Published On: Friday, 20 July 2018
Fraudulent Bookings Create Concern and Opportunity
PORT ALBERNI - Five years ago, Dan and Bouchra Savard sailed the 95-foot MV Songhee into Port Alberni for refitting. They planned to take it on to Tofino to open a Bed & Breakfast there. The Songhee had been a fishing lodge prior to then so was well suited to that. Dan & Bouchra found Port Alberni so friendly and so full of amenities, they decided to stay. With Bouchra’s exceptional cooking and Moroccan heritage and Dan’s talents as a beer and wine connoisseur, they opened the Swept Away Inn, which has gone on to become Port Alberni’s most unique accommodation provider and restaurant.
Almost every mealtime, there are many nationalities around the dinner table and conversations often go on into the night. They have garnered several tourism and hospitality awards and been featured in many magazines and videos. A couple of months ago they were happy to report they were very heavily booked through the summer and into the fall.
Then a few customers failed to show. As is their practice, they tried to call the number of the individual doing the booking but found it didn’t exist. They tried finding the ‘customer’ through reverse lookup only to find the address didn’t exist. They tried to run charges through on the credit card number that had been given but found it declined. The few have now turned into many. In the most recent event, they received an email from a ‘booking’ asking for a late check-in. They agreed and waited up till almost midnight before following their protocol only to find out this too, was a fraudulent booking. They are working with the platform from which the reservations were made to understand what and how this has happened. They don’t want to abandon the platform because many legitimate customers are coming through it too. To say this is a concern, is of course, an understatement.
In the true entrepreneurial spirit however they are also telling people this is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to experience some amazing hospitality, great food and make new friends. It’s an opportunity to base yourself out of Port Alberni and explore Tofino and Ucluelet one day, Bamfield and the ancient Huu-ay-aht village of Kiixin one day and the Alberni Valley one day.
It’s also an opportunity to do this and save on West Coast accommodation costs. For more, go to www.sweptawayinn.com
Pat Deakin is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni. He can be reached at 250-720-2527 or Patrick_deakin@portalberni.ca