Systems and Procedures For Booking in Guests
The importance up of a bullet-proof booking procedure for a B&B cannot be emphasised strongly enough. Lost bookings mean guests turning up and potentially having to be turned away, and nothing ruins your reputation faster than that.
Good Procedures Prevent MistakesIt's even more important if you have more than one person, perhaps anyone in the household, answering queries. Those queries will come from a variety of different sources, telephone, post, email and fax and even people knocking on the door. Having robust and well-communicated procedures will keep mistakes to a minimum.
Start by making sure that all the information that a potential customer might want to know, is available to whoever answers the query. So rate sheets, maps, directions and terms and conditions should be available by the phone, fax and computer along with the booking register, diary, spreadsheet or what ever you use to record bookings.
One Common Accommodation Booking RecordNotice the use of the word 'or' in that last sentence, not 'and'. It is vital that there is one, and only one, point of reference for bookings. It can be hand-written in a desk diary or a specialist booking journal available from stationers, or kept on a computer using spreadsheet or specialist B&B software.
Increasingly people will be using computers, which is fine but can make it tricky if you get a lot of guests knocking at the door. On the other hand, that does give you a chance to invite them in while you check the computer, and once inside the chance of them booking increases.
If you do not stick to this then you can find that one person can book guests into accommodation over the phone while, at the same time, another person is booking the same accommodation, at the same time, for another guest who has enquired by email. This will lose customers and harm your reputation.
But if you only have one place for bookings, what happens if, heaven forbid, it's lost or destroyed? For this reason you must copy the bookings to another place, but it must be made clear that the second location is only for safe-keeping or perhaps statistical analysis, and must never be used when making a booking. For example, you might use a diary by the phone as your 'bible', but copy the changes to a computer last thing at night.
Inform Your Guests From the StartThe other important part of the procedure is to have a list of standard questions that anyone should ask when a booking is made. Some of the questions will be specific to any niche your B&B might be operating in, but the procedure should make sure the following information at least is collected:
- Date and time of arrival and departure
- Number of people, whether adults or children
- Name, address and phone number, email address
- How many rooms/beds and the charges agreed
- How and when the bill will be settled
- What deposit has been taken
- Any special dietary requests for any guests
- Any other special needs for any guests
At the same time, there should be a list of things that the customer should be told, and again this should be clearly and easily on display in the office area or by the phone. As well as any specific policy rules of the establishment, such as a pet policy, they should be told of the cancellation policy, what methods of payment you accept and how to find your B&B.
One way in which this can all be controlled is to have separate booking sheets for each booking. These will have spaces for all the information to be filled in and tick boxes that can be checked off as each part of the procedure is followed. Then have the booking sheets checked by another member of staff on a regular basis to make sure everything has been done when it needs to be done.