Friday, March 7, 2014

How to manage delayed bookings

A chronic problem for agents and operators, the links in the middle of the chain, is how to deal with clients delaying booking confirmation or payment. This is especially nagging if you deal with corporate bookings as your client contact is also a link in their own corporate chain and is often just as caught in the middle as you are. While there are generally very good reasons up the chain for the delay, there are just as good reasons down the chain for declining to extend the deadline or worse, decline for being sold out.

Never extend a booking deadline!

The very first rule is to never extend a booking deadline, but instead, issue a new quote with a slightly different price if you only have the back office costs to do the new quote, or more if your providers down the chain also change their quote to you. Issuing a new booking gives the clear message that you cannot extend deadline without you having to say no (especially important in Asia). If you extend the deadline, the client will perceive that the deadline is flexible and, consequently, that you are too! Leading to further payment delay and late changes expected without charges. By issuing a new booking altogether, you avoid a number of potential problems. First, it shows clearly that you cannot extend deadlines, which the client will likely understand being that of hotels or other providers’ deadlines. The message will get up the chain and further delay are far less likely than if you agree to an extension in the first place. Second, you can accurately charge for the “always guaranteed to happen” last -minute changes because you have now demonstrated that the booking is not flexible. And third, as the price of the new booking is always higher, even if only a little, it gives a clear indication that further delay will cost further more.