Be very careful what you wish for . I have never heard of an OTA taking a deposit, but who knows, maybe some off the wall OTA does. I have 99% solved my Invalid CC Problem.
1. I changed my Free Cancellation period to 2 days before checkin.
From May 25 - SEPT 30 OUR FREE cancellation period is 7 days before checkin.
2 When I get a new reservation, if the reservation is for a night further out than the free cancelation period, I pre-authorize the CC for $1.00. Just to make sure it is valid.
3. Once the Free Cancellation period has ended or for new reservations for the same day or for a day for which there is no free cancellation period left, I pre-authorize the card for the full amount.
4 If I get an Invalid CC, I find out immediately. I place a call to the guest, leave a message if necessary and depending on when the reservation is for, I give them a max. of 24 hours to call me with a new card. If the reservation is for the same day, I call the guest and give them 1 hour to call me back with a new card. If I don't hear from them, I cancel the reservation unless I have a lot of that room type left. The only time I will cancel the reservation is if I have none of the room type left.
If for example, I have 3 of that type left. Someone books one for the same day, I find out the CC is invalid. I will call or email the guest. I will then hold that reservation until 2 of my remaining 3 book, then I will call the invalid CC reservation one final time. If no answer, I cancel the reservation and leave a message that I have done so. I tell the guest, if they receive my message, to call with a valid CC and if the room is still available, I will rebook it for them at that time.
I use a cloud based Property Management System by name of Openhotel. (openhotel.com).
I don't recall exactly, but is is like $5.00/room/month. I have been with them for 6 years with very few complaints. I think they connect to airbnb, not sure.
Actually, BC changed their policy recently, about 6 mos. ago. Now,, when a guest is reported as a
"No Show", BC asked if the property charged a 1 night Penalty. If you check yes, then BC charges a commission on that 1 night.
Dann, Have you noticed any decrease in Booking since instituting a 50% deposit and where or how do you let bookers know there is a 50% upfront deposit?
Marie Van R
In the Booking.com extranet there is a tab called Policies. There you can require and address. If you don't purposely request, BC wont require it. The bigger problem with no address is that Visa & Mastercard both use a system to verify that a Charge is Valid. It is called the AVS or Address Verification System. It uses the Numerical portion of the address and the Zip Code along with the CC number to verify the charge was authorized. If a guest files a dispute for any reason and there is no address, you loose the dispute.
In the information provided by BC as to "What has changed", #1 states:
24 hours is way to long. While it is possible that a guest made a simple mistake when entering CC details, it is not the hotels fault the guest wasn't more careful. I read the suggestions about taking 25 - 30% at time of booking and or making all reservations Non Refundable and charging up front, but with so much competition not doing that, I see it as a good way to loose bookings. So, I have begun pre-authorizing the credit card on every new reservation for the full amount. If the comes back as authorized, I immediately void the Pre Authorization. If the card fails or comes back as Invalid, I immediately attempt to Notify the guest by phone and or email. If the reservation is for the same day, I give the guest one hour to call the hotel and provide a valid CC. If the reservation is for 24 or more hours in the future, I give them until 0900 the day after I call or email to call the hotel. I tell them by phone and email that if I don't hear from them in the specified time, the reservation will be cancelled and that they are welcome to rebook if they wish and with a valid card if there are still rooms available. There is a real simple fix to all these problems and it all falls on BC. BC says they read our comments and make modifications to their way of doing things, but the changes they list at the top of this post don't address a any of the comments we have all made. The simple fix to this and other problems like no shows is for BC to put a large font statement and a Check Box right over top of the Submit button. The statement should read, "Please check the box to signify that you have reviewed your reservation, it is correct and that you are aware of the hotel policies. By clicking submit, you assure that you have entered a Valid Credit Card and that the Hotel will pre authorize the entire amount shortly after they receive the reservation. Debit Card holders should be aware that your issuing bank may hold the pre-authorized amount for up to 3 weeks before releasing use of the funds. If the Authorization fails for any reason, you will be contacted by email by the hotel and you will have 2 hours to provide a new card to hold your reservation or the reservation may be immediately cancelled by the hotel. You are then welcome to re-book if rooms are still available".
Guess what, I bet there will be considerably less problems.
The only problem I have with NR bookings is I have found that most guests aren't aware they made a Non Refundable Reservation until they call you all angry that you charged their card. They say they didn't know it was Non Refundable and if you don't refund the money they file a dispute which you will loose. Here is why:, VISA RULES require a web site to show the details of the reservation with a check box for the guest to check off signifying that they have read and completely understand what they are getting. I have never found an OTA with any sort of check box. In fact, the site who's forum this is, doesn't make your cancellation policy all that easy to find. In the US, Booking.com has a ? Icon next to the room type. The only way a guest knows your cancellation policy is if they just happen to click the ?.
In 5 years, I don't think I have had a single guest who bothered to read their confirmation email which of course is the other place they can see what they booked and see the cancel policy. ON NRs, I always send my own e-mail to the guest, "Thank you for your Non Refundable reservation on XX/XX/XX. If a NR reservation was not your intention, please let me know by return e-mail with in 72 hours, after which we will charge the full amount of the reservation to the card on file.
About 1/2 to 2/3 respond that they had no idea it was a NR IN which case I let them cancel.
OFF the guests who don't see my email, 1/2 of them will call the OTA when they see the charge on their CC and ask the OTA to intervene with the hotel and allow them to cancel and get a refund. Then you get a phone call from the OTA and a rep. that barely speaks your language asking you to refund the money and allow as they say "Our Mutual Guest" to cancel. If you say no, they make you out to be a bad boy. I know because I reserved a NR room at my own hotel in my own name. Then I charged my own CC. Then I called the OTA and asked them to help me get my money back. The ota called the hotel and guess who they spoke to while I held on - on my cell phone. The rep came back on the line and thinking she was talking to a "Mutual Guest" began berating the owner of the hotel which of course was me.