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Yeah jennywren, being able to take a credit card over the phone and get paid immediately as well as having a professional feel is one of the things that drew me to Reservation Manager. Many customers don't understand why they can't just give you a credit card number over the phone otherwise. I also like that there is no 60-day limit on refunds.
I also concur with you about PayPal. You can only refund money a non-PayPal member has paid you, which in turn goes back to their card or bank or however they funded it, since they do not have their own PayPal account.
If they want to book I send the contract along with a link to Pay Now. I tell them it is on a "first deposit that arrives" basis. If I get another inquiry I again do the same thing and inform each potential guest that there is another inquiry and potential booking. Whichever arrives first gets booked. I then ask the other if they would be interested in alternate dates.
I have repeat visitors who book before they leave, and leave a small deposit. They take care of the place and I don't worry. Personally, I would go back to repeat visitors and let them know upon check out, that they can book, then again, if I get an inquiry, let the repeat people know ASAP that someone is interested in their time and if they want to book, they have, lets say 48 hours to put in a deposit and hold it. I have had the same situation with a person who sent numerous emails back and forth, couldn't make up his mind and then finally came back wanting to book, unfortunately, the place was already taken by then. I think that he was upset, as I didn't receive anymore inquiries from him. I always put in my response to inquirys, that the reservation is "ONLY CONFIRMED WHEN NON-REFUNDABLE DEPSOIT IS MADE ON THE RENTAL", and that other inquiries for the same dates will be considered until the someone books.
Thank you for all who helped with this. I got a lot of good ideas from my post and your responses. I have figured out a way to take care of it!!! Thank you.
When I send a potential customer a quote...it's not a deal until they accept my offer. In the meantime I continue to send other quotes out to other potential customers. Once someone accepts my offer, I provide a "registration form" and give them 24 hours to let me know "the check is in the mail" along with their form. I follow up on the 24 hour notice by letting them know I receive inquiries every day and I must work on a "first come first serve basis". I do not guarantee a reservation until they advise "the check is in the mail". You need to give them a deadline to follow. Otherwise, they can leave you hanging thinking you have their business while they continue to shop for other offers. You need to control the customer and get them to commit. As long as it's not a last minute booking, you might consider changing customers for a better deal, but in a case like that...you should go out of your way to assist the first customer in finding something else in your area. I had to do that one time when family members decided to visit with short notice. It's never a good idea to cancel a reservation though. You are building a reputation and wanting to grow your business so honesty is the best policy.
I agree about not holding any place without a commitment in the form of a PAYMENT and/or SIGNATURE. However, while many argue that a check that has not yet cleared the bank is not really solid payment, one thing is for sure: "the check is in the mail" is no commitment at all. In fact, it is often cited as a joke in common speech to demonstrate how unreliable the phrase is.