Summer Vehicle Reservations: Why We Do What We Do
In less than a month, the Block Island Ferry will be opening our phone lines for vehicle reservation for the 2024 season. Many people consider these early days in January as the official start of their summer vacation plans. Every year, we review our vehicle booking process to see what improvements can be made to make the process easier for our customers as well as ourselves.
While some people may question the way we do things, be assured that there is a thought-out method to our reservation system. That is why we wanted to give you a glimpse behind the curtain to let you see why we do what we do. We hope that a better understanding of our system as well as some helpful booking tips will help make your vehicle reservation process quick and easy!
We Book Strictly by Phone
Have you ever tried to get online tickets for a concert and found that it was sold out within the first few minutes? (Swifties, we’re looking at you.) Chances are that third party automated systems have bought up all those tickets just to resell them at a higher rate. Believe it or not, the same thing happens with ferry services around the country when it comes to summer vehicle reservations.
Although it may seem “old school”, our strict phone reservation policy allows us to maintain control of the reservations and prevents third parties to book endless prime vehicle reservations dates. We want to make sure that families that have been vacationing on Block Island for 15 or 30 years as well as first timers are able to do so without having to pay an absurdly inflated price. To accommodate our passengers during our phone reservation dates, we have a full complement of staff scheduled, as well as added workstations and extended office hours.
Help Us Help You
We realize that a summer vehicle reservation is a hot commodity, and that people will do whatever they can to reserve a spot. However, sometimes those actions help complicate matters and make the process more difficult that it needs to be. Here are a few suggestions of what you can do to help simplify the booking process for us and your fellow passengers:
1- One Call Per Party: Some people who are trying to make a reservation for one vehicle have family or friends call all at once to see who can get through first. Oftentimes, multiple reservations are made for that one vehicle. Our records show three cars when there’s only one. One call per party will not only keep our count accurate but will also help open up our phone lines. Remember, reservations that are canceled will be charged an additional fee.
2- Do Not Double Book: Along the same lines as the previous point, sometimes customers have a few dates in mind about when they’d like to visit the island but don’t know for sure when that will be. They will book two reservations for separate dates and times and cancel one of them closer to the summer. Double booking unnecessarily fills up a vehicle spot and is unfair to other customers. Book your reservation when you have confirmed dates for your trip.
3- Two Reservations per Call: While you may want to book all the vehicles for your party during your trip, allowing one customer 5 vehicles spaces on a popular date and time means another customer may not book a single vehicle. To help keep the reservation booking process fair, we only allow two reservations per call.
4- One Person on the Phone: Our ticketing office is very busy during vehicle reservation times. That being said, it is very distracting for our booking agents to keep track of the call when there are multiple people on speaker phone or a conference call. Many people discussing travel plans at the same time could lead to booking errors. Please discuss your plans with your party beforehand and elect one representative to make the call.
5- Weekend vs Weekdays: Anyone who’s been to Block Island will agree that weekends are much busier than a weekday. You may want to consider traveling with your vehicle on a weekday if you can. Reservation availability is typically better during the week.
Types of Vehicles
It should go without saying but there is limited space for vehicles on our ferries. The bigger the vehicle, the fewer cars we can take per trip. That is why we will ask very specific questions about your vehicle during the reservation call.
Vehicle type and size is a necessary detail. A standard car is a smaller SUVs sedan, or some types of Jeeps. A full-size vehicle is a full-sized pick-up truck, a large SUV, or van. An oversized vehicle is anything that is 20’ or more in length, and less than 7’ in height up to 35’ long.
We will also ask if you have anything on top or back of your vehicle such as bike or roof rack. Again, this is important so that we have a sense of the available space for vehicles on any given trip. While we do not charge for these at the time of booking, you will be charged for those add-ons when you check in on the date of sailing.
If you have a car top carrier on a vehicle that is 7’ in height or more, we may ask if you would like to reserve the “outside deck space” and be guaranteed that you will not have to remove it on the day of sailing. The price for that type of vehicle is $6.25 per foot each way. If you do not want to reserve the “outside deck space”, we suggest you arrive early so you can pay the add-on fee, and not the per foot charge. Please note that the outside deck space is limited and not always available.
Vehicle Reservation Tips
When you’re on your call with one of our agents, there are a few things that you should have in mind as you make your reservations. Taking care of these details early will help ensure that you will have a simple and easy trip come next summer.
1- Booking Return Trips: In the past few years, we have found that most island rentals are one or two weeks in duration. Due to the number of these rentals, the Block Island Ferry has begun to allow our customers to book their return reservations as long as it falls within two full weeks from any opening day on their initial call. Any return date longer than two weeks will require the customer to call back and schedule a return booking when that vehicle reservation date has opened. Keep in mind that most rentals are now not only on Saturday and Sunday but Monday and Fridays, as well. A big benefit of a Monday and Friday rentals is the added bonus of having two free, consecutive weekend days on Block Island. How great is that!
2- Alternate Driver Names: This is important! We will not issue a ticket to a customer whose name is not on the reservation either as the owner of the reservation or the alternate driver. Be sure to add another person who is traveling with you as the alternate driver so they can check in the vehicle as well as the owner.
3- Verifying Your Email: When you’re on the call making your reservation, please be sure to verify your email address! It is frustrating for you not to receive your email confirmation, and even more frustrating when complete stranger gets your travel plans! If for any reason you do not get your confirmation in a timely manner, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your reservation number. We will resend your confirmation to the correct email address. Please note, we cannot change or cancel any reservations via email.
4- Checking Confirmation Numbers & Travel Dates: Everybody makes mistakes. Our call center can sometimes be loud, and it is difficult to hear customers at times. Sometimes our customers are so excited to reach us that they give us the incorrect information for their reservations. This is why we ask you to jot down your confirmation number and to take a look at your reservation dates when you receive your email. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DAY OF YOUR TRIP TO CHECK THE RESERVATION DATES AND TIMES! Checking and confirming your information as early as possible helps keep your travel plans worry-free. Incorrectly booked reservations are easier to correct or change if we are notified before the date of travel.
Block Island is not a big island, but it does have a big personality. It’s fun and exciting in the season with the best beaches, restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries. It’s no wonder that many people consider Block Island New England’s best kept secret. We want nothing more than to ensure our passengers have an easy and relaxing trip to the island. That is why we run our vehicle reservation processes the way we do. We think that the fairest way to accommodate the most people.
Please use the information outlined in this article when you’re making your reservation. By taking a few moments to follow these steps, the only thing you’ll have to think about are those summer months when the ferry whistle marks the beginning of your vacation! As the Block Island Tourism council says, “Close to home but a world away.”
Come see for yourself and Sail Away!