There are many hosts or vacation rental managers who, perhaps on more than one occasion, have been notified of a cancellation without knowing why and without having a Plan B in sight. Whether it is due to local or home country travel restrictions changing, or an overbooking issue, or something else, knowing Booking.com‘s cancellation policies is a good idea, especially to avoid problems or misunderstandings with guests.
The Booking.com booking platform provides four main cancellation options, each with different types of conditions for guests who book through the portal:
Please note that with Booking.com you cannot reserve the right to cancel reservations already made. If, for example, a problem occurs, such as overbooking or an emergency, you will have to relocate guests to another date or refund their money. Therefore, we advise you to carefully consider the different cancellation conditions you offer, as they will have a major impact on your business, for better or for worse.
Travel plans are often tied to last-minute changes and unforeseen events. This can leave you, as a host, in trouble. Canceled reservations, if they become a regular occurrence, can become a problem for the profitability of a vacation rental business. Perhaps your guest has found another rental at a better price or with more flexible cancellation terms. In any case, if a guest cancels a Booking.com reservation at the last minute it can leave unpleasant gaps in your calendar. How can you prevent them from occurring? While you will never be fully exempt from cancellations, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Keep an eye on your business statistics
It is important to try your best to reduce your cancellation rate. You can start by analyzing your vacation rental statistics, as they may point to where you are going wrong and what kind of improvements and decisions you need to make to reduce cancellations.
Smart pricing tools
We also recommend that you use a smart pricing tool. It may be that the price difference of your rental is large compared to others in the area and your guests cancel because they have found a cheaper vacation rental. To help mitigate this, you can use dynamic pricing. It is your best ally when it comes to setting prices per stay and will adjust the original price when necessary.
Make your ad the best cover letter
Also think about the images and listing description on booking platforms: is it realistic, does it show the full potential of the property? Your listing is the first thing travelers will see; therefore, it must be informative and attractive. Write informative and honest text about your cancellation policy and the general terms and conditions of your vacation rental, so the guest is informed when they are booking.
In this guide you will find more information on how to improve the appearance and descriptions. of your vacation rental listings.
Choose a seasonal cancellation policy
One advantage that Booking.com offers hosts is the ability to change the cancellation policy at any time. This way you can adjust it according to periods such as low or high season. Maybe you don’t want to be as flexible in high season? You can also play around with different cancellation policies, testing the one that best suits your business.
One way not to lose money when canceling an accommodation reservation on Booking.com is to impose cancellation fees. This will make it less likely that a reservation will be canceled if the guest loses money. The only disadvantage is that you may get fewer reservations with this option, since a nonrefundable reservation on Booking.com is less attractive than a free cancellation.
Find out about payment terms
It is normal that the more payment methods you offer in your vacation rental, the more guests you will attract. A variety of payment methods offers peace of mind to guests, especially international and young guests who are more accustomed to online payments. Don’t forget to inform them during the booking process what payment methods are available to them, both online and on-site.
Booking.com has a program for its users called Smart Flex, formerly known as No Risk Booking. The intent of this program is to provide the hotelier with a profit margin in case a guest cancels a Booking.com reservation by finding another guest to take his or her place or, and if that is not possible, by receiving financial compensation for the cancelled reservation. The strength of Booking.com’s Smart Flex program is that it works to reduce cancellations, as the search engine will analyze and choose for your vacation rental travelers who are less likely to cancel.
However, despite the enormous benefits of this program, hosts will not be able to choose additional cancellation conditions, which are chosen by Booking.com and can be different for each accommodation.
If you use a channel manager like Smoobu, nothing changes with regards to the Booking.com hosting experience. With Smoobu, you will be able to see the conditions of each reservation in your guest’s reservation on our platform and on the Booking.com Extranet.