Show and Tell: Cancellation policies. What’s yours?

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  • Avatar
    Carolyn Kelly

    Partners of Booking.com should not have to deal with invalid credit cards.  Booking should be pro-active not re-active.  You charge a percentage for making the reservation, yet we have to chase our money and most of the time take the chance of the reservation being a no-show when we could have sold the room.  Typically there is no contact for the arriving guest and when Booking is asked to notify reservations of invalid cards and correct it with the hotel, no feedback is ever given to us.  Carolyn

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    Maurine

    I have been amazed at the number of cancellations that I receive now that I use an OTA (while my overall booking numbers decrease - another phenomenon that implies I must use all OTAs as one does not do the job - apology, I digress into another forum topic). I have watched the increasing trend over the last 2-3 years and there seem to be three categories. 

    1. The best price/better location "deal" seekers who may be booking multiple places for the same date. These people make a reservation and within the week or just before any cancellation deadline cancel it. (so, unless you are in a high traffic area or have a lot of rooms, a short cancellation window is not a good idea as the room will not get rebooked)

    2. The traveler who really has to cancel their vacation; these people call personally, apologize, tell you to keep the deposit. I will not charge any cancellation amount for 9 out of 10 and if I have to keep a deposit for some reason, I ask them to remind me when/if they are able to stay with me another time and I'll credit all or a portion back..  

    3. The traveler who just decided to change their plans and stay somewhere else within a day or two of their stay. Interestingly, many of these decide to come on by when they are reminded their deposit is not refundable under the cancellation policy.  

    I have come to consider a free cancellation policy an invitation for no courtesy from a booked guest. I also believe OTA attitudes toward the hosting party(s) are contributing to the increase in cancellations by creating a drive for the best "deal" at our expense versus allowing us to sell the price value of our property and letting the traveler decide. Our properties are put on a playing field where the fixed cost of operating (which includes the commission) is not taken into account when a best price competition atmosphere is created by OTA advertising. This depersonalizes and undervalues us and our property. Where once having a comfortable, clean, happy, enjoyable spot to spend the night was enough, travelers now feel no obligation to honor their reservations and if they do, they often expect free services and amenities that drive our profit (aka operating reserve for variable expenses such as taxes, utilities) down. This environment causes travelers to no longer view us as individuals with a business just like theirs, or workers just like they are and so many do not feel the need to extend basic courtesies or honor their commitment to us. The increase in cancellations has occurred since OTA's started competing with each other to place our traveler, at our cost, instead of having them book directly with us.

    Just an fyi. If I decide to use an OTA when I travel, I choose the one who sells me on the value of their service and not at the expense of the property owner who has already sold me on their property value.  

    Final comment: As noted in someone else's comment, more OTA guest bookings are coming through with no address, invalid addresses, bad credit card numbers, no or wrong phone numbers. We have no way to collect on a no-show or late cancellation. Credit card processors charge extra if no address verification is done. Booking should not allow a reservation to come through without this information and perhaps should as a courtesy/value add for the commission they collect run a "pre-authorization" and only pass a reservation on once it has been "verified".  Especially since we have to honor the booking no matter what. I know this would help ensure my loyalty to Booking.com versus just seeing it as another interchangeable commodity that must be tolerated. Just a thought.

    Thank you Booking for providing this forum. I appreciate that you care to hear from us. 

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    Booking

    Hi Laura,

    Greetings!

    I guess its important that OTA's protect the interest of their associates.  Most of the cancellations are actually of the bookings with "FAKE CREDIT CARD" details.

    It should not be difficult for OTA's to ascertain the authenticity of "Credit Card" at the time of booking.

    This trend of Fake card details is growing and needs urgent resurrection.

    Regards,

    Yaseen.

     

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    M Adamopoulou

    Hello Laura.
    I prefer flexibility in my cancellations. A guest can cancel free of charge until 7 days before arrival. Booking.com facilitates prepayment of the full amount from my guests before arrival. That way payments are secured.
    So far it has worked ok.
    I had some cancellations but they were almost 1-2 months before arrival. I have also set some non-refundable dates in low season. I don’t know if that is right. Please let us have your suggestions.

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    k2u

    Hi Laura, 

    Our cancellation policy is 72 hours. Any cancellation outside of the 72 hour window no charge to the guests. Any cancellation or No Show is subject to full charge with NO refund. We say "subject" to because we understand if an emergency occurred during that period. We do not state "in case of emergency" because every guest that wants to cancel would use that reason not to be charged. 

    It is stated on BDC, I send each guest a message a "Thank you" in this message states our check in and check out times (as I've mentioned in previous conversations as well as reminding them to read our cancellation policy that is stated on their confirmation page. If we receive a booking outside of BDC (phone) we let the guest know of the cancellation policy before booking completed. We also have it placed in the office/reception area where everyone must see it. 

    Our guests that have to cancel, generally do have an emergency that makes them have cancel. 

    We have had guests that are staying here, that decided they want to cancel because their family or friends that live in the area have decided to have them stay with them instead. At this point there is no refund at all. 

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    Oldejudgemansion

    My Cancellation Policy is 48 hours in advance, Free Cancellation. I feel that is very generous, many don’t bother at all to cancel, they don’t realize that small B&B’s who only have 4-5 rooms to offer depend on a early cancellation before we turn down others who call. That loss can be 20-25% of your Income for the day. I tend to charge the Room the day before if I am not crazy busy, that is when many times I find out it is a phony Credit Card, and there, by that time, have been many lost opportunities to rent that room. I feel anyone who submits a phony Credit Card # should be blocked from using the service of Booking.com again. I was actually, personally told by a Guest who rented my entire B&B for Graduation for Multiple days, and didn’t show, that is the “thing” to do if you are sure where you want to stay or if another offering comes along. That is when I realized what is going on. Other Reservation sites run the card right away to cull out this Fraud. I am feeling the need to discontinue here due to this loss, and this year I have had quite a bit. And also tired of dealing with the angry people when you do charge them, any of the Major Hotels do it, and they can absorb the loss much better than we can.

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    Moudirahotel

    HELLO

    I also think  that partners of booking ,.com ,SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH CREDIT CARDS,

    Booking .com should be able to check the cards ,before they send the reservation 

    Comission is high enough to have this service done by BOOKING 

    Many Cards are not valid ,and then a no show . 

    Last minute booking should also require a ccard .

    Booking.com should not even ask if we want to give a free cancellation ,this condition should not exist.Cancellation after the given date ,first night has to be paid  .

     Booking ,has charged me commission twice on a booking.i never had ,and they never answer your complaints !!!!!

    Have a nice Evening 

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    Sonstbbs

    Our cancellation without penalty is upto two days before arrival. If cancelled the day before the first night is payable, if cancelled on the day the whole tariff is payable.

    What I don't understand though is: These are our policies. They are on our BDC page. They are printed on the guests BDC booking AND YET......when I get a cancellation I am now receiving a message from BDC saying the guest wants to cancel for free and I have to answer yes or no?? So do I lose out on a future booking from the cancelling guest by demanding they pay as per our policy or am I a walkover for not charging......

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    Longmountainlodge

    We have been in business 12?years. We get less than 3% cancellations from our own bookings and about the same from other OTA’s. But, from booking.com thru September it was 34%!! And I think Oct and Nov was even higher. We have the same cancellation policy on all: 7 days. We are a small inn with 6 rooms on booking.com. I agree with other comments re bad credit cards which exacerbated this problem, but I fell a root cause is booking.coms extensive use and emphasis on “FREE CANCELLATIONS” in their advertising and on their web sites. We currently use the Webervation booking engine and Sabre as the GDS to transmit booking.com reservation data into Rezovation. We NEVER get all the credit card info for booking.com bookings needed to run the card. So, we either need to wait till the guest arrives (hopefully) and run their card through Square or call Rezovation to have them run the card as they do have the info in their “back end”. This is really a pain. Also, we most of the time need to call them to authorize the card for $25 just to make sure it is a good card. If we don’t we get burned. The best solution would be for booking.com to collect the money as so many other OTA’s do, like bedandbreakfast.com and Expedia.

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    Info

    Cut all the rubbish going on. After reading all these comments and seeing as there are so many hoaxters out there. We all go for 100% deposit paid directly to Bookings.com and they simply transfer what is owed to us, into our banking account. This business of having to refund and go to all the trouble of quoting, booking out rooms which are not real, is rubbish. The world should take cognisance of fraudsters and fake news happening on a daily basis. I say, if anyone wants to secure a booking, pay the full amount upfront or take a hike. 

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    michael beeston

    Hi "M" and K2u.....Understand completely....I have been an expatriate and lived in 14 countries over 30 years, so always make sure I send a Happy Holiday card.....................we also have a three (3) bedroom apartment in Dubai, so all is very cool..and a big thanks for all the info and talk.....LOVE IT.................we have friends coming over tonight for some Xmas drinks so will have a few for you guys..x

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    michael beeston

    the start of a good evening with Friends for Xmas.......an early start but why not. !!

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    michael beeston

    Thanks Lu.....................and yes I agree..the people that returned were ALL business people( easy for them to just rebook) but some of their friends have stayed so it works in both directions..many thanks for the input..cheers Michael.

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    michael beeston

    Thanks K2U...they have just left !!!!.a great  night.  The Xmas spirit is alive and well......

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    Lu_Madrid

    M Adamopoulou  Yeah! It's so good to hear that there are so many of us who love traveling! It'd be so nice to meet in the future!

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    michael beeston

    maybe..,.who knows in life...would be cooool..

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    michael beeston

    Hi enquiries..I would have to agree..with booking in the past before we had the 30% deposit, they were the worst for cancellations BUT they have also turned out the best for our accommodation bookings so we go with the flow..BUT as I have said many times we use the 30% deposit and it works extremely well.??

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    Jan Christian Severin

    Hello,
    I have changed very recently to strict cancelation I.e. 30 days before arrival.
    I have my Condos in a Country where ‘short-term’ rental (below 30 days) is
    not allowed. I try to cope as best as possible, but it is very difficult. Once I got a ‘long-term’ booking I don’t want to loose it, as to find new guests under these rental terms are difficult. Can someone advice whether my strict cancelation make sense. Thanks. Chris

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    Corner1955

    Hi everyone we have been in the Band B buis for 2o plus years. Our policy is if they cancel they missed a very nice holiday with us. The customer has the choice at all times. The first year was difficult to watch, my wife was shocked at the no shows. Guess what so was I.  Its part of being in this type of work. You can only do your best to please those that do show up. We run a 9.9 review score and that should be your goal. When we loose a booking two more arrive,and guess what there usually better.I wish you all the very best this season. Cheers Myoli Band B Playa Del Carmen Mexico.

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    Margaretfoster40

    Hi I'm from New Zealand and my daughter and I have a boutique Bed and Breakfast each in different parts of New Zealand. For about 6 months we have been getting rogue or false bookings. Mostly from obscure countries andsometimes for quite lengthy stays.  Had one from an Island that I had not heard of so looked it up and it was an uninhabited Island!!!!!

    i do not have credit card facilities but even that doesn't stop rogue bookings as they could be false. Booking.Com have made some suggestions so will see if they work.  Has anyone else been getting rogue bookings. Mainly from China, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Brazil, Bervot Island!!!

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    Jezwhitaker

    Booking.com is partly to blame for high cancellation rates as they advertise "most rooms offer free cancellation" - that is a stupid policy as the guest holds your accommodation for a couple of months and then cancels so you lost the chance to sell it to someone that genuinely wants to stay. I turned down a booking yesterday over Dec 30th because we are full only to have another guest this morning cancel a 4 day stay and request free cancellation (we are set Strict 30 day no refund) as silly season means I will sell Christmas and New Year 6 times each per room and 5 will cancel. Each time leaves me annoyed and less motivated to run guest accommodation. The cancellation rate for November just ran 50% on Booking.com which is ridiculous. I'm thinking I might charge a percentage (maybe 10%) outside of strict cancellation window to cover the time and effort to handle the paperwork and calendar checking that is required after cancellations to ensure we don't get overbooked by accident.

    We're also seeing that accommodation for larger groups (say a 3 bed apartment for 6pax) is less likely to sell last minute so when a guest holds it for 2 months and then wants to cancel 2 weeks out it is unlikely to sell - so how can I be flexible and let these people cancel and destroy my revenue?!

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    Sue Scales

    I have the same problem very high cancellation due to not reading my deposit

    policy or wanting to bring extra people when my apartment sleep two people.

    i use to  give guest a lot of time to pay there deposit when it was time to pay they changed there mind about the booking now i give them 24 hours to pay there deposit.

    booking,com should hi light our deposit so guest can read, our guest certainly chose not to.

    Reading above post charging commission when guests do not arrive is not on..

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    Atlanticcitysale

    We are a 206 room hotel near the beach in the east coast of USA. As a sales manager I was always frustrated with Booking.com laid back policy but also understood as a consumer, I'd love to to have that feeling of carefree no commitment on bookings. 

    Although I wholeheartedly believe that Booking.com needs to update their reservation process and include guet's email and phone #- I can imagine the whole credit card issue isn't that simple.

    I propose any of the following:

    1. Booking.com give guests a warning message that their cards will be charged $1 to confirm the booking, if the card fails, reservation cancelled with a "please try again" - If it works, well money returned within 48Hrs

    1.5. Booking.com give guests a warning message that their cards will be charged 15% of total to confirm the booking, if the card fails, reservation cancelled "please try again"- if it works, money returned on arrival date

    2. Booking.com converts to Virtual Credit Cards like Expedia 

    Option 1 and 1.5 obviously don't fix all the issues but would cut down on BS credit card bookings! 

    Option 2 is a fantasy.

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    Delangkawiresort

    Booking.com does not do enough to protect their partners. When we phoned to informed them that the guest decided not to stay and we have not charged them, booking.com thinks we are cheating them and does not want to believe us.

    On the Validity of Credit Cards, booking.com should protect us by having the card verified as genuine. Agoda, which booking.com has acquired recently varifies all credit cards. I know this as I have friends who work for Agoda.

    Come on Booking.com. Stop just taking our money and not protecting us your partners.

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    Leandri Klopper

    Hi everyone.

    What a turnout!

    Sonstbbs - I don't think you are losing future bookings if you charge cancellation fee. How many of those clients have come back to you after you waived cancellation fees? If you can't remember at the top of your head, then it's not a worthwhile number. Swipe first, ask questions later. That is the way of business, just make sure you hear them out first. Sometimes they agree to postphone the booking.. which at least keeps them as your guest for a later date. 

    Jan Christian Severin  - You wrote that you changed to a strict cancellation structure. I did giggle a bit, because my cancellation structure gives the client 4 hours after confirming a booking to cancel for free or thereafter be charged the full price. So we are Super strict, but we are human. So that means, we take every cancellation request as it comes along, and should we not want to cancel the booking for XYZ reasons, then at least we have the policy to fall back on. Honestly I think your policy is good for such long stays, perhaps make it 50% of the total amount of the booking to be paid if they cancel within 60 days, and full price within 30 days. And hold them to it! 

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    Corner1955

    I dont know how long the gentleman has been in business ... processing deposits and partial refunds is a huge headache.. If you try the 100% deposit plan you will have a  10% booking rate. 

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    pibomarco

    Steve

    - Payments by BDC
    or
    - Online payments (BDC virtual card)

    With one of these methods you don't have to worry about being paid for no-shows or cancelation fees acording to your policies ect..

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    Lu_Madrid

    Hi k2u ,

    Our property is really small but very well-located, meaning that it is usually full when it comes to high season. I believe cancellation policies should be more or less strict depending on how easy you might get new reservations.

    We also do the same. As a business, we want to have our small guesthouse (6 private rooms for ranging from 1-2 persons) busy as much as we can. However, as a person who usually travels, I would not like to be charged either if something out of my control happens and I cannot make it.

    That is why we try not to be too strict when it is high season and we know we will resell that room. If it is low season and people usually book a very long time in advance, but the customer does not cancel till last minute without any reason, we do charge that amount. I think it is fair to us to do so since we won't be able to resell the room again.

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    Lu_Madrid

    Hi k2u ,

    Yeah, I agree. I read your comment, that is why I wanted to share our experience and point of view too. I believe that caring about our guests is the best tool to have a good impression and to make them come back next time :)

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    michael beeston

    Hi Everyone.I have to ask a question, yes we all go out of our way to make the guest as happy and relaxed as possible..Tea/Coffee/biscuits ..whatever  BUT ..how many return a second or third time ???..We have had about 130 guests so far with Booking.com Stayz and Airbnb  and have had ONLY 3 people ever returning a second time ???.Is this normal for everyone of just me......Would love some answers back...Thanks.

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