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Hmmm, this is one for them then, and you'll keep getting all the usual useless responses to messages with no consideration for the urgency. Have you tried phoning instead of messaging? At least you can demolish the cut-and-paste dismissals as you go, and maybe get transferred to somebody "live" who might have a better idea than the badly-trained call centre fodder.
I've seen this message when sending messages to guests and there it seems to be to do with "timing out". When composing a long message, I find it's worth composing it in Word, then cutting and pasting it in. Could the problem you are having to do with "timing out"?
But a word of warning:
If your guest is already in the non-refundable period, don't agree to a change of date that takes them out of it if they are not prepared to make it a non-refundable transfer. They can use it as a way to get their money refunded immediately afterwards, which is sneaky.
I use the the prepayment option with my OBA taking payment on Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb, plus my own site. I price my rooms competitively but to take account of the charges of each, so can make my own website prices proportionately cheaper. I recently made weekends and Bank Hols non-refundable, introduced a strict 30 day non-refundable weekday rule and removed the grace period completely. I'm considering restricting weekend bookings a minimum of two days. I don't give refunds for cancellations unless a replacement guest can be found by the OBA responsible, and I charge the full amount for no-shows. Sound too tough? Well, I know it's been an exceptionally busy year, but I've not seen any reduction in business and I have benefitted considerably, because I occasionally get paid twice for a room that may still remain empty that night. I find guests have responded by using the Risk-Free option, which means we are all happy - except possibly Booking.com, lol, because they sometimes have to foot the bill. I never accept cash bookings and don't advertise street-side as I'm located in the countryside away from passing trade. I don't use a business bank account, so can't have an expensive card system. Instead I accept BACCS, Paypal or cheques for my direct reservations. Old fashioned? Yeah, but it saves money and works fine.
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???