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Asking a deposit is essential, it sorts out the genuine guests from those that are just booking all over the show and then never cancel the bookings they don't need. At the end of the day this prevents a lot of irritation and lost revenue. Yes. your numbers may drop but those that book with you will be paying guests and those are the ones you want. By the way, you have to ask for the deposit yourself. Unless you have an arrangement with Booking.com in which case they should do the necessary for you but then you will only get your payments once every 30 days and that can play havoc with cash flow.
We have to ask ourselves "in whose interest are we hosting? for our own not booking .com or any other.
My husband and I own a small backpackers in Western Cape South Africa. When I set up our booking.com account I did not really understand how to set up "policies" Subsequently we lost a fair amount of revenue due to "no shows" where we could not claim or last minute cancellations. We have now set up our policies to state, when you book, a 50% deposit is immediately payable and I send the booker banking details and amount. We do not deal with credit cards due to all the issues listed above. If the person is a genuine booker there is no trouble paying the deposit directly into our bank. If they are fraudulent or "rogue" they almost immediately cancel. A guest has 14 days to cancel prior to arrival and then penalties kick in. This is one way of sorting out the genuine from the nonsense bookers.
If a booker does not pay their deposit by due date we ask them to cancel their booking on Booking . com. It is better for us to do this then sit with a no show and we have at least 14 days in which to find another booker.
In our direct business this is what we do. On non payment by due date of deposit I send the potential guest a note stating their booking is about to expire, sometimes people just forget and appreciate the reminder and pay, if we do not hear back from them we cancel the booking without any further notice. This system works well for us as then we can go ahead and find another guest.
At the end of the day we must set policies to suite our businesses