Booking.com Host Cancellation Policy
Cancellations are not desirable, but that doesn’t mean that cancellations have to be a painful occurrence. Booking.com has the tools in place so that you can manage your cancellations effectively. It also provides resources such that you can take your cancellation data and use it to your advantage to strengthen your listing and perhaps even garner more bookings in the future.
Cancellation Policies for Hosts
Seasoned Booking.com hosts will probably tell you that, just like negative reviews, cancellations are bound to happen. Booking.com offers its renters three types of cancellation policies that you can put in place:
- Fully Flexible: this cancellation policy means that your guests can cancel up to the time of the check-in without incurring any charges.
- Customized: this cancellation policy allows you to set the number of days prior to check-in that a guest can cancel without being charged. This option affords the host to choose the time frame that works best for them, and it can help to cut down on last-minute cancellations.
- Pre-authorized/Deposit: you can also pre-authorize a guest’s payment method or charge a deposit that will go toward the stay at your property. While not explicitly a cancellation policy, deposits can be stated as non-refundable to encourage your guests not to cancel.
It is important to keep in mind that these cancellation policies can be specific to each property or unit you list on Booking.com.
Travel plans change all the time, so it’s important that you’re flexible with reservations that are changed or canceled. At the same time, though, renters who cancel at the last minute can be detrimental to your rental profile because it can leave you with substantial voids in your reservation queue.
The good news is that you can work to cut down on these cancellations, a process that begins with a review of your property’s “cancellation characteristics” report within Booking.com’s extranet. In this report, you can see an at-a-glance overview of your property’s cancellation history. This will share with you the total number of times reservations at your property have been canceled, and it will also relay how this rate relates to others in your area. You can also assess trends in cancellations over time. Is there a particular time of year, for example, that you experience a higher-than-average rate of cancellations? These data points can be very helpful as you consider your options.
How to Prevent Cancellations
Once you’ve had a chance to comb through this “cancellation characteristics” report you can start to take steps to bring your cancellation rate down. If, for example, your cancellation rate is notably higher than other properties in the area, you can investigate why this might be occurring and make adjustments accordingly.
One of the first points to consider is the price of your property: is it competitive with others in your area? If a renter is shopping around on Booking.com and finds a comparable option at a lower price, the odds of them canceling to rebook elsewhere increase. Beyond price, there are other changes you can make to your listing that can help keep cancellations at bay. Some of these adjustments that might help reduce your cancellation or no-show rates include:
- Cancellation policies: Booking.com offers some flexibility in the window you set for renters to cancel their booking without penalty, so you can adjust this policy to make canceling during your peak cancellation periods less enticing.
- Non-refundable rates: While renters can see non-refundable rates as a way to save money, you as a host can look at these rates as guaranteed payment regardless of whether your guest arrives. Once your guest is locked in with a non-refundable rate their odds of canceling drops notably.
- Payment methods: according to Booking.com research, when guests have access to more payment options, like PayPal or WeChatPay, they are much less likely to cancel their reservation. Guests like options, so by offering these different payment methods and signing up for online payments via Booking.com you increase your property’s reach and simultaneously potentially cut back on cancellations.
- Advance payments: you can also keep cancellations low by requiring full or partial prepayments on reservations in advance. This can turn some potential renters away, but once renters make reservations with this required prepayment they are substantially less likely to cancel.
While cancellations are an expected facet of the OTA experience, you can work within these elements of your listing to keep them to a relative minimum. Again, it is valuable to keep in mind that your cancellation policies and rates can be easily adjusted: you can try out a more flexible cancellation policy or modify a unit’s nightly rate and see what impact it has on reservations. At the same time, you can offer guests the beauty of choice by offering different policies/rates for each unit. As a hypothetical example, you can offer a property for either $300 a night with a fully flexible cancellation policy, $275 a night with a customized cancellation window, or $250 a night at a non-refundable rate so that your potential renters can choose which options work best for them.
What are Risk-Free Reservations?
Designed as a means to give travelers more flexibility (but also to draw more business to your rental property), Booking.com’s Risk-Free Reservation program updates your cancellation policies to make them less restrictive for renters. This means that:
- Rentals with a non-refundable rate can be updated by Booking.com to include free cancellation options
- Rentals already featuring free cancellation can be augmented with an extended free cancellation window
This gives potential guests optimal freedom in their plans, but it actually can benefit Booking.com hosts as well. If, for example, a guest who takes advantage of the Risk-Free Reservation program cancels, Booking.com will work to seek out a replacement guest to fill that reservation time at no loss of profit for you. If no one else reserves your rental for that same period, Booking.com will pay you for the cancellation cost.
Perhaps most reassuring, though, about this Risk-Free Reservation program is that it rarely results in cancellations. Booking.com’s data suggests that the rate of Risk-Free Reservation program cancellations is only around 8%. This seems to suggest that, while potential guests enjoy the option of flexibility, they tend nevertheless to stick with their plans.
How to Join the Risk-Free Reservations Program
If you wish to take part in Booking.com’s Risk-Free Reservation program, you don’t have to do a thing: Booking.com will enroll its host property listings automatically. You are welcome, however, to opt-out of the program at any time. To do so, you can visit the “Opportunities” tab within your Booking.com extranet, select “Risk-Free Reservations Programme” and then choose “Leave this Programme.”
You can also re-join the program, and once you receive a booking via the Risk-Free Reservations program you can check the cancellation policy relating to that booking within your Booking.com extranet. You must check the cancellation stated date because this date will depend both on your original policy and how Booking.com’s algorithmic analysis decided to adjust it. You can also track these reservations by filtering for them on your “Reservations” page. Booking.com will communicate any updates as well.