Taking a reservation

When you take a reservation from a guest or from a travel agent / tour operator on behalf of guests you are entering into a contract: you are renting out accommodation in exchange for the money which you will receive.

You need to be sure that you are in a position to honour your side of the agreement, i.e. that the accommodation as described is available and will be in a fit condition to be rented out and in return you want to be recompensed for the accommodation.

Now to be sure that the person making the reservation is going to honour it and pay you:

You need to get the dates of stay, the number of guests, their names, ID no, a postal and preferably physical address, telephone numbers – landline and cell, email address and some kind of commitment that they really will come and will pay the bill.
Ideally the bill would be settled and the indemnity clause signed. Cancellation clauses have to be stated in either the advertising or on the signed document.

Many establishments accept credit cards and will deduct the deposit in advance before the arrival of the guest. Be aware however that if you have not actually held the card in your hand and taken an impression of it, the charge on the card could be disputed and reversed.

In general to avoid no shows you should screen enquiries carefully to get some idea of who is coming to stay and for what purpose. I know of establishments who get many bookings over the internet and then phone to speak to the guests before they leave home. This way they have a far better idea of who is coming and for what reason, and can offer service that is that much more suitable. It also gives the establishment the opportunity to identify scam bookings and potential no-shows and cancel the booking in advance.

Handling reservation enquiries is a responsible job and requires someone with common sense and organisational ability. Overbooking is far more serious than under bookings which leads to loss but at least is not embarrassing. You need someone who has people skills, is responsible and will give a good first impression to handle enquiries and bookings.