NEW! RISK FREE RESERVATIONS ARE NOW SMART FLEX RESERVATIONS
There are no changes to the Risk Free flags from res_extra_info_risk_free_flag feature and no action is required from your end.
Smart Flex Reservations Programme (previously known as 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. Using Booking.com’s unique insights on traveller behaviour, we only offer these flexible options to guests booking the type of trips that are less likely to get cancelled. If a booking gets cancelled, we’ll look for a new guest right away. In case we couldn’t find a replacement, we’ll compensate the partner for these nights.
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 Smart Flex policy and cancels, we'll look for a replacement guest as long as the room 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. To have the best chances of finding a new guest, we ask accommodation providers to remove restrictions.
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 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 - Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex Reservations mean for me as a connectivity partner?
As soon as a booking is made as a Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex booking on the reservation details page.
In providers’ interfaces, we will share information in the following areas:
For B.XML partners, Smart Flex booking information is communicated in remarks:
<remarks> This is a Smart Flex reservation...
For OTA partners, we currently show information about a Smart Flex booking in 2 areas:
<OTA_HotelResNotifRQ .... >
<RoomStay .... >
<RoomType ... >
<RoomDescription ... >
<Text> Smart Flex Free Cancellation X day
<OTA_HotelResNotifRQ .... >
<Comment ... >
<Text> This is a Smart Flex 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, Smart Flex booking information should also be passed to the emails in the same field.
Getting extra information for Smart Flex reservations
The feature res_extra_info, created to get extra information for reservations, now also includes Smart Flex flags (still under the old name risk-free). 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 Smart Flex booking with the “risk-free reservation” flag, and a Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex booking. For the specs of the res_extra_info feature, you can check the designated support documentation for OTA or BXML.
Handling payments for Smart Flex reservations
To help your properties handle the payment process of a Smart Flex reservation, we recently implemented some changes to ensure Smart Flex reservation-related payment information will be shown in the Payments Clarity Package in your systems.
For Smart Flex reservations where a guest selects “Pay now”, the virtual credit card (VCC) information flow is the same as any other booking.
For all Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex reservation and stays, or the Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex reservation flags
- Include Smart Flex flags
To identify Smart Flex reservations and reservation replacements
- Finally, one of the two features below to show the upgraded Smart Flex 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 Smart Flex Reservations Programme automatically opts in the majority of the eligible accommodation providers, they can have questions when receiving new Smart Flex 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.