17 Replies Latest reply: Apr 24, 2012 12:56 AM by lavendertea RSS

    Double booking

    New Member

      Recently I had the worst nightmare become reality.  My guests who were checking in for the weekend called to tell me that there were other guests items in the cottage.  I was horrified to realize that I had double booked our cottage. So I scrambled and found them another amazing cabin nearby.  I told them I would spring for breakfast in a nearby restaurant and at the time they said they wanted to come back so i told them that I would give them a night free in my cabin for their next booking.  My property manager than showed them the other cabin and the guests said that they were happy with the new cabin.  5 days later I received an e-mail saying that they would like to try to book another weekend in the spring, everything seemed okay.   Yesterday I received a call from  one of the other guests who let me have it and complained about the other cabin and how could this have happened.  I apologized over and over again.  In the end she wanted their money back.  I had to pay for the other cabin that they stayed in.  So now I will have paid for their vacation.  What should I do?  I am exhausted and would like to sell my cabin so I don't have to deal with this anymore. its not worth it.

        • Re: Double booking
          amyg Active Contributor

          Kmama, I hope I have this right.  You're saying that the person who signed the lease--your original renter--was good with being moved to the new cabin and later contacted you about coming back in the spring, so they are fine with how things worked out.  But this "other guest" is someone from that rental party and now they're demanding a refund? 


          If you and the person who rented your cabin were able to come to terms satisfactorily by moving the guests to an equivalent or better property...buying the rental party breakfast...and offering a free night toward a future stay, all should be good and settled.  BTW, I think you handled things very well in trying to make the best of a bad situation.


          I don't know how many people were in the rental party, but let's say this other lady was one of two couples.  She's probably feeling a bit miffed because her friend/family member who booked the cabin is now getting a free night for their next booking and she's not.  She might be mad that the cabin move meant she had to sleep on a queen bed instead of a king.  Or she might just be a complainer/opportunist.


          I would think because your contract is with the person on the lease, you do not have any obligation to dole out partial refunds to everyone in a party who is not pleased with how things turned out. If this lady persists in demanding a refund, I would tell her you feel badly that your best efforts were not enough to please her, but you do not have a contract with her and will not be offering any refund.


          I'm curious to hear what others in the Community have to say on this.  It's a tough situation to be in and I was there once myself but fortunately caught my mistake quickly and was able to move the guests to a friend's cabin.  I still felt like a fool, having to apologize and appear unprofessional, plus calling around to find a last-minute rental after the lady had already purchased tickets to shows. The next day I decided I would never go through that stress again and purchased a subscription to an online reservation system that would never let me double-book again.  It's worth every penny!


          Don't beat yourself up too much for this.  You acted quickly and generously to resolve the mistake and owned up to it.  That's all you can do.  This lady who's demanding a refund is just taking the situation and trying to wring out of it what she can get.  Besides, this is a winter weekend rental...not a two week Safari.  She's pushing your buttons...don't give in. 

            • Re: Double booking
              New Member

              Hi amyg,

              thank you for your advice, I should clarify my story.  There were 5 women, when they were showed the other property they were asked several times if they approved of the property and they said they did after a thorough inspection! (even the cupboards were examined)  I heard first from the original woman who made the reservation, she was fine with everything,  and wanted to book another weekend in the spring, which we did.  1 day later I heard from the 'other' woman who berated me for a full 20 minutes!  I apologized profusely, after a complete reaming I asked her what could I do?  She said she wanted all of the money back.   She continued on complaining about it was not clean,  it was antiquated, there were flies in the lite fixture, there was only 1 mirror and the bunk bed seemed wobbly.  Need I go on?  This conversation took place a  full week after their vacation. Also, I'm not sure I mentioned it  but I have to forward the fees for the other cabin they agreed to stay in. 


              I have come to the conclusion after several sleepless nights and the start of an ulcer, that I will not reimburse them.  I'm also going to tell the original woman that she should find another cabin to book for her future vacations.  I don't want their business and neither does my friend with the other private cabins on the north shore.


              Does the owner have any protection with the vrbo or are we on our own?

              • Re: Double booking
                kiawahcottage Active Contributor



                First get some rest!  Do not send this person anything.  She is not being fair.  OK, so you double book, the worst nightmare for any of us here.  Then you find them a comparable place, which they accept, you buy them breakfast and they talk about returning in the future.  To top it off you offer a free night on their next stay!  So all is well until a week later someone in the party decides she wants all their money back?  Why?  Did they forget to tell you how much they hated it and lie to you about wanting to return?

                You know some people think that when they stay in a hotel and have any inconvenience whatsoever they are entitled to a free stay.  Well I assure you she wouldn't have a chance of getting a refund from a hotel a week after checkout under similar circumstances.


                You made a mistake.  You apologized.  You gracefully remedied the situation and you already generously compensated them for the inconvenience.   OK, time to stop apologizing and politely but firmly let her know that what she is asking is simply not fair and it's not going to happen.


                Now lets talk about your booking and tracking system.  Obviously for your own peace of mind this needs to be taken care of.  I use a system much like the one in Christine Karpinski's book,  “How To Rent Vacation Properties By Owner”.



                  • Re: Double booking
                    Senior Contributor

                    You've done all you can. We are humans and we all make mistakes. 


                    I have a Hold Harmless agreement that the RENTER must sign. By doing so they accept all responsibility for everyone in their party. It is really the only way I could find that worked. Otherwise I'd have to require every single member to sign a Rental Agreement & provide photo ID--- not something I cared to have to deal with.


                    As for calendaring , though it can be a pain- I keep 3. One on my computer, one on my office wall & a smaller one I can cart around when I travel. I've found this system pretty easy since it just takes a minute to jot guests dates and names down. It takes me loner to update my calandars on the 3 online sites I advertise on ( and it helps me keep track X 3! LOL! Something my over 50 brain finds helpful these days!!)


                    Hang in there!


                • Re: Double booking
                  Active Contributor



                  I also agree with previous posts that you have done what is reasonable. The guests needed a place to stay for 5 people in your area, your home was unavailable for reasons outside your guest's control and you offered an alternative. Their needs were met.


                  When I take an airline and due to weather or other issues the flight is delayed, cancelled or overbooked, and I must take a later flight the same day, at best I get a $10 voucher, but most of the time nothing. If I am forced to stay overnight I get a free night and a voucher, but not stock in the airline.


                  Similarly, you met their needs, your contract does not specify the number of mirrors, or the style of the furniture, simple X bedrooms sleeps 5 people. You gave them a free meal and a free day in the future, that is it.


                  Consider this experience your learning curve, not a crash course in renting.

                  • Re: Double booking
                    tyann Contributor

                    Yikes! You did what you could, now move on. And, you are not alone. I did it last summer. Not once, but twice...thankfully the second time was just hours after I booked the second person. The first time I realized it when I received the balance check for the second person and was going through my paperwork.


                    I have a network of other owners in the area, so after looking over other calendars, I was able to send the second set of guests each time to a comparable home.


                    Now I use web-based reservation software and a checklist of things for me to complete for each and every booking. So far, it has worked! The top portion has the guest info, the house, and the dates. The bottom has the checklist:



                    • Gather information
                    • Add email to MailChimp
                    • Run credit card payment
                    • Send rental agreement
                    • Enter info into Lodgix
                      • Create guest
                      • Create reservation
                      • Add credit card payment
                    • Block dates on
                      • Date book
                      • FlipKey calendar
                    • Enter “deposit due” reminder on Yahoo calendar
                    • Deposit check arrived (check #__________ or credit card on _______________)
                    • Rental agreement signed
                    • Balance arrived (check #__________ or credit card on _______________)
                    • Call with security code
                    • Send thank you



                    Tyann Marcink

                    Nature's Retreat and Canyon Retreat | Vacation Home in Branson

                    Website Design and Photography | Marcink Designs

                    • Re: Double booking
                      anja Senior Contributor

                      I might be dense today. I think I'm still a little befuddled but maybe it does not matter at this point if you already decided not to refund anyone, anything. You said: "I had to pay for the other cabin that they stayed in.  So now I will have paid for their vacation." Did you pay for that other cabin?  Permit me:


                      1) you double booked your cabin. {It can happen to the best of us. Don't beat yourself up.}

                      2) you compensated your 5 women guests by finding them another "amazing cabin nearby".  {Good Owner!}

                      3) you bought them breakfast {Very thoughtful Owner.}

                      4) you paid for that "other amazing cabin" to further compensate them -- if I understood correctly.  {Very Generous Owner!}

                      5) you offered a free night to return to your cabin in the future. {Nice..very good biz practice, Owner!}

                      6) you received an email request, 5 days after they moved into "the other amazing cabin", to book your cabin next Spring. {Congrats. Owner handled it right, apparently.}


                      Then, after their vacation, one of those women --- {not the one that signed your contract} --- complained that she had not been happy with her stay in that *other* cabin...so she wants you to refund *her portion* of the rent...or all of the rent?   I'm not understanding what that "unhappy woman" wants, i.e., you said:  "Their money back."  Maybe I misunderstood...I thought you already paid for that other cabin for themIf you did that, then you owe them / her nothing more.  I would not let these women frustrate and worry me so much to want to sell my cabin.  You seem like a good Owner!  It seems you "have it together"...and know how  to  handle this.  So, you made one mistake. Just be careful.  I, too, keep an online calendar + a hard copy book with the same entries in case of PC crashing...and I can bring my "book" with me anywhere to stay on top of "bookings".  P.S. I would lose this group of women for next Spring. Who knows what complaints one or the other will caste at you if they stay in "your cabin"?

                      • Re: Double booking
                        New Member

                        Mistakes happen and it's difficult to know what- as owners- our responsibility is.  Just today I realized that I double-booked our cottage in March.  It's one month away, and I immediately emailed one set of guests to inform them of my mistake.  These were people who already revealed themselves as being somewhat problematic because they added an extra guest to the apartment after our contract had been signed. The woman flew off the handle and was very abusive with me.  When I said that I would immediately return her money and help her secure other accommodations, she told me not to send it, that it was my responsibility to pay for the other place, with her money, and even pay for the difference between the two apartments.  Out of guilt I bought into this for about an hour, but I started to feel more and more uneasy about dealing with her at all. Of course she threatened to write homeaway and post a bad review, even though she never stayed at our place. I've resolved not to have any more to do with her and am returning her money, and I wonder if I owe her anything (an extra $50-$100) for her trouble?  Her booking with us was for four nights and she's acting like I committed a capital crime.

                          • Re: Double booking
                            sophie Senior Contributor



                            I'm so sorry. No one has the right to be abusive to anyone...especially over something like this.  Had she been nice and slightly understanding about it, I might have helped her, but I personally wouldn't give her anything for her trouble. You attempted to help her and she declined. She has caused you trouble by her words and actions. And yes, she CANNOT leave a review. I wish people in this world weren't so mean.  *Sigh*

                            • Re: Double booking
                              Active Contributor

                              Dblum, I am so sorry you had this experience.

                              It is so easy to let these things get under our skin!

                              So ... take a deep breath, and relax.


                              Since this woman is so unreasonable, I do think the best thing you can do is to simply return her money.


                              However, if you are able to do this without too much stress, it might work out in your favor to find the other accommodations for these guests.


                              One time I had a guest who booked for 2 nights at our place, at $200 per night, which is really quite a lot for a studio apartment ... with hotel tax / tourism fees added, the total bill came to $460.00.    The woman was willing to pay so much because of our location; we live very close to her daughter, who was expecting her first child; the woman was coming into town for just those 2 days to do the first Lamaze classes with her daughter.  (BTW, we used to charge a very high price for the 2-night stay to discourage it, but since that wasn't effective, we now simply post a minimum one-week stay.) 


                              Anyway, as it turns out, a few weeks after the first woman made this booking, I got a request from a second woman (a nearby neighbor expecting a child, too!) who wanted her parents (also future grandparents) to stay for 3 weeks during the time when she expected her child to be born. 


                              I wanted that three-week booking, but obviously it's not ethical to cancel on someone just because a request for a juicier booking came in.  However, I was hoping I might find a solution that everyone would be happy with.  So I checked around.  Thankfully, I found another adorable studio, actually even closer to the first woman's daughter. The owners of that place were awesome, and I made such a great connection with them.  It turns out they were more than happy to take the 2-night stay. The first woman was delighted because the total price for 2 nights was only $240, so she saved $220 on the deal!    Meanwhile, I got my 3-week booking. 


                              Another nice thing about it was ... it turns out that the first woman had only paid a $242 reservation deposit (the original booking was still more than 1 month away).  So, rather than refunding the first woman the $242 and then having her mail a check for $240 to the owners of the other studio place, I simply walked over and paid the $240.00 directly to the other owners.  Regarding the extra $2.00 the first woman said to "keep the change,"  LOL.     At the end of it, the first woman and I were sending *high fives* via e-mail.  It was great. 


                              So dblum ... although I totally understand if you want to get Temper Tantrum Lady out of your life asap ... there might be some good that would come out of it if you contact other owners and find suitable accomodations ... you may expand your network of friends in the real-world owner community, for starters.  And if you're able to find comparable accommodations for even cheaper than yours, this could be a cost savings for Miss Temper Tantrums.  Since she seems rather awful, she may not appreciate your kindness, but there's a possibility that she will change her tune and become thankful. 


                              And I'm very sorry that Miss Temper Tantrums has treated you so badly, just because of a simple mistake, which anyone can make ... we are all human.   So although it's not right for her to treat you that way, I was thinking you could still try to make amends by offering to pay for one out of the four nights of the displaced guests' stay.  It's like giving them a 25% discount on whatever the new accommodations may be.  But ... so she doesn't decide to book some crazy expensive place that isn't even comparable to yours .... maybe you can be in the driver's seat, finding some COMPARABLE accomodations for her, and then offering her the 25% discount  (one night free, out of the four nights she originally booked).


                              Hope this helps .... I don't like hearing stories of people berating each other like what this guest has done to dblum.  It's so easy for tempers to flare, and for arguments to get out of hand, especially via e-mail and the internet.  We all need to take a deep breath ... relax ... chill out ... and realize that there's a real person on the other end of whatever communication we are using, whether it's phone, e-mail, etc.

                            • Re: Double booking

                              This just happend to us for the first time in the 10 years we have been renting.  I think we were more upset than the guests as we try to provide a total vacation experience and this IS NOT the way to start. They had flown in from Europe and were very excited about the specific home they had chosen. 


                              We pride ourselves in having the best homes in the area.


                              We worked quickly to find them another comparable home, but after showing them 3 others nearby, they were not satisfied with any. 


                              After a breif discussion, we decided to bite the bullet and make sure our guest were happy no matter what we had to do as it WAS our fault.  We offered them a far surperior home directly on the beach that cost double their origional booking. 


                              They were finally thrilled and happy.  We felt we had gone the extra mile for our high end guests that pay the big bucks and come back year after year.  I know they will be back and tell their friends. 


                              So even though it cost us quite a bit, we looked at it as an investement better than any advertising!

                                • Re: Double booking
                                  amyg Active Contributor

                                  Native7, that was the costliest double booking I've ever heard of.  No wonder your guests were happy and singing your praises.


                                  I don't think you can bank on this as an investment "better than any advertising" and that they will be back and share their experience with others.  People will say anything at the moment to make the situation more comfortable or pleasant for all parties involved.  Some will be back and others you'll never hear from again. Not that they are bad or dishonest or leading you on.  It's just how it is.


                                  Would I spend twice the amount of money I took in for a week's booking to make double-booked guests happy?  Probably not because I simply can't afford to shell out $1,200 to put a smile on their face.  Would I spend up to a couple hundred dollars to make things right for them--sure, if that's what the situation warrants.  A double booking is my mistake and I will apologize, own it and offer to do whatever I can to help them.


                                  I'm not saying you didn't do right by your guests.  I'm very impressed that you went to such great lengths.  My concern is that they pushed your buttons so far that you were willing to do whatever it takes to make these high-end clients happy. And boy did you make them happy!


                                  My humble suggestion is to invest in an online reservation system and you'll never have to shell out big dollars again for a double booking.  I spend $299 a year for iVacationonline and it's the best insurance policy ever, not to mention it's professional-looking and makes managing 7 properties a whole lot easier and efficient.  I have no ownership or connection to this company other than that of a paying customer.  There are other reservation management systems out there; this is just the one I've used for about 5 years.  I signed up with iVacationonline after my first and (thankfully) only double booking   Been there, done that!

                                    • Re: Double booking

                                      Hi Amy,


                                      Thanks and yes, I agree, we did go overboard.  Fortunatly, it was one of our former clients and we were able to negotiate a great rate.   Thanks for the suggestion and will check it out!


                                      Good luck!


                                      "Now and then it is good to pause in our "pursuit of happiness" and just be happy.

                                      Sent from paradise!

                                        • Re: Double booking
                                          amyg Active Contributor

                                          If you negotiated a great rate on the alternate property then it sounds like things worked out well for you, too.  And if everyone could breathe a sigh of relief and be happy with the outcome, then all is good!

                                    • Re: Double booking

                                      Do not sell your cabin you did nothing wrong. You actually did the best you could in that situation. I honestly think its not the the ladies who stayed there but a daughter or friend of one of them trying to squeeze you. Do not give

                                      in. They will only do this again. I would have done the same thing you did. Whats right is right. Decent property owners must stand united against this type of abuse!

                                      • Re: Double booking
                                        New Member

                                        First, I am coming off of experiencing this as the traveler this past weekend at the Home Away Summit. I even called that day to verify my need for a goose down FREE room due to allergies and that our plane would arrive at midnight. I was assured by name that all was prepared. Arriving with a headache, sore feet and at 1am I was told that we were being moved to the Double Tree (10 blocks away) for the night on them including transportation. I was fuming. Then I was told we weren't the only guests that had to be moved for the night...not helping me! Then, airlines overbook all the time...again, these are not helpful words. What I did do was be sure I took note of my feelings, of how they handled me, my needs, etc. I was unable to sleep that night more than 2 hours because I was so upset. When something happens at one of our cottages whether our fault or not, our goal is to erase that memory by making something new happen for them. It is not always about money depending on what the situation is. In our case, we were given 2 nights free and access to their executive lounge for snacks and drinks. Honestly, I was not impressed.  I am fearful of having this happen to one of our guests because when I reserve a vacation rental I select it for the specific colors, quality of furnishings, view...everything that I see. The only way I could be made happy in such a situation is to have been given a place to stay that was far better than I had paid for. I applaud Nativ7 for their solution. If you have somebody standing on your doorstep finding a place equal or better in high season could be a nightmare! I too have triple checks, but I suppose it could happen to anyone. I would encourage Kmama to take a breather and remember what got her into this business in the first place. There will be more unhappy situations to come, but overall I would imagine that you have had a hand in helping your guests make many happy memories and I wish that you are able to do that for many future ones as well! Cheers ~