Double-Bookings + Terms of Service Update

Following an unfortunate error we made with a recent booking that resulted in a regrettable double-booking, it has come to my attention that a number of short-term renters perceive a risk of having the rug pulled out from under them when they book a rental.

In fact, I’ve learnt that some visitors feel compelled to go so far as to book a backup hotel room that they cancel last-minute when they get to their apartment!

I don’t know how prevalent this risk might actually be in the sector, but I was certainly unaware of the phenomenon.

Should you be worried by this risk, I wanted to reassure you that A La Carte Paris would never knowingly double-book an apartment. Such a practice would be tantamount to economic suicide, consisting in putting (very) short term gains ahead of long term success.

As a member of the governing commity of the professional association of our sector (APLM), I will be bringing up the matter at our next commity meeting, to investigate how prevalent this practice might be and see how what can be done to put an end to it.

Following the accidental double booking that we had, I have taken measures to ensure that it remain an isolated incident. Until now, we only did a detail review of imminently upcoming bookings, to prepare housekeeping and apartment preparation schedules. From now on, we are going to do a systematic monthly detailed review of ALL bookings, so that we spot a freak error well in advance.

In the face of the concerns I have heard, I have also decided to reinforce the contractual protection that we extend our clients.

Although it is highly unlikely that a guest need to be relocated (due to his apartment being unfit for purpose, for example), our terms of service need to properly anticipate this rare event. This should also help alleviate fears of double bookings.

Up until now, our guests were protected by our “Triple-R guarantee”, that obligates us to Repair, Relocate (if we can’t repair) and Refund (if we can’t relocate to a comparable or superior apartment).

This isn’t perfect however. The problem is that a relocation to a “comparable or superior” apartment might not always be a satisfactory option for a guest (for example if the guest has made plans in a given area and the substitute apartment is in a different area of central Paris).

That why, from now on, a guest can choose whether or not he or she opts for a Relocation. Instead of a Relocation, a guest can now always opt for a full Refund, for whatever reason and without having to justify.

Again, it is highly unlikely that a guest need to be relocated/refunded, and would certainly never be intentional, but it is best that our terms of service adequately anticipate these rare occurences.

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EPILOGUE:
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Today 3rd Feb 2011, I attended the executive commity meeting of the APLM (professional association of short term Paris rentals). I brought up the subject of double bookings for discussion. The other members reassured me that this practice was indeed relatively unheard. They also agreed that the item be added to the official Code of Conduct that the association is currently preparing, in order to better define the ethical practises of the sector.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sheryl says:

    I’m curious as to what you actually did for the client who was inconvenienced by your error. What did you do for them? How did you accommodate them?

  2. Hi Sheryl,
    In answer to your question:
    – Our Terms and Conditions have been updated to specify a full no-questions-asked refund should a guest need to be moved, for whatever reason.
    – In the case of this particular client, who we did not handle as well as we should have, we made amends by offering to not only fully refund his stay but also pay the extra hotel costs (because hotels are more expensive than apartments) and other incidental costs. Also, to prove that his experience was not typical of our usual high standard, we offered him to return for a free stay, to win back his full confidence and trust in us. As this client often comes to Paris, he has taken us up on this offer.
    Alex

  3. Joan Lozinski says:

    I am reading all of the material provided but must let you know that when I go into the links…they do not open, so info is not available. Why? This does nothing to build confidence with you/your company.
    I am at the point of booking with you but the above does concern me.

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