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I just want to state that I am 110% with Katerinka. Everything she outlines I've done prior to reading this post and a little bit more that has improved tremendously the collections of deposit monies; nevertheless; through BDC there is ALWAYS a tortuous path for for the host and the guest and unless BDC realizes that they need to do something quickly; other more seamless & progressive portals will have a better effect on attracting all audiences. At this point, I only receive the majority of reservations from BDC in December & January, and they are not significant enough for me to be able to say that I MUST be registered with them or I will loose a lot of business. I have stayed primarily due to SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, because for this they are really good and it helps improve my property rankings in Google.
I'm sharing the below bullet points in hopes to help others in the same boat as me: I'm in Miami, USA, so some of what I experience might or might not be unique to USA; nevertheless it helps.
1.- You must state in the fine print that there will be a collection of $XX as damage deposit and which will be collected 24 hours prior to the reservation. Now; in the payment details; BDC has added a new "clickable tab" which opens up 24 hours prior to the reservation and stays open up to 24 past the reservation date. In BDC "Lala Land's World", they are naive enough to believe that all guests will pay after their departure....this is the biggest joke!
2.- Write yourself a reminder to send a payment request to the guest for additional monies 24 hours prior to their arrival.
3.- Super important to have a "strict" policy in place at all times. This is the only "savior" when you have people that refuse to pay the deposit because what happens is the following:
a.- since you have the strict policy in place, and the exact deposit amount listed in the fine print, the guest can be at your door and you can deny entry if this is not paid. Yes; I just lived through this to the tee: The guest claimed all his party was super tired, they needed to enter because they had already paid for the room, but did not want to accept the "retention" of the deposit money. They claimed that the site was not working and basically begged me to give them entry. I refused and was not even present, I send them the # to BDC, and also called myself to see what was happening. Amidst all this; the guest discloses that he has a pet. I also list in the fine print that there is a $40 dog fee per stay, so then I found myself sending him another request for the $40, which he also refused to pay. The agent from BDC stated to me not to grant him access, and that due to all my requests being stated clearly in the fine print of the listing, BDC would back me up 100% with the monies from that reservation. Bottom line: he lost his reservation money and my property was not held hostage to any guest.
Please note that if you need to collect other fees for which there is no option, like a pet fee, it's also important to write them in the fine print and as ANOTHER SEPARATE line item. You need to write them, then send them for approval to the editing department at BDC and they will re-write in shorter what you expect. It's up to you to proof-read and correct until you're happy with the results.
DO NOT make only one collection of fees; as an example: just one payment request of $240 inclusive of pet fee and damage deposit fee, because here's what happens:
In the "backwardness" of BDC, you are not allowed to claim the deposit in a partial way. If the guest damaged some towels, and all you need to collect is $40 from a $200 deposit, you need to collect the whole $200, or ask the guest again through the "request additional fee tab" post their stay to pay you the exact amount due for the towels. Of course, they would be crazy to do this! Basically it's your call to either keep the whole amount or take up your losses.
I'm truly hoping that my words can make a difference so this portal can correct their money collection method overall because it truly sucks! I don;t even know if they understand how much money they are leaving on the table! At the end of the day; if the deposit monies are all we're going to get for massive damages because BDC doesn't have a host insurance program like Airbnb (it's not perfect, but at least you'll be loosing less for sure), then they should make every attempt to fulfill a very basic need for all hosts with short term rentals, especially because we are not hotels and the expectations are grandiose.
The last guest that I had from BDC stole my TV and did drugs. I did not grant them access unless they paid the deposit. Bottom line $200 that I collected was not enough for ionizing the place, buying another tv, guest book and 6 totally damaged towels, but at least I got the deposit which didn't add to the torture.
4.- When you get a guest through "instant Booking", once the guest accepts the deposit money request, it is automatically delivered to the host as part of the reservation money, so if the guest left the place with no damages, then the host needs to find a way to return the deposit because BDC will not do it once it's in your account. How backward is this??? Keep in mind that you were charged a "transaction processing fee" to receive those funds to begin with, so let's say you now send them back through Paypal or World Pay, they charge fees to receive money, so no guest will receive back the exact money they left as deposit . Totally Brutal Business Practice!
Anyway I hope this helps and leads to a more progressive path of changes within this subject matter from BDC.
Thanks to all that read it and contribute.
A very important fact:
Booking.com has an area called "FINE PRINT". This works especially well if you want something very specific to happen with your property; in other words, you can state anything you like such as:
ALL RESERVATIONS MUST BE PAID IN FULL PRIOR TO US PROVIDING AN ENTRY CODE TO ANY UNIT EVEN IF YOU ARE BOOKED THROUGH INSTANT BOOKING AND YOU ARE AT THE DOOR.
Something like this will not go against Booking.com's policies, it's there to reinforce yours and protect the host from any commission fees for any cancellation such as what you've encountered.
Believe me; if the guest really wants or needs to get in your property they WILL comply.
I cannot fathom how anybody, anywhere, nowadays would allow someone in their property without receiving payment first and as a simple act of good faith. Please don't do this anymore. This is simply not a good business practice in any type of business!
While I totally agree with your approach; and is by the way; the same path I follow; there is something extremely important to also take into consideration: when the host has to process the payment; there is a 50-50 chance that the guest can call in the credit card bank and state that he does not agree with this, didn't show up; etc., and another good 50-50 chance that the issuing bank side with their user. In the meantime; the funds are withheld, you missed a good opportunity to book and the endless back and forth calls with Booking.com take up most of your day in mind and action.
I have insisted to Booking.com that a short term rental is by no means and does not work at ll like a hotel, to please collect the funds on all host's behalf: it's in the long run better for them because it's including the real guarantee of a booking or of a payment of a cancellation fee, which now most guests for short term rentals end up wiping their hinies with!