After 4 months with Booking.com

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Bigbid's picture
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I thought I would post how my first 4 months using Booking.com have gone.  I have never used them before because the commission structure seemed to high but now it is reasonable (15%).  I use Reservation Key and the Booking.com reservations go through MyAllocator so they sync automatically without me touching them.  Since I am new to Booking.com, I have been listed last on our city page without any reviews so I was not expecting too much.  We are also in our slow season.  I have received 27 separate bookings for a total of 36 room nights.  After commissions,  I  received about $3,600 myself.  Not too bad for just starting out.  I assume it should generate a minimum of over 20k in my first year.

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Arks's picture
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As long as we're fussing about booking, why on earth in this day and age can they not handle getting a state name for US bookings! All they send is person's name, street, city and zip code. I always have to do a Google search on the zip to know where they're coming from.

Granted, not essential info, but I like to know for my records, and my curiosity.

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Madeleine's picture
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Arks wrote:

As long as we're fussing about booking, why on earth in this day and age can they not handle getting a state name for US bookings! All they send is person's name, street, city and zip code. I always have to do a Google search on the zip to know where they're coming from.

Granted, not essential info, but I like to know for my records, and my curiosity.

Bingo!

A lot of times it's easy if it's a recognizable city. With a zip code.

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gillumhouse's picture
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I think there is a Springfield in every State.

Madeleine's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

I think there is a Springfield in every State.

But a different zip code. You can narrow it down without looking them up.

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We were with b.com last year. After taking a good look at the bookings I realized that they only really booked in my high season when I do not need their help. Had a number of guests book with them confused thinking they were booking directly we me.   We parted our ways and this year is our best ever so far - as it turned out - we do not need them at all.

Arks's picture
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Just noticed I got my first review on booking. I was on there updating something and saw it. Apparently they don't send any e-mail notice when reviews come in.

I got a 10 on everything except location, where they gave a 7. I guess being 2 blocks from the US highway is just way inconvenient Eye-wink

Averaged out to a 9.8 so I cannot complain!

2cat_lady's picture
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Just read this thread. Posted before I joined. My two cents--

joined Booking.com end of August and got two reservations before I even got my sign up confirmation from Booking! I've only had one no show and of course no credit card info. Apparently, if you tried to reserve a room from their site, it let the customers reserve without providing credit info (?!) As this was a last minute reservation, couldn't verify with the guest, they wouldn't answer their phone and would go into a voicemail that hadn't been set up. When I call Booking, was told that I had to verbally opt out of this. Two calls to two different supervisors and they finally got it off their site. One other problem, depending on where someone located me on their site, I was only 40 km from the capital-- by air! Actual driving distance is 90 km. A bit of a difference. Ha! They said they have the web developers looking at this since I'm not the only person bringing this to their attention. Moral of the story: try to book your place a few different ways. Still, they've provided me with bookings that I normally wouldn't have had and they've filled the gap that I hope will be a little smaller now that I'll have Reservation Key up and running on my site soon. 

Arks's picture
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2cat_lady wrote:

...it let the customers reserve without providing credit info (?!)...

So far I've always gotten CC info. Maybe I found that and set it to require the info when I signed up. For once I got lucky!

When I get a reservation through booking, I don't see the cc info in booking, but it's displayed in MyAllocator. MyAllocator is a middleman that picks up my availability calendar and rates from ResKey and passes them on to booking.

Madeleine's picture
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2cat_lady wrote:

Just read this thread. Posted before I joined. My two cents--

joined Booking.com end of August and got two reservations before I even got my sign up confirmation from Booking! I've only had one no show and of course no credit card info. Apparently, if you tried to reserve a room from their site, it let the customers reserve without providing credit info (?!) As this was a last minute reservation, couldn't verify with the guest, they wouldn't answer their phone and would go into a voicemail that hadn't been set up. When I call Booking, was told that I had to verbally opt out of this. Two calls to two different supervisors and they finally got it off their site. One other problem, depending on where someone located me on their site, I was only 40 km from the capital-- by air!

That is a STUPID default. I think you can turn it off yourself, of course you have to KNOW they made that change in the first place. We got one rez like that and I told the guest I had to have her cc info before the rez could go thru. (She turned out to be a grumpy guest, maybe because I req'd the cc info!)

Then, like you, I called booking to find out why they allowed that. 'Oh, that's the last minute default...no cc info needed!' Got that fixed!

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You would THINK that you could turn it off yourself. They say you can in your settings, but I couldn't find that option in my settings. So I called, and customer service couldn't see it. They asked a supervisor and THEY couldn't do it. So two supervisor's said that the high ups would take it off. I needed two calls to take it off before it finally worked. You have to keep checking!! But I must admit, it was good when I was slow. I only had two bookings on my own going into September but they kept me working the whole month and even going into October and November.

Madeleine's picture
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2cat_lady wrote:

You would THINK that you could turn it off yourself. They say you can in your settings, but I couldn't find that option in my settings. So I called, and customer service couldn't see it. They asked a supervisor and THEY couldn't do it. So two supervisor's said that the high ups would take it off. I needed two calls to take it off before it finally worked. You have to keep checking!! But I must admit, it was good when I was slow. I only had two bookings on my own going into September but they kept me working the whole month and even going into October and November.

Go to: Property Info-My Settings

That's where the no cc needed info is set. Along with other setting you might want to change like allowing same day check-ins until midnight. No thank you!

If you don't see those options you have to call again and have them turn them on so you can change them. They may hem and haw and say you have to be a certain property type, blah, blah, blah.

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2cat_lady wrote:

You would THINK that you could turn it off yourself. They say you can in your settings, but I couldn't find that option in my settings.

FYI for anyone looking for this info:

Select the "Property Info" tab; 

Under the "Property Level" section on the left, select "My Settings"

then scroll down to the section titled 'Last-minute bookings without credit card details' 

Make sure all the check boxes are UNCHECKED

Then save at the bottom of the page.

2cat_lady's picture
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Okay, here's the thing. I don't have those detail on my page. Don't know if my version is different from others (Canadian), because when talking to Customer Service, they said the same thing until they actually pulled up my account on their screen and saw that it did not have those options. Why? Good question.

Madeleine's picture
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2cat_lady wrote:

Okay, here's the thing. I don't have those detail on my page. Don't know if my version is different from others (Canadian), because when talking to Customer Service, they said the same thing until they actually pulled up my account on their screen and saw that it did not have those options. Why? Good question.

Yup. I had the same issues. The tech on the phone kept acting like I was stupid when I said I didn't have the options. Eventually, they figured out how to give me the options. That's why you have to call back. Get another tech. Keep calling. Eventually you will get one who says, 'Oh, yeah, I just have to turn that on for you, no problem. We usually only allow that for x type properties.'

Their turnover is so high that no one knows what's going on. I've had 10 different acct reps in 18 months. Now they don't even bother telling me the rep has changed because you can't contact them any other way than email thru your account page. You can call, but you never know who will answer.

Madeleine's picture
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We did very well with them in September also. I require 2 night mins in the summer months or they'd be here for one night every night. Taking up space that direct bookings will fill with 3-4 nighters.

Right now we're getting nothing from them. And they keep hassling me to list rooms for a year in advance. I don't even know what next year's prices are yet! I don't get around to this until January.

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Maddie, give them a month or 2 and they will be off your back.  If you change your rates you can easily go in and update. 

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Copperhead wrote:

Maddie, give them a month or 2 and they will be off your back.  If you change your rates you can easily go in and update. 

I know, but I'm not sure about my vacation so I don't want to make a mistake and have to take someone because I forgot to block the dates!

Plus, if I add the dates, I then have to call and have someone blank the whole calendar out while I'm away because I still can't use booking on any device I own other than my laptop, which I don't bring on vacation. Another problem, for another day. Eye-wink

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you can you just have to go through the authorisation process on more than one device ie we have it on 2 laptops and an ipad.

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Madeleine's picture
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Joey Camb wrote:

you can you just have to go through the authorisation process on more than one device ie we have it on 2 laptops and an ipad.

It's not authorizing that doesn't work. Once I'm logged in I can't make any changes.

Ex - a date sells out from direct reservations. I can't go in and block that date from the booking site. I have to call them to do it. I can't change prices. All I can do is look at the chart.

Arks's picture
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My Booking listing finally went live today. It took a week for me to find time to get it all working between ResKey, my-allocator, and Booking, but it's finally picking my ResKey availability calendar up and showing it on Booking.

They say it's a 2-way connection so if someone books via the Booking website, ResKey will remove that room from inventory automatically. Hope so!!

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Arks wrote:

My Booking listing finally went live today. It took a week for me to find time to get it all working between ResKey, my-allocator, and Booking, but it's finally picking my ResKey availability calendar up and showing it on Booking.

They say it's a 2-way connection so if someone books via the Booking website, ResKey will remove that room from inventory automatically. Hope so!!

I suggest you make a booking to yourself, then cancel it. This will ensure it all works fine. But mostly, it will help you better understand how Booking is taking care of your customers and making sure all terms are fine.

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Arks's picture
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I did select dates and carry a booking almost to the end, and did find a problem I have contacted them to fix (see below). Doing a booking then cancelling is a great idea.

The problem: I noticed they had my room description set to:

Maximum People: 2
Maximum Children: 0

But I allow up to 4 people, and I DO allow children. So I contacted them and had them set the description to maximum of 4, with maximum children at 3, since I require 1 adult but the other three could be children.

When I ran an experimental booking, it came up with this in the room description, using icons to indicate big people and little people:

Maximum: 4 adults + 3 children

Occupancy of 7!! So I've contacted them again to set maximum 4 and no children, so the description will come out right.

Also, my policy is that the room rate covers up to 2 people, but it's $10 per person per night extra for 3rd and 4th guests in the room. But Booking shows this in my property description:

Free! Up to two children under 2 years stay free of charge when using existing beds.
Any additional older children or adults are charged USD 10 per person per night when using existing beds.

So that's a bit confusing. I guess they are saying 2 children under age 2 could pile into the king size bed with their parents for free, but if they are older and would require opening the sofa bed, that would cost extra. I suppose this is OK with me, but unexpected. It's not something they told me about.

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I saw this from John Rezkey moments ago.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

I saw this from John Rezkey moments ago.

yes   Don't completely understand what he's talking about, but so glad that HE does!

Madeleine's picture
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You can get that fixed. Tell them there is a charge regardless of age.

We had to set it to 2 adults. But I only put the rooms as occ of 2. 

It takes awhile to tweak it.

Madeleine's picture
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Just had a cancellation from booking for this weekend. The guest called me. I explained she needed to contact booking so they could let me know. 'If I call them I have to pay a fee, I thought you could just cancel it for me so I don't have to pay them.'

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you feel like saying and who do you think the fee is paid to?

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Sometimes you just have to laugh or you'll cry! 

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copperhead wrote:

Sometimes you just have to laugh or you'll cry! 

This is one good thing about booking...I don't have to take the crap, they do.

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Arks, I would just have them remove the 2 and under info.  It is confusing if you are saying 0 children. 
What they mean by existing beds are the beds (including sofa bed) which currently exist in the room.  No additional cot or baby bed that would need to be added to the room.  - That was the answer I got when I asked.

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That's a great idea! I've been on booking for over a year, but you know, that had never occurred to me.  I should have done that when I started.

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I got scared off again. Not listing now.

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If you, for instance, wished to use a similar name on booking.com but not the same name as all your thousands of blog articles and online marketing, what would you suggest, for er us, for example...?

 

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

If you, for instance, wished to use a similar name on booking.com but not the same name as all your thousands of blog articles and online marketing, what would you suggest, for er us, for example...?

 

Name of your town + B&B

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Madeleine wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

If you, for instance, wished to use a similar name on booking.com but not the same name as all your thousands of blog articles and online marketing, what would you suggest, for er us, for example...?

 

Name of your town + B&B

TOWN NAME first you recommend? Email me if you can. 

Madeleine's picture
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Sorry, my email program is giving me fits. Yes, town name and then b&b.

China grove b&b

Or, town, state + b&b. China grove, tx b&b

Or, maybe even the music road + b&b. Yes, I like that better. I would go to Google to see what search terms really produce and use that.

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Here is the quote from the email I just received:

We ask for your cooperation and flexibility in waiving any no-show or penalty charges associated with reservations between February 13th and February 17th.

Please be advised that if:

The fee for cancelling the reservation is waived in full, Booking.com will not charge commission.

The fee for cancelling the reservation is partially waived, Booking.com will modify the commission accordingly if you make an exception for this guest.

Humm  Now I need to go back and look at our contract.  I was unaware they could change their policies on us.  Their regular policy is that if a customer cancels within your cancel period and must pay fee, booking.com does not charge the property a commission on that fee. 

Arks, you are correct. The customer is THEIR customer and must cancel through booking.com.  This is for OUR good though as it assures we will not be charged commission.

 

Madeleine's picture
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Yup, same one I got.

Arks's picture
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In the setup of My-Allocator to pass ResKey data to Booking, I noticed the following...

Here you can enter a specific rate difference for BookingDOTcom. For example, if this channel charges 5% more fees than other channels you can set "+ (%)" in the dropdown list and "5.00" in the text field. Upon update our system will automatically add 5% to the room's rate when uploading the availability.

Can you do this? Can you raise the rates displayed at Booking to offset their commission? Or is that a violation of the rules?

Madeleine's picture
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The way I understood it, you can't make the rates on booking higher than your rack rate on your own site.

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I have not seen US contracts, but I suppose that the rate parity clause of your contract should include exeptions.

In France, rate parity will fall if your website have different cancelation policies, different arrival times, packaged offer (breakfast included), hotel card members, ...

I feel it is important to have a better offer direct (prices, terms, ...) so that visitors will learn that they should always check official website. Should you offer same or cheaper prices on Booking, guests will find easier to book through them.

Regarding guests "ownership", remember it for when you will sell your business. If guests are yours, you can sell them. If they are Booking's, you cannot. Hotel owners in France, trying to sell their business and take retirement money, found most of the value of their goodwill gone as bank of buyers could not be convinced it was part of the purchase...

Madeleine's picture
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When I set up rates for this year (sometime last year) I had no idea what my rates would be for this year so I picked a number. as it turns out that number is higher than what I am charging directly. NO ONE has checked to see if they could have gotten better rates with me because booking clearly states, everywhere, that they offer the lowest prices on the web.

So, the appearance is that I am making more with these reservations than if they did book directly. (Of course that's not true because of the commission!)

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Madeleine wrote:

When I set up rates for this year (sometime last year) I had no idea what my rates would be for this year so I picked a number. as it turns out that number is higher than what I am charging directly. NO ONE has checked to see if they could have gotten better rates with me because booking clearly states, everywhere, that they offer the lowest prices on the web.

So, the appearance is that I am making more with these reservations than if they did book directly. (Of course that's not true because of the commission!)

I suppose you are not following your contract with them and they might give you a call some day. But, in view of the situation here in Europe, with widespread discussions about the legality of the parity clause, I suppose Booking prefers to keep quiet on this issue. At least on this side of the Atlantic.

Still, you'd better get back to following your contract and find legal ways to turn this point around. I suppose your contract may allow it. May be just change arrival time, or free cancellation period.

Yes, Booking is pushing the limits when saying "lowest prices" and "no commission". Seems law keeps quiet on this point. It is a clever and very competitive company. They try to use all the legal tricks to get commissions from your guests. It is our job to understand how they operate and keep control of our business. This is not a dreamers' job anymore.sad

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-

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Madeleine wrote:

The way I understood it, you can't make the rates on booking higher than your rack rate on your own site.

Correct.
This is true with most of the biggie sites, but some others allow you to increase the rate.  Maybe that is why it was added to the program.

Madeleine's picture
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Just received an email from booking saying if we do not let guests cancel without penalty over the next 3 days, they will be charging a commission.

Seriously? Since when do they get to decide who can cancel or not?

This is due to the snow, btw.

Arks's picture
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Madeleine wrote:

Just received an email from booking saying if we do not let guests cancel without penalty over the next 3 days, they will be charging a commission.

Seriously? Since when do they get to decide who can cancel or not?

This is due to the snow, btw.

I was on the phone just this morning with booking, setting up my account, and I remember her saying that if someone wants to cancel, I need to refer them to booking because the reservation is not mine to cancel, it's theirs. So I guess they make the rules!

Madeleine's picture
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Arks wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Just received an email from booking saying if we do not let guests cancel without penalty over the next 3 days, they will be charging a commission.

Seriously? Since when do they get to decide who can cancel or not?

This is due to the snow, btw.

I was on the phone just this morning with booking, setting up my account, and I remember her saying that if someone wants to cancel, I need to refer them to booking because the reservation is not mine to cancel, it's theirs. So I guess they make the rules!

But the 'rules' are that you make the rules! They are saying we (WE, not THEM) should be generous due to the storm. Yes, make sure the guest cancels the reservation with booking, not you.

Madeleine's picture
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Just had a 3 night rez come in directly from someone who used booking last summer and who gave us a wonderful review.

Sweet!

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Thank you souslechene

I am reading your words carefully.

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