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A One-Off Tom’s Barn Weekend Break

Blogger’s Block is not the problem but lack of time/too much to do has been, hence the long gap for which I am genuine sorry. I do enjoy doing the blog and hate to neglect it for too long. The main theme for this long awaited (!) post is to alert anybody who might be interested that we have a week’s gap in Tom’s Barn, from today. This is almost unheard of and is only because some unfortunate person cancelled at the very last moment, but more about that (sermon to follow later…).

The week, which had been booked since early January, runs from today Monday 12th to Monday 19th. Obviously it is now too late for anyone to take the full week Tom’s Barn is all ready and waiting, sparkling clean and Christmassy. The tree is up and decorated and all it needs is someone to walk in and enjoy it. The weekend Friday 16 to Monday 19 is a clear possibility and we have reduced the price to a rock bottom £275; however, if anyone wanted to take it for an abbreviated week – say Tuesday or Wednesday to Monday 19th all we’d ask is £315, the normal price for a weekend at this time of year.

We’d rather have Tom’s Barn loved in and loved than standing there empty and forlorn.

Now for the sermon, and I am painfully aware that – like many sermons, it will be preaching to the converted. However, I have just got to get it off my chest, so bear with me. The subject of my sermon today is last-minute cancellations and our cancellation policy. A year or two ago, after a series of last minute cancellations for genuine and heart rending reasons which being soft-hearted (or some might say, foolish) we repaid the full fee. However, we eventually realised that it is all very well being soft-hearted, but we re trying to run a business, not a charity, and we couldn’t go on for ever personally subsidising cancelled bookings which were no fault – or responsibility financial or otherwise – of our own.

Since then we have made it very clear in our Terms and Conditions and Booking Cancellation Policy which everybody has to read and agree to before booking online, and which we spell by out letter to those who have booked by telephone, that once a guest has booked and we have confirmed, a contract exists between us both – we to provide the holiday accommodation and you to pay for it “even if at the last moment you find it necessary to cancel”.

We go on to explain that cancellations or changes of dates with good notice we can nearly always cope with, having – with luck – the time to be able to re-let the vacated dates; it is the last minute cancellations that we cannot re-let that constitute the possible problem…This could be embarrassing to all concerned, hence our concern to make it clear that the fee would still be due and give people a chance to insure if they’re not prepared to take that risk. And we provide the Pavey holiday cancellation insurance leaflet in case that might help. Pavey do a special one for Premier Cottages guests which is who we send that info but we personally are not involved in the process at all. There is a very small commission paid to us at the end of the year, rather embarrassingly, but this we re glad to donate in total each year to ‘Mary’s Meals’ – a small charity that we support, which runs school feeding projects in third world communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education.

Larger holiday cottage, possibly like hotels where people can simply walk in off the street, probably have so much flexibility that they are never completely full and don’t expect to be. We are nearly always full, and expect to be. We turn away literally scores of people all the time for our barns; we dread to think how many were disappointed not to be able to book the week I am bleating about. But the man in question, who booked Tom’s Barn nearly a year ago, and now does not want it is finding it hard to see why he should remain responsible for the rent. He genuinely had no perception that just as he didn’t want to be out of pocket, neither do we. He has cancelled, not we. So we are all experiencing the acute embarrassment that I actually warned him about in my original letter confirming his booking, when I spelt out our policy and advised cancellation insurance.

We have tried hard to re-let the spell (see the first paragraph about lack of time!). I have spent literally hours, so far to no avail, not surprisingly at this time of year. We feel genuinely sorry for the would-be-guest and his reason for cancelling, and would love to be able to repay him at least a large proportion of what he owes if someone were to pick up his dates. But otherwise we are sticking to our guns.

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