7 Tips To Avoid Last-Minute Boat Charter Cancellations

It can be incredibly frustrating to prepare your boats to charter, only for the customer to cancel their booking at the last minute. Unfortunately, cancellations and no-shows are prevalent in virtually any business that sets appointments.

That said, you can prevent cancellations from affecting your business and your livelihood. It all starts with having a solid strategy to ward off last-minute cancellations. The right policies and communication methods will improve the efficiency and resourcefulness of your team.

Continue below to learn seven actionable tips to avoid last-minute boat charter cancellations.

1. Have a Firm Cancellation Policy

A clear and firm cancellation policy will prevent flaky people from canceling their booked boat at the last minute. Cancellation policies dictate when a customer can cancel their boat charter and how they have to notify you.

However, this only works if your customer is aware of the cancellation policy before and after signing up.

For your boat charter business, you could include the cancellation policy at the end of the booking process before they make their payment. You can't charge your customers for a cancellation if you don't make them aware of your policy.

Your boat charter cancellation policy should include the following:

  • When your customers can cancel their charter without penalty
  • The cancellation fee for no-shows
  • Preferred contact method to cancel their boat charter
  • A signature line for policy agreement

2. Send Booking Reminders

It's more common for people to forget about their boat charter booking than you may think. That's why sending out booking reminders is an excellent way to prevent last-minute cancellations for your boat chartering business. You'll need to pick a time that gives you enough time to find a replacement, but also isn't too far out that they will forget again.

The sweet spot is typically 24-48 hours ahead of time. If they do end up canceling, at least you have enough time to find a new customer to book their boat or free up your staff.

3. Establish Proper Communication With Customers 

Communication is vital for any service-based business to be successful. Knowing exactly how you'll communicate with customers will significantly reduce the chances of them canceling their boat charter booking at the last minute.

Most businesses stick with the standard lines of communications: email, phone call, text message.

You might:

  • Email your boat charter bookings, reminding them of their appointment
  • Call them to notify any changes to their boat or booking
  • Text them the location of your dock

You can also look into software that automates all your communication. These programs can usually automatically send out text messages and email updates about bookings, your services, and more. However, you'll still need someone to manage the software and ensure it's working correctly.

4. Ask for a Deposit

If you're tired of dealing with last-minute cancellations for your boat chartering business, maybe it's time to consider asking for up-front deposits. Deposits ensure that your customers have some skin in the game, so they will be less likely to cancel their charter unless it's an emergency.

If they still fail to show up to take their boat out on the water, you can use the deposit to cover your costs. Consider it a cancellation fee that you can use to protect your business from financial loss due to no-shows.

5. Offer Standby Slots

If people are still canceling their appointments last minute, you can capitalize on those free time slots and offer them to passengers on standby. It could be a blessing in disguise and a fantastic way to get your boats booked and generate revenue.

If you have an email list, you can send out a mass promotional email with a flash sale to try and get someone to book a charter at the newly available time. Who knows, maybe that person will love it and become a lifelong customer!

You can also post on your social media channels that you're allowing walk-in boat bookings for the day someone canceled.

Both methods are an excellent way to get your charters booked after a few last-minute cancellations.

6. Connect More With Your Customers

Being friendly and connecting with your customers will make them engage more with your boat chartering company. As a result, they will feel a sense of accountability and be more likely to show up.

You can start by asking for feedback about your charters or reaching out with freebies for loyal customers. Some companies send out birthday cards or gift baskets to their clients to try and build a better connection.

Putting in the effort to get to know your customers will pay off in the long run and make you the go-to boat chartering business.

7. Use Expert Booking Software

A reliable charter booking software will ensure you're doing everything in your power to reduce cancellations and no-shows. These programs can set up automatic appointment reminders for scheduled charters, easy staff scheduling, customer relations, and more all in one dashboard.

Investing in expert booking software is a surefire way to make your boat charter business more efficient and scalable.



No doubt, dealing with last-minute cancellations can be frustrating. Luckily, there are ways you can reduce your cancellation rate and no-shows to maintain a healthy bottom line. Follow the tips above and consider investing in expert booking software to maximize efficiency. Call Roverd for more information.

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