All you need to know about Risk-Free Reservations

To maximise your earnings with minimal risk, we’ve developed Risk-Free Reservations. With this programme, we’ll make sure you have the best chances of welcoming new guests.

What are Risk-Free Reservations?

Travellers love flexibility, and the Risk-Free Reservations programme is designed to help drive more guests who prefer this flexibility to your property. Having the option to cancel a room for free is something that a lot of people value, and it can often sway the booking decision in your favour of properties that show flexibility.

But Risk-Free Reservations aren’t just good for potential guests. Our data shows that offering Risk-Free Reservations helps our accommodation partners achieve up to 3% increase in conversions from lookers to bookers - with up to 92% of all Risk-Free Reservations being completed without any cancellations. The truth is, travellers just like the peace of mind brought by this flexibility.

We at Booking.com also understand that offering this flexibility may result in loss of revenue  through disproportionately many cancellations. This is why this programme is different: the Risk-Free Reservations solution to avoiding loss of revenue is to actively look for replacement guests when cancellations occur, or take over payment obligations in case of cancellations that happen as part of the programme. Please note, replacement guests can only be placed if the cancelled rooms remain open and bookable. And some replacement guests can only be placed if the cancelled rooms remain without restrictions.

Please keep the cancelled rooms open and bookable. If you have set restrictions for these rooms, we would recommend removing the restrictions so as to increase the possibility of finding a replacement booking.

How does the Risk-Free Reservations programme make my property more attractive to potential guests?

To make your property more appealing to potential bookers who prefer extra flexibility in their cancellation policy, we’ll upgrade your strictest policy (on your behalf) to include free cancellation, or extend the period of your free cancellation policy (if you already have one).

For example, if you have a non-refundable policy for some or all of your rooms, a part of them will be updated on Booking.com to include free cancellations to the guests. Conversely, if all your rooms already include free cancellation options, Booking.com will upgrade your policies to more flexible ones (i.e. offering free cancellation until 2 days before check-in date).

Reservations for rooms with free cancellation options will show up in the Reservations page in your extranet as “Risk-free” reservations.

What should I do when a guest cancels a Risk-Free Reservation?

If a risk-free reservation gets cancelled, different scenarios may happen depending on when it’s cancelled. We’ve included some examples below:

  1. If a risk-free reservation is cancelled after the free cancellation deadline (as according to the upgraded policy)

For example, if Booking.com has upgraded your policy to include free cancellations until 7 days before check-in date, and a guest cancels the reservation within the 7 days before check-in date, then the guest will be liable for the cancellation cost. You can charge guests for this reservation as you normally would with a cancelled non-refundable reservation. 

If you collect payments via virtual credit cards or guest credit card directly, you can check the updated virtual credit card or guest credit card details in reservation details or in your channel manager once the free cancellation expires; If you collect payments by receiving bank transfer directly from Booking.com, you can check the payment details in reservation details.

  1. If a risk-free reservation is cancelled before the free cancellation deadline according to the upgraded policy

For example, if Booking.com has upgraded your policy to include free cancellation until 7 days before check-in date, and a guest cancels (part of) the reservation within this free cancellation period, then Booking.com will start searching for replacement guests as long as the room that was part of the cancelled reservation is still bookable and without restrictions by other guests on Booking.com. You can check the progress of finding replacement guests in the Reservation details section of each booking in the ‘Reservations’ tab in your extranet. If we manage to find a replacement guest to fill your cancelled room nights (as in the original reservation), you will be able to charge the replacement guest as you would do with any normal reservation.

Booking.com will search for replacement guests on cancelled Risk-Free Reservations until original stay dates as long as the room(s) are bookable without any restrictions, giving you peace of mind, and the best chances of finding new guests. 

However in situations where finding a replacement is impossible, Booking.com will take care of any payment obligation for any room nights cancelled through the programme with your preferred pay out method. If your preferred payout method is virtual credit card, you can charge the virtual credit card in reservation details or in your channel manager on the stay date; If your preferred payout method is bank transfer, we will pay out by Bank Transfer after the stay date as your normal frequency. 

How does Booking.com find replacement guests?

In order to find replacement guests for Risk-Free Reservations, we may use price incentives. However, this will not affect the money you earn, because any incentive will come from the Booking.com commission.

Please note that it is mandatory that you do not close or restrict availability while we are looking for replacement guests, otherwise Booking.com will not be able to find a replacement (and as a result, Booking.com will no longer be liable to take over the payment obligation for these cancelled reservations - since there is no availability to offer a potential replacement guest).

What should I do when a guest books a Risk-Free Reservation and stays without cancellation?

If you collect payments by receiving bank transfer directly from Booking.com, you can check the payment details in reservation details.

If you collect payments via virtual credit cards or guest credit card directly, unlike other non-refundable or semi-flexible bookings, you can check the updated virtual credit card or guest credit card details in reservation details or in your channel manager once the free cancellation expires.

Who is eligible for the Risk-Free Reservations programme?

Properties that facilitate online payment for guests (as done through Payments by Booking.com or Online Payments) can participate in the programme. This lets us facilitate the payment correctly.

Check your programme status

Find out more on payment solutions from Booking.com in this article

At the moment, Risk-Free Reservations is only available for selected regions and partners. Depending on your location, you’ll either be added to the programme automatically or invited to join. In both cases, you’ll receive official communication in advance.

What if I don’t want to join the Risk-Free Reservations programme?

We understand that this programme may not be the right fit for some of our partners. If you don’t want to be part of Risk-Free Reservations, follow the below steps:

  • Sign in to your Booking.com extranet

  • Go to the ‘Property’ page in the menu, then click ‘Policies’

  • Scroll down to ‘Risk-Free Reservations’ and click ‘Edit’ to opt out of the programme

  • If you’d like to rejoin the programme at some point in the future, you can follow the same process to opt back in

Note that Risk-Free Reservations is designed to benefit both partners and guests. If we detect an improper use of the programme, we reserve the right to disable Risk-Free Reservations for properties not complying with our terms of service.

Need more information about Risk-Free Reservations?

For more information, read our FAQ here.