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I have always used pre-payment and BDC collect. It's my only option, as my business is way too small to justify the cost of running a business bank account and card system. I never accept reservations from any platform without prepayment in full.
This year we've seen an increase in the book/cancel/book/cancel pattern, which creates a great deal of admin work and can lead to accidental overbookings. So, learning from my stronger competitors, I lengthened my non-refundable period from 7 to 30 days, and made Fridays and Saturdays completely non-refundable. This protected me from the financial impact of last-minute cancellations.
Later I removed the "grace period" as well, to discourage guests from frivolously stacking up multiple reservations for the same date, then cancelling them - again causing wasted admin and increasing the risk of human error. We all know they do this.
The problem is BDC's guest page steers those who want to cancel to ask for a refund FIRST and BEFORE actually cancelling. This leaves the host in a kind of limbo, where they cannot be absolutely sure the guest isn't going to rock up anyway, so cannot confidently seek a new guest anywhere, and the room does not appear on BDCs site as available so they can help.
The only way to deal with it is to phone BDC and insist they contact the guest and demand they make a decision to cancel. I don't know about other hosts, but I simply don't have the spare time to hang on the phone line to chase them up like this.
It's a daft situation.
I absolutely agree! My guests complain bitterly about the snowstorm of stuff they get from Booking.com, which they either ignore, delete, spam or block. I suspect everything I send them is, therefore, also binned.
Before booking, guests don't read the general description, policies or small print, or the individual room descriptions. They don't even look at the photos! As a result, time-after-time, they book rooms that are unsuitable and wait until a couple of days to check-in before looking at it again (if they ever do).
If they then see something that doesn't suit them (or actually read the automated messages we send them when they book AND three days before check-in) some either want to re-draw our business model (lol) or cancel with a refund - and neither is going to happen.
Declined a refund, they either cancel, and *** about us on Tripadvisor, or stay and *** about it on Booking.com.
A room booked out a year in advance can be held until the last couple of days. Even then, guests try to go around Booking.com and ask me to cancel it for them. I direct them back to Booking.com to do it, where they cheekily select the "Ask for a refund" option. Naturally I decline, which should mean it's back on the market, and they lose their cash.
However, either because they don't understand the system (or more likely because they are frustrated by getting the same response), they don't follow through to actually cancel the room. After a while, it falls to me to phone Booking.com to insist they either contact the guest for their decision, or clear the calendar themselves. Some operatives will, some won't, there is no consistency.
Then there are the guests who have booked more than one place and decided they want the other one, not yours. And the ones who say they have broken a leg/are attending granny's funeral/are stuck on Mars, and want a refund. Surprising how many of these suddenly heal up/resurrect granny/get a ticket on a space shuttle and show up when a refund is declined.
But then they have a gob on them, stay, moan about everything and leave you a bad review. Treacherous things, the general public.
Learning from other local businesses, this year I brought in much stricter cancellation policies, and these often result in my earning more money from empty rooms than from occupied ones!
Online booking agencies who over-complicate the process and obstruct communication between guests and hosts cause a very poor outcome for the guest and a lot of unnecessary work for the host.
To paraphrase: "You can drag a guest to fine print, but you cannot make them THINK".
Mind how you go.
Certainly looks that way.............
Way to go, Isle of Wight!
- I've been complaining about the disastrous state of the Booking.com messaging functions for weeks - no change.
- I've been asking why my Booking.com reviews aren't showing on Google or Tripadvisor for five years - no change.
- I've been asking Booking.com for fix their site so that guests cannot book a room without first reading the individual room description and, say, checking a box to confirm they have.
- I've been asking them to stop guests leaving reviews that complain they had to, say, share a bathroom, when the shared bathroom was described in the offer - no change.
The frustration with these issues is driving hosts away from Booking.com and failing both guests and hosts. Half the planet can code software now, so why are none of these faults corrected???
The only reason I use BDC is the number of reservations they get me. Airbnb are a much more user-friendly site and the guests from them are always polite (because hosts can review them back, LOL), but Airbnb don't get me enough reservations. I am now getting nearly a third of my bookings from my own website, as guests learn to Google the name of the business and negotiate the better rates they can get direct. Suits me!
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: There are a huge number of bugs in all of the system - currently in messaging. Here's a great one: If you add a comment to your response to a refund request, some idiot at Booking.com is publishing them on the guest's message pages! So if you agree a refund to avoid hosting an obviously difficult guest, and add a note telling Booking.com why you are doing this, the guest gets to read it! It should be hilarious, but gets you into all sorts of trouble, LOL.
I send them a greeting email with all the details, including directions, when they book and again 3 days before arrival - and a stern warning about not calling the house phone and banging on the door late at night.
But since most of them don't read ads or anything put in front of them, you do begin to feel like leaving them to wander around in the dark like lost sheep.............
I have a strategy that sometimes works: I phone the guest, explain there has been some kind of error and that I can't accommodate them. I suggest they cancel and offer to authorise a full refund. If they agree, I send an email to their message box confirming this. Usually, they will cancel, and I make Booking.com refund them.
I use a similar strategy with guests who say they aren't coming but don't bother to cancel because they know they won't be refunded anyway. I message them saying "If you cancel so that the room appears available, and Booking.com can find a replacement guest, I'll give you a refund". Since I don't sync my platforms, I can clear the room elsewhere and, if I get a booking from another platform, that's bunce for me. It's the reason I won't sync.
If a booker starts out by making a list of unreasonable demands, or ones that contravene my policies before they even arrive, I know they won't be happy here and are likely to leave a poor review. So I message them saying politely that we are obviously the "wrong kind of place" for them and suggesting they cancel. I NEVER cancel FOR them. Hopefully they'll have the sense to do it themselves if I dangle a refund where appropriate. I call it "guest filtering". LOL