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Smart Flex reservations: FAQs

Updated 1 month 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.


In this article

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?


 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • You can check the cancellation policy of a Smart Flex reservation on the Extranet’s Reservations page. Click the booking number of the Smart Flex reservation you’re interested in, then scroll down to the Policies section.

  • 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.

  • First we’ll try to resell all 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 look 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 compensate you based on your original cancellation policy.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • If a guest cancels within your own original free cancellation policy period, then the extra free cancellation period offered by the Smart Flex Reservations program 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.

  • In most cases, Smart Flex finds guests who don’t cancel their reservations, and in these instances, no action is necessary. However, if a Smart Flex reservation is canceled, you must ensure that the reservation remains open and bookable with no restrictions in place, such as minimum length of stay. This helps us increase our chances of finding a replacement guest. If these actions aren’t performed and we aren’t able to find a replacement guest because of these limitations, we won’t be able to compensate you for the reservation.

    Find clear instructions on managing Smart Flex reservations here (Section 2).

  • 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 the replacement guest only books a portion of the canceled nights, 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.

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

  • 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.

  • When a guest cancels their reservation during the Smart Flex free cancellation period, you'll need to keep the reservation open and bookable with no restrictions. If you've done this and we’re still unable to find a replacement guest, we’ll compensate you based on the original cancellation policy you set. 

    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 view the VCC details on the Extranet’s Reservation details page or in your channel manager or property management system.

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

  • Charge the VCC for a Smart Flex reservation the same way as for other bookings. To find out how to charge a VCC, take a look at this article.

  • You should validate each guest’s credit card as usual when the cancellation period expires. If it’s invalid, report it as soon as possible. 

    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, cancel the reservation and mark it as invalid. If these actions aren’t performed within 48 hours, you might run the risk of partial or no replacement. To find out more about marking credit cards as invalid, take a look at this article.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. Any restrictions such as minimum length of stay must be removed to increase the chance of finding a replacement guest. 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—even if the rooms are open and bookable with no restrictions in place—we’ll compensate you based on the original cancellation policy you set.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Smart Flex 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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