February 26, 2024

Managing Booking Cancellation on Booking.com

February 26, 2024
Company updates

Managing Booking Cancellation on Booking.com

CEO & Founder


No host is happy when their guests cancel - that's why Booking.com has created tools to help you manage cancellations more efficiently. In the following article, I'll describe Booking.com's cancellation policy and give you some tips to help you reduce the number of your cancellations.

Booking.com 's interface.

3 Types of Cancellation Policies Offered by Booking.com

Cancellation policies must apply individually to each accommodation that you post on Booking.com. You can choose between 3 types of cancellation.

  1. Fully flexible: guests can cancel their booking with you up to the check-in date, at no extra cost.
  2. Individual: you can set the number of days before check-in that guests can cancel their reservation at no extra cost.
  3. Pre-approved booking deposit/non-refundable payment: you can authorize payments in advance or charge deposits.

It’s important to be flexible about changing or cancelling bookings, but you also need to be smart, as cancellations will lower your landlord profile. ☝️

Utilizing the ‘Cancellation Features’ on Booking.com

Clicking on this option will give you an overview of your cancellation history: how often bookings are cancelled, how this rate compares to competitors, etc. You can also identify cancellation trends, for example, which season has a higher cancellation rate?

Cancellation Handling by Hosts

Depending on the cancellation rule you have set, the guest will receive a confirmation email. They can cancel their booking through this or through their Booking.com account. As a host, you can only cancel the bookings of guests in certain cases.

If a guest does not arrive or cancels a booking that cannot be cancelled without paying a fee, you will have to pay a commission. If you have not set a cancellation fee, you do not have to pay a commission, you just have to report the guest as a 'No-Show' or declare their credit card invalid. ☝️

No-Show Situations

You can mark a guest as 'No-Show' if they do not arrive at the accommodation at the booked time. You can only do this from 00:00 on the day of arrival and 2 working days after the day of departure. The steps to do this are the following:

➡️ open the internet, and log in to your Booking.com account online,

➡️ click on 'Bookings' and select the corresponding booking number,

➡️ on the right-hand side, you will find the 'Report No-Show' box, click on it,

➡️ then you and your guest will receive a confirmation email.

Unsuccessful Payments

In case you accept debit and credit cards but cannot deduct the deposit from them:

➡️ click on 'Reservations' and select the reservation number,

➡️ on the right-hand side, under the 'Update Booking' option, tick the 'Report Invalid Credit Card' box and enter the last 4 digits of the guest's card,

➡️ the guest will receive an email asking them to update their card details within 24 hours,

➡️ if you do not receive the new details within 24 hours, you can cancel the booking under 'Booking Details'.

If you do not accept a card, only a bank transfer, you will need to contact the guest.

If you do not receive payment, contact Booking.com customer service. ☝️

Illustration of payment methods.

Overbooking Resolution

If your holiday home is overbooked, also contact Booking.com’s customer service. However, it is advisable to avoid such cases, and if you have accommodation advertised in several places, always update the availability on all of them. A channel manager can help you with this.

What Should You Do if a Guest Requests a Cancellation?

Follow the steps below:

➡️ select the 'Reservations' menu,

➡️ click on the guest's name or reservation number,

➡️ select 'Request: Cancel Reservation' on the right-hand side,

➡️ you and the guest will receive a confirmation email of the cancellation,

➡️ inform Booking.com of the guest's cancellation request, otherwise you will be charged a commission.

Cancellation Fee Waiver

Guests can request a free cancellation even if you have set up the booking policy that says they are not allowed to do so.

On Booking.com, you can set up an automatic waiver of fees for common cancellation reasons. You can also set a specific period of time (e.g. 24 hours after booking) when free cancellations are automatically allowed and your booking calendar will also be updated.


✅ comfortable for you and your guests,

✅ you can set a specific period of time,

✅ automated system.


✖️ it’s more difficult to keep track of cancellations,

✖️ less personal interaction with guests.

To activate the 'Cancellation Fee Exception' function:

➡️ click on 'Accommodation',

➡️ click on 'Policy',

➡️ under 'Cancellations and Prepayments', click on 'Edit/Add Details' at the accommodation for which you want to set an exception,

➡️ in the question 'Is There a Period During Which the Guest Can Cancel the Booking Free of Charge?', tick 'Yes',

➡️ specify the applicable conditions,

➡️ click on 'Save'.

Follow the steps below:

➡️ select the 'Reservations' menu,

➡️ click on the guest's name or reservation number,

➡️ select 'Request: Cancel Reservation' on the right-hand side,

➡️ you and the guest will receive a confirmation email of the cancellation,

➡️ inform Booking.com of the guest's cancellation request, otherwise you will be charged a commission.

How to avoid cancellations?

To reduce the cancellation rate and discover the reasons for it, I recommend you look at the following.
Cancellation conditions

You can set up peak season cancellations to be less attractive to guests.
Non-refundable rates

Cancellations are likely to decrease if you set a non-refundable rate.
Payment options

The more payment methods available to guests, the more you can increase bookings and reduce cancellations.

Living room of a holiday home.


What is the 'OTA experience'? If you are new to the hospitality industry, you may not have heard the term before. Well, the 'OTA experience' actually refers to how you, as an accommodation provider, experience working with different booking and travel agencies (reservations, cancellations, customer relations). To ensure that you have a positive experience and fewer cancellations, you can use the following tips:

📖 you can offer a holiday home for €300/night with a fully flexible cancellation policy,

📖 or €275/night with a set cancellation window,

📖 or €250/night with a non-refundable rate.

This way, guests can choose whichever suits them best.

Risk-Free Booking

This is a Booking.com service for hosts. It gives travelers more flexibility and attracts more customers to your business - all by updating your cancellation policy to make it less restrictive for cancelling guests. Meaning:

  • Booking.com can update your non-refundable resort bookings to include free cancellation options,
  • if an apartment already has a free cancellation option, it can add an extended free cancellation window.

If a guest using a Risk-Free Booking program cancels a reservation with you, Booking.com will try to find another guest to replace them so that you don't lose profit. If it’s unsuccessful, it will pay you the cancellation costs. ☝️

Bedroom of a vacation home.

How Can You Participate in the Program?

If you register as a host with Booking.com, you will be automatically enrolled in the program. If you don't want to participate, you can unsubscribe at any time. To do this, click on the 'Settings' tab, then on the 'Risk-Free Booking Program' option, and then select ‘Withdraw of This Program'. ☝️

If you receive a booking through the program, you can check the cancellation policy for that booking. You can also track these bookings by filtering them on the 'Bookings' page. Booking.com will also inform you of any updates.


In conclusion, effectively managing cancellations is a crucial aspect of a host's experience on Booking.com. Understanding the three types of cancellation policies, utilizing the cancellation features, and navigating through cancellation handling scenarios are essential for hosts to maintain a positive profile.

Frequently Asked Questions

❓ What are the three types of cancellation policies offered by Booking.com?

Booking.com offers fully flexible, individual, and pre-approved booking deposit/non-refundable payment options. Hosts can choose the policy that best suits their accommodation.

❓ How can hosts handle cancellations on Booking.com?

Hosts can manage cancellations through the 'Cancellation Features' on Booking.com, monitor cancellation trends, and follow specific steps for scenarios like no-show situations, unsuccessful payments, and overbooking resolution.

❓ Can hosts cancel guests' cancellation fees on Booking.com?

Yes, hosts can set up an automatic fee waiver for common cancellation reasons. This feature provides flexibility for guests while allowing hosts to specify conditions and automate the process.

❓ How can hosts participate in Booking.com's Risk-Free Booking program?

Hosts are automatically enrolled in the Risk-Free Booking program upon registration with Booking.com. If they wish to opt out, they can do so through the 'Settings' tab by selecting the 'Withdraw from This Program' option.

❓ What tips are provided to hosts to avoid cancellations on Booking.com?

To reduce cancellation rates, hosts are advised to set up peak season cancellations, offer non-refundable rates, and provide multiple payment options. These strategies can enhance the booking experience and minimize cancellations.

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