Guests systematically arriving with more people than booked
This is for all properties that have a rate plan with different prices for the same room / apartment based upon the number of persons staying. Take for instance a room / apartment with maximum 6 persons with a base rate from 3 persons and an extra set charge for a 4th person, 5th person and for a 6th person. On booking.com this room / apartment will show each rate plan for 3 persons, 4 persons and 5 persons and 6 persons.
Now take a guest who has two adults and 4 children aged 14, 12, 8, and 6. They wish to book a family room / apartment. Booking.com will show their "RECOMMENDED" room / apartment for 6 persons. However, a clever guest sees that they can book the apartment for 3 persons at the rate for 3 persons (much better than the rate for 6 persons!).
The guest then arrives at the accommodate with 6 persons. When the accommodation provider says that the reservation is for 3 persons (not 6), the guest can honestly say that they put in 2 adults and 4 children and were able to book this apartment. This, in effect is absolutely true!
OK, what then does the accommodation provider have for a defense? In the Children and Extra Beds section when making the reservation, there is a LINK which you would have to click. This brings a popup outlining the policies and saying here that a guest should ensure that the number of persons input in the reservation matches the actual number of guests (including children and their ages). A guest who is trying to cheat you will have the valid argument that this is not transparent, is hidden in a link (who checks links anyway), and that they DID put in 2 adults and 4 children and their ages AND were able to book the room / apartment that can accommodate 6 persons.
This puts accommodation providers at a distinctly disadvantaged position. Firstly, the room / apartment will be made up for the number of persons in the reservation in advance. This causes extra work upon arrival making extra beds. Secondly, by confronting the guests upon check-in that THEY did something incorrect and will be charged more, is neither welcoming nor makes the guests feel at ease, which should be priorities upon arrival.
For guests that know this and are dishonest and are using this loophole in the system, it is a very easy way to save money. For accommodations that have self-check in systems, it is an even better way to save money. Simply book for the least amount of persons and come with the maximum. No one will know until the cleaning staff comes and sees all beds are used!
Booking.com CAN and SHOULD do better in this regard. Our accommodation uses a booking engine by SITEMINDER and this booking engine has a simple system in its programming that drastically reduces the number of bookings where people are arriving with more guests than booked. The way it works is as follows:
A guest inputs that they are 6 persons (2 Adults and 4 children with their ages). The available rooms / apartments are then shown. If a guest books a room / rate plan that is for less than 6 persons, a pop-up is displayed stating "Your current selection cannot accommodate all of your guests". At this point the guest would either have to change to the proper rate for 6 persons or choose an alternate / additional room/apartment to cover the number of persons given.
With such a system, if a guest wishes to "cheat" by booking for less people and showing up with more, then the accommodation provider has a CLEAR and VIABLE argument that it is the GUEST who has made the error as there is a TRANSPARENT SYSTEM set up to PREVENT guests from doing just that.
Another solution would be that if 6 persons are entered by a guest when booking at booking.com, the room / apartment with the rate plans should ONLY show the rate plan associated for 6 persons. Again, this would make it CLEAR and also give the accommodation provider a VIABLE argument for extra charges if guests arrive with more people than booked.
The current system of booking.com showing a "RECOMMENDED" rate plan, but the possibility to actually book the room / apartment at cheaper rates for less persons is not correct and needs to be fixed.
If booking.com cannot fix this issue, another option would be for accommodations to STOP using rate plans and only charge one rate for the room / apartment, regardless of whether LESS than the maximum are staying. If booking.com allows for accommodations to provide rate plans, it should also integrate proper booking procedures to PROTECT the hosts and to make it more difficult for this systematic type of CHEATING to continue.