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Payments by Booking.com transaction fees...zero?

Chris L
Oct 10, 2019 6:07 PM
Joined May, 2017 199 posts

I recently listed some of my properties with Booking.com. They have so far forced me to use Payments by Booking.com, where they charge the customer's card and transfer the funds to me the day after check-in.

I was initially looking to move to charging directly through OR, but I think I've discovered that, at least in the US market, they aren't charging a transaction fee. The amount they transferred to me is exactly the amount of the booking, and no fee was deducted.

I can deal with the lack of cashflow if I'm basically earning ~2.7% extra on every booking by avoiding transaction fees. :)

Anyone else able to confirm this?

Anecdotally (from what I've read online), it does seem that using Payments by Booking.com also seems to discourage flaky, likely-to-cancel guests and provides some insulation against chargeback risk, especially since Booking's options for guest verification are limited.

It's a little more difficult to deal with the whole security deposit thing (I'm currently attempting to send guests a link to enter their CC info into OR for that, but it seems that guests have a hard time finding/opening/reading messages sent to them through Booking.com, so that experiment may fail), but so far I've been OK.

It'll be interesting to see the demographic that uses Booking.com. My first guest was from about 3 hours away (Midwest) coming down for just a weekend stay...

Sarah H
Oct 10, 2019 9:04 PM
Joined Jul, 2019 109 posts

Have you had your first guests arrive/depart yet? Interested as well. How hard was it to set up on Booking.com?

Chris L
Oct 12, 2019 3:19 PM
Joined May, 2017 199 posts

I have, and the payment came through and as far as I can tell, no transaction fees were assessed.

As a frequent international traveler myself and thus an occasional user of Booking.com, I truly despise them and everything they stand for...their customer service is crap (they're based in the Netherlands, and the "the customer is always right" mindset seems to be an American one), their website's design is straight out of 2003, their user experience is confusing and convoluted with conflicting information, etc.

But, they are (inexplicably) the world's largest accommodation booking site, so I thought it was worth a try. I listed two of my properties (as an initial experiment) a little over a month ago and, going into the slower fall season, I've gotten 4 bookings so far--not as many as Airbnb/HomeAway, of course, but not zero. Of course, hard to tell if I would have filled the same dates through my more traditional channels, but a booking is a booking. I will say that I didn't expect much traffic through Booking.com because my area is not a hotbed of international visitation (Booking.com's primary audience), but on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be much competition in my area on Booking.com, so I'm a little closer to the top of the search results. :) Interestingly, all of my Booking.com bookings so far have been from my state or neighboring states, so the idea of appealing to the (few) international visitors we get doesn't seem to yet be happening, but there apparently are US residents using Booking.com, too.

Anyway, so, how hard was it to set up on Booking.com? Well, let me tell you that I now know why property information on Booking.com is so frequently confusing and conflicting. One example: there are like 3-4 different places in the Admin portal to set up wifi information. I have no idea how, but somehow now I'm marked as having free *wired* Internet but no mention of wifi. And I have my check-in time set to 4pm, but most of the bookings have come across to me with a note that the "guest will arrive between 12:00 and 13:00." And when I message them through the Booking.com contact portal to advise them of the check-in time or other information, they never respond. (My one guest who has arrived/departed so far texted me on the arrival day to ask for directions and the door code, so she obviously didn't get my emailed welcome letter with directions.) Have I mentioned how much I despise Booking.com? :)

Anyway, the set-up was mildly tedious--there are FAR more boxes to fill and options to select and pages to comb through on Booking.com than Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, or other sites, and the OwnerRez integration doesn't push any content over to Booking.com, so all of that must be set up and updated manually. That said, it wasn't terribly oppressive to do so, just plan on taking an hour or two per property to get it all set up.

The most annoying thing was that Booking.com made me verify the location of the property by *mailing* a paper verification code to the property's address. I don't know if I never got the mailbox key from the previous owner we bought one of our condos from or if I lost it, but I had to pay the USPS $40 to re-key the lock just to get the code (obviously, we don't usually receive mail there, ha). Waiting on that didn't keep the property from being listed and bookable, but I still felt compelled to take care of the verification in hopes it did something to boost my listing's visibility. It's one of the things giving me pause about listing my other properties, though, since several of those will also be hard to access the mailboxes for.

The other thing to consider is that Booking.com defaults to "Payments by Booking.com" and there's no facility there for a security deposit. The admin page lets you choose an option that will tell customers (in the fine print, which of course no one reads) that you require a security deposit, but it tells the customer that it will be collected in cash upon arrival. If you want to use OR to collect one by card, then you have to email the customer a link to enter their CC info. So far, I haven't had luck with people even seeing, much less using, that link, though I haven't pushed it very hard (the people who tend to come to my area in the fall here tend to be older and less of a risk). I'm still evaluating options there, including using OR's built-in damage protection coverage option, though that would end up costing me thousands of dollars per year, and I have yet to even hold a single person's security deposit, so the ROI there is not high. ;)

If you can move from Payments by Booking.com to having OR charge the customer, then you'll of course have the customer's CC number and can run a security deposit, but I'm still evaluating whether I want to go that route. The lack of a transaction fee may make it worth sticking with Payments by Booking.com, although if I only get a handful of Booking.com reservations a year, it may not make a big difference. We'll see...