The Complete Beginners Guide to Booking.com

February 4, 2018

Many Airbnb hosts have increased their daily rates and occupancy by setting up booking.com. While Booking.com is the hidden gem in this industry, it can be complex for the first-time user.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about setting it up. We assume that you're an experienced Airbnb host already, so we will use terminology familiar to you.

How is Booking.com different from Airbnb?

Booking.com, unlike Airbnb, gives you all the power to determine your own rules. It's extremely flexible and allows you to choose exactly how it should work. Many experienced Airbnb Hosts choose the default settings, which can be confusing. Here are the main differences.

  • Booking.com allows you to charge your guests directly
  • Your are in full control of damage deposits and additional fees
  • You can use several different rate categories
  • Booking.com doesn't charge your guests or take their commission from you - you will have to pay them separately
  • You are able to vet your guests, but you cannot cancel bookings unless you find them another place to stay

Is Booking.com more expensive than Airbnb?

Generally not. Airbnb charges a 3% fee for guests who use a credit card with a currency other than USD. They charge a Host fee of 3% and a Guest fee of 8-12%. A booking on Airbnb will cost 11-18%. On Booking.com, the fee is fixed at 15% with no hidden costs.

Do you need a channel manager to use Booking.com?

While it's possible to do it manually with a few properties, once you have more than 3 it's highly recommended you use a channel manager such as Hostaway to manage rates, reservations and payments.

Important settings for your first Booking.com property

When setting up booking.com, there are many options available. We will go through them and recommend the best options for your property.

Policies

Under policies, you can set up one or several policies. Depending on your needs, we recommend you set up at least the following.

Cancellation and rate policies

  • Strict 14 days

    • This allows you to charge the full amount if a guest cancels within 14 days
    • You can also setup a pre-payment so you can charge the guest 14 days before arrival
  • Non-refundable

    • The non-refundable policy allows you to sell your room at a lower rate for guests who are 100% sure to arrive
    • This allows you to give a discount to guests who will not cancel
    • Cancellations are still possible, but you can charge the guest 100% of the booking fee and still rent it out to another guest!

Payments

  • Under Guest Payment Options choose Credit Card

    • This is extremely important. The default setting Cash Only means that you will be unable to enforce the cancellations policies
    • Remember to connect Stripe to your Hostaway account so you can charge the guest cards immediately
  • Credit card types

    • Choose only major credit cards such as Visa, Amex, Mastercard
    • Make sure you don't allow non-credit card reservations for domestic or last-minute guests

Extra fees

  • We recommend using these fees to allow for more flexiblity and control

    • Cleaning fee. This can be set per person, per stay or per night.
    • Damage deposit. This is good to have to make sure you receive responsible guests.

Guest information

Make sure you set up the following information.

  • Checkin/checkout times
  • Require guest address details
  • Require guest phone number

Genius Freebies

These are extremely powerful tools to get you higher up in search rankings. If you provide wifi or parking to everyone, make sure you provide them to regular booking.com users as well! You can also set up early check-in or late check-out based upon availability.

How to manage a reservation from Booking.com inside Hostaway and Stripe

Once you have these policies in place and have connected Hostaway, it's very easy to manage your guest experience. When a new user makes a reservation, their credit card details will be uploaded to your Stripe account.

  • Make a pre-authorization for the card

    • A pre-authorization does not charge the card, but makes sure the card has the required funds available
    • If this fails, contact the client and ask them to use another card
    • If the guest doesn't want to provide a valid card, go to the booking.com extranet and mark the card as invalid. If the guest refuses to update it, you can cancel the reservation 48 hours later
  • Communicate all fees and deposits to the guest

    • If you allow children, pets or other services, the guests of Booking.com expect to pay extra. This is a good time to enforce your policies!
    • Once the guest is aware of the charges, you can charge the card immediately for additional services
  • Charge the guest

    • Set up your policies to allow you to charge the full amount before arrival
    • Charge the damage deposit as a pre-authorization

Report No-Shows

Here's a great advantage of using booking.com. If the guest never shows up, you can charge them the full amount but do not have to pay booking.com any commissions! In Hostaway you can report a guest as a no-show. This means you will not have to pay commissions. Be careful though: if the guest actually shows up, you may be banned from using booking.com, so make sure you only use it when you're 100% sure the guest will not use the booking.

Additional perks for advanced users

Here's the good news: the better a client you are to booking.com, the better they are to you!

  • Automatic property uploads

    • As a registered property managers, you can setup new properties directly within Hostaway!
    • Contact support@hostaway.com for more information
  • Client charging

    • Some clients, once they are big enough, may be eligible to have booking.com manage payments for them
    • This depends on your location, type of properties, history with booking.com and revenues
    • Contact booking.com to ask about this option
  • Non-refundable rates only

    • Some users are able to use only a non-refundable rate category
    • Contact booking.com to ask about this option