All you need to know about Smart Flex Reservations

Updated 4 weeks ago
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We developed the Smart Flex reservations (formerly known as Risk-Free Reservations) to take away the hassle of offering free cancellation options. The programme will make sure you have the best chances of attracting new guests.


What’s in this article?


Understanding Smart Flex reservations

Now more than ever, travellers need flexibility. A recent study revealed that in April 2020, 73% of customers cited free cancellation as their main reason for booking a property. The Smart Flex Reservations programme is designed to help attract more guests who prefer this flexibility to your property.

But Smart Flex reservations don’t just benefit your potential guests. Our data shows that simply offering Smart Flex reservations helps our accommodation partners achieve up to 3% more conversions. The truth is, most travellers find flexibility attractive, and Smart Flex reservations are a great way to appeal to them.

We understand that an increase in flexibility could lead to an increase in cancellations. However, the Smart Flex Reservations programme has been designed to prevent this from happening. Using Booking.com’s unique insights on traveller behaviour, we only offer these flexible options to guests who are booking trips that are less likely to be cancelled. If a guest does cancel, we will immediately look for replacement guests to refill the room. If we couldn’t find a replacement, we will compensate you.

Please note that replacement guests can only be placed if the cancelled rooms remain open and bookable. In the case of a Force Majeure event, same as any other impacted reservations, we are also not responsible for these cancellations. 

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 Smart Flex Reservations programme work?

To make your property more appealing, we’ll upgrade your strictest policy to include free cancellation. If you already offer a free cancellation policy, we’ll extend it.

What we do if you join the Smart Flex Reservation programme:

  • 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.
  • If all your rooms already include free cancellation options, Booking.com will upgrade some of your policies to more flexible ones (i.e. offering free cancellation within 7 days before check-in). 
  • Our algorithms will offer these flexible options to guests with a lower likelihood to cancel. 
  • If the guests cancel, we will look for a replacement.
  • If we couldn’t find a replacement, we will compensate you for these nights
  • We’ll add additional flexibility where it adds value, unless you already allow guests to cancel for free until their check-in date.

Our algorithm will define which rules will be applied to which hotels globally on a daily basis. This means you might not receive Smart Flex reservations every day. Rooms with Smart Flex reservations will show up on the reservations page in your extranet as ‘Smart Flex’ reservations.

For partners using a channel manager or property management system to manage reservations, we will update the comments/remarks section when a new Smart Flex reservation is created.

For more information about how to handle a Smart Flex reservation, you can check the FAQ Smart Flex reservations.


What should I do when I receive a Smart Flex reservation?

Please check the upgraded cancellation policy in the reservation details page or in your channel manager. We have customised information there to help you better understand how it works. For more information, you can refer to Section 2 of the Smart Flex reservations FAQ.

What should I do when a guest cancels a Smart Flex reservation?

If a Smart Flex reservation gets cancelled, we recommend removing any minimum length of stay restrictions to increase the possibility of finding a replacement booking. 

Different scenarios may happen depending on when it’s cancelled. You can find more information in Section 2 of the Smart Flex reservations FAQ.

How does Booking.com promote Smart Flex reservations to guests with a low risk of cancellation?

We use all our insights on traveller behaviour to predict the type of trips that are less likely to get cancelled. The free cancellation options of the Smart Flex Reservations programme are only offered to customers that are booking these trips.

How does Booking.com find replacement guests?

Our replacement process will start when a Smart Flex reservation is cancelled. In order to find replacement guests for Smart Flex 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.

We recommend not closing or restricting your availability while we’re looking for replacement guests. If you do this, we won’t be able to find a replacement and will no longer be responsible for it.

What happens if guests cancel due to Force Majeure events?

If we foresee any Force Majeure events in the future, we will stop offering free cancellation to the guests from the Smart Flex Reservations programme. This way, we prevent new bookings with a higher chance of cancellation. For example, if a new lockdown is announced due to the pandemic, we will stop offering free cancellation from the Smart Flex Reservations programme to guests. However, we are not responsible for finding a replacement for existing Smart Flex bookings according to the general terms and conditions for Force Majeure cancellations.

Where can I find more information about Smart Flex reservations?

You can check the Smart Flex reservations FAQ. If you’re eligible for the programme, you can also log in to the extranet and click on the ‘Opportunities’ tab to reach the ‘Smart Flex Reservations programme’ page, where you’ll find further information about Smart Flex reservations.

What if I don’t want to join the Smart Flex 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 the Smart Flex Reservations programme, follow the below steps:

  1. Log in to the extranet
  2. Click Opportunities
  3. Click Smart Flex Reservations programme
  4. Click Leave this programme and fill in the short survey

If you’d like to rejoin the programme in the future, you can follow the same process to opt back in.

Please note that the Smart Flex Reservations programme is designed to benefit both partners and guests. If we detect any improper use of the programme, or if properties aren’t complying with our terms of service, we reserve the right to disable Smart Flex reservations.

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