How to Deal with Cancellations
Updated: April 12, 2020
Free Guest Cancellation Workflow
To help reduce guest call volume, discourage refund cancellations, and stay organized, a company called Propersum created a free product for vacation rental managers. Everyone else is getting help, so we wish to help our industry (and customers) too. It is an online form to help you handle the volume and stay organized… while also discouraging full cancellations.
"Don't Cancel, Postpone"
Costa Rica's tourism professionals have perfected the mantra that can save a season's worth of bookings. Here's a video that does a nice job of evoking pride and recovery. Work it into your emails and website copy.
All owners and managers are handling cancellations differently.
Some managers are being flexible with refunds/credit and investing in goodwill (so that guest comes back later). Others are standing firm on their cancellation policies: so long as you have signed contracts, standing firm can be viewed not only as the fair option but as the responsibility of a business owner who needs to support their family. Be confident here. There is no right or wrong here: only what feels best for you. This week VRMIntel explained the different OTA stances.
If guests cancel for the coming weeks and months, depending on how the situation evolves in your region, you can...
- Offer guests re-book for later in the year (or same dates 2021)
- Be confident holding your ground: so long as the booking was not made through a listing site (more on this below) you and your contractual agreement get the final say. If on the fence, you have the obligation to put you and your family's own well-being first.
- Email all bookings for 2020 preemptively allowing the guests to cancel if they choose (this proactive stance — instead of waiting for the inevitable — earns respect, credibility and goodwill). Thanks Rick Oster for this one.
"Groupon"-Style Deal for Future Bookings
Offer all your past guests the chance to purchase $1000 of future credit at your vacation rentals for $500 (or whatever ratio you choose). Tapping good reputation earned over time can generate cashflow in low months.