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High cancellation rate this year

Hi fellow Booking.com owners of Holiday accommodation. 
 

I am experiencing a significant level of cancellations this year v. Previous years especially on booking.com compared to other sites. Demand is strong, so cancellations practically always get another booking. I’m just trying to scale this issue, which is causing me excessive work as I am constantly managing my calendars & accounting documents to keep them up to date. 
 

I’m in my 10th year of hosting holiday guests, so I thought I’d experienced all the trends, seasonal shifts, diverse guest behaviour & pandemic shutdowns, which go with ownership. I’m presuming the high cancellation rate is due to guests cost of living expense concerns.  Are other owners seeing the same issues & or do I have a specific issue with my properties. 


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Fluff (new account) 1 year ago

It's mainly down to time-wasting people taking advantage of your refund policy. They use a booking with you for visa applications etc. and then cancel, often at the last minute or simply don't arrive.

There is also a trend of people booking multiple properties for the same duration and choosing the one they actually want at the last minute, leaving the others out of pocket.

 

Reappraise your payment and cancellation policies to avoid this. Yes, your quantity of bookings will reduce BUT they will all be REAL bookings.

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Neil roberts 1 year ago

Thank you Fluf for your feedback really useful. I’ll defo look at setting now

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Milica Ivanović 1 year ago

This is exactly what happened to me! I have two extranet accounts for two different properties in the same street (I am aware that I can have two properties on one extranet account). A person booked the same dates at both of the properties! She didn't even try to fake her info, both reservations had same name, surname, address and phone number! Why the hell is that even allowed? When I contacted her (I was extremely kind) she blocked my number but luckily canceled at both of the properties even though I intentionally didn't mention the name of the second one!!! At the same time I had another lady do similar thing but she apologized and cancelled at one of the properties. Of course I contacted booking.com right away as I was concerned why something like this is even allowed but almost a month later I didn't get a reply. Will be contacting them via phone soon about all these things and some additional invoice issues that they also don't respond to. Don't get me wrong, their employees in Croatia were extremely kind and helpful last year, but I don't understand why they hadn't answered any of my messages from this year as these issues seriously affect my business!

 

Also, I contact all my guests around 7 days before arrival just to confirm their reservation one more time, and in case they changed their mind we can cancel. Around 70% of the guests reply, and the other 30% just block me. I don't care why they changed their mind, they don't have to tell me and I don't ask, I don't want to charge them for cancelling, I just want some decency and honesty from them. At least a dozen of people have blocked my number in 2 years so far (I will paste the template that I send them). I have always presented booking.com with evidence and they never answered anything and never cancelled the reservations! I always had to wait for 24h hours after arrival to mark a guest with "No show".

 

My additional confirmation message: (EDIT: I know this is the template I wrote in extranet that is automatically sent 7 days before arrival. When they don't answer it I copy paste it and send it to phone numbers that they provided (whatsapp, viber, regular sms if they don't have any of those and if they don't answer within some days I call them))

Dear [FIRST_NAME],
We would like to, once again, confirm your reservation at [PROPERTY_NAME]. We look forward to accommodating you! If you have any additional questions and requests please don't hesitate to reach out to us! If by any chance you changed your mind and would like to cancel your reservation please do so in a timely manner.
We wish you a safe travel,
[PROPERTY_NAME]

- Please confirm your arrival by responding to this message.

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Jo Galle 1 year ago

Is it possible to make multiple property bookings for the same dates on booking.com? Just to get it straight.

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Isle of Wight … 1 year ago

as Fluff said, it's guest's wasting your time. Look for Smart Flex - it's been added to all BDC accounts and overrides your own settings, giving guests the option to cancel and get a refund, even on Non Refundable settings, and guess what? Yes, even if you set Non-Refundable and BDC allow a refund, you still get charged commissions!

Check your settings carefully - and check again, and again, and again. Keep checking. Disable or remove anything you don't want. And fight BDC over it. Don't let them get away with things like this.

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Janis berzins 1 year ago

They suppose to find client or pay from their pocket hence they charge commission 

With smartflex you should get paid 100%

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Fluff (new account) 1 year ago

BEWARE!

 

"Should" is the operative word here.

There are many accounts on here already of Smartflex simply NOT being what it claims, still leaving property owners out of pocket and overriding nonrefundable policies. Most posters here have opted out already.

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Jo Galle 1 year ago

I quit the smart flex reservation programm due to the fact that I had to delete all restrictions. If I put a restriction for a minimum 3 nights stay and someone cancels, I have to delete my restriction of 3 nights or I wil only get paid for the first night. Bad deal for me.

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Beat schaffner 1 year ago

I see exactly the same behaviour. Cancellations often exceed true bookings by a margin. But I m still not prepared to ask forfull prepayment as this „punishes“ 99% of my honest clients

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Neil roberts 1 year ago

Thank you for your feedback. That is we’re I am at as well. I do want to maintain my free cancellation option. It is just the high workload this generates updating x4 calendars, my accounting spreadsheet & then re-communicated to new guests. I wonder if BDC should introduce a small cancellation fee cost say £20 per booking that goes to a charitable course for example. That might prevent unacceptable behaviour. 

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Beat schaffner 1 year ago

In my opinion it would be a better option if one had a booking settings choice: bookings of more than x days require a prepayment of y days. With me it concerns almost always bookings of one week or more…

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Isle of Wight … 1 year ago

I wonder if BDC should introduce a small cancellation fee cost say £20 per booking

You can already do similar. We use the standard booking policy - but where it asks about cancellation fees, we say 100% cancellation fee. You could set a lower cancellation fee.

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Neil roberts 1 year ago

Ok. I’ll look into that later on Thank you for your guidance & support 

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Janis berzins 1 year ago

Yes definitely otherwise they just play around 

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Neil roberts 1 year ago

I Can see your point….8/10 my bookings are only 2-3 days. These cancel as frequently as full wks. 

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Beat schaffner 1 year ago

From my point of view I can live with cancellations that concern only one night, always something can impede travel plans and journeys.

It s those long term bookings that block one s calendar and are - more often than not - cancelled a week before the date…

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Ailyn Fernande… 1 year ago

Hi @Beat schaffner , I would suggest you have a rate plan for long term bookings and have them non-refundable (example more than 7 nights) while the short stays have them with more flexible cancellation policy, this might help you reduce cancellation on those bookings that take over more nights when cancelled.

Ailyn

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Jocelyn Evenett 1 year ago

I've only been going for a month and have found this last week that there's been lots of no shows. Have taken advice and changed my settings but wondered if other people have had the same problem. Not getting cancellations, just no shows. 

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Ailyn Fernande… 1 year ago

Hi Everyone.

Loved seeing all these comments and feedback from property managers and owners sharing your experience and best practices with Neil roberts.

Please allow me to share some of my experience and best practices on a Account Manager´s point of view as some markets have higher cancellation rates than others.

a) Check on the Analytics tab section, under "Cancellation Characteristics" and filter by competitive set or market, within 7, 14, 30 days or more to verify if this is a normal trend on your destination or if it is a more recent trend, or maybe you are not in trend at all. 

b) Check out your cancellation policies, are you requesting a prepayment? Maybe you can extend one or two days the cancellation policy to allow yourself to resell those rooms. Check what is your competition doing on a short, medium and long term by doing several searches on our public website, are you offering similar policies?

c) Are you requesting Credit Cards and preauthorizing them? If you are not, maybe is time to do so. 

d) Do you have Booking Online Payments active? We have studies that show that partners that offer alternative online payments such as Paypal tend to have lower cancellation rates as these are prepaid and guests feel more committed on their reservation.

e) Have you considered offering Non-Refundable Rates for your guests (apart from the flexible ones) so that you guarantee bookings and payments?

As you can see, there are a lot of ways we can help you minimize cancellation percentage on your property. 

Hope this helps, looking forward to hear if you have used any of these suggestions and if they have worked on your properties, always happy to get feedback! 

Ailyn

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Neil roberts 1 year ago

Thank you Ailyn for your account manager perspective, which is really useful & adds significant value to hopefully improve the on trend high cancellations owners are experiencing. My concluding perspective is that It’s all about balance as I can appreciate BDC fee cancellation option is a massive selling / marketing benefit for guests. Many guests I understand search only for properties with free cancellation, so if this isn’t an option you can lose a lot of potential bookings. As I’d say this is the the biggest issue for owners I’d like to think BDC are listening, understanding & developing some future solutions to stop some unacceptable guest behaviour. On the other end of the scale, I’d still want genuine guests who’s personal circumstances change eg. Sickness etc can cancel free of charge. 

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Ailyn Fernande… 1 year ago

Definitely Neil! We are always looking to keep the reservations confirmed and avoid as much cancellation as possible.

Another point that I think is important to mention that may also cause cancellation rates to increase is the fact that some properties practice (knowing or unknowing) what we call "Reverse Yielding". This term is used when a property has a higher rate on early booking dates (example: Now booking for arrival November 2022 at 200USD a night) but when the date gets closer, the partner lowers its rate (example: October 15th looking to book November 2022 changed rate to 150USD). If your Early Booking rate was not non-refundable, then the guests can cancel and, in the best case scenario, rebook on the same property or go to another property.

Hope these suggestions help you decrease the cancellation ratio for your property.

Ailyn

Neil roberts  s

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Janis berzins 1 year ago

Just use strict policy and you will profit from it

Free cancellation is a joke, 

I tell you from my perspective as a guest 

If you have a free cancellation I book just to lock in price and then continue shop around 

What happened is that may prices were much higher and people see cheaper options so they cancell

Also I notice guest behaviour is ridiculous last time

Especially if they book more expensive 

My calendar is open to get last minute bookings at premium but that seems a problem 

Just put more stricter policy 

And booking have smart flex program which is great idea

If customer cancel he get refund but you have guaranteed bookings from booking.com or they pay you

 

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simon fenwick 1 year ago

With airbnb you can set your own cancellation and refund options very easily, the guest can see this very easily and decide to choose your place or not. 

It appears BDC dont give their hosts this option. If it were not for a quiet start to the season I would not be using the god dam awfull BDC system.

 

The BDC system is geared up for BDC and not friendly to hosts. 

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Ailyn Fernande… 1 year ago

Hi simon fenwick, you can set up your own cancellation policy along with prepayment. You just need to go to Property and under the Policies option. The first part is for your policies, you can set up to 6 including non-refundable and create different rate plans for different policies.

For example:

You can do a flexible (5 days prior to arrival) cancellation fee but without promotions.

They can lock the price for non-refundable rates with an X discount

They can also lock the price for 100% prepayment, however if they cancel with 14 days prior to arrival, you will return the prepayment.

Or set up an early booking discount with a 30 days prior to arrival cancellation and 100% fee. 

So as you can see, you can set it up differently to catch the different type of guests guided by their cancellation preference without you losing the income.

Hope this helps.

Ailyn

 

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Fluff (new account) 1 year ago

I'm going with Ailyn Fernandez Barroso   on this one.

The BDC cancellation policy flexibility is very good, as long as you can effectively enforce it with payment methods and get rid of Smartflex ( spit, spit ).

Airbnb DO NOT have a FULL no-refund  policy at all!

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Silvija Gradišer 1 year ago

I see the same thing this year. I was surprised that I was part of Smart Flex programme because I never signed for it and I believe it is the biggest part of problem.

My cancellation policy is 30 days before arrival. If cancelled within 30 days, guest has to pay 50%. With Smart Flex they can cancel few days before arrival without paying anything. If they need to pay, they won't cancel, so here is the reason of higher cancellation rate.

I cancelled Smart Flex. They say that they will pay instead of guest but I am not sure if they will pay whole amount or just 50% as per my cancellation policy. So I decided that I don't want to overthink about this, I just canceled it.

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Nicolas Genty 1 year ago

Of course we are leaving this site !!!

When i register my account, it was for propose to travelers some bedrooms to location, week by week. Not possible. When I register, I register my home phone. Who can't receive the Sms Confirmation asked by Booking. Just for changin our phone number, it's not possible. No phone number on site. Some travelers asked me photos, I haven't a lot recent, so a friend propose me to make some small videos of the house , like a visual visit, in real time, with drone. He made the videos, show me the results, it's fabulous. When i come back to the site, for upload the videos, nothing about that. How do you want to give the envy of discovering a splendid house, or an exterior, if the site "number 1" have not the possibility to propose us some videos upload ? This site is becoming an engeenering website, perhaps very good for the eengeeners who works inside, but really not appropriate for the houses owners. Too much pages, too complicated to manage, where is the simplicity of use ? Really decept of what I discover since i am on it. Even not a page for cancelling our own subscription... pffff. Lot of things should be changed if you want to propose an "easy and functionnal" website. Lot of owners are not informatician engeneers.... And have no need to see "extranet pages" etc, it's just like cerebral masturbation. We are on an intranet of society, or on a website who propose some rents ?? 

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Ailyn Fernande… 1 year ago

Hello Nicolas Genty  sorry to hear your experience has been challenging. Let me see if I can help you but I need more information from you so that I can guide you correctly:

1. You are trying to sell bedrooms for guests willing to stay at least one week or only a specific amount of nights/days?

2. For the verification code, you have several options, not only SMS, you can also select you wish to receive a call. You can certainly change the phone number on your user. On the "Account" button on on top right corner you should check on security and devices you should be able to change it. Have you tried this?

3. Videos are something we are not able to support yet, however you can do 360° images plus the normal photos that can be taken with your mobile phone. And you can send the link to the video to the customers on the welcome message when booking with you so you create anticipation.

Let me know if you have trouble with something else so we can guide you through it and help you change the perception of our site.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Ailyn

 

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hostess 1 year ago

Hi All, I think this year from my perspective and other hoteliers is that this year isn't like any other. I feel a lot are holding out for last min deals but are booking other places just in case they can't do better. The airport crisis has put a lot of people off but as it is easing people feel they can get away so much easier.  I think fuel also has a lot to play for cancellations, quieter bookings because people are realising they can't afford to go away right now. We have had demand but its not been as busy as previous years. You are certainly not alone and I don't feel its a reflection on your property but on the economy .

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Villanovia Cou… 8 months ago

Hi All, we rent an entire villa for more then 20 people. This year we received 4 bookings and 3 of them cancelled. 

Our cancellation policy is 60 days.

The impact on us is more than material.

In others portals we had no cancellation in many years.

Our opinion is that Booking.com need to implement a policy with the client:

- do not accept double booking for the same account for the same period

- track and show to owners how many cancellations the client did in the past

- rate negatively accounts with a abnormal cancellation rate

- give the owner the right to do not accept bookings from such an accounts

Thanks for yout attention

Regards