Customers arriving late for their boat tour or rental reservations can create conflicts in your schedule! But do you just blame them for it and call it a day or are you also looking for ways to solve the problem? Find out in this week's episode and do not let such situations get out of hand.
Hey everyone, thanks for dropping in for this week’s episode of the Weekly Wave presented by WaveRez. I’m your host Greg Fisher, and today we’ll be talking about how to handle customers arriving late in 3 easy steps. This episode will be our 10th and final for our winter series, but we’ll be back next month for more great tips and discussion about watersport operations.
Customers that arrive late can cause several issues for operators both operationally and financially. Although sometimes the customers have legitimate reasons such as bad traffic or weather, there are many instances where they are in “vacation mode” and might not care if they show up late. No matter what the reason is, you need to be prepared on how to handle your late customers, and we’ll talk about some simple steps on how to stay ahead of it.
The first step to handling late customers is to try preventing them from happening in the first place. Make sure you are sending pre-arrival instructions with detailed directions, check-in info, and even a digital waiver if you use a service for that. If you use a reservation software, which I highly recommend, send the customer a text message as well as an email. Text messages are read almost instantly and have a much larger open rate. I like to over communicate with my customers, so it’s not a bad idea to send a reminder email or text a day before arrival.
The second step is putting together a policy in place so your team understands how to handle late customers. For example, if I noticed customers were running late, I would first call or text them to get a better idea of their estimated arrival time. If they were not going to make it on time, I would immediately have a solution for them on what options were available. For rentals, I would usually shorten their rental time. If we were not that busy, I’d allow them to reschedule their day or time, but they were rarely given a refund. For tours, it will depend on many factors, such as time of year, trip capacity, and weather. I see many operators offer a voucher to come back at a later time that’s valid for maybe a year. In most cases, the trips are rescheduled with non-refundable cancellation policies. However you may decide to do it, keep in mind that customers have a tendency to dispute their credit cards when they are not refunded, even though they are 100% at fault. They also can leave fabricated negative reviews because you did not make an exception. I’m always trying my best to avoid these situations, so compromising with your guests is the best route in my experience.
The third step is reflection. If you talk to your local colleagues and they say that late customers are not as big a problem for them, then maybe something is not right with your current processes. Go through your entire booking process from the moment they visit your website to when they arrive. In fact, put yourself in the customer's shoes and do a few test bookings. I’d also recommend contacting your reservation system account representative and see if there are any tools that can be utilized to improve communication with your customers.
Late customers are definitely a burden on our businesses, but they can be mitigated in many ways with technology, communication, and operational improvements.
If you thought this podcast was helpful, hit that like button and share. We appreciate your comments and questions on social media. We also appreciate you reviewing the Weekly Wave on your favorite podcast app. Again, I’m Greg Fisher, and thanks for listening to the Weekly Wave.
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