Operations

How To Handle Those Confusing Midnight Reservations

Jim Luff
Posted on May 3, 2018

Pickups scheduled between midnight and 1 a.m. are frequently botched due to poor communication and failure to pay attention to detail. Here is a typical scenario: A bride books a pick-up for her and the groom at 1 a.m. following her reception. In her mind, she is getting married on Saturday, May 5 and is likely to tell the reservationist she needs a pickup at 1 a.m. on May 5. In reality, she needs a pick-up at 1 a.m. on May 6, as the date changes at midnight. If the reservationist enters the order the way the bride requested, the limo will arrive at 1 a.m. on May 5 and find the hall is empty because the event has not yet taken place.

Missed Connections

Travelers commit the same mistake. In their minds, they are boarding a plane at LAX on Thursday night and landing later that night at JFK. They give you the date of their departure as shown on their airline ticket and fail to consider that when they land, the date will have changed. Technically, they arrive very early Friday morning. This mistake recently happened to Matthew Ciullo, owner of MRC Transportation in Bridgewater, Mass. Ciullo diligently arrived at the airport just after midnight for a 12:30 am pickup. When he finally got in touch with his missing passengers, they told him they would arrive at 12:30 am the following night. This was not the first time Ciullo had experienced this and took to Facebook to ask fellow operators at what point should he begin charging for client mistakes with respect to the actual date of service.

The Sticky Wicket

Whether to charge for such a mistake is something you must decide about based on so many variables. In the mind of the client, it is not their fault. Charge them full price for their mistake and you will likely find yourself the subject of a bad review on social media and review sites. The reality is most people will be sympathetic to the mistake of the reviewer. You must ask yourself: Is the potential loss of the client a concern? Is the badmouthing about your company worth the amount of the trip? What was your actual cost for the mistake? In the case of Bakersfield, Calif.-based Limousine Scene, a company I once ran, a chauffeur made a two-hour drive to LAX for a midnight arrival. By the time the error was realized and the chauffeur made the two-hour drive home, the actual out of pocket loss approaches $130. That’s a lot to absorb for a mistake. However, whose mistake is it? Is it the client, or is it the reservationist who failed to probe? Either way, there is no single answer that fits every scenario.

A Suggested Script For Confirming

On any reservation around the midnight hour, use this script:

So this is 12:30 am, on 4/3...so as the night comes to an end on MONDAY night of 4/2 we will be on our way to pick you up just after midnight as the day becomes 4/3.”
This statement makes them follow along and visualize when you will be at the pickup location.

Tips For Confirming
If you accept a reservation in the midnight hour, consider supplementing the reservation with documentation:
• Ask the client to send you their airline issued itinerary.
• Ask the client to send you a copy of their wedding day timeline.
• Send the client a written confirmation with a personal note confirming the date.

Handling a Failure
If you show up on the wrong date, consider the following remedies:
• Let the client know you charge for no-shows but are waiving the fee on a one-time basis.
• Charge the client a $50 no-show fee if you have proof of confirmation and expenses you cannot absorb.
• Charge the client for your actual expenses and document them in an invoice so they know you aren’t profiting off the mistake.

Related Topics: airports, customer service, How To, reservations, reservations management, time management

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
Comments ( 2 )
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  • Todd

     | about 5 months ago

    Easy solution....record the phone calls and you can prove the fault. If the fault is with the reservationist, then its time to retrain.

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