In an article some months ago I suggested that it is to the benefit of yourself and your guests that they are fully aware of the house rules before they arrive. In many cases your own web site will show all the house rules but quite often they are not shown on the website of booking agents. Following that article I wrote to over 30 agents asking them to provide instructions on how you can include all your rules and conditions when guests book through them.
I was quite disappointed in the response. Some replied in great detail, some said they would respond later and never did, some did not reply at all and in one case they said they were not interested in providing that information.
Frank Higginson, partner at Hynes Lawyers, made the following comment: "Enforcing onerous or unreasonable conditions is difficult in any event, let alone if they have not actually been disclosed to the tenant!"
With the experience of some unruly guests managers are writing their booking instructions in much stronger terms. For instance here is an extract from one set of conditions.
"By proceeding with your booking indicates that you have noted and accepted the conditions and agree to abide by the building by-laws and are aware that a breach of the house rules may lead to extra charges and/or eviction without refund. At check in you will need to provide credit card details for a security bond over the apartment this will be pre-authorised at check-in for $500. Debit and credit cards will not be accepted if you do not have a credit card the bond is $1000 cash that will be posted to the address registered at check-in within several working days after departure in the form of a trust account cheque. Noisy, offensive and unruly behaviour will not be tolerated. Noise from one apartment must not impact on any other apartment at any time, all noise is to be contained to within the apartment between 10pm and 8:30am. No warnings will be given after 10pm, non compliance will result in the police being called and immediate eviction without refund.”
If you have conditions similar to these then they should be on the agent’s website and printed out with their confirmation documents. It could be argued that it is too late to present these conditions when guests arrive to register. For your information here are the responses I have received.
Properties providing inventory via the AAA Tourism reservation engine on "http://www.aaatourism.com.au" and Auto Club websites are required to submit important consumer information, which is done via our client administration panel. Information such as check-in instructions, reception instructions, cancelation policy and general terms and conditions. There is no limit on the number of policies the property wants to set in place and communicate and the consumer needs to read and accept these conditions prior to confirming their booking. These conditions are also printed on the booking confirmation to avoid any surprises. In one sense the onus is on the consumer to read all booking conditions and information provided, but at the same time the manner in which the property communicates these is certainly critical to customer satisfaction.
Charles Deuchrass, marketing manager, AAA Tourism
At Jasons.com, the online booking setup experience is designed to be user-friendly and easy to use. Operators’ booking information is self-managed from a login section on the Jasons’ site and our operators are able to add and/or edit their policies and terms and conditions here in real time. To add or update the policies, enter the online booking section, then under setup, enter the policies area. Policies can be added, deleted or edited here by entering text or clicking a button. We encourage all our online customers to ensure they have thoroughly checked their reservation details and that they are fully aware of the property's policies when booking. Confirming a booking indicates the customer has accepted the property's terms and conditions.
Lara Ortiz, marketing manager, Jasons Travel Media
I have requested some instructions from our product team and once I get these I will call you to discuss the article. Please let me know if there are any questions or problems.
Jacqueline, "http://readyrooms.com/" (Despite a follow up email no further response was received)
BOOK DIRECT TO SAVE - HOLIDAY ZONE
With BookDirect2Save, hotels can enter their terms and conditions when they login to their supplier site, go to their ‘supplier details’ page and update their terms and conditions anytime they want. They can enter information on T&C for booking, cancellation, no-show, other conditions, child policy etc.
Charleene Ng, BookDirect2Save
Thank you for contacting Check-in.com.au. We have read through your e-mails and thank you for your advice and your offer, however, we do not wish to take you up on this.
Orbitz is an online travel company and we have different vendors who have listed their properties on Orbitz web site. Since, the instructions at the time of checking in/out are determined and varies by the vendors, we are unable to give a written response in reference to the instructions to be listed for check-in and check-out. Generally, if a vendor lists a hotel on our website, they are provided with assistance to update/add any information through our hotel support team.
Roy Nelson, Orbitz Email Service Team
Thank you for your recent enquiry. Emails are prioritised for response in the order in which they are received. A member of our service team will respond to you as soon as possible.
AsiaRooms.com Service Team. (No further response was received)
Need an immediate response? Please read on... All emails will be responded to within 48 hours. If you require immediate action please call our service centre on 1800 002 333 within Australia or +61 7 3170 7995 from overseas. In the meantime thank you for your email, we have acknowledged it and will endeavour to respond within 48 hours.
Quickbeds Global Support (No further response was received)
Thanks for contacting us. We have a assigned the following case number to your inquiry: 111327814. A member of our local customer care team will be looking into this shortly and reply to your request within 24 hours.
Your Customer Care Team @ Expedia.com.au (No further response was received)
The Wotif.com experience is designed to be as user-friendly and informative as possible for both customers and suppliers. All accommodation providers registered with the Wotif Group are in full control of their listing. It is easy to add or update details at any time using the secure Wotif supplier extranet. Suppliers can publish their terms and conditions on their listing in two main areas: Check in instructions; and property details.
Check in instructions is used to highlight what guests need to know before they check in, eg “Photo ID and a credit card will be required for check in. A $200 cash deposit is required if a credit card cannot be produced.” The property details area has enough space for any extended terms and conditions. This way suppliers can ensure customers are fully aware of such details before they book and pay. In fact, it is part of our terms and conditions of supplier agreement that they provide the same level of accuracy and completeness as they do through their own sales channels. As with any online purchase, we encourage our customers to be fully aware of what they are booking before they pay, and this includes being aware of all the accommodation and deal information provided. As a reminder of what customers need to bring, we include check in instructions on the customer’s booking confirmation. If a supplier would like to add or amend the above details, they can simply login to the Wotif supplier extranet, click on the ‘supplier details’ tab, and update their property details and check in instructions.
Saskia Moon, group product director, Wotif.
So out of 30 plus emails sent off during April I think most managers would agree that this response is very disappointing. However thank you to those agents who did respond.