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Questions to Ask Before Booking: pt 4 – To Deposit or Not to Deposit

January 28, 2011

So far in our multi-part series about questions to ask and consider, we have discussed the topics of breakfast, check-in, parking, and location. This week, we’d like to take a few minutes to continue to help you become a more proactive and educated bed and breakfast / inn guest by tackling the topic of deposits.

You may find in your searching for the perfect bed and breakfast / inn that some places choose to collect a deposit when you book your reservation. This deposit can be nominal all the way up to half or three-quarters of your reservation total. Depending on the accommodation, you may also find that the remainder of your total may be charged before you even arrive at the B&B / inn.

Below is a set of questions to ask about the deposit charge when making a reservation. Consider the answers you are given to these questions before booking your stay.

Do you charge a deposit?

Some B&Bs or inns do charge a deposit, billed when you make the reservation. This deposit can be nominal all the way up to half or three-quarters of your reservation total. You may also find that the remainder of your total may be charged before you even arrive at the B&B / inn. Be aware of these policies before you make your reservation.

The intended purpose of collecting a deposit is to protect the accommodation from losing money in the event of a no-show. The deposit is intended to ensure that you will hold up your end of the reservation contract – in which you will show up. In theory, collecting a deposit wards off no-shows as people are more inclined to carry-out travel plans if a portion of their money has already been spent on the experience. The fear with no-shows is that the accommodation may have turned away other business for a reservation that is cancelled or becomes a no-show (again, a fear of losing money).

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, we do not collect a deposit for individual room reservations. We trust that you have every intention of traveling, making it unnecessary for us to “hold your money hostage,” or bill you before your arrival in an effort to guarantee that you will come to Savannah. In our nearly 6 years of operation, we can count on one hand the number of no-show guests we have had. To reserve a room at the Catherine Ward House Inn, we require a valid credit card. This card is not charged before the guests’ arrival, but is required on the off chance that the guest becomes a no-show (we reserve the right to bill a no-show guest for the entirety of their stay, as stipulated in our reservation confirmation).

Why do you charge a deposit?

Please ask this question. And then please get back to us about it. We’d love to know why other B&Bs / inns feel it necessary to continue this practice.

Again, at the Catherine Ward House Inn we do not collect a deposit on individual room reservations.

What happens on the off chance I will have to cancel my reservation?

Because of the way merchant accounts are typically set up, the merchant (in this case, accommodation) is billed a fee any time a transaction occurs (including a refund). If an accommodation charges a deposit, expect to pay a cancellation fee of some sort to cover the costs incurred to accommodation by the credit card company.

We plan on tackling this question more in-depth in our next Q&A entry. To summarize how cancellations are handled at the Catherine Ward House: Because we do not collect a deposit on individual room reservations, we do not need to process a refund to you should you need to cancel. Because of this, we do not bill you a cancellation fee. Again, the topic of cancellations will be covered in-depth in our next Q&A entry, currently scheduled for Feb 18, 2011. In the mean time, if you have questions about how we handle cancellations, feel free to call or email us – 912.234.8564 or contact@catherinewardhouseinn.com

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