Things in the world of booking agent have been hectic over the summer. Who knew having a hotel on a deserted stretch of beach on a Caribbean island could be so appealing… in summer! But why not? In the heat of summer everyone wants to head to the water. Crowded beaches suck just as much for the Dominicans as they do for the rest of us. The Playa offers a secluded stretch of sand with enough amenities to satisfy all and we don’t over-charge to get a room with an ocean view. So yes, I am busy with reservations, even in August.
That would be fine unto itself, but I am also busy with the job that I make money at, and that one takes precedent. So, as a solution I have started travelling with my laptop in the truck so I can check for messages regarding reservations. To accomplish this, I must continually access public wifi where available. There are many hours throughout the day when this is not possible, so as a precaution I have a message sent to my phone if there is a last-minute booking. I don’t do The Playa business on my phone (it’s why I have the laptop with me and yes… I know I am a dinosaur!), the message is just to tell me to find wifi asap and get on my laptop.
Setting up this system was fairly simple with booking.com. They asked if I would like to be notified when there was a last-minute reservation… I hit the ‘yes’ button, put in my phone number and voila… mission accomplished! Setting up a system with Wendy has proven to be a little more difficult.
Wendy and I communicate through Facebook Messenger and that is on my laptop, not my phone. On my phone Wendy and I can message using What’s App, a world wide texting app. The idea was the same, at least in my head, if she received a last-minute reservation, she would send a message to my phone so I would know to stop and get on my laptop. She has used What’s App on a few occasions, when she needed some kind of immediate response from Messenger and I wasn’t on my laptop, but on Friday morning she didn’t think of it when she received her reservation.
At 2:30 in the afternoon, I was making my 90-minute return trip home from the office and my phone went off. I stopped my truck on the Trans-Canada highway and checked the message. It was from Booking.com and they had a last-minute reservation for Friday. I sent this information to Wendy using What’s App since I was nowhere near wifi and set out back down the highway home. I was not concerned about the reservation since I thought I had two cabanas available that day.
I received a response while driving from Wendy, that I ignored. I would be home in 45 minutes, then I could deal with it. It was in Spanish and I would need to use a translator and it would be easier on my laptop. The phone continued to go off every so often with additional messages from Wendy and when I finally parked my truck and looked at the messages, I did not require a translator to know I had a problem. Wendy was telling me there were no cabanas available until Sunday, she said she sent me a message.
In the house I go and open up my laptop. Sure enough, Wendy had sent me a message telling me she had a reservation for 2 cabanas for Friday, she was full. The message was sent at 11 in the morning, 3 hours before the booking.com reservation! I hadn’t checked my computer for messages since 10 am! Her message had fallen in a hole!!!
“No hay problema,” (No problem) I say to myself. I have a wild card up my sleeve, I have a vacant apartment. I send a message to Wendy to put the last last-minute reservation in the apartment and it will all be good. She responds by telling me she had also rented the apartment to the guests that booked the 2 cabanas earlier. They wanted 3 cabanas she informed me but were willing to take 2 and the apartment. What??? You didn’t think that was important to tell me??!! Wendy’s family already occupy the lower part of the apartment building, so I am truly out of space!!!
I will be forced to try and contact the guest and tell them there is no room. This will cost us because the agreement that I have made with the booking companies is that if I say I have a room I must provide a room, even it is in another hotel that is more expensive. Relocating the guest will cost me $50 or more, since I am responsible for any difference in price and we are already the cheapest in the area. I give Wendy the phone number to call the guest and I send an e-mail through booking.com saying that “due to a computer error” that there is no cabana available and would they please contact Wendy. I sit and wait for a reply.
A short while later a message comes from Wendy. She tells me that she did not get an answer from the guest’s phone but that she has put an extra bed in the apartment and her reservation has agreed to give up a cabana. I can only assume that it is a family and having extra beds and bodies in a small area is “no hay problema.” I am not one to argue, so I send a new message to the last-minute guest telling them that we have a cabana and that regular check-in is before 6pm and if they will be late please call Wendy and I give the number for a second time. It is 5pm in the Dominican Republic.
At 7pm Friday night, Wendy informs me that the guests have not arrived. There are no messages from them to me or her. No contact whatsoever. All that stress and inconvenience for nothing. Frustrated by all of this, I tell Wendy to put the other people back in the cabana and I will mark my reservation as a no-show the next day.
At 10pm I receive a message from Wendy informing me that the guest had arrived. Are you serious?!!? They got lost travelling to The Playa she informs me. For 7 hours?!!! Did it not cross their minds to pick up the phone and call us??? They took the time to make the reservation, didn’t they notice that the regular check-in times were 2pm-6pm??? We’re not a thousand room resort with rooms to spare!! Three is all we got!!! And we already rented out five!!!
“No hay problema,” Wendy informs me. Her reservation had been fine with the original change and had declined to move back to the cabana earlier. Moving back would be more of a hassle than staying put, and they were saving $50!! Ultimately in the end it had cost us an extra breakfast or two to fit everyone in and have them happy.
I have always said to anyone that would listen, that “I only needed three”. Three people that wanted to sleep on the sand (figuratively speaking). Three people that wanted a secluded location. Three people that were willing to travel to get there. All I ever needed was three. “It’s all there is”, I would say, “and there will never be more. Three is the magic number.”
On Friday three was truly a magic number, because it turned into five and caused Wendy and I a whole bunch of anxiety. It could have turned out far worse than it did, and I’m fortunate to be in league with Wendy. She takes care of the business and gets done what is needed. There is nothing I can do from another country when a situation like this arises, it is up to her to make things right, and she does. Because Wendy is the queen of “no hay problema.”