Risk-Free Reservations Programme enables accommodation providers to get bookings that they otherwise wouldn’t get, by offering extra flexibility in the cancellation policy to customers on their behalf. Usually increasing flexibility also comes with an increased risk which may prevent accommodation providers from doing this; however with this programme, Booking.com will look for a replacement or take over the payment obligation of the cancellation cost to minimise the risk for them.
How does it work?
Booking.com will offer guests a more flexible cancellation policy on the property’s behalf. If a guest books a room under the Risk-Free policy and cancels, we'll actively try to resell the room as long as it is bookable. In the meantime, we will release the room immediately to your system, so that it can be sold from any channels that your systems are connected to. In order for us to have the best chances of reselling the room, we ask accommodation providers to remove restrictions. If we can’t find one, we’ll take over the payment obligation of the cancellation cost. There are no extra charges or commission for this service.
You can refer to the following flowchart for more details of how the programme works. (Open the image in new tab to check the flow in details)
Who is eligible for the programme?
Accommodation partners that joined Payments by Booking.com, are open and bookable on Booking.com, enabled auto-replenishment, and are not a global chain property are eligible for the programme.
The majority of the eligible partners are automatically enrolled into the programme. For partners in French Guiana, Mayotte, France, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Pierre, Miquelon and Reunion, they can opt-in by themselves by logging into the Booking.com extranet - Opportunities - Risk-Free Reservations Programme Page. If partners want to opt-out of the programme, they can always go to the same page to do so.
What do Risk-Free Reservations mean for me as a connectivity partner?
As soon as a booking is made as a risk-free reservation, the reservation will be pushed to your system as a normal booking.
To improve transparency and help accommodation partners understand that a booking belongs to the Risk-Free Reservations Programme, we communicate the information in both the extranet and providers’ interfaces.
In the Booking.com extranet, accommodation partners can find all details (cancellation policy, room status, payment details) about a risk-free booking on the reservation details page.
In providers’ interfaces, we will share information in the following areas:
For B.XML partners, risk-free booking information is communicated in remarks:
<remarks> This is a risk-free reservation...
For OTA partners, we currently show information about a risk-free booking in 2 areas:
<OTA_HotelResNotifRQ .... >
<RoomStay .... >
<RoomType ... >
<RoomDescription ... >
<Text> Risk-Free Free Cancellation X day
<OTA_HotelResNotifRQ .... >
<Comment ... >
<Text> This is a risk-free reservation...
If you trigger emails to accommodation partners whenever a reservation is created, modified, or canceled and include Guest/Room Comments/Remarks in the emails, risk-free booking information should also be passed to the emails in the same field.
Getting extra information for risk-free reservations
The feature res_extra_info, created to get extra information for reservations, now also includes risk-free flags. To receive the flags, an additional feature res_extra_info_risk_free_flag needs to be implemented. Your properties can then use your systems to identify a risk-free booking with the “risk-free reservation” flag, and a risk-free replacement booking with the “risk-free replacement booking” flag. You can manage your features in the Booking.com Connectivity Portal.
If you have not yet implemented res_extra_info or the new feature res_extra_info_risk_free_flag, we recommend doing so as this will help accommodation providers to identify and handle a risk-free booking. For the specs of the res_extra_info feature, you can check the designated support documentation for OTA or BXML.
Handling payments for risk-free reservations
To help your properties handle the payment process of a risk-free reservation, we recently implemented some changes to ensure risk-free reservation-related payment information will be shown in the Payments Clarity Package in your systems.
For risk-free reservations where a guest selects “Pay now”, the virtual credit card (VCC) information flow is the same as any other booking.
For all risk-free bookings where a guest chooses “Pay later”, we will send a VCC with 0 balance in the confirmation XML.
Payment information when a guest stays
If a guest books a risk-free reservation and stays, or the Risk-Free policy expires, we will update the reservation with the guest’s credit card details and that change will trigger a modification XML. Property can then check the updated payment information in your systems.
Payment information when a guest cancels
If a guest books a risk-free reservation and cancels (and the room is bookable), your property can find the payment information in the new (replacement) reservation when we have found one. In the rare cases when we are unable to find a replacement, VCC details cannot be updated in your connectivity systems due to technical limitations. We recommend accommodation providers to check their extranet, by navigating to Reservation details under the Reservations tab for the payment details of these bookings.
To learn more about how to implement the Payment Clarity Package, you can refer to the this Connectivity Hub article.
In summary, to ensure a risk-free booking is properly displayed to accommodation providers, we recommend that you implement the below features:
- Payment Clarity Package
For more information about the VCC payment
- Get extra information for reservations
This is the first step to receive risk-free reservation flags
- Include risk-free flags
To identify risk-free reservations and reservation replacements
- Finally, one of the two features below to show the upgraded Risk-Free policy:
a. Add cancellation policy details - To receive policy period and cancellation amount
b. Add cancellation policy - To receive policy code and grace period
As the Risk-Free Reservations Programme automatically opts in the majority of the eligible accommodation providers, they can have questions when receiving new risk-free bookings and need support from you. We recommend you share this article and the articles listed below with your customer support team so that they can better support these accommodation providers. When you receive repetitive questions from accommodation providers and cannot find the answers in these articles, please reach out to the Booking.com connectivity support team as you usually do to escalate these questions.