Smart Flex reservations: FAQs

Updated 4 months ago | 5 min read time
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The Smart Flex Reservations programme (formerly known as Risk-Free Reservations programme) helps you generate bookings that you might not get otherwise. We do this by offering travellers an extra flexible cancellation policy on your behalf, while helping minimise the hassle for you. We offer the extra flexible options only to guests with a lower likelihood to cancel. If a guest cancels, then we’ll look for a replacement. If we couldn’t find a replacement in the end, we’ll compensate you for these nights. Partners who have participated in this programme have increased their conversion rate by up to 3%.

Read this article to learn more about how the Smart Flex Reservations programme works.


Table of contents

Section 1: What can I expect if I opt in to the Smart Flex Reservations programme?

Section 2: How do Smart Flex reservations work with cancellations?

Section 3: How does payment work?

Section 4: How does the programme work with my channel manager or property management system?

Section 5: How do I opt in or out of the Smart Flex Reservations programme?


Section 1: What can I expect if I opt in to the Smart Flex Reservations programme?

 

When will I receive my first Smart Flex reservation?

Smart Flex reservations are backed up by Booking.com demand data. We use this data on a daily basis to work out when to offer a flexible cancellation policy and who to offer it to, so that you have the best chance of generating a booking that is less likely to be cancelled. Because of this, it’s possible that you won’t begin receiving Smart Flex reservations immediately after you opt in to the programme.

Each time you do receive a Smart Flex reservation, you can find it by looking for the Smart Flex tag on the Reservations page in the extranet or on the Bookings page in the Pulse app. If you use a channel manager or property management system, you can identify Smart Flex reservations by checking the cancellation policy field or the comments and remarks area.

What information can I find in the extranet when I receive a Smart Flex reservation?

A Smart Flex reservation works the same as any other booking you receive. The only difference is that a Smart Flex reservation has an extended cancellation period.

Even so, we’ve added some additional information in the extranet to help you understand everything about the Smart Flex reservations you receive. To find out more, take a look at this video – you can also use the subtitles to watch this in your own language.

Note: We’ll make sure you receive Smart Flex reservations when our data shows it’s most likely the guest will stay as planned. When you do receive Smart Flex reservations, please check the updated details on the Reservation details page in the extranet to make sure you’re aware of the updated cancellation policy.


Section 2: How do Smart Flex reservations work with cancellations?

 

Where can I check the cancellation policy of a Smart Flex reservation?

You can check the cancellation policy of a Smart Flex reservation on the Reservations page in the extranet. Click on the booking number of the Smart Flex reservation you’re interested in, then scroll down to the Policies section.

What happens if a guest books and cancels a room during the Smart Flex cancellation period that Booking.com offers as part of this programme?

If a guest cancels a Smart Flex reservation during the Smart Flex cancellation period, we’ll start searching for a replacement guest for you right away, as long as the room is still open and bookable.

How will you help me find a replacement guest?

First we’ll try to resell all of the cancelled nights at once. If a new guest only books some of those cancelled nights and not others, we’ll continue reselling the remaining nights. To increase the possibility of finding a replacement booking, we recommend removing the restrictions.

While we’re looking for a replacement guest, we may boost your ranking or use price incentives in order to make your property more attractive and encourage travellers to book with you. If we do this, we’ll cover any costs involved, and you won’t have to offer any discounts yourself.

In the end, if we can’t find you a replacement guest, we’ll take over the payment obligation.

How will I know if you’ve found me a replacement guest?

Once we’ve found you a replacement guest, you’ll see that guest’s booking as a new reservation. You can treat it just like any other booking.

The replacement booking will also be linked to the original Smart Flex reservation. In the extranet, you’ll be able to see the updated reservation number on the Reservation details page of the cancelled Smart Flex reservation. If you use a channel manager or property management system, you’ll be able to see the same information in the comments and remarks area.

What happens if you can’t find me a replacement guest?

If the cancelled room is still open and bookable after the original cancellation, we’ll compensate you based on the policy that applied to the original reservation. You’ll find more information in Section 3 of these FAQs.

What happens if a guest cancels a Smart Flex reservation due to a Force Majeure event?

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 reservation according to the general terms and conditions for Force Majeure cancellations.

What should I do if a guest cancels a Smart Flex reservation during the non-refundable period of the cancellation policy?

If a guest cancels after the end of the extended cancellation period, they’re responsible for the cancellation as normal. You should follow the same process as when a guest cancels an ordinary non-refundable booking.

If you need to charge a guest’s credit card for their reservation, you’ll receive access to the credit card details when the Smart Flex cancellation period expires. You should validate it right away, and if it’s invalid you should report this as soon as possible. To find out more about marking credit cards as invalid, take a look at this article.

What happens if guests cancel a Smart Flex reservation during my own cancellation policy period?

If a guest cancels within your own original free cancellation policy period, then the extra free cancellation period offered by the Smart Flex Reservations programme does not apply. The cancellation is therefore treated the same as any other cancellation you might have, the same process applies as your normal bookings, and Booking.com does not have any responsibility to look for a replacement.

Why is it recommended to keep the room open and bookable without restrictions?

To allow us to find you a replacement guest, we work on a night-by-night basis. If the room is still open and bookable, first we’ll try to resell all of the cancelled nights at once. If a new guest only books some of those cancelled nights and not others, we’ll continue reselling the remaining nights. In this scenario, removing any minimum length of stay restrictions you have in place will increase the possibility of finding a replacement guest. 


Section 3: How does payment work?

 

How does payment work for Smart Flex reservations when guests stay as planned?

If you collect payments using virtual credit cards or via bank transfer, the process works as normal. You can see the payment details on the Reservation details page in the extranet.

If you collect payments by charging the guest’s credit card, you should validate the card as soon as the cancellation period expires. If it’s valid and the reservation details don’t change, you can charge the card during check-in or check-out as you would normally. If it’s invalid, please report this as soon as possible and we’ll start searching for a replacement guest again.

Remember that we’ll charge commission on all reservations that earn you revenue, just as we would normally.

Where can I see the payment details for Smart Flex reservations?

You can see the payment information for Smart Flex reservations on the Reservation details page in the extranet. In the Smart Flex rooms summary section, you can find out who to charge for the reservation and when.

If you can’t find me a replacement guest, how and when will I receive payment?

If you normally receive payments using virtual credit cards (VCC), after the original stay date of the cancelled reservation we’ll activate a VCC for this payment. You can see the VCC details on the Reservation details page in the extranet or in your channel manager or property management system.

If you normally receive payments via bank transfer, we’ll also make this payment via bank transfer. You’ll receive the payment according to your usual payout schedule.

How do I charge a virtual credit card (VCC)?

You charge VCC for a Smart Flex reservation in the same way as you do for other bookings. To find out more about how to charge a VCC, take a look at this article.

What should I do if the guest’s credit card is invalid?

You should validate each guest’s credit card as normal when the cancellation period expires. If it’s invalid, please report this as soon as possible. To find out more about marking credit cards as invalid, take a look at this article.


Section 4: How does the programme work with my channel manager or property management system?

 

How can I identify a Smart Flex reservation in my channel manager or PMS?

When you receive a Smart Flex reservation, you can identify it by looking at the cancellation policy field in your channel manager or PMS. If you don’t have a cancellation policy field, look for the words Smart Flex Reservation in the comments and remarks area instead.

How can I track the progress of a Smart Flex reservation if I use a channel manager or PMS?

We’ll include information about Smart Flex reservations in the confirmation, modification and cancellation messages that we’ll send you as normal. All of these messages will contain the words Smart Flex Reservation so that you can easily recognise them.

To make sure you always see the full details of each booking, we also recommend you regularly check the Reservations page in the extranet.

What happens if I use a channel manager or PMS and a guest cancels a Smart Flex reservation?

In this situation, we’ll send a cancellation message to your channel manager or PMS. To see the details, look for the words Smart Flex Reservation in either the room description field or the comments and remarks area in your channel manager or PMS.

We’ll start searching for a replacement guest for you right away, as long as the room is still open and bookable. We’ll do this by first trying to resell all of the cancelled nights at once. If a new guest only books some of those cancelled nights and not others, we’ll continue reselling the remaining nights. To increase the possibility of finding a replacement guest, we recommend removing any minimum length of stay restrictions you have in place. Once we’ve found a replacement guest for you, you’ll see that guest’s booking as a new reservation. The booking details will contain the words Smart Flex Reservation.

If we can’t find you a replacement guest, we’ll take over the payment obligation.

When can I check the payment details of a Smart Flex reservation in my channel manager or PMS?

If the guest pays for their reservation by credit card, once the Smart Flex cancellation period ends we’ll send you a modification message to ask you to check and validate the credit card details.

If you collect payments using virtual credit cards or via bank transfer, the process works as normal.

How do I check the details of a guest’s credit card or a virtual credit card in my channel manager or PMS?

You can do this in the same way as you do for other bookings. To find out more, take a look at the ‘Channel Manager: Credit Card’ section of this page.


Section 5:How do I opt in or out of the Smart Flex Reservations programme?

 

How do I join the Smart Flex Reservations programme?

To opt in to the programme, log in to the extranet, click on Opportunities and then click on Smart Flex Reservations programme.

If your property isn’t in mainland France, French Guiana, Mayotte, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Pierre and Miquelon or Réunion – then you’ll be enrolled in the Smart Flex Reservations programme automatically.

How do I leave the Smart Flex Reservations programme?

We understand that this programme might not suit your property’s needs right now. If you’d like to opt out, you have two options:

If you want to stop using the Smart Flex Reservations programme temporarily, you can opt out for up to three months. After your temporary opt-out period expires, we’ll re-enroll you in the programme automatically.

If you want to stop using the programme for longer than three months, you can opt out indefinitely.

To opt out either temporarily or permanently, log in to the extranet, click on Opportunities and then click on Smart Flex Reservations programme. Click on leave this programme at the bottom of the page, select indefinitely or the number of months you’d like to leave for and then click on Save.

Note: if you opt out of Payments by Booking, we’ll also remove you from the Smart Flex Reservations programme. If you later opt back into Payments by Booking, we’ll re-enroll you in the Smart Flex Reservations programme automatically.

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