All you need to know about Smart Flex Reservations

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


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Understanding Smart Flex reservations

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

But Smart Flex reservations don’t just benefit 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 travelers find flexibility attractive, and Smart Flex reservations are a great way to appeal to those travelers.

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

Note: Replacement guests can only be placed if the canceled rooms remain open and bookable. In the case of a Force Majeure event, same as any other impacted reservations, we’re not responsible for these cancellations. 

Please keep the canceled rooms open and bookable. If you’ve set restrictions for these rooms, we recommend removing the restrictions to increase the possibility of finding a replacement booking.


How does the Smart Flex Reservations program 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 program:

  • If you have a non-refundable policy for some or all of your rooms, some will be updated on Booking.com to include free cancellations to 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 who are less likely to cancel. 
  • If the guests cancel, we’ll look for a replacement.
  • If we can’t find a replacement, we’ll 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 determines which rules will apply 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 Extranet’s reservations page as “Smart Flex” reservations.

For partners using a channel manager or property management system to manage reservations, we’ll 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?

Check the upgraded cancellation policy in the reservation details page or your channel manager. We have customized info there to help you better understand how it works. For more info, 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 canceled, 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 canceled. You can find more info 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 traveler behavior to predict the type of trips that are less likely to get canceled. The Smart Flex Reservations program free cancellation options are only offered to customers who book these trips.

How does Booking.com find replacement guests?

Our replacement process will start when a Smart Flex reservation is canceled. To find replacement guests for Smart Flex reservations, we may use price incentives. However, this won’t affect the money you earn because any incentive will come from Booking.com’s commission.

We recommend not closing or restricting your availability while we look for replacement guests. If you do, 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’ll stop offering free cancellation to guests from the Smart Flex Reservations program. 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’ll stop offering free cancellation from the Smart Flex Reservations program to guests. However, we aren’t responsible for finding replacements 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 program, you can log in to the Extranet and click the “Opportunities” tab to reach the “Smart Flex Reservations program” page, where you’ll find further information about Smart Flex reservations.

What if I don’t want to join the Smart Flex Reservations program? 

We understand this program may not be the right fit for some of our partners. If you don’t want to be part of the Smart Flex Reservations program, follow the steps below:

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

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

Note: The Smart Flex Reservations program is designed to benefit both partners and guests. If we detect improper use of the program, or if properties don’t comply with our terms of service, we reserve the right to disable Smart Flex reservations.

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