Smart Flex reservations: FAQs

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

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


Table of contents

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

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

Section 3: How does payment work?

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

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


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

 

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 determine when to offer a flexible cancellation policy and who to offer it to. That way you have the best chances of getting a booking that’s less likely to be canceled. As a result, it’s possible that you won’t begin receiving Smart Flex reservations right after you opt in to the program.

Every time you get a Smart Flex reservation, you can find it by looking for the Smart Flex tag on the Extranet’s Reservations page or 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 info can I find on the Extranet when I get 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 info on 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 receive Smart Flex reservations, check the updated details on the Extranet’s Reservation details page 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 Extranet’s Reservations page. 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 program?

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 canceled nights at once. If a new guest only books some of those canceled 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 to make your property more attractive and encourage travelers 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 a replacement guest, we’ll take over the payment obligation.

How will I know if you find a replacement guest?

Once we find a replacement guest, you’ll see the 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. On the Extranet, you’ll be able to see the updated reservation number on the Reservation details page of the canceled Smart Flex reservation. If you use a channel manager or property management system, you’ll be able to see the same info in the comments and remarks area.

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

If the canceled 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 info 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, we’ll stop offering free cancellations 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 a replacement for an 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 extended cancellation period, they’re responsible for the cancellation as normal. You should follow the same process as when a guest cancels a regular 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. If it’s invalid, report it 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 Smart Flex Reservations doesn’t apply. The cancellation is treated the same as any other cancellation you might get, the same process applies as your normal bookings, and Booking.com doesn’t have any responsibility to look for a replacement.

Why is it recommended to keep my 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 canceled nights at once. If a new guest only books some of those canceled 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 bank transfer, the process works as normal. You can see the payment details on the Extranet’s Reservation details page.

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 normally would. If it’s invalid, report it as soon as possible. Then we’ll start searching for a replacement guest again.

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

Where can I see payment details for Smart Flex reservations?

You can see the payment info for Smart Flex reservations on the Extranet’s Reservation details page. In the Smart Flex rooms summary section, you can find who to charge for the reservation and when.

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

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

If you normally receive payments by bank transfer, we’ll send this payment as a bank transfer. You’ll receive the payment according to your usual payout schedule.

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

You charge the VCC for a Smart Flex reservation the same as you do for other bookings. To find out 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, report it 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 program 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 do 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 usual. All of these messages will contain the words Smart Flex Reservation so you can easily recognize them.

To make sure you always see the full details of each booking, we also recommend regularly checking the Extranet’s Reservations page.

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 of your channel manager or PMS.

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

If we can’t find 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, we’ll send you a modification message to check and validate the credit card details once the Smart Flex cancellation period ends.

If you collect payments using virtual credit cards or 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 the same way as 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 program?

 

How do I join the Smart Flex Reservations program?

To opt in to the program, log in to the Extranet, click Opportunities, then Smart Flex Reservations program.

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

How do I leave the Smart Flex Reservations program?

We understand this program 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 program temporarily, you can opt out for up to three months. After your temporary opt-out period expires, we’ll re-enroll you in the program automatically.

If you want to stop using Risk-Free Reservations for longer than three months, you can opt out indefinitely.

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

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

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