 95,000 global hotels but is that possible? Or should the “mouse driver” accept responsibility to double check?
Tradie’s love saying “Measure twice, cut once”.
Think of a Non-refundable booking like the last piece of timber you have on site. You’ve got one more cut to make on a Friday afternoon before the weekend and the house is complete. Instead of taking your time, you’re trying to finish it as quickly as possible so you can knock off early.
Unfortunately the cut is too short, your timber doesn’t fit and you’ve made more work for yourself because of a simple error. The wood gets wasted, back to the pile to start again.
This “measure twice, cut once” saying should also apply when making Non-refundable bookings. Spending an extra 30 seconds to double check the details of the booking, ensure the dates are correct, pax names are spelt properly will guarantee there are no headaches later on.