Host experiences with Booking.com

I know this has been discussed in the past but would like more recent feedback on this subject.
We recently listed with booking.com only because we are still nervous after our experience with Airbnb last year when the cancelled our bookings and blamed it on a computer glitch but were very slow to sort out the mess. Apparently this happened to many other hosts around the world also, so we hate to rely on one source for our business. On signing up with booking we were surprised that we were not allowed to write a description but insead had to check a series of yes/no type boxes many of which were inappropriate. Within 2 weeks we received our first booking which about a week later was cancelled. We just had another one for 3 days but cannot see how we are meant to get paid as it seems that they will pay on arrival by credit card which costs us about 4%. What if they just do not turn up, then we have lost the rental opportunity, and our season is only 3 months. Should we contact them now and send them an invoice asking for credit card payment?
Have to admit that Airbnb does have advantages, particularly when it comes to description and payment. Our description is aimed at the type of guest who would be happiest with what we offer. If we were aiming for overnight-er stopping off the freeway on their way to a destination, then Booking might be the way to go.
Bottom line is what are the best alternatives from hosts’ viewpoint to Airbnb

Some platforms will always suit some hosts more than they do others. So you’ve done the right thing to ask about other experiences so that you can compare them all.

I only use Airbnb and take a lot of private bookings so I can’t tell you how it compares but as far as I know it is the industry leader, it gets a lot of publicity (good and not so good) and it has become almost the generic name for STR ( as Kleenex is for tissues). Plus it’s easy to use and only takes any commission when a sale is made.

Many hosts here use several different platforms so there’s no need to just use one.

With such a short season, you might want to devote some time to generating your own leads and getting clients without the use of any of the platforms though. You might find that you can get guests out-of-season more easily by offering direct bookings on your own website. It’s pretty easy to do.

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Sounds a bit strange that you signed up to an OTA and didn’t pay any attention to the most important aspect, i.e. how you get paid.

BDC is our main provider of guests and so far, other than the odd minor issue we’ve no complaints. Far superior platform and CS compared to Airbnb.

Here is a good place to start:

https://partner.booking.com/en-gb/search?search=Getting%20paid&f[0]=stream%3Ahelp_article

JF

Reservation page shows “Guest has not paid” also “no credit card available” This info obviously only shows up when a reservation is made and is not made clear when signing up as an host. At that point it was my understanding that Booking receives the credit card info and provides the host with a virtual cc one day after guest checks in.

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Booking.com is a dreadful platform. I hear you about the yes/no boxes, I was so infuriated by the incessant avalanche of irrelevant yes/no questions. (Do you have a gym? Do you have an egg beater? Is there an umbrella available for guest use? )

The WORST thing about Booking.com is the platform will not advise you of a booking on your mobile phone. I used to have a dumb phone and expected a text message to arrive and it didn’t. Guest arrived at my house and phone me, “where are you?” I was in the South Island and my place is in the North. the guest got himself sorted, was good about it, and I told Booking.com to stick it.

Nonsense, absolute nonsense.

You’re blaming BDC because you didn’t configure your notification settings correctly.

As to the rest of your little rant…

Eesch, some people.

JF

My experience with Booking was quite a few years ago , and barely lasted 2 month
but I doubt the company mentality changed much . It’s ubber type operation , cunning
and aggressive , and hosts are just beaches for them. Airbnb is a league above them in
STR and is a model of honesty compared with these scammers.
I got a 2 week booking immediately after I’ve signed up , my whole season is only10 weeks, only to be cancelled later. I do not believe it was a real one. My neighbour got the same booking before me, also after signing up a week earlier.
Booking ethics about money are annoying , who needs this ? I would steer clear
of slimy Bookings, let them gauge the hotels , thats their territory.

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Have you been drinking?

Your post reeks of whisky fingered bitterness…

JF

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There are almost as many platforms as there are listings so it’s important to choose the ones that are right for you. For example, my two small apartments in Florida needs a different platform to an eight bedroom palatial country house in Rome. It’s worth looking around at some of the smaller sites, particularly those that might specialise in your type of listing.

But whatever advertising platform you use, ultimately it up to you the host to be as organised as possible with your listing, your schedule and your guests. An advertising platform is simply that - just a way to introduce host to guest (and often do the credit card transactions too). Unfortunately hosts sometimes expect more from their advertising platforms - that they can somehow magically sort out any problems which simply isn’t the case. Hosts shouldn’t expect anything or expect the platforms to run the business for them. (Just saying - for the sake of new or potenial hosts reading this :slight_smile: )

Example: the OP seems to have not been in town when the mix-up with her guest occurred. Many hosts can host remotely but they are only truly successful if they have a wonderful co-host,

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At least it’s not that sweet sherry I’ve been drinking ,
you know - like the old old ladies.

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My husband and I call BDC, Cancel dot com.

We have 2 vacation rentals on Maui.

Info below is as of today (1/11/2021):

VR1 VR2
AIRBNB AIRBNB
Began hosting 6/15/2016 Began hosting 7/29/2018
172 Completed Reservations 110 Completed Reservations
1st Completed Reservation 7/1/2016 1st Completed Reservation 8/9/2018
36 Cancellations (22 COVID related) 42 Cancellations (25 COVID related)
1st Cancellation 3/30/2017 1st Cancellation 8/21/2018
Reason given : Death in the family Reason given : Hurricane Lane
2nd Cancellation 1/18/2019 2nd Cancellation 8/24/2018
Reason given : Incase they have an emergency (never sure what that meant) Reason given : Hurricane Olivia
BDC BDC
Began hosting 6/1/2018 Began hosting 9/18/2019
22 Completed Reservations 2 Completed Reservations
1st Completed Reservation 1/3/2019 (over 6 months) 1st Completed Reservation 3/15/2020 (~6 months)
80 Cancellations (23 COVID related) 16 Cancellations (2 COVID related)
1st Cancellation 6/14/2018 1st Cancellation 11/18/2019
Reason given : No further communication Reason given : No further communication
2nd Cancellation 6/25/2018 2nd Cancellation 11/30/2019
Reason given : No further communication Reason given : No further communication

When a BDC guest cancels their reservation, typically there is no communication as to why they decided to cancel. Most likely they found a better deal.

With Airbnb, there is some sort of relationship that is created (IMHO), and they feel the need to let you know they are cancelling and why. Not very often do we not receive an explanation.

Booking Method - where our business comes from

VR1

Airbnb 82%

Booking 10%

TripAdvisor 0%

VRBO 2%

Personal 6%

We’ve had an average of 38 completed reservations and 3 cancellations (not including COVID) a year over the course of using Airbnb

We’ve had an average of 8 completed reservations and 23 cancellations (not including COVID) a year over the course of using BDC

VR2

Airbnb 93%

Booking 2%

Personal 5%

We’ve had an average of 44 completed reservations and 7 cancellations (not including COVID) a year over the course of using Airbnb

We’ve had an average of 2 completed reservations and 11 cancellations (not including COVID) a year over the course of using BDC

Customer Service is not great. First you call and wait on hold forever and then to “verify” that it is you, they hang up with you and call you back. Sometimes, the call back does not happen. It’s very frustrating.

Trying to explain your issue and having the rep understand is quite a task - I do not allow my husband to call anymore because the communication breaks down quickly. And he is typically the nicer of the two of us.

They still have yet to “verify” our address of our second vacation rental with a post card. Never ever received it - called a million times. Luckily we still received our payout.

Their fees are collected later, once a month collected from your bank, instead of them keeping the money from the start, so you have to remember that there will be a withdrawal on your bank account…that is, IF you’ve actually hosted anyone and they haven’t cancelled!!

But we’ll keep it going. It’s good to have another site and perhaps it will get better.

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I was with Booking.com but pulled out because I found it too complicated and I prefer Airbnb as I know how to use it. Too much ‘mucking around’ with the other,with dropdown boxes that didn’t quite answer my particular question etc etc. I found it quite frustrating so pulled the plug on them.
Both are good if you need a question answered via Chat .

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I have my apartment on both AirBnB and BDC. Most of my bookings were from AirBnB but for some strange reason once our country moved back to a pretty much unrestricted travel after the Covid pandemic had been managed, the majority of my bookings have been via BDC. That’s good in that my income has remained steady.

A few comments on the platform difference

BDC is much more restrictive in describing your space. It asks a ton of questions about features and there is less opportunity for free form text.

You cannot review your guests on BDC. And has been noted earlier if somebody cancels you really don’t know why.

In my country anyway BDC does not pay until the following month for all bookings for the previous month. AirBnB pays the day after checkin.

BDC charges more commission but I have heard that AirBnB is moving towards moving the charges that are currently billed to the guest to the host.

No problems with notification on either platform of bookings or cancellations either via mobile app or email.

These are some top of my head thoughts.

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I have a strict cancellation policy on BDC and payment up front. I loathe the way BDC advertise free cancellations and since I have tightened up my rules I no longer get the 2 minute before arrival cancellation. They have recently got rid of their financial dept and that has made life interesting, but they eventually got back to me.

Had one booking wanting to cancel due to the fear of the virus and BDC backed my offer of refund if rebooked, or cancel and move your dates. They said my policy was clear at time of booking!

If you are slow in paying their 15 % commission, the listing shows on the site with no availability… that really screws with calendar syncing.

The worst thing is that it is damn near impossible to cancel a booking from your end for what ever reason… you have to find the guest alternative accommodation and it needs to be similar or better and YOU have to pay the difference if it is more expensive.

I have BDC take all my payments. I moved to a policy where if you cancel before 30 days of checking in you get a full refund. If within 30 days then 50% and within 7 days nothing.

That does not apply to me since they are taking the payments they withold the 15% from their payment to me

Never experienced that and hope not to. The closest I got was a double booking from BDC and AirBnB since for some reason the BDC calender showed the dates as free but I had a AirBnB booking the same time. I found the guest a similar listing for the same dates and location on AirBnB and sent it to them. They booked immediately and were quite happy. Note I received no referral money from the AirBnB host :frowning:

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Actually Air charges more.
If you look at the difference between what the guest pays and what you get, Air takes more.

It improves a bit when you move to the system where the host pays the full commission, they Booking and Air are almost equal.

Must be different charging models based where you are. I am in NZ. I looked at two recent bookings with AirBnB and BDC. Both are for 2 nights at $235/night and $70 cleaning

For AirBnB they charged me $18.83 so I received $521.37
For BDC they charged me $87.82 so I received $422.28

Of course for BDC the guest pays exactly what I charge but for AirBnB the guests incur another service charge.

And AirBnB pays me the day after the checkin while BDC pays me the following month,

Most of my bookings are via BDC these days for some reason but I am grateful to have any bookings with the loss of all my international guests because the country is in lockdown.

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You already gave the answer.
Why should a guests book trough Air, of they can het the room about 12-14% cheaper on BDC.

On the basis that the Airbnb service charge to the guest is around 14%, then the guest would have paid a total of around $625, whereas on BDC, they would have paid a total of $510 (going by your figures).

Unless the gross prices (i.e. to guest) are the same you are comparing apples to oranges.

We pay the same commission for Airbnb and BDC, straight 15% of gross. There is an extra charge from BDC as they handle payments for us, from memory it’s 1.1% of the gross, but we pay that, not the guest. From what you’ve said, it appears that you use payments by Booking also.

BDC are diametrically opposite to Airbnb when it comes to host versus guest, they treat you as a business owner, not a fluffy partner who gets the shit end of the stick almost every time, when there is a conflict.

In the EU, we get paid weekly, supposed to be within ten days of checkout, but often earlier.

I just checked our last two, check out 5th Jan, payment processed 6th Jan and check out 25th Jan, payment processed 28th Jan. Both were in our bank within a day or so.

The few times I have had to contact them, I’ve found the service excellent, way better than Airbnb. I don’t have an issue with a call back, it’s an industry standard for verification.

My only gripe is that some of the CS speak way to fast for my Spanish, but after a “woah there fella, slow down” they either transfer me to an English speaker, or they do actually slow down a bit!

If I was getting such a high level of cancellations, I’d be concerned. Maybe it’s where you are, and the guest demographic, but from our perspective (Covid aside) Airbnb and BDC are much of a muchness in respect of cancellations.

In my opinion, if you’ve got an Airbnb mindset, then BDC is not for you (cat amongst pigeons time :rofl:) . It is different, and from experience, the guests are often a different breed also. If I’m honest, I prefer Airbnb guests, but I like earning money far too much to be overly bothered where our bookings come from.

JF

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The point I was making was, not how much the guest pays but how much I receive. For the same nightly rate I advertise, based on my numbers above the total commission paid to AirBnB and BDC are about the same but the majority of the commission AirBnB receives comes from the guests while the most of the commission BDC receives comes from the host. As a host I look at cash in hand and it’s much less with BDC. I guess I could crank up my rates on BDC by 15% to take that into account but then I become less competitive than other similar properties.

I have looked at taking my own payments with BDC but the savings are outweighed by the hassles of accepting credit cards etc. And that is 1.1% you say.