The title says it all! Today we’ll be discussing the cancellation policies for direct bookings versus Booking.com.
NB: This is an article from Experience Hotel
With the current situation, this subject is taking on even more importance since, every day, many travelers are forced to cancel their bookings due to the global health crisis.
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To provide a complementary and expert perspective, I called upon the knowledge and experience of Julie Palisse to co-write this article. A specialist in the hospitality industry since 1998, and founder of JPS Hotel Solution, Julie has collaborated with more than 150 hotels and brings us her relevant operational expertise.
The choice of this subject is particularly close to my heart and stems from the observations I’ve made in my own business. The pandemic has led to a collective belt-tightening and attracting new customers has become very difficult. This harsh reality begs the question, “If we can’t acquire new customers, how can we retain existing ones?”
What is the cancellation policy for Booking.com?
Currently, if you want to make a hotel reservation on Booking.com, the cancellation details presented on their site seem quite clear:
“For bookings made on or after April 6, 2020, we advise you to consider the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated government measures. If you do not book a flexible rate, you may not be entitled to a refund. Your cancellation request will be handled by the property based on your selected policy and consumer law, where applicable. During these times of uncertainty, we recommend booking an option with free cancellation. If your travel plans change, you can cancel free of charge until the free cancellation expires.“
In other words, if the hotel does not offer a flexible cancellation policy, Booking.com will not be able to offer a flexible cancellation policy, and a cancellation fee will be charged. Therefore, to benefit from some flexible, you must book a hotel with a free cancellation option.
However, the rules applied between March and December 2020 were not clear-cut and gave rise to many issues.
Can Booking.com impose its own cancellations policy on hotels?
Julie, who works with many hotels, explains that, from the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, Booking.com and other OTAs, such as Expedia and Agoda, decided to modify the general conditions of sale, without consulting hoteliers. Reservations, including “non-cancellable” and “non-refundable” reservations, could now be refunded, without charge, upon the customer’s’ request.