What is the “Risk-Free Reservations” program?
According to Booking.com, this is how this program works: “If a guest books this flexible option but later decides to cancel, we’ll try to find a new guest to replace them. If we can’t find one, we’ll cover the full cost of the reservation ourselves.”
What is the “Ask for a replacement guest” feature?
According to Booking.com, this is how this feature works: “When your guest cancels, we hold the room and promote it to other guests … If we can’t find a replacement guest within 24 hours, we cancel the reservation and release the room.”
Why can both features cause overbookings?
If the original booking just involves one unit (under the “Risk-Free Reservations” program), the replacement booking will come in as a modification of the booking and will not cause any problems.
If, however, the original booking involves several units, the replacement booking will not come as a modification of the booking, but as a new booking. In addition, Booking.com does not send us the cancellation when it actually happens but only once they have found a replacement guest. The same goes for any bookings under the “Replacement” feature.
This means that for Sirvoy the room is marked “not available” while Booking.com is looking for a replacement. When Booking.com finds a replacement, the cancellation and the new (replacement) booking are sent to us in the same update. But because the room was supposedly “not available” up until this moment, the new replacement booking will appear as an overbooking.
What can you do?
In most cases, you will simply be able to assign the new replacement booking to the now empty room of the original booking and mark the overbooking as resolved. It’s important that you do so as soon as possible for these apparent overbookings not to cause real overbookings.
Or, if you want to, you can deactivate both features in your Booking.com account. This will have the disadvantage that Booking.com will not look for a replacement or pay you for a cancellation (in the “Risk-free Reservations” program). But it will have the advantage that the room will be available on all other channels and on your website immediately after the cancellation.