Everything was trial and error, and googling the hell out of the internet. When I listed almost 3 years ago, there were only two houses listed in the state of NC. And my account manager was absolutely clueless. He was learning along with me.
The system does not currently work for me. Actually I only started using it again to fill in last minute dates. When I first started I didn't really care if someone booked short stays, broke up my weekends, etc. I was just trying to get bookings. So it worked for me the first year. But now my goal is to maximize profit and set 4 night restrictions during peak season, 7 night restrictions on Christmas and New Year's, etc. I don't even know how to use the site to do all of these things. I have called so many times to ask reps and they don't even understand it all. It's possible they know now due to so many more homes listed. Plus, I believe I am still on the old extranet. I have heard the newer version is much more user friendly. But I don't even have the patience to try to learn right now.
Travelers who use booking.com A LOT are used to booking hotels just to put a hold on a room while they continue to look for something better. That is why they don't read all the fine print sometimes. And it doesn't help that Booking.com does not have a complete breakdown (including damage deposit) all in the same area on the confirmation. The damage deposit is listed off in the fine print section. They don't apply tax to your cleaning fee...so you have to build the lodging tax into the cleaning fee.
I have had a couple of guests book who were completely unresponsive after I made contact. One time the reservation text did not go through to my phone (like it normally does). It wasn't until after 4 p.m. when I checked the email on my computer that I learned I had a same day reservation. I about shit in my pants. My partner and I went over and frantically began cleaning...thankfully the place was already partially cleaned. We finished around 7:30 and were panting, dripping in sweat, etc. It was awful. Any minute I expected someone to pull up as I'm tripping over my own feet running up and down the stairs. At first someone with a thick Hispanic accent answered the phone and then hung up after I said I was calling about the reservation. The name on the reservation was Hispanic, so I know I had the right person. Then messages went to voicemail. I was so pissed later.
Well eventually I discovered that my listing miraculously switched to "no credit card required for last minute bookings." So basically this guy just reserved for the heck of it. Didn't have the decency to say they changed their minds...ignoring my phone calls. So I waited until the middle of the night to call (just to wake his ass up). He did answer...guess he must of thought it was an emergency - then he hung up on me....lol..
As far as being stuck with someone....Booking.com will tell you that you are except if guest is planning to violate policies such as bringing over the max, or bringing a pet to a no pet home. I did ask once if someone booked and said they were planning a bachelor party if I could cancel (even if guest was within max). The rep. said I couldn't but I could only discourage the guest from booking. Well forget that. I later learned you can do a trick by marking the credit card as invalid. But like the others have mentioned...it will still block your calendar for a time period and then guest still has so many times to resubmit another one.
I recently reduced my occupancy from 6 to 4 on their site. I just don't want to deal with the hassle of calling the guest and they have over 6 guests, asking them to cancel blah blah blah. People on booking.com really have a hotel mentality. Don't get me wrong...I have had some wonderful guests from that site. But some feel like they are doing business with Booking.com versus you.