I want to share my terrible experience and warn other hosts from using Booking.com for renting your property.
I host people through Airbnb in multiple listings for quite some time already and because of low demand in Winter I decided to try also Booking.com as a host to fill up the properties a bit.
Besides the fact that the whole backend is really weird, non intuitive and confusing, I was supposed to host a second guest today, a couple from Belarus. I enabled the imported calendar on Booking.com so when there’s a reservation at Airbnb the dates get automatically blocked at Booking and vice versa. So for this couple the dates at Airbnb were of course blocked as well (4 nights).
I set up the reservations at Booking as non-refundable which means the guest can’t cancel it. However I can’t process credit cards so the guests pay only after arrival in cash. The other option is to request payment before arrival via bank transfer but this is rather complicated, involves high international bank fees and noone really wants to do this. I decided I will believe the people and accept cash on arrival. So there is actually no guarantee and no payment in case the guest simply doesn’t show up.
And exactly this of course happened. I tried to contact the guest 7 days before arrival about the arrival time and deposit. I tried email 3 times, then SMS and then called. No reply at all. Yesterday night I realized it is almost obvious that the guest isn’t coming and contacted Booking.com support and requested to cancel the reservation in naive hope another reservation will show up in last minute either on booking or Airbnb.
What the support (located in Singapore btw, I am from Europe) told me is that they CAN NOT cancel the reservation because I didn’t request the deposit, I requested only details about arrival time in the email discussion and that the only thing I can do is to wait until midnight of the day of arrival and only then contact them to mark the reservation as “no show”. I of course tried to call/SMS the guest about deposit but to no reply. Also, when they didn’t share the arrival time, it was obvious they can’t come (there is no reception so they have to meet me to get in).
They did this also in very rude, uninterested way.The only effect this will have is that I will not have to pay comission on this reservation to booking (lol). Noone at Booking.com cares about 4 nights completely wasted and noone cares about €XXX in lost revenue. And of course tons of time spent trying to contact the guest and their always occupied support.
To sum it up, there is absolutely no guarantee if you use Booking.com as a host that the guest will show up and he risks absolutely nothing by doing so, because you do not have his payment details. The company doesn’t care at all. Only solution is to waste lot of time and money with international bank transfers and deposits, which will put off majority of people anyway.
My recommendation is to stay far away from booking.com. It may bring you more reservations than Airbnb as it is more popular, but it will almost certainly also bring you more headeache and problems.