Q Why did you introduce a Booking Fee?
A. There were three reasons why we introduced a booking fee:
Firstly, we wanted to discourage members booking courts then not turning up. There has always been a rule which stated that there would be a £5 fine for members who do not turn up for a booking. The reality is with limited staffing resource, A. Policing it is difficult B. We need a failsafe method for recording no-shows C. Recovering the penalty manually is contentious and time consuming. Whilst we occasionally call or e-mail members who we heard did not arrive for a booking, there is not an easy way to record them, and it would not be fair to only penalise some and not others. We could potentially ask those who have booked to sign-in at the bar, but again, that is based on the premise that the bar or Office is open at all times, (which it currently isn’t) and that we have a credit card on file to penalise those who don’t show up. We hope the booking fee helps as a deterent.
Secondly, the ability to book at other times during the day is in response to requests from members who are perhaps coming from a distance, trying to arrange a game with others who may also be travelling, wanting to play on specific courts and requesting that they be allowed to reserve those courts. This system now allows members to do this if they really want to, but this will disadvantage those who wish to simply turn up, and therefore there is a premium to pay for this advantage. We sincerely doubt that many (if any) will wish to take advantage of that facility. With one of the highest court to member ratios in the country, court availability is generally excellent, and the need to book a court is mostly redundant.
Lastly, the booking fee allows us to manipulate court utilisation in an attempt to relieve the bottleneck peak times. It would be virtually impossible to alter the cost of floodlight cards depending on the session booked. With the booking fee we can encourage members to play more at other times other than peak times by not charging a booking fee.
However, the key is that other than a few very short periods of the week, there should generally never be a need to book courts. The Club is and remains an open walk-on Club.