Booking has recently rolled out some new features that we were automatically enrolled in. Your hostel might have been automatically enrolled as well.
1) Cancellation Grace Period – you agree not to charge guests for cancelations made within 24 hours of making the booking. Booking already encourages everyone to reserve now and cancel later, so this would encourage people to go ahead and hold a place in your hostel, even if they’re not sure they want it.
Here is the email we received to explain this new service:
We know that cancellations generate a lot of extra work for you – so what if you could cut out a quarter of the hassle?
Around 25% of all cancellations happen within 24 hours of guests booking – often because the guest simply made a mistake. From now on, we’ll be trying out a new way of working, where fees for all cancellations made within this period will be automatically waived (except for bookings made within 48 hours of check-in). No need to wait for our call, no need to sign into the extranet.
We’ve noticed that you usually accept these quick cancellations, so the only effect that this should have will be a reduction of your admin – leaving you more time to simply run your business.
If you’d like more information on this new way of working, click here. Or, if you’d prefer to keep things the way they are, you can opt out with the link below.
Your Booking .com Team”
[bold text added by me, not emphasized by Booking]
2) Allowing guests to pay online - Booking can now collect money directly from guests and issue a virtual credit card to the hostel for payment.
Other OTAs have used this type of payment, and Booking seems to be catching up. The total amount for the stay will be charged to the guest in advance, and you can receive your payment by charging that amount to the virtual card. This eliminates the problem of expired cards or insufficient funds.
From the Policies page in the Booking extranet:
“When a guest makes a booking and is being charged on your behalf, you'll receive a virtual credit card from an external payment provider along with the booking details. This card gives you access to the exact amount, and you can charge it according to the charge date. Paid online will show in the Status column on the Extranet’s Reservations page, showing that the guest has been charged on your behalf.”
The commissions to Booking will be paid as normal. If a guest needs an invoice, that will be up to you to provide.
Not all reservations will be processed this way. It will be up to each guest how they want the payment process to go, meaning that you will have to pay particular attention to the payment status for each reservation. This is sure to cause confusion at first until hostels become aware that they have bene enrolled in the program. You may very well be the one in the wrong if you tell guests that payments are made upon arrival and not in advance, as was previously the standard practice.
Since this feature brings a complete change to the payment process for some of your bookings, you will probably want to check your policies and also make sure that you get a list of the reservations that need to be charged to Booking instead of to the guest.
If you are not interested in either of these features, you will probably have to opt-out by visiting the Policies page in Booking’s extranet and deactivating the service.