How to Handle Last Minute Overbookings: Emergency Process

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In this guide we are going to talk about handling last minute overbookings. Before we discuss how to handle this situation overbookings in detail, let us start with ‘What is an overbooking?’ An overbooking/oversell in it’s simplest purest state is a situation or reservation which sells a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast, or any accommodation past the number of physical accommodation. In simple terms, you have more people than spaces.

 

What do overbookings mean to you? At minimum it’s stressful situation for your property and its staff. Realistically how overbookings and oversold situations managed will dictate what it means for you. Properties that fail to plan, strategize, or have processes to deal with overbookings typically experience financial loss, negative publicity, and loss of traveler and partner trust. Conversely properties who have plans, procedures, and strategies will usually experience minimal impact and sometimes will experience positive results too.

 

It may be that you are now reading this article because you are currently dealing with some of these negative impacts, but this guide is designed to help mitigate the issues created by this unplanned for overbooking and help to harness as many of the positive benefits of having a long-term overbooking process. At the end how these overbookings you are dealing with will impact your property is solely up to you and your staff!

 

Process for handling last minute overbookings

 

At The Beginning Of The Day/Or Immediately After Finding Same Day Overbooking

  • Determine how many overbookings you have
  • Determine where the overbookings came from and make sure the source is no longer open.
  • Analyze the number of incoming bookings for the day against your normal last minute cancellations and no shows. With this detail you’ll know if you need to relocate. (ex. if you normally have 1 no show/late cancel each day and only have 1 overbooking it may not be necessary to ‘sound the alarm’ yet)
  • Analyze the bookings to determine who to relocate. The last received booking isn’t always the best one to relocate!
    • Based on source and agreements some bookings are more advantageous to relocate than others.
    • Consider date of booking, rates, agreements, possible penalties from partners, length of stay, etc.
  • Begin calling other local properties of similar quality/value/service to your own.
    • Inquire for availability. At minimum do they have the rooms you need?
    • Inquire for a reciprocal rate for the relocation. Ideally you should get a discounted rate and share the same courtesy for the future
    • Inquire if they can hold the rooms without commitment. If so take them on the offer. If not analyze, is the relocation 100% necessary or can you wait?


If Relocation Is Determined to be 100% Necessary

  • If relocation is 100% necessary immediately, then after following the above steps contact your 3rd party booking partner. Advise them of the relocation and where the guest will be relocated to and compensation to be offered.
  • If possible contact the guest in advance and advise. Guests relocated prior to arrival are generally less frustrated and easier to recover than guests sent away at the front desk.
    • Make sure you advise where the guest is being sent to
    • Make sure they know you are confident of the quality of the other property
    • Make sure they know exactly what compensation is being provided
      • Industry standard typically is 1 night rm+tx, transportation to and from relocation hotel, one phone call, and internet access at relocation hotel. Guest returns to your hotel after 1st night for remainder of their stay.
      • Many hotels offer the industry standard and will upgrade guests upon return or offer some other sort of compensatory action.


If You Are Not Yet Sure Relocation Will Be 100% Necessary

  • If relocation is not 100% necessary then do not contact your partners yet! No need to sound an alarm until necessary. If you sound the alarm then don’t walk your property will still be seen negatively!
  • Continue to analyze your situation throughout the day. Ideally you want to relocate prior to guest arrivals, so the sooner you can determine 100% to relocate the better. If you do recognize the need, revert to our process above on 100% necessary relocations.
  • If it wasn’t possible contact the guest in advance or wasn’t determined until arrival that the guest should be relocated (walked) then you will have to handle this task at the front desk. Guests relocated at the desk are generally very frustrated and obviously upset and of course for good reason. These guests can still be recovered with deft and skillful management.
    • Display genuine care, empathy, concern and understanding. Be patient, but firm and stand your ground. Dont let the guest’s emotion control yours. They will be upset, you will want to remain patient, friendly, and understanding for the best results. This moment will become your moment of truth and define your property!
    • Make sure you advise where the guest will be being sent to
    • Make sure they know you are confident of the quality of the other property
    • Make sure they know exactly what compensation is being provided
      • Industry standard typically is 1 night rm+tx, transportation to and from relocation hotel, one phone call, and internet access at relocation hotel. Guest returns to your hotel after 1st night for remainder of their stay.
      • Many hotels offer the industry standard and will upgrade guests upon return or offer some other sort of compensatory action.
    • Then after following the above steps contact your 3rd party booking partner. Advise them of the relocation and where the guest will be relocated to and compensation to be offered.

 

Handling overbookings and overbooked guests is a difficult situation. However by following the general practices shared above you should be able to mitigate financial loss, manage guest perception, and strengthen your 3rd party partner’s opinion and belief in your property. At the end how these overbookings you are dealing with will impact your property is solely up to you and your staff!



 

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