Motel Mingle Forums Online Bookings OTA's and lack of guest information

  • Creator

    Topic

  • #6122

    PaulPaul

    Participant

      Hi all, we are currently managing an ‘airport’ type motel which also welcomes a lot of business people. Our reception hours are 7am until 9pm and it seems our busiest times are between 5pm and 9pm when business people check in. We get a lot of our business from OTA’s and generally this isn’t a problem (apart from the obvious commission payments!) and they provide enough details for the guest; i.e. mobile phone number or email. This is important to us as we operate a ‘night safe’ for after hours arrivals and if we have these details we can then text the guest with the night safe procedure including the code. 80% of the time this works OK and we can try and get some sleep! However, there are some OTA’s (Corporate Traveller amongst others for example) that provide NO details whatsoever; no email address or mobile phone number and so we are in the lap of the Gods as to whether they arrive on time or late. I would say we are woken by late arrivals due to this flaw at least 5-8 times a week (last night was 1:37am!). I understand that the OTA doesn’t want us contacting the guest direct as they like to protect their commissions, but seriously? I have no intention of contacting these people directly to sell them a room, I just want to be able to tell them how to conduct a late arrival without waking us up! I also understand that a lot of this is the guests responsibility too and they should be contacting the motel if they know they’re going to e late but, sadly it seems, the days of having any accountability have long passed.
      What do others do? What is your strategy for dealing with this? I have tried emailing the likes of Corporate Traveller to try and explain the situation but invariably don’t get a reply….
      Your thoughts would be welcomed by VERY tired managers!

    Viewing 11 reply threads
    • Author

      Replies

      • #8559

        BusybeesBusybees

        Participant
        • Topics Started 22
        • Replies 232

          Hi Howie,
          We had cancelled a booking once with booking.no and the guest arrived and paid us directly. booking.no sent the guest an email and inquired whether in fact they had stayed. booking.no, then adjusted our invoice and we still had to pay the commission! this was a while ago but still i would be checking your invoices to be sure you’re not being charged.
          cheers

          • #8562

            howie

            Participant
            • Topics Started 3
            • Replies 74

              We had the same experience with Booking.com but we pointed to the terms of the booking and told them that we refuse to pay the commission and if they charged us for it we would just stop using them.This is why we charge the credit card upto 2 days before the booking as booking.com will let you cancel the booking earlier nowadays. Im not sure how many bookings you get via booking.com or expedia but we have reduced our bookings through otas to less than 8% so if they try to play hard ball with us we just say no problem we will do our own thing.
              They even tried to make us repay an extra charge we made on a credit card to a guest for extra cleaning but told them the same thing. I dont know who they think they are but they certainly arent judge and jury here. We have achieved this by reducing our own rates by 12% and we have seen an immediate increase in direct bookings. we are also doing an adwords campaign but not sure how thast is working so will probably drop that to. We are also about to try a cpc campaign through trivago which i think will do ok , but we will see . Unless you get lots of bookings through these ota`s i would be trying a few things to try to bring direct bookings up

          • #8555

            Cassius

            Participant
            • Topics Started 2
            • Replies 25

              Corporate Travel is owned by Flight Centre so you not get any cooperation from them.
              We now only take bookings Flight Centre and all its other companies, Stage and Screen, Student Travel etc.
              Booking must be confirmed by email which must have credit card details, mobile phone number of the client. We do not allow any discounts nor do we allow chargeback as they can take 2-6 months to settle the account.
              Flight Centre and its other companies will bill you later via ONYX for 10% commission. This usually comes through3-4 month after the booking. ONYX is owned by Flight Centre even though based in Holland. We ignore all accounts from ONYX.
              Being in this town where we are there is only one other motel and we have both agreed on this policy.

            • #6455

              TIDYWAZZA

              Participant
              • Topics Started 12
              • Replies 90

                I asked Booking.com to cut off bookings at 7.pm and Expedia.com the same at 7.30pm nightly.( we close the door at 7.30pm) This is working so far. Booking.com can only cease bookings on the hour not the half hour. The phone numbers I use for Expedia.com are 1800 789 756 & 02 8031 8467 it is an automated answering service and it has been usefull for me at times.

              • #6391

                PaulPaul

                Participant
                • Topics Started 26
                • Replies 80

                  The owner has never spent five minutes running this motel unfortunately and doesn’t really want to know…

                  • #6407

                    howie

                    Participant
                    • Topics Started 3
                    • Replies 74

                      Maybe have the company that installed the card system come and have a look, they may have a fix for you or they may have an upgrade that would fix the problem or atleast cut down on guests having trouble getting into there rooms .
                      From the guest perspective i would be frustrated if i had problems getting to my room too

                  • #6376

                    BusybeesBusybees

                    Participant
                    • Topics Started 22
                    • Replies 232

                      Hi Howie, I believe that I have always had the mobile number and mostly an email too. I thought it had something to do with “required” information, but I could be wrong!
                      In any case I always ring the OTA at 8pm and tell them the guest is due sometime but I don’t have an eta and that we close the office at 8.30pm and there is no one here to let them in. I suggest they contact the guest while I wait so that they know I mean business.
                      I also tell them that I want the ability for that guest to leave a review wiped. (depending on the reply!) {Obviously I also ask them to get the guest to contact me IF they are arriving tonight so we can make arrangements for the key.}
                      I also let them know that there wont be a refund should the guest ask as they have not:
                      1) read the terms on the website and
                      2) and not replied to the email that I sent them. So please don’t call me back if the guest asks cos the answer will still be no.
                      I haven’t had a complaint from any ota regarding the no refund and no review…yet!!

                    • #6345

                      PaulPaul

                      Participant
                      • Topics Started 26
                      • Replies 80

                        The main problem with our ‘late guests’ is that our motel is a ‘block apartment’ type motel. We only have one automatic entrance and then a lift access to the rooms; in other words guests don’t have a separate entry to their rooms. We also have the issue of electronic key cards which invariably don’t work so our problem is two-fold. Late guests can’t get into their rooms (i.e. we can’t leave them a key under the mat) and in-house guests get ‘locked out’ when they have been out and then their key cards don’t work. The key cards ‘de-magnetise’ next to mobile phones and no matter how much we tell the guests to keep them away from mobiles, they don’t.

                        I am desperate for some sleep!

                        • #6353

                          howie

                          Participant
                          • Topics Started 3
                          • Replies 74

                            I think that you will need to have a good talk to the owner , if he/she has run that motel before they will know the issues. If not get them to stay and experience it.
                            I`m sure that you can come up with a solution , it may be that some money needs to be spent but if the guests are having trouble getting into there rooms it is not working properly and this will come up in reviews i would presume.
                            As the guests pay the bills , it needs to be uncomplicated and just work , once you sort that out ,i would think you will get many more nights in bed .
                            Maybe do some homework and cost it out for any changes you need before presenting them to the owner.
                            We are at the stage now that everyone pays on the way in and if no breakfasts which is nearly all the time nowadays we get to sleep in until 8am sometimes 9 am or untilthe kids decide to wake us up
                            good luck with it.

                        • #6339

                          howie

                          Participant
                          • Topics Started 3
                          • Replies 74

                            We fixed expedia up for not having contact details for after hours guests arrival. Our conditions for booking clearly state contact office before 9pm for late checkin details . So one night one of expedias guests didn`t bother to contact us , so i went on there website and cancelled the booking . The guest turned up at 11.30pm
                            ringing motel etc. By that time i had already resold the room .
                            Expedia then ring me at midnight saying that he is waiting to checkin , so i referred them to our conditions. So i told them this is why we need contact details of the guests. So anyway i said that they should give us the phone number and was told that they can’t because of privacy laws, i told them thats bullshit cos they send me there credit card details , anyway cut a long story short they now include the guests number. You just have to be very straight with them or follow through on your conditions of booking and once they don`t comply with them they will hand over the number.
                            Only problem is nowadays most people won’t answer there mobile phone, so if this is the case we just leave the key hanging on the door in an envelope with there name on it .
                            But we always charge the credit card nowadays once we are in the 24 hr window for cancellations because quite often guests will only transfer enough money on the day to cover the room cost. So if it doesn`t go through we cancel the booking with expedia or with booking.com we will send an email with credit card declined which they will very quickly reply to if they still want the room, if they don’t reply booking.com allow you to cancel the booking from the motel end.

                          • #6330

                            BusybeesBusybees

                            Participant
                            • Topics Started 22
                            • Replies 232

                              Paul, you are at the mercy of the owner regarding the night-bell? Can you not put a sign on the door saying the phone is now diverted to an answering machine and will not be answered until the morning?Does the owner live on site? How would he know that you have diverted the phone unless he rings to check on you? If hes that paranoid maybe its time to move on!!

                            • #6310

                              PaulPaul

                              Participant
                              • Topics Started 26
                              • Replies 80

                                The problem is trying to contact Expedia! Through their extranet you can send messages to SOME guests but not all. If they have an overseas phone number then invariably they don’t allow you to send a message to them (booking.com at least have an email address!). How do you contact Expedia? I’ve trawled their extranet and found nowhere to be able to contact them!
                                They’re getting as bad as Telstra for customer service! I wish I could contact Expedia…..:-(

                              • #6167

                                BusybeesBusybees

                                Participant
                                • Topics Started 22
                                • Replies 232

                                  Hi guys,
                                  We have the same problem. I send an information email to all our guests regardless of whom they choose to book. It states the smae, if you are going to arrive after…. It also states our office hours.
                                  I ring the OTA concerned if we haven’t heard from the guest by 8pm and tell them, they had better contact their client and let them know cos I’m going home and they wont get in! I also tell them the guest will not be getting a refund as they haven’t abided by our policy which is clearly stated on all our websites. I also tell them that I will be marking them a now show and they wont be able to leave a bad review.
                                  In the case of the corporate traveller clients and flight centre clients, i send the email to the “booker” and ask them to forward it to the guest. I have in bold letters “please acknowledge that you have read this email”
                                  We don’t have a night bell and turn the phone to an answering machine.
                                  This has slowed the problem though not completely cured it.
                                  hope this helps.

                                • #6138

                                  PaulPaul

                                  Participant
                                  • Topics Started 26
                                  • Replies 80

                                    The problem with us doesn’t seem to be late bookings on the day (although we ‘zero’ rooms at 8:45pm) it’s the bookings that are sometimes way in advance and it is only SOME OTA’s (Corporate Traveller are a prime example) that are the worst. We get no details whatsoever and are then, quite literally, at their mercy as to when the guests arrive. As you and I rightly agree, the guest also needs to take responsibility. Our policy states ‘that if you are arriving after 9pm then you MUST contact the motel during office hours to let them know. However, we find not many do this or simply choose to ignore this. Unfortunately we cannot get rid of the night bell or phone (we are at the mercy of the owner here) but something needs to happen in the industry to make the OTA’s realise why we need this information….

                                  • #6130

                                    imageBallina Colonial Motel

                                    Participant
                                    • Topics Started 10
                                    • Replies 87

                                      I feel really sorry for you guys, but it seems to be the name of the game these days that you are expected to provide a 24/7 service, keep smiling and get little return or respect for your best efforts.

                                      I am sure that you already have a booking condition that says they must contact you before say 9pm on the day of arrival if arriving late? But, as is often the case, they don’t read the conditions or choose to ignore them. However, this condition has always worked for us.

                                      We also zero our room availability on the systems at about 8pm, so we get no late night bookings. I know some OTAs don’t allow same day bookings after a certain time, but have never been able to work out which ones and when.

                                      Get rid of the night bell and turn the phones off!

                                      Now with some OTA’s conditions (Expedia for example), state that you are not obliged to let the customer in if they arrive after midnight. After midnight is deemed to be a booking for the following day not the previous. Not sure if Booking.com do the same.

                                      The industry has repeatedly requested OTAs to make certain fields mandatory, like eta and phone numbers, but it has fallen on deaf ears. They look at the wrong side of the fence and have little understanding of what we are trying to achieve. Booking.com did change some fields to mandatory late last year, but then changed it back again for some reason.

                                      • #8556

                                        Cassius

                                        Participant
                                        • Topics Started 2
                                        • Replies 25

                                          We zero rooms at 8.00pm. Turn phone off at 9.00.
                                          For all guests who have not checked in by 9.00pm we access the credit card – if declined we may cancel the booking if we cannot contact them.
                                          If accepted advise guest by phone or text, use night safe code the last three numbers of mobile phone. Notice on the entrance door. Receipt for booking placed in room.
                                          Unfortunately still get some ” CLEVER ” guests who insist on ringing the door bell when they arrive.

                                          • #8557

                                            howie

                                            Participant
                                            • Topics Started 3
                                            • Replies 74

                                              We put there details in our 24 hour checkin machine ( surname , phone number and booking number, they only need to enter 2 of these to get the key) and go to bed .
                                              We process the credit card payment the day before the booking and if declined we send them an email via the ota or directly and let them know if its not updated by 3pm of booking day, the booking will be cancelled. We have cancelled a few but overall most people update there credit card or ring through to make sure it is paid.
                                              If we do cancel it an they turn up still then we don`t have to pay commissions.
                                              We dont have to zero room bookings on ota’s anymore as they can book online anytime and checkin themselves in through the checkin machine. We are getting upto 7 or 8 drive ups a week that check themselves in aswell as any that arrive late that check themselves in . We have had our checkin machine for a bit over a year now and wouldn`t be without it anymore.
                                              We go out for dinner regularly and go away for a night or 2 if it happens to be quiet , as i can perate the machine via the internet if need be we have much less reliance on relief managers also

                                              • #8560

                                                BusybeesBusybees

                                                Participant
                                                • Topics Started 22
                                                • Replies 232

                                                  Howie, AND anyone else who has one,

                                                  Just a couple of quick questions, if you wish to answer!

                                                  what machine have you got
                                                  how much outlay
                                                  did you buy it outright or rent it
                                                  where did you get it

                                                  thanks in advance

                                                  • #8561

                                                    howie

                                                    Participant
                                                    • Topics Started 3
                                                    • Replies 74

                                                      checkinn systems mini kiosk
                                                      link – https://checkinnsystems.net/product/mini-kiosk/
                                                      this is the one we have.
                                                      We decided to lease it at $280/month or you can buy it around $9000.00 but we will be buying it outright this financial year ( 20% of lease payments can be used as a credit if you buy it )
                                                      The company operates out of Melbourne and the kiosk can be sent anywhere as they are very robust it just needs power and an ethernet connection.
                                                      But the best thing is they Just Work, and work all the time , we haven`t had any problems with it and the support is very good. You can operate it manually ( manual entry of guests ) or you can link it upto a pms and channel manager as we are in the process of doing so it is fully automatic. We have chosen to go with Satin and STAAH for various reasons.
                                                      We put keysafes next to our room doors just in case the internet went down and we couldn`t drop a spare key but have had only to use that 1 time in a year

                                                      • #8563

                                                        BusybeesBusybees

                                                        Participant
                                                        • Topics Started 22
                                                        • Replies 232

                                                          Thanks for the info Howie

                                            Viewing 11 reply threads
                                            • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.