user avatar image
1

Ask Me Anything: Payments edition with Morten Larsen, Head of Product Marketing at Booking.com

Hello! My name is Morten Skriver Larsen and I’ve spent the last 9 years here at Booking.com. Prior to joining Booking.com I worked for almost 8 years in the Radisson Hotel Group – first I was hotel-based (front office as a Service Manager and Sales and Marketing Manager) and then at HQ, where I did global sales and later marketing. When I joined Booking.com I started as an Account Manager in Denmark, where I had the opportunity to connect directly with partners like you. Today my focus is on our Payments business unit, as the Head of Product Marketing. 

Here in the Partner Forum, payments is a hot topic. As my team and I are dedicated to developing the best payment products for you, we wanted to give you an opportunity to ask me directly about our products.

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about:

  • Payments by Booking.com products
  • How you manage payments
  • Processing payments from authorization to charge
  • Guest payments and cancellations
  • Payment policies
  • Payment methods and sources

Ask Me Anything Guidelines:

  • All Booking.com partners on the Forum are welcome to ask questions.
  • Questions must be on topic.
  • Questions that are off topic, contain abusive language or are offensive in any nature will be removed.
  • Questions regarding individual invoices and payment claims will be removed.
  • This thread will closed for comments on September 10th and answers to the top 10 most relevant questions will be posted the week of September 12th.
21 Replies

1
Sinotiti08

My name is el Kadi I received many bills of such a big amount due to booking due to many reservations I got but with no show every time . Sometimes I did mention it on my page « the no show »
And sometimes I forget to do it
So am so sorry I will pay for something never happened I did not get any guest since I create my page and you can ask those guests if I received them or not .
Thanx

10 months ago
1
Jolantaduda

Hello I am Jolanta
I have a question with regards to the payment, I have asked Booking to add a reference number for sending money to me but that was not actioned in the meantime I’ve got a question and the request from Booking to pay for an invoice how can I get in contact with your credit control department ?

10 months ago
1
Jolantaduda

I also have a question as my reservations number is lower since I have payments by booking would that be worthwhile to consider any other possibilities. What would you recommend?

10 months ago
7
Thuild - Your …

Hello Morten,

Regarding the processing of payments, I have the following questions:

1. Is there a way to decrease the processing costs for the Virtual Cards, which are considered to be Commercial Enterprise Cards and bear a higher % fee than any other cards (i.e. Expedia Virtual Cards are cheaper to process with 1%!!)?

2. We know that guests leave bad reviews for partners who pre-authorize guest Credit Cards and don't allow them to later pay with another card (because cancelling a pre-authorization is a % fee). This allows us to have a guarantee that the funds are there and that the guest will be paying and not using Cards which are declined when processed.

How can you guarantee that guests understand this process and that it will not have a negative impact on reviews?

Best regards,

Zsolt - www.thuild.com

10 months ago
2
Judy Gathiru

Hi Morten,

Do guests give all there details like addresses form the country they reside in?

is it mandatory or optional?

Regards

Judy

10 months ago
8
Leandri Klopper

Hi Morten Larsen ,

Firstly, I'm extremely impressed (but not all surpised) at this excellent service! Thank you so much for taking the time to provide us with much needed answers to questions weighing heavily on everyone's minds.

Here are two questions that I would love to get clarity on:

1.In regards to the new procedure where the property can only view the Credit Card loaded on a booking 2 weeks prior to check in.

A. Can you please expand a bit on Why this has been set in place and, if you can, give us some tips on how to manage this? It would also be helpful to know how it works, eg. Is the payment processed or is the card details just validated?

For instance, I inform my guests, after they confirm the booking online, that payment will be deducted on the specified date that the card details releases. It seems like they are taking this as a Free cancellation peroid. I've had a client cancel their booking 3 days prior to me being able to view the card details. Upon processing them, they were invalid (insufficient funds), and I lost the booking and a future booking for the same dates because it was so close to check in. Many Partners struggle with the same issue. Any advise is welcome.

2. In regards to Processing a payment. There is a consensus that the best way to avoid cancellations/no shows without payment is to have a non-refund policy, with a total prepayment due and accepting only card payments. This way you "process first, explain later" (A method I myself strictly adhere to courtesy of the good advice given by royalclarencehotel.com ).

A. What suggestion do you have for the properties who don't have a cardless POS terminal in regards to receiving payment before or after cancellation?

Keep in mind that Correspondence from guests is also a massive topic among Partners. So sending banking details for a prepayment is sometimes a fruitless endevour as the guests can ignore our contact. When they then cancel, there has been no correspondence nor payment and the check in date can be so close that the room doesn't rent out again. Getting that cancellation payment from the guest afterwards is a headache no amount of morphine can extinguish. (Search the forum with the words "Cancellation" and "problem". You will see about 6 pages worth of posts regarding this issue).

Here are some short quick questions spread across the forum which I've not been able to find answers to:

1. How does one become eligible for the Payments by Booking.com programme?
2. How does one go about chaging your banking details? (Not sure exactly which details everyone is talking about, perhaps it's the ones associated with the Payments by Booking.com programme).
3. Why can you not have a bank listed which is not within the same country as the property and is there any way that that will change in the future?
4. How many times/how hard does Booking.com try to reach our guests for an updated Credit card once we mark a card as invalid?

I think that is all of them. You're welcome to Widely answer as I understand time is money, and we thank you for taking the time to help us with our money.

Looking forward to reading your response.

Kind regards,
Leandri Klopper

10 months ago
7
fluff

A hot topic indeed.

The current set up, as already pointed out, hurts both partners and BDC in the pocket. It needs a total rethink.

An added kink is that many partners, myself included, do not have the facility (cannot have under state banking laws regarding small businesses) of off line card processing which includes virtual cards.

This makes it impossible for us to even check the validity of a card used for booking. In turn this makes a total mockery of any cancellation policy, the guest may cancel or no-show as they please with zero risk of any charge.

The bank transfer payment method (to us from BDC) is also seriously flawed, the only one I had took 3 months to come through with repeated chasing. I then opted out of the BDC collect system as, with both problems taken into account, it was completely untenable.

I have always maintained that your sister company, Agoda, has the best system i.e. a physical partner card.

Payment is prompt, we claim the amount after guest check out, the amount is credited to our account a few hours later and simply process the physical card through our normal card machine to be paid. Yes, there is a small processing fee from the bank to pay but a it's small price to pay to actually get the money! Couple this to a firm cancellation & no show policy and everyone receives the money they deserve.

It does not require a professor to work out why I have NEVER had a no show via Agoda. Most cancellations and no shows are merely abuse of the system, if the guest has anything to lose it would take real circumstances to occur. Expedia also has a much faster bank transfer system than BDC which also supports cancellation & no show policies.

In summary;

1) Physical payment collection cards issued to partners from BDC.

(There would be no extra running expense as BDC would actually make a profit on this system from the extra commission earned from cancellations and no shows, currently dissolving into thin air.)

2) Adhere to cancellation and no show policies.

Win win for all.

10 months ago
6
Bandara Hotels…

@Morten Larsen Thank you for starting this hot topic. As this topic will help both of us (Booking.com and hotel partner) to growth business together and make us stronger relationship.

10 months ago
6
Bandara Hotels…

@Morten Larsen Lately we are very appreciate on Booking.com new payment action. That you launched VCC card option, offer more payment type. be more flexible for hotel to report invalid VCC card etc. All these new improvement are very useful for us and it what we are expecting for ages so Booking.com can be more competitive with your competitor.

Here what we are suggestion;

- Report invalid CC card / cancel booking, if guest book under full prepayment we should be able to report invalid CC card and be able to cancel their booking right away as per booking policy. When we have same date check-in and we could not charge them and have to wait until 6pm to be able to cancel their booking. That it mean we already lost potential to resell this room already. Which we feel it does not fair to us.

- Please add more payment option, such as Alipay, Wechat for china market, domestic bank transfer online link according to each country that available etc.

- Be more security check on credit card verify before guest complete booking.

Please keep up all good working and we looking forward for new improvement that will come up very very soon.

10 months ago
3
cassid

Hi Morten, you must have some brave Viking blood running through your veins to come here and face us, you only has to read some of the treads to understand the issues faced by partners. But the fact, that you have put yourself out there to us, actually means a lot to me as a small tiny partner of booking.com.

Opting in/ Opting out payment system:

I was part of the opt in payments with booking when I started, then when we all got paid late in June, due to an internal IT issue within booking.com, I queried about taking payments myself, that query resulted me in getting kicked out for 3 months. It felt like a child getting punished for questioning an adult, I only asked about other alternatives. I am sure it would take a day or two to reset a partner to opt back in, but I don’t understand the deliberate delay of 3 months.

Can you explain why a partner has to wait 3 months before they can opt in again ?

Late payments/Late refunds:

There were 2 reasons I queried taking payments myself, firstly we had to wait 5 weeks for payment in June for May reservations and many of us had to pay the cost of direct debits bouncing. At no point, did booking.com offer any compensation to partners to have to pay extra banking fees. I had to pay for several bounced direct debits much to my annoyance. I understand technical issues can happen especially with a huge website like booking.com.

Can I ask why were we offered any help with banking’s fees that we had to pay due to the delay in payment to partners ?

Secondly, as a person who lives in the same property as guests, I am embarrassed when there is an issue and the guests have to wait weeks for a refund. Sometimes, I move a guest or they were charged too much and I prefer to be honest and refund the guest. I can refund a guest in 5 days now but with booking.com guests have to wait weeks which is not good customer service and it reflects badly on my business.

Can I ask why guests have to wait so long for refunds ?

All guests pay booking.com on the day of booking

I believe that all reservations should be paid immediately and via the booking.com system. When a guest checks in, the funds should be released to the host. Partners can then decide what cancellation policy we want to adhere to, to a small business like mine, no shows and invalid credit cards are the difference between me making my mortgage payment or not. Like previous partners have mentioned I should not have to wait 24 hours to wait to see if guest x will come up with a valid card after it was declined. The reservation should be opened immediately. Other third party platforms are able to do this and it just makes it more streamlined for both the hosts and guests.

Can I ask if booking.com will ever take all payments and release payments like other 3rd party bookings ?

Habitual guests who abuse the system

If I am a guest who consistently does not show up for reservations, where is the protection for hosts, why are unreliable guests allowed to continue to book via the booking.com platform without any repercussions? Guests who are no shows are still allowed to be part of the genius program and still free to rebook. I am a small business and no shows or rejected credit cards mean the difference between paying my mortgage or not. Not all partners are hotels, some of us are humble little property owners doing the best we can to offer hospitality and kindness to national and international guests,

Can I ask how are booking.com protecting their partners against people who abuse the system ?

General Data Protection Regulation

We get the guests phone number, address and if we take payment, we get their credit card details, we get their credit card number, their expiration date and their CVC number ? We get this because we need to take a deposit or full payment. If I am 100% honest, I am not comfortable having all that information, it’s not encrypted and is open to abuse. I use a third party Stripe and send an invoice, I get charged 2% of each transaction but I feel more comfortable not having that information. I do voluntary work for the last 10 years and would have adhered to really strict data protection , down to the press old material was stored in and this was before the introduction in May 2018.

Can I ask if you think this method is the best way for hosts to get payment and would guests be happy knowing that all their information is provided so clearly and not encrypted?

I like booking.com and it has so many positive aspects but the payment system and the review system need amending. I think it will bring more hosts from other platforms and more commission to booking.com in the long run.

10 months ago
1
Cba Hotel

i am almost to pay my commission. but booking ref no XXXXXXXXX, didnt stay with us

can it be deduct that commission. so we can make payment

cornel cba hotel tanga

10 months ago
6
Bandara Hotels…

Cba Hotel You have to report "No show" to avoid commission charge. If not you have to call market manager to ask for waive commission.

10 months ago
5
Brooke

Hi Everyone, post your questions below and Morten will share his answers to the top 10 most relevant questions the week of September 12th!

10 months ago
5
jaybeegee

Hello and greetings from Malta!

I recently switched to the option of booking.com handling my payments so cannot comment of my experience as still due my first payment.

However I think you should improve the payment terms and as it is too too long at the moment especially if a guest spans a month (end-month 1 into early-month 2 and you get paid 15th of month 3) - is there a plan to reduce this?

In the last month I had a booking paid direct to and a booking paid to booking.com - your invoice does not cater for this scenario and still showing that I owe commision for both bookings! This is pretty basic if you ask me to get an invoice out correctly Will you take the amount of commision due to you from what I am owed or should I pay the difference? Emails to your support desk have not helped or I have not been able to get the question clearly across. Invoice in question is 1529403854

thanks

10 months ago
1
Vincentgarnier1

Hi Morten

I am part of your Payments system and reconcile our Booking.com figures each month in this way:

+ Gross income (based on departure dates)

- less Commission

- less bookings NOT paid via the Payments System

- gives what is paid via the Payments System in the following month

This worked for April, May and June this year, but for July and August it has not. I narrowed down the discrepancy to the Remittance Advice figure shown on the Monthly Statement of Account. For August all our Booking.com reservations were made using the Payments System, so the Remittance Advice figure on the report should have been the same as the sum of "Final Amount" in the reservation statement, but they aren't. Am I missing something?

Lastly a comment on a report. Using the date selection function in Extranet / Reservations, the resulting screen shows "Total Price" and "Bank Transfer" beneath the figure when that reservation is included in the Payments System calculation. However when I download a report of that screen, the "Payment Method" column, where I would expect the "Bank Transfer" information to be found, is blank.

Regards, Julian

10 months ago
3
cassid

I think its somewhat disingenuous to change the terms of the question and answering discussion. We were told that we would be able to propose questions and queries related to the topic and that Mr. Larsen would answer them in the interest of all parties, ie partners and booking.com.

Then we get told that in fact only 10 questions will be answered, and only the most relevant 10, who decides which 10 are most relevant ? I feel rather disappointed with the change, surely all our questions are worth an answer, if they were not relevant us to, we would not have posted them.

This is a tiny forum here considering the size of booking.com, I am only here a short time but other posters here, spend their free time answering questions and queries for new partners or partners with problems. They do this because they are kind and want to help other partners, there is no financial gain for posters but they are invaluable, considerate and benevolent to the relationship between partners and booking.

From the Harvard Business Review published this year

Feedback, as they say, is a gift. Research bears this out, suggesting that it’s a key driver of performance and leadership effectiveness. Negative feedback in particular can be valuable because it allows us to monitor our performance and alerts us to important changes we need to make. And indeed, leaders who ask for critical feedback are seen as more effective by superiors, employees, and peers, while those who seek primarily positive feedback are rated lower in effectiveness.

10 months ago
2
Maarten

It is not possible to select the 10 most relevant questions, each question is relevant to the person asking.

A forum like this should be very important for the company, here you can find all the positive and negative feelings of the partners, find ways to improve the service to the partners and get in touch with the partners. For small property owners, like us, who do not have a accountmanager assigned it is hard to get in contact with BDC and get the right answers.

For me, a lot of posts on this forum can be seen as a review of a service delivered by BDC, without the smileys, and on every review there should be a response. Just like the BDC facebook page where a complaint is answered quickly by BDC.

I hope they will start monitoring the forum, become active by responding to questions and remarks posted on the forum and use it as an important asset to improve their service.

10 months ago
1
Morten Larsen

Let me start off by thanking you all for the smiles and a few good laughs. I particularly like the one comment about my viking heritage and judging by my love for beards and tattoos, you might be onto something!

On a more serious note, I actually do not see this as coming out and facing you but rather as a great way for us to collect feedback and suggestions from you and ultimately answer some of your questions.

While we initially had only said we would answer 10 questions (see my original unedited post), we have reviewed all the questions and tried to select at least one from each of you. We also tried to include those that the team has seen consistently here in the forum. In some cases, you asked similar questions so I have done my best to condense these.


Now allow me to jump in and provide you with feedback! I hope you find my answers as helpful as I found your questions.

Do you have plans to improve guest payments and cancellations?

We do indeed and we are analyzing what next steps would be for us. One action item we have on our plates is to better understand how enabling payment methods and choice of timing impacts cancellation rates and ultimately helps our partners gain more stayed guests. In the current products, we actually see that online payments decreases cancellation rate up to 4 times that of normal so the signals are there. Next step is to further test how we utilize our payments products to decrease cancellations for our partners while still adding value to our customers.

How does one become eligible for the Payments by Booking.com programme?

Good question and glad it’s raised here so we can explain this in more detail. Payments and our approach to payments as a product is highly localized, we assess how to roll out our payment products country by country. This means that some countries are not yet on the list and therefore this could be a reason for not being eligible at the moment.

We are currently looking to offer different functionalities within the products in accordance with the payment settings of our partners as these settings helps us identify how our partners deal with guest payments in general and thus helps us understand what product our partners can work with and benefit from.

Why do partners need to wait 3 months before they can opt into payment systems again?
Totally agree, it should be made easier and intuitive for you to be able to choose to take part or not take part. We are looking to improve how partners can opt in or out of our payments products as we speak!

What is Booking.com doing to protect guest data?

GDPR and general protection of the data we have at hand is of utmost importance for Booking.com and we want to encourage partners to take the same level of precaution when it comes to handling personal and/or sensitive data. We encourage all partners to protect themselves, their business and customers in the best way possible. If that requires working with a 3rd party that has experience in dealing with data protection, that’s fine

Is there a way to decrease the processing costs for the Virtual Cards?

I discuss this a lot internally and it’s one of the issues where I am really trying to make change. While virtual credit cards are a great B2B payment method, we do see some cases where the fees can be challenging for our partners. Hopefully we will be able to decrease the fees associated as we explore our options and understand the functionality associated with the different virtual card types.

Why does Booking.com give guests 24 hours to update their credit cards once they have been marked invalid?

Interesting question and thanks for asking me. From a payment perspective, we want to provide customers with this grace period as we recognize that sometimes a fully valid and working credit card simply does not work for our partner. Maybe it’s a foreign credit card or just that a guest made a simple error when typing in the numbers or the expiry date.

While I fully understand that dealing with invalid credit cards can be a operational burden and hassle, I also see and hear about a lot of strange cases where the payment experience just has a hick up and our 24 hour window is there to accommodate these cases.

What is booking.com doing to educate guests on the role that Booking.com plays in the payment process compared to the property? Especially in the case of pre-authorization?
In terms of our role in educating guests, great question. We are fairly new with our dedicated payment products but one of our big beliefs is that we can support the payment experience between customer and partner as we see what's going on for both sides. Another aspect here is that we understand that dealing with a payment is an emotional experience and we want to get it right for both customers and partners. Please know we are working on this and hope to be rolling out improvements in the near future.

What is Booking.com doing to support partners who don't have the facilities to use virtual credit cards and don't want to rely on bank transfers? What about the system Agoda uses i.e. physical partner card?

I understand the business risk it poses to you when working with us and our virtual credit card solution, especially in cases where you would like to process a payment with the cardholder present. Unfortunately, the different local rules and regulations that apply to different countries, to business in various sizes, and to certain industries, makes this a challenge. While we try our utmost to understand every single regulation before running with certain product solutions, there is always a risk that there are certain regulations specific to bank agreements, terminal providers etc. that we cannot anticipate. I see that one of the big acknowledgements for our teams here in payments, is the fact that payments and the underlying payment operations become very localized very fast.

While virtual credit cards and bank transfers are by far the most common and most requested payout solutions by our partners, in our scale, we also see that other solutions are being asked for.

Let me be totally frank here and explain that there are developments we would like to do for virtual credit cards and bank transfers first in order to make these better. Following these, we do have plans to look into more localized payout methods.

Happy to hear your positive experiences with our sister company Agoda and I can inform you that we do look towards them in order to understand how we can improve our processes and the methods we offer. We do this as we also acknowledge the fact that while payments is relatively new for us here in Booking.com, it is not new at all for our colleagues in Agoda and we do believe we have a lot to learn.

When a guest stay spans over one month to the next, this can become challenging for invoicing. Is there a plan to change the payment terms for these cases?

Yes we are looking into improving our payout methods in 2 important ways:

Increase frequency of payout - we want to payout multiple times within a month and we are working on making this available as we speak.

Understand the reconciliation aspect for our partners; this is highly linked to payout and its frequency. Alongside working on better payout frequency, one of our teams is also looking to solve what commission invoices look like and how they connect.

Hopefully you will be spot the difference as our teams make progress. Thank you for the feedback and examples, very valuable to us.

My reservations number is lower since I have payments by booking. Would it be worthwhile to consider any other possibilities?

Thank you for raising this concern. In some cases you might experience some customers wanting to choose a place to stay with a 6PM free cancellation as we often see that customers would want to keep it as risk free as possible, which of course I understand is a concern for partners trying to reduce risk and hassle!

I would advise you to look at the final impact to your bottom line as a result of being on payments: does it look better? Has your cancellations reduced to such a degree that it makes up for less bookings? I would also encourage you to review any other actions you have done recently: did you remove photos, did you change your price strategy, did the competitors change anything that might have impacted your situation? Lots of factors to consider!

Our partner help center might have some tips and tricks for you, here's just one example of some items to consider. Content, rates and other items are always important so here's another tip for you.

How is Booking.com working to reduce the number of no shows? And how can we reduce costs incurred as a result of no shows?

We have a lot of teams looking to help partners with the pains and challenges that arises when working with Booking.com. These teams look to improve processes that you as a partner have to go through when working with Booking.com . Handling no shows being one example, reporting invalid credit cards being another. We are committed to making processes better.

In terms of tips and tricks on how to reduce costs, well maybe by understanding our process as described here, and then linking it to how you run your daily business. This might help you optimize your operations and thus reduce any cost. Not sure which system you use, but if you are not using our Pulse app, then this might something for you to try as you are then much more mobile and agile in dealing with no shows. Read more about it here.

Can you please expand a bit on why we can only view credit card details 2 weeks prior to check in? Why was this put in place?

I am truly happy to answer this one as fraud and threats is an increasing issue as the whole world moves their businesses online. Important topic and will continue to be of importance! I can also understand the impact it can have in regards to daily payment operations. Online security for customers and partners is very important to us. To protect customer’s data, the transmission of the credit card details has been modified to minimize the developing threat landscape. Within my 9 years here at Booking.com, I have seen how cyber crime has evolved into sophisticated organizations, targeting major e-commerce platforms everyday. It has truly become a cat and mouse game. We develop measures to counter and prevent and so does the criminal organizations.

What's the best way to get in touch with credit control?
One way is to write us a message via our messaging system. Go to the tab ‘inbox’ in our extranet and choose Booking.com messages or check the Pulse app under the More tab. These will give you the option to then contact us via a message . Remember to select Finance as your topic. For immediate answers to frequently asked questions to our credit control teams, you can also review our help section.

10 months ago