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Guest cancels, what do I do now?

I have had a guest cancel their reservation.

We have a cancelation policy that states they are still to pay 50% during this period. The guest has asked to waive the fee but I have declined. Will booking.com sort the payment out automatically or do I need to process something from my end? What happens about the guest getting half of their money back and me getting the other half?

I have never had a cancellation before so any advice would be much appreciated :)

74 Replies

5
David

Do you have the guest credit card details or did the guest pay on line

1 year ago
1
Westerns1

Hi David,
The guest paid online

1 year ago
5
David

So do you have access to the virtual credit card?

1 year ago
5
David

If your guest have paid on line then you should see these details at the bottom of their reservation in your extranet

You have received the virtual card details for this reservation

You will be able to charge this card from 24 February 2018.

View credit card details

1 year ago
1
Westerns1

I have the option to "charge guest". Do I need to charge them myself for the cancellation fee this way.
I trying to avoid charging them twice because I'm still not clear what booking do with the initial payment. Do they just refund the whole lot and let work out what to do about charging the cancellation fee?
Thanks for your help so far.

1 year ago
5
David

If you have the option to charge the guest then yes you must charge them-At the top of the reservation in your extranet you should have a message saying the guest as cancelled and how much you are entitled to charge.If the guest paid on line by way of Virtual Credit Card then you can only charge the 50% on the day the guest was due to arrive

1 year ago
1
Stay

I can't understand why properties don't take an up front deposit. When a booking is cancelled and you already have the cancellation fee it is easy to advise the guest that they accepted the conditions when they booked. It is amazing how many guests don't read the cancellation conditions until they want to cancel.

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

.... and - at the risk of appearing cynical - they are then read and interpreted in a manner that means they should not be charged....

1 year ago
5
David

Then what causes conflict with the guest is that Booking.com give the guest THE OPTION of asking the accommodation provider for FREE CANCELLATION even though the terms and conditions are clear.All to one sided I am afraid

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

David - OTA's are in the business of selling rooms and collecting commission - not looking after the interests of guests or keeping accommodation providers happy... any mutual benefit of that sort is entirely co-incidental.

1 year ago
5
David

My credit card merchants were shocked that booking.com give us the option to flag a card as fraudulent yet ask the guest to produce another credit card.Aftter discussing this with booking they said one of the reasons is in case accommodation providers are not honest and are reporting because they are over booked.

Great partnership I must admit where we are not believed.

1 year ago
1
Jenny Johnson

In reality it seems to be up to the person's conscience. You will be lucky if you get the other 50% from the guest who cancels. It is a definite problem. If they have paid by Credit card then after some time (they usually pay the deposit some time before they cancel) the full details are not available and so you cannot just charge a card easily.

1 year ago
1
Jenny Johnson

i do not seem to be able to create the virtual card here in Cape Town. !!

1 year ago
1
Donal

Be very careful with booking.com with regards cancellations. They emailed me last Friday to cancel a booking arriving the next day. (it was a non refundable/advance purchase booking) I said there would be full charge. About an hour after they telephone to our office and spoke to our meet and greet member of staff who is not authorised to accept cancellations or waiver fees and they are now saying they said to him could they cancel the booking free of charge and that he said yes. This is not true but we have no comeback and have lost €660.00. We had very bad weather so we were all working from home and booking.com would have been aware of this and I feel they had been emailing me regarding this booking and should have kept with that means of communication. It was a virtual card so they will take back all the money. Have spoken with them but is is like speaking to a brick wall and a robot.

1 year ago
1
Info

We charge full amount at time of booking; we are to small to loose money/income

1 year ago
1
Jenny Johnson

Do people not complain about paying the whole amount up front?

1 year ago
5
David

Paying up front only appeals to a small amount of guest usually who are paying a much lower rate.You have to get the balance right to attract as many guest as possible,personally I take the first nights room rate 30 days before arrival with the full amount becoming due if they become a no show.

The one thing that totally annoys me is booking.com giving the guest the tool to ask for free cancellation in a period that requires payment this causes problems.

1 year ago
5
David

Donal, do you have the proof because you would need to click on the message Booking.com sends to you to authorise free cancellation.If they are relying on a supposed telephone call then they are at fault and have no proof.This happened to me an agent let a guest cancel without paying the cancellation fee, after continually getting on to them Booking.com paid up.

1 year ago
1
Catharinacastello

Listen if you do not do the manual payment on request , they've got you Booking.com and their guests. The only time you are in charge is when you charge the whole amount upfront on request serious bookers do not cancel and if they do for good reason you charge them c/c refunding fees, deduct and pay the rest if well before arriving.

1 year ago
1
Theoldschoolhouse

A friend of ours took full payment from a guest for a no show. The guest's credit card company refunded the money because she said that she had paid for a service that she hadn't had.

1 year ago
1
Info@makarioso…

We run a small s/c guesthouse. I request the full amount within a certain number of days ( e.g. 3- 4 days) and set a expiry date and time. If the reservation is not paid in time the booking system can be set to delete the reservation ( Nightsbridge). As a matter of courtesy I send an e- mail or text message to inform them the booking is cancelled because of no payment! If they are serious about the accommodation they pay immediately! I stick to our cancellation terms- one can't sit on blocked out accommodation/ dates and end up with no or less income( pension).

Antoinette

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Two points of interest here - and I suspect we are getting the discussion confused because Bdc and card handling companies have different rules in different countries... it might be helpful if Bdc added the country people are operating in to the name on each post.

Firstly - Donal/David in the UK Bdc will phone and ask you to let the guest off any cancellation charge; I'm afraid you can only get round this by telling your staff that only YOU can talk to them... they will take the word of anyone answering the phone on occasion - as you have found out to your cost. The click on the message that you mention David, is overridden by the phone call!

The problem here being - YOU have to be available 24/7.

Secondly - Surprised at your post Theoldschoolhouse - in the past when people have challenged my charging a cancellation via their card company, I have sent proof of the Bdc cancellation terms on the website and my Confirmation email - at which point the card company have accepted the guest was liable. Perhaps this is a UK thing as well?

1 year ago
1
Info

I have been running my guesthouse for 22 years now,way before Booking.com was created.This has added complications no doubt,but I always had a very lenient cancellation policy. I only require 24 hours notice to cancel or I charge the guest,though I never do this if it is cancelled even as late as that as you don't want to upset a potential future booking. There are often genuine last minute problems people get and they appreciate the gesture,so it all good PR.

The real problem is no shows and I have no sympathy with them.They deserve to be charged.They may challenge it with their credit card company but they have no grounds to do that since its in the T&C's that they have entered a legally binding(in the UK) contract by booking via Booking .com. and yourself.

All in all its not worth getting too hett up about,if it is a busy weekend or you have a few days fully booked, then get a deposit upfront, is usually what I do. As the saying goes posession is 9/10ths of the law. Cancellations/no shows are just part and parcel of running a guesthouse/hotel this has always been the case even before Booking .com arrived on the scene and it will still be a issue after they have long gone. ; )

1 year ago
2
Lyn Morgan

A number of the discussions that I have followed over the last few weeks seems to point towards BDC not really understanding the accommodation industry as a whole. The way they operate may be relevant to a large hotel that has 100+ rooms where a cancellation is no big deal in the overall situation regarding financial viability of the establishment. What needs to be appreciated by BDC is that without accommodation establishments, they would cease to exist. If the opposite is true, then the establishment needs to market itself so that BDC is just one of many places where bookings are sourced. When last did BDC offer to significantly discount their commission charges to help the potential guest to book through them? That would show that they are serious about servicing both the guest and the accommodation provider.

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Interesting Info/Lyn - you are quite correct Info - although far more lenient than myself. We used to insist that a booking was a booking - even weeks in advance, and charge for cancellation if we did not manage to re-fill the room. Ah the tales of woe we used to be told! But with time (now approaching 30 years in the business) we have mellowed and decided life is too short for the arguments - but agree with you regarding no-shows - but then their cards normally fail when charged.

Not sure Bdc don't understand the industry Lyn, but I suspect they feel they could survive without so many small accommodation providers - and certainly here, the number of small B&B is reducing each year and the number of large hotels grows continually. I think the problem is - whilst people think the idea of running a B&B attractive, the idea of working 7 days a week is now alien to most people, so the small people are inevitable in declining numbers anyway. Hence Bdc cater for the growth area - large hotels.

1 year ago
1
Info

No Jenny Johnson no complaints; and have a considerable amount of advance bookings, whats more we feel in control we also take the money ourselves rather than using B.com virtual credit. we also use a channel management they only take Expedia' payment which we get the following month.

1 year ago
1
Ian

This is a very interesting read for me as I am only in my second year running a two room B&B and have had many of the experiences discussed. I do get rather fed up with BDC inviting me to give away all my profit and increase my exposure to risk whilst remaining firm about their own margins and arrangements. I have put in place Stripe alongside my free to book channel manager to manage all my finances. You cannot book without a valid credit card which the system checks to make sure it is indeed valid and flags if not. If a cancellation incurs a charge then I at least have the means to do so without the need to get anyone else involved. The policy is clear for all to read (not that anyone does of course). I send a very short but polite e mail to the guest to advise them. So far I have had no issues but of course welcome any comments from more experienced B&Bers.

1 year ago
1
Penny

I have a huge problem with guests cancelling bookings and was advised by bdc to change my policy to strict, which I did. The guest books and after 24 hours I can take the first nights money as a deposit. What I didn't realise was that if the guest cancels within 7 days of arrival, I have to give the deposit back!! Why? A deposit is a deposit and if you pay it and cancel, you loose it, but no, I have to pay it back. As I didn't realise this I destroyed the card details and they are no longer available to view so I can't pay the guest back. We have been talking by email about this for weeks as the guest doesn't want to put his card details online, which I understand but he doesn't want to send them to my mobile. I've told bdc about this problem but had no reply. My next move is to see if he has PayPal but if not, I don't know what to do. Like another person said, when you have a small b&b with only a few rooms, cancellation is a huge problem which doesn't seem to be understood by bdc. This year I must have had 50% of my bookings cancelled and it's driving me insane but what can I do?

1 year ago
1
Info

Hi Penny,

My understanding of UK law was that you could only keep a deposit less than 24 hours notice,so 7 days is not actually backed in law.Though I stand to be corrected as I have never verified that.Any booking is a legal contract between the owner and guest,so I stick to that.

As to your refund payment, if they want a refund they can call you with the card details as with a usual over the phone payment,better than email or mobile.If they want a refund they have to do as you say really or forfeit the money.

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Cannot say I have ever heard of "only keep a deposit less than 24 hours notice" before, my understanding is that you charge according to your cancellation terms - but only if you fail to re-let the accommodation!

Penny - did your site say the first nights' deposit was "non refundable"? If your normal cancellation terms are seven days or forfeit first night money; and they cancelled more than seven days before date of arrival then - yes, the deposit should be refunded.

This is a problem partly introduced by Bdc when they started encouraging lower non-refundable rates - the punter (conveniently) gets confused..

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

p.s. My record - a few years back was 71% of Bdc bookings cancelled at a later stage, but before the Cancellation policy took hold.

I have to say this problem appears to have reduced significantly since the Brexit vote.... but then so have my overall number of overseas bookings... ho hum.

1 year ago
1
Shilohnoone

I am afraid I agree with David that Booking.com are more sided with the guest who does not pitch , does not return messages and does not pay a deposit. I am the client of Booking.com but don't feel like it and this immediate booking is being tactfully utilized in South Africa where they book on a Thursday for Friday , (no good asking for a deposit ?) I also feel Booking.com being in Canada where everything is law abiding and regulated are not aware of our domestic reality of our crime statistics , we have to be more suspicious due to our overload ? A more relevant understanding of one's demographic and country would help

1 year ago
2
Chris Gregg

Hi All,
Very interesting read from you all. I thought I'd throw my 2 cents (2p in uk).
I've run a very small operation for last 2 years and so far have had very few cancellations. Due to the bad weather and at same time someone’s relative getting very sick I had 2 last week.
1st sent us a nice message asking for free cancellation as there flight had been cancelled this was night before arrival but my T&C's were if they cancelled within 14 days of arrival they lost the full amount. I replied that unfortunately I would have to take the full amount as it was so close to their stay. They were totally fine about it and I said if they wanted to come again we would look after them.
2 days later I had a another guest in different property and T&C's on it where different, if they cancelled within 14 days then they lost their first nights stay. On this one I said to guest if I get it booked as it's a weekend I will refund most of the nights stat but I would reduce the cost of the room to try and sell it.
I have now changed my Terms on 2nd property to match first.
I think they work the best and are as fair as you can get for both parties. So mine now are I take a deposit 14 days before arrival and its free cancellation until then. (This stops me have to refund people and have transaction fees.) If they cancel within the 14 days they are charged full amount of their stay.
I will however refund if I get it booked again and just deduct for any reduced rates or fees.
I think this is the best for us at the min anyway.
Thanks

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Shilohnoone - I think your comment points up one of the problems... for you Bdc are Canadian; for us in the UK they are based in the Netherlands... heaven only knows what other countries others owners may be dealing with, but certainly not "local".

1 year ago
1
Penny

Yes, but how do I set the policy. I thought once the deposit was paid it was non returnable but when I checked on my website page within bdc, it said the deposit has to be returned if cancelled more than 7 days before arrival. Can I change this myself?

1 year ago
2
Chris Gregg

If you go on to your extranet then go to property then policies you can go through it there. It will only change future bookings not ones already booked.

Play about with it til you are happy.

1 year ago
1
Sue Scales

I agree with Stay your comment above. I charge a 50% deposit they EFT the money straight to my account. I don't get cancellations because I have half there money. Then the balance in cash on arrival. I don't work with credit card machines. If they do cancel you have there deposit. Best way to do it..

1 year ago
1
Ian

Have any of you tried to find the cancellation policy when booking your own property on BDC? I did this to try and understand things from the guests point of view in case I ever got challenged. It only appears on the booking confirmation I believe so the guest has to commit before they can see your policy. Not ideal if the guest genuinely needs a particular amount of flexibility.They can always cancel again but what a faf for them. Given this, I do suggest that guests read our policies as part of my personal confirmation e mail back to them. Not much more I can do really. I do think for those of us who are very small and last minute cancellations are a big deal that guests should be able to see what the site policies are before committing to the booking.

1 year ago
1
Escalbnb

Let me state first by stating what my policies are. When you book, there is an automatic 50% NON-Refundable deposit with a 14-day cancellation. So you book a room I charge 50%. If you cancel days 14-8, you will receive a credit good for 1-year, not transferable. If you cancel days 7 or before you lose your whole stay, including taxes. Now let me state this is for the WHOLE STAY, not 1-night, the 50% deposit etc.

Doing this for 20-years now, my policies have evolved from reaction. By this I mean if someone calls with a "valid excuse" I will work with them BUT if they call to cancel with their guns drawn, they are going to sue me, I am going to give you a bad review etc I will not budge.

I am honest and if I can re-rent the room I only keep a nominal $30.00 fee, and there are times when I have refunded 100%. Once again I react to how the customer reacts to what I say.

I am calling Booking today @the Virtual CC but from what I am hearing it's not for me. This is MY business and I want control. Having someone else tell me how to run my business, gives it away and I lose control.

State your policies and stick to them. People do not read anything so state your policies and be consistent. I do not believe that "we" are in the business to get bad reviews or screw people. You book on an airline, they take 100% right there on the phone and it's gone. Why are we different.

Sorry this is lengthly.. I had a guest cancel on the spot, they called Booking and Booking said to them, tell the hotel (B&B) if they will also cancel we will not charge anyone any fees so Booking looks like the good guy and I'm the bad guy... NICE huh?? I had a very serious, continue to do business with them talk and I was not nice either after I was told thats their policy... It had not happened since

1 year ago
5
David

Here in The UK we are permitted to apply all reasonable terms and conditions. I have a 30 day policy where I take the first nights room rate 30 days before arrival which is none refundable if the card is declined this still gives me 30 days to re sell the room-I get plenty of bookings so I guess its the price that we charge that matters to the guest.

I just wish BDC would not ask an accommodation provider to forgoe or refund a none refundable deposit if a guest cancels.It cost us to process a deposit and to refund a deposit.BDC needs to understand that small businesses can not operate on the same level as large multi nationals

Penny just take the deposit on the 7th day before arrival after which the deposit is none refundable I do not see the point in taking deposits that you have to return if the guest cancels this is costing you money in bank and credit card merchant charges.

1 year ago
1
Info

We charge 50% at the time of booking so if they cancel within the 2 week period prior to arrival, we already have their deposit (under our policy cancellations during that 2 week period will only get refunds if we are able to rebook the room. So we can lose 50% of the reservation if not rebooked but it doesn't happen that often)

1 year ago
1
Lilianfinch

This reading is interesting, Ive had my little 4 bedroom B&B in Australia for 17 years, since listing on BCM Ive had more cancellations in the past year than in the previous 16 years of operation, I recently changed my policy to 50% paid on booking and 50% paid on arrival, with the first amount as the non refundable deposit, this has slowed down cancellations but not stopped them as many bookers don't read the policy until they decide to cancel, then I have to spend time responding to BCM who advocate for the guest for a free cancellation. Now Ive resorted to limiting advance booking time on BCM to 60 days as another problem was people booking 9 months in advance then cancelling a couple of weeks before arrival. Anyone who has ever overbooked on BCM will know how staunch they are with their own policies yet it seems total flexibility is expected from the host in favour of the guest, for my property cancellations are usually pretty quickly snapped up and its the work involved that causes the problem as I am jack of all trades and really don t have time to micromanage, which is ironic since this is why my property is listed on websites such as this, my recent experience has been BCM negating themselves from an overbooking blaming my channel manager and my channel manager blaming BCM, with me stuck in the middle not only relocating the guest but having to pay the difference as the only accommodation I could find was an upgrade, and while Im whinging whats this all about BDC sometimes taking virtual payment and sometimes not! Yet another phone conversation I have to have on a very busy day.

1 year ago
1
Ecndrew

What annoys me is being 1 property to rent, our pomicy asks for 50% deposit 48hrs after confirmation email. We don't taken credit card. Paypal or bank deposit. People booking a week ahead or last minute don't pay the deposit and sometimes don't turn up. We lose out as noone else can.book the room until guest cancels or accepts cancellation request...they never do. Why can't booking.com sort out all payment like airbnb and stayz do with none of this hassle??

1 year ago
1
Info

I run the business long before booking. Don't understand why booking won't allow hotels to cancell the reservation as soon as you find out the card is not valid. If people don't hornor their card, they are not likely to honor their reservation neither. It's lost of revenune for both booking and hotel. If I am running full house, I check credit card, if not valid treat it as walk in, rent the room out. If they do show up(95%won't show up) tell them your card is not valid so your reservation is not valid.

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Info - I queried this some years ago, it was patiently explained to me by a Bdc Customer Service adviser that most of these card problems were due to a single digit error on the part of the guest when inputting card details - therefore they should be able to correct the information before the booking was cancelled.

Hmmm....

1 year ago
1
Rbowater

Taking a prepayment for the first night is the best thing we've done it weeds out the guest that haven't got invalid credit.

1 year ago
1
Info

wow, so much to read about the same old problem - guests rushing to book a room with no money on their card!! forgot to transfer across is often mentioned, yet they want to be sure they have a definite booking for a bed for the night! many times, modification comes through after notifying Booking.com and is the same card no, yet this time with $$$$ available. this happens frequently. We are a small motel in Australia along the coast, so very popular in the summertime. we charge on receipt of the booking the full amount and very rarely get any complaints from guests. with regard to cancellations which are rare, we charge the full amount of the stay as stated in the T/C Booking.com has been very helpful here to us and if we do not hear back from guest in regard to invalid card, we are able to cancel after 24 hrs. or ring the guest direct if a last minute booking.

1 year ago
1
Westfieldcourt

We charge a deposit for the first nights stay 2 months before arrival, this is fully refunded if cancelled outside of 14 days otherwise a charge of £30 applies. If cancelled within 24 hours we do not refund the deposit. We charge any remaining amount 14 days before arrival.

People do not turn up and do not bother to cancel and when they realise they have been charged ask booking.com for free cancellation. We only do free cancellation if the person has a good reason and calls us directly.

We also send separate confirmation emails with our full terms and conditions as the booking.com one can be confusing.

1 year ago
1
Goldstone

Our 2 room guesthouse is located in New Zealand & we have been using the Booking,com platform since September 2017, and AirBnB since January 2017.

We have had continual problems with getting paid through Booking.com since beginning to use the platform, fundamentally because the platform is an old one which does not (in New Zealand) take the bookers' payment at time of booking (unlike AirBnB).

The cost of establishing a merchant account with a credit card provider so we may process virtual credit card payments is too high for our boutique operation. Therefore we are currently requiring domestic bookers to pay immediately following booking by bank transfer (very few chose to) or pay our invoice generated via PayPal. International bookers are required to pay via PayPal.

The only way we can keep our booking calendar from being blocked by non-paying probable cancellers or no-showers is to insist on payment immediately following booking. Even then a fair amount of admin. time is taken up chasing the non-payers. If they do not pay after one or two warnings we cancel their booking & free up our booking calendar.

Most bookers never read the listing in full anyway. Many bookers totally ignore all our messages or claim they never got them. The inflexibility of the Booking.com platform makes it extremely difficult to describe our listing accurately and to make it clear to bookers what our payment terms are.

Other than paying a significant amount for credit card acceptance facilities, or Booking.com extending to New Zealand the guest on-lone payment facility, we cannot think of any alternative to be paid by Booking.com bookers.

Although we require immediate payment in full we have yet to have a request per the Booking.com cancellation policy of full refund prior to 7 days before arrival. We feel our approach is detering the non-genuine or multi-bookers & intending fraudsters that we have had to deal with in the past.

1 year ago
5
Graham Fisher

Ah... "We also send separate confirmation emails with our full terms and conditions" and still the guests will claim they did not know... ;>))

1 year ago