39 Replies Latest reply: Dec 10, 2018 12:19 PM by feibus RSS

    Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?

    sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

      Hello, all. I'm trying to tidy up my dashboard and I want to tackle an issue that's been nagging me for a while. I know the imperfect cancel metric has been discussed to death.... but things change so much and so fast that I'm reluctant to rely on a thread that isn't from today... And I'm not certain that this specific issue has been discussed.

       

      I have some 'tentative' reservations from where potential guests asked me to send them a special quote for new/alternate dates, different property, etc. This is not uncommon and guests will often ask me to send multiple options so that they can compare beds, price, etc before booking. But when they actually book (pay) they often go back and either sent a new inquiry (why? IDK) or book through a different tentative reservation I have sent them. Regardless, my dashboard shows a number of tentative reservation which will never be booked bc guests paid through a different inquiry.

       

      The only way I know to make these annoying tentative reservations disappear from my dashboard is to click the dreaded "cancel reservation" button with the reservation.

       

      1) is there another way?

      2) if I do click the dreaded button, will cancelling these tent reservations count against my cancel metric?

       

      TIA, everyone, for any insight you can throw my way. And if homeaway_community_manager has an official answer, I'd love to hear it, too.

        • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
          u0999 Premier Contributor

          do not cancel. change dates to some un-bookable date like one day between other bookings and leave it be.

            • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
              sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

              The issue is that they will still show on my dash and every time I glance at them I shave 10 minutes off my lifespan, due to the sudden (but minor) heart attack I have thinking I've double booked.

               

              Also, by changng the dates/etc, I would give a little mini heart attack to the guest, who will (I'm guessing?) be notified that their reservation has been altered. Nevermind that its not an active reservation.The number of guests who are suspicious, concerned and confused by all these recent changes has dramatically increased, IME. I have realized over the last months that that I need to keep my communication as simple as possible since (apparently) the platform is so much more complicated for guests than it used to be.

               

              Is there any other solution, then, without getting 'dinged'? homeaway_community_manager?

                • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                  homeaway_community_manager HomeAway Employee

                  Hi sonenalpmammoth,

                   

                  I cannot give you advice on how to handle this. We're still working to resolve the known cancellations issues. Any cancellation an owner completes, that is not traveler initiated can impact your ranking metrics. Use your best judgement on how you want to handle.

                   

                  The advice given by other owners about sending a quote only is sound advice for now.

                   

                  Thank you.


                  Erinn

                  • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                    u0999 Premier Contributor

                    I cannot advise you on heart attacks. But I had same situation, until a REAL booking came in and overlayed part of tentative. So i just shorted the tentative , and there it stays.. till October. apparently guests just ignored it - same way as they ignored other HA reminders to book/pay for their tentative reservation. What helps me is that I do not use VRBO calendar as my master calendar, so I literally almost never look at it. Once October passes, this will be no longer an issue. Or maybe HA will resolve this. My bet is on time passing. But I opted NOt to cancel the tentative as it is a cosmetic annoyance only at this point.

                • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                  ohst8er Senior Contributor

                  Send them a quote, but don't send it as a tentative reservation.  Just type in what you want to quote and send it as a response.  I don't do tentative anything.  Money books, conversations do not.  I also don't send requests to book either.

                   

                  EDITED to read:  When I say "send them a quote"  what I mean is, I send them something in a text box like:

                   

                  $1000 a week

                  $100 cleaning dee

                  110.00 tax

                  $1210.00 total  (or something like that).

                   

                  That way, you are providing them the info they are asking for, but you aren't creating anything that blocks or preapproves anything. 

                    • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                      sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                      I totally agree and if they initiate a convo with me via inquiry, I never pre-approve. I simply respond with a quote. If the dates or quote need adjusting I can do that easily within that inquiry.

                       

                      But I have 6 properties, and when propsective guests want a new quote, on a different property, or wants to see 2 quotes for different dates side-by-side, or 2 quotes for alternate properties, or ask me to quote a future stay, I have no choice but to create a tentative reservation in order to send them a quote within the VRBO/HA system.  If there is a another way to do this, I'd love to know what it is. The only method I can think of is to ask them to initiate an inquiry on their end, but often I'm sending the info because they can't figure out how to do it themselves or they don't have the info they need (like which other properties of mine would be a good comparison).

                    • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                      feibus CommunityAmbassador

                      Since this is an old dredged up thread, let me say that the issue is no longer an issue... Guests can now cancel bookings they made that you have not accepted; they can also initiate the cancellation of any booking and you can then approve their refund.  Any guest-initiated cancellation does not count against you.

                        • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                          sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                          Actually, if you read my OP carefully, you'll see that this is still a very real issue. I'm not talking about "bookings they (guests) have made that you (owner) have not accepted." Nor am I talking about pre-approvals. I'm talking about reservations I create and send to the guest for booking. These are fairly rare, but do happen when a guest needs to change to a different property or dates and asks me to send them a quote.

                           

                          Yes, the 'withdraw' option has been introduced since then for guests who have initiated a booking request and then change their mind, but that option does not affect the scenario I posted about in which I create a tentative reservation and send a new quote on a new property and the guest then (for whatever reason) does not follow through to pay. The tentative reservation remains on the calendar until the stay date passes even though the guest has been clear that they no longer intend to actually book the dates. I've gotten advice to simply ignore these, but it does cause booking keeping issues. If I only had a property 2 on a single platform that would be easily managed. But with 6 properties on multiple platforms (and a feeble mind to boot), it creates confusion. Yesterday, I realized that for some reason one of these had been somehow become marked 'reserved,' not tentative so my calendar has been blocked for a week of high-value dates-- which is an even bigger issue.


                          When I created this thread we could already ask guests to cancel in order to avoid being dinged so that is not a new solution to this problem. In these cases, however, guests did not create the reservation themselves, and they don't usually understand why they should have to cancel something they have already rejected by not paying.


                          homeaway_community_manager, from the HA/VRBO business side, this is a de-motivating factor for me to keep reservations on platform. I know that I can send a quote through my booking software (or through any other platform) and if the guest does not book I can remove it without issue. If I stay on HA/VRBO I am penalized by having a messy, inaccurate calendar that can inadvertently block dates. When I just re-read your response, I see that it is very likely that you misunderstood my OP. I'm not talking about pre-approvals (I NEVER pre-approve). I'm talking about a guest who contacts me to send a quote, or a guest who I need to give an option of a different property/dates/etc. We can't send a change request like on ABB, so we have to create a whole new tentative reservation and send it, hoping that the guest will follow through and pay. If they do not, the reservation will still remain on our calendar unless we cancel.

                            • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                              feibus CommunityAmbassador

                              The only ding comes from owners cancelling a booking paid for on the HA/VRBO platform.  Once the service fee is paid, denying the reservation or cancelling it are a ding.  Nothing else is a ding now.  And the guest cannot cancel it unless they paid for it on this platform.

                              • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                sonenalpmammoth  Don't send a quote via the VRBO method if it holds dates, or even appears to hold dates, on your calendar.  If you know this is a mess, or creates a stressful situation for you, why do it?   You are only setting yourself up for an unnecessary headache. 

                                  • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                    sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                                    Why do I do it?

                                     

                                    Because my goal is to book guests, regardless of the headache for me.

                                      • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                        ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                        sonenalpmammoth, I'm about 99.9% sure that's EVERYONE'S goal here.  But I wasn't asking you why you send QUOTES.  I was asking you why you send them in a method that creates headaches for you.  You can still send quotes, I was just suggesting you do so in a method that does not tie up your calendar with people who may or may not get around to booking with you.  Those types of guests don't help you meet your goal, but they do help you achieve your headaches. 

                                        • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                          margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                          ohst8er is correct. You can send a quote to the traveler without pre-approving the stay, this will resolve your issue. Like you, I was dinged for a pre-approval at one time so I never reply that way. I have since been told it will not cause a ding to the metric but I don't do it just in case. They can still book and pay.

                                            • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                              sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                                              Thanks, Margaret but if you see thread above, I'm not talking about pre-approvals. As I've stated in this thread, I don't use pre-approvals for the obvious reasons. The 'dings' I mentioned are not for a pre-approval. I'm talking about when a guest says to me, "I know we're booked already but can you please send me a quote for xxx condo, because we think we'd like to be on the first floor since we're bringing my mobility impaired dad." Or "can you please send me a quote for the condo with the deer antlers over the fireplace, I like it better." Or "My family would like to see quotes for both condo 4 and condo 3"  I manage 6 listings in the same building so guests often want to shift between or sometimes I need to shift guests between for maintenance or whatever.

                                               

                                              These created and sent tentative reservations (because that's the only way to send a real quote on platform), if never paid, hang around as tentative on the calendar and create confusion with staff. I also had one mysteriously become 'reserved' and block my calendar.

                                               

                                              ohst8er, If you look at the thread, I was (and still am) actually asking for someone to present a solution. Why am I still doing it this way? Because no one on the forum, at CS or on staff has been able to give me an on-platform alternative. Many of these bookings are 2100/night. In my world, that's worth a little pain-- even if no one offers a solution. I'm beginning to think it might be a bit of a unique situation to me because of the setup of my building, listings and management situation.This isn't something that a user with a single listing, or even several listings might encounter, apparently. It may be unique to situations like mine, in which a host has several comparable properties in a single building and guests want to compare with an authentic quote (not a list of charges sent internally in a message). It's super easy to do on Airbnb, or on my own booking platform, but I do try to respect the T&C as I've agreed to them on HA/VRBO and keep transactions there when they were initiated on platform.

                                                • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                  ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                                  sonenalpmammoth, I fully understand what you are trying to do.  What I am saying to you is the method you are trying to accomplish it in isn't helping your sanity, because if it were, you wouldn't be searching for an alternative, now 6 months later.  I don't say this to be insulting to you, or belittling to you, but you've been in the neighborhood long enough to know there are changes we can affect, and changes we cannot.  And even IF this is a change you can affect, it may be months before that works.  Seems like a long time to beat your head against the wall. 

                                                   

                                                  You say that no one on the forum has been able to give you an on-platform alternative.  margaret and I BOTH gave you one on June 20th.   It's a method that works regardless of whether you have 1 property or 101 properties.  You can choose to take our advice, or not, that's certainly up to you.

                                                    • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                      greggt Senior Contributor

                                                      You a Margaret are 100% correct. It has been covered many, many times in this forum. NEVER EVER pre-approve a booking!

                                                      • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                        sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                                                        Thanks, ohst8er  I have used your advice and yes, there are times when I can type a quote into the message box, which I sometimes do if a guest wants to simply compare. (A specific issue with this is that I can't give an exact amount for the service fee, since what I'm shown may vary considerably from what is generated for the guest)


                                                        But there are situations in which I need to send a *real quote,* and not leave it in the hands of the guests to figure out how to interpret my message, translate that into a request to book, find the right property, create a request, freak out that the service fee is added, and return it to me. I also host a ton of old people who have a hard time even paying balance online, much less initiating a request to book on a different listing.


                                                        In terms of why this issue came up again (and I'm "still asking 6 months later"), feibus indicated on Dec 1 in response to this thread that this is no longer an issue. I was momentarily excited to hear that, but a deeper dig shows that (tho things seem to be always changing at VRBO/HA) this is one thing that hasn't.

                                                          • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                            ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                                            It seems to me you are making this more complicated than necessary.  If you send someone a quote, you simply tell them that the quote does not include the service fee, which is controlled by VRBO and will vary depending on number of guests, time of booking, etc, but that you can expect it be somewhere between 100-150$ (or whatever it is).  If you type your quote very specifically and state that it is for a very specific listing, listing # 12345, the listing with the antlers over the fireplace, etc, then I don't understand how they can be confused.  Once they say, Yes, that's the one I want, for those dates and that price works, and assure you they are ready to book, THEN you send them the real quote, or even a pre-approval, if you feel certain they are sitting at their laptop with cc in hand.    

                                                             

                                                            Doing this on platform keeps all the info in one place, or you can print out your correspondence for each guest and keep a rolling binder of potential guests.  I'm sure you already have a system in place for keeping up with that part. 

                                                        • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                          patpat Contributor

                                                          I totally understand what you are talking about. I now have 3 properties and do not know the "right" way to move people booked for one property to another when the situation calls for it. Thankfully, I have not had to do it that often!! I can't imagine what you go through with six properties!  And I sure hope I don't get in the situation where travelers start asking me for cost comparisons between our different properties, because I can see that happening. And if that happens, it would be so much easier and accurate to use the "reply with quote", although I try avoid that at any cost. What I did when I moved guests was "blocked" the dates for the property where the guest was moved to, simply because I didn't know the best way, and because I didn't want the guest to start getting all kinds of unnecessary emails from vrbo/ha. I try to handle everything for the best of the guest, so the guest has NOTHING to do. I have one like that in place now due to a tragic situation. This repeat guest was staying at our one cabin this summer, got horrific news and had to leave with 2 of their 3 nights remaining. I told them they could return whenever they wanted. They have a hard time returning to the cabin due to bad memories of that phone call they received, so will finish their remaining 2 nights stay at one of our other properties this spring.  I "blocked" the dates.

                                                           

                                                          Speaking from a traveler point of view...We were trying to decide where to go for a little get-away. We picked out a couple places in different cities. I made a couple "inquiries" on location and events in the areas. I received "pre-approved" responses with quotes in each case. These were from new owners. This ended up being a pain for both me as a traveler AND the owners, who admitted being new. They both asked me if I would cancel the booking. I had to explain it is was not a "booking", no money changed hands, therefore it was not going to cause a "ding", it was not blocking their calendar, and all the emails would stop in 3 days. Again, this was a p.i.t.a.!!  I wish "reply" was the 1st tab as the default when we get inquiries. I also wish there could be live coaching sessions when owners set up a new listings. It would be nice if there were regional representatives that visited central locations for brief meetings. Structured webinars would be nice. 

                                                            • Re: Cancel a tentative reservation -- take a hit?
                                                              sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                                                              Ha! After all these months, someone finally understands that I'm not talking about the novice move of pre-approvals. And that I need to make things easy on my guest, not on myself!

                                                               

                                                              It's awful when guests have tragic events that impact their stay. My most recent one was that I had a guest whose house burned down in the Malibu fires last month. So so so sad. I'm with you. In cases like that, I do whatever I can to work it out for them.   Because many of my guests book a year in advance, a lot of things can change for them before their travel dates, which means a lot of reservation changes for me.

                                                               

                                                              You are SO right. There are a ton of changes that could be made to improve the experience for guests--  including having competent, responsive owners. Onboarding training would be so helpful. I can't even count the number of friends who've gotten into rentals and asked me to explain the fine print to them. It does feel good to pay it forward, though. I feel like I've had to figure so much out for myself, its nice to be able to save someone else from that ....