Double-bookings: How to handle them and how to avoid them

 

As a property owner, you don’t want to deal with a double-booking. You probably have one goal: Have the most amount of satisfied guests as possible. You need to make sure that their experience runs smoothly from the minute they book the property up until the moment they leave. While this sounds easy, there are plenty of things that could go wrong before they even arrive at your property.

Today, we will talk about handling and avoiding double bookings.

I reached out to  Alexander Caravitis from Syncbnb to ask him for his opinion on how to deal with them.

A Double-booking is having two guests booking the same property at the same time, which leads to unhappy guests and hefty fees you’ll have to incur. Not good for anyone!

In this article, we’re going to discuss what causes double-bookings, what really happens when you end up with a double booking and how you can solve your double-booking problem. 

But what really leads to a double-booking?

You’d think double-bookings wouldn’t be that common, but you’d be surprised to know that double-bookings are a much more common occurrence than you’d expect. 

The most common reason for why you’ve got a double booking is having your property on more than one channel. While having your property on multiple channels reaps plenty of benefits by bringing you more income through more bookings, it also increases the room for error. 

Managing a property (or multiple  ) on multiple channels like Airbnb, VRBO, Booking, HomeAway, and Tripadvisor at the same time is a hassle that can lead to the dreaded double-booking dilemma. 

Let’s say you’ve got a double booking…What happens then?

It depends on the channels you’ve had your property listed on. In most cases, you’ll have to deal with a hefty fee, a bad online review and you need to cover the expenses of your guest and find them a new property. Of course, this all varies from one channel to the other. 

1. Airbnb

Airbnb has one of the strictest cancellation policies.

Fees:

  • If you were to cancel a week before check-in, $50 will be deducted from your first payout by Airbnb. 
  • If you cancel less than a week before check-in, they will deduct $100. 

Automated reviews on your public profile:

An automated review will be left on your public profile stating that you’ve cancelled the booking. 

Superhost eligibility lost. 

If you ask us, this is the worst of them all. As a property owner, you probably spend as much time as possible perfecting your experience for your Airbnb guests and potential guests for that sweet, sweet Superhost status. Unfortunately, if you cancel a booking, you lose your Superhost eligibility for one whole year. 

You can, however, avoid this fee if you’ve had 10 consecutive bookings without any cancellations before that one. 

2. Booking.com

There isn’t a cancellation fee on Booking.com, so it’s not as strict as Airbnb when it comes to that. However, there are other costs that you’ll be expected to deal with including: 

  • Relocating your guest to a property of similar standards (or better)
  • The cost of transportation to any other accommodation. 
  • Any differences in cost between your property and the other property you’ve chosen. 

Your ranking is also affected negatively and will decrease due to the cancelled booking. 

3. Expedia 

You also won’t need to incur any cancellation fees or commission for cancelled reservations, however, your biggest problem will be your score getting affected negatively. This will eventually decrease your visibility and the number of bookings you get. 

4. HomeAway

Similar to Expedia and Booking.com, the biggest problem you’ll face will be your ranking getting affected negatively eventually reducing future bookings & income. 

5. Tripadvisor 

Here’s what happens on Tripadvisor when you cancel your booking: 

  • You’ll rank lower on search results, eventually leading to fewer bookings and less income. 
  • You’ll get charged a cancellation fee that you have to pay immediately. 
  • In fact, you won’t be able to cancel without paying that fee (as it directly goes into helping the guest find other similar accommodation.)

 

 

How to deal with a double-booking 

Usually, there is no way around a double-booking. You’ll have to pay the fee and deal with the consequences of cancelling a booking. 

If you’re lucky enough to be using to a channel manager, you can easily avoid double-bookings in the future and not have to incur the damage caused by a double-booking if the fault isn’t yours.

So let’s say you’re using a channel manager and you do in fact get a double-booking. What happens then?

If it’s your fault:

A channel manager will help you through the process step-by-step and will make sure you avoid any more negative consequences that can occur because of that double-booking. 

If it’s their fault:

  • The channel manager will talk directly to the affected guests and will make sure that they find a similar property with the same amenities and qualities that yours offered. 
  • They’ll make sure to talk to the channels directly to communicate the fact that the fault was on them to avoid any penalization to your account. 

Avoiding double-bookings in the future 

The only way you can fully avoid double-bookings in the future is by using a channel manager or calendar synchronization service. By using such a service, all updates are done automatically and in real time, eliminating the probability of a double booking. 

After all, we’re all human! Doing things manually isn’t always the best idea when you’re managing multiple properties on multiple channels. A channel manager essentially makes you a lot more efficient by making sure all your rates and availability are updated all the time and across all the platforms that you use. 

Once your process is fully automated, you won’t need to log-in or out of accounts to check your calendar data, you will have a general view of all your properties and you’ll make sure that you’re aligned with your guests’ check-in and check-out times. 

A few last words

Sadly, incurring the consequences of a double-booking is necessary. The best thing you can do to avoid ones in the future is to make sure you automate it through a calendar synchronization service like Syncbnb, Guesty or Rentals United  or ensure you have full clarity on all your bookings at all times! 

Edit: I want to say thank you to Alex from Syncbnb for putting together a great blog.

If you want to find out more about them, head to https://syncbnb.com

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