Double bookings, overbooking, and overlapping bookings – how to prevent such situations?
Many fear overbooking to such an extent that they refrain from advertising their vacation rentals and properties on multiple OTA channels. Others place their trust in channel managers.
Overbooking happens, but there are ways to prevent such situations painlessly.
What is overbooking?
Overbooking is overlapping reservations and double reservations. It all means multiple reservations for the same period, for the same room or accommodation unit, apartment, or vacation rental.
For hoteliers, property managers, and vacation rentals, double booking on multiple booking portals directly and negatively impacts guest relations.
According to Booking.com, 25% of their users will get a double booking during the first year of business.
Why overbooking happens
Overbooking can happen for several reasons.
Most problems related to overbooking occur during the initial object setup on the selected booking portal.
The guest confirms the reservation, but the unit remains available on other booking portals. That means that it can still be booked, even when it is not available.
Calendar settings error
Overbooking is more likely if the occupancy needs to be updated. That means that an error s present. Some periods could be available, or only partly available.
Human error causing overbooking often occurs when several people manage reservations without a booking management system.
Property managers and hoteliers often work closely with different agencies. Double reservations often happen due to mutual misunderstanding.
This situation is rare, but it does happen that a guest switches dates, arrives early, or some other similar confusion occurs.
7 Ways to Prevent Overbooking
Overbooking is the easiest to prevent with a tech solution. For property managers and vacation rentals, the best solution for overbooking is the vacation rental app. For hoteliers, the best solution is a complete 3in1 cloud-based hotel management system with an integrated channel manager.
The 7 tips below will help you prevent most mistakes that lead to double bookings.
#1 Use the channel manager
Prevent overbooking with the channel manager. Automatically synchronize calendars and availability on OTA booking portals. You no longer have to close periods manually – the channel manager takes care of everything for you.
However, the channel manager is not free, so it is essential to know how to choose the best one.
Download our mobile app to manage your bookings anytime, anywhere.
How do we deal with overbooking at Rentlio
If you need help to solve overbooking and double reservations, we recommend contacting the support chat to determine what happened together.
From our experience, a common cause of overlapped reservations is human error, so we emphasize the importance of communication. Rentlio offers detailed documentation for every situation. Our customer support agents respond quickly, usually within 4 minutes.
#2 Use a property management system
The property management system and channel manager are inseparable and prevent overbooking. It is best when both tools are fully integrated. That way all changes to reservations and availability are updated in real time and across all channels.
Practically, if guest books a room from August 5th to 10th on Booking.com, Rentlio Property Management System and Channel Manager will automatically block those dates on Airbnb and other OTAs connected to it.
How does the property management system prevent overbooking?
With the channel manager fully integrated with the property management system, all your reservations are in one place, in one calendar. Any occupancy changes in the Rentlio Property Management System change will automatically reflect in all your OTAs.
#3 Synchronize the calendar manually
If you can’t use the channel manager, there is another way. You can synchronize the calendar by connecting the OTA and your website (if you have one) to iCal. You don’t need to close availability manually; it will be automatically closed and synchronized on all connected distribution channels.
The service is entirely free. However, iCal synchronization occurs at a specific time, so be careful.
#4 Manage availability manually
When you receive an OTA reservation, change the availability on all platforms where you advertise your vacation rentals and hotel rooms. As long as you regularly track new OTA bookings, you have complete control over your occupancy. That also applies to cooperation with travel agencies that contact you by phone or e-mail for new reservations.
The risk is that you cannot constantly update your calendars and track reservations manually. Thus, you risk overbooking between the booking confirmation and the moment you can manually update the calendars on your OTAs.
#5 Turn instant booking off
Be sure of exact availability before allowing new bookings to avoid overbooking. Instant booking is an option that allows potential guests to make a reservation without sending an inquiry. If you turn off this option, the guest first has to send a request. Only after approval from your side can he make a reservation.
However, Airbnb, for example, positions listings with instant booking higher. Be prepared for a lower search engine ranking if you turn off instant booking. Plus, if an interested guest waits too long for an answer before booking, he can opt for another offer.
#6 Straightforward communication
During communication with guests, use all channels such as phone calls, SMS messages, and e-mail. Mention the accommodation unit and the period of the reservation. If a mistake does occur, it is more likely that it will be noticed sooner.
In the case you are cooperating with agencies, request notifications of all reservation changes. Usually, agencies have more staff, so confusion is easy.
#7 Advertise on only one OTA
The last and least attractive way to prevent overbooking is to advertise on only one booking portal. It is not recommended to rely on only one advertising channel. Lower visibility and access to fewer potential guests and lower income are why not depend on just one booking portal.
Nevertheless, many do so and fill their occupancy in this way. Given that you receive all reservations through only one OTA channel, there is no reason to fear overbooking.
What to do when overbooking does happen
In case of an overbooking, try to resolve the situation most painlessly for all parties involved. Also note that in case of overbooking one reservation will have to be canceled, which could imply costs.
#1 React quickly
Reacting quickly to a canceled reservation is crucial. The closer the arrival, the less time you and your guests have to make arrangements. Try to resolve the situation professionally and calmly. The ultimate goal is to correct overbooking and avoid negative reviews.
Also, remember that ”History” is your best friend in case of overbooking. Identify all forms of communication. This will ensure you understand the progress of the event.
#2 Communicate directly
Try to reach a direct agreement with the guest. Explain to the guest the unintentional mistake. Then ask kindly to cancel the reservation themselves while offering another date, a lower price, or additional benefits. It is absolutely essential to do your best to please the guest.
#3 Secure new accommodation
Provide the guest with new accommodation. Find and offer an accommodation unit or apartment of the same or higher category and cover additional costs. At the same time, try to ensure the contents that were included in the original reservation. If you have nothing to offer, find alternatives and similar offers in the surrounding area.
If you solve the overbooking and find an alternative calmly, the guest will be grateful. Professional and quick removal of the inconvenience will overshadow the original complication.
In addition to guest dissatisfaction, overbooking also causes reservation cancellation, which causes additional costs. The costs caused by canceling reservations differ and depend on the OTA. Some OTA channels have more relaxed rules than others.
Every canceled reservation has its price, regardless of whether it is a cancellation fee or a lower ranking. If you do not have an available alternative for the guest’s accommodation, you will have to pay the additional costs.
The consequences of canceling a reservation on Airbnb:
lower payment with the following reservation;
blocked calendar for the term of the canceled reservation;
automatic review on the accommodation listing stating that the host canceled the reservation;
suspension or deactivation of the listing,
loss of Superhost status.
If you cancel your reservation on Booking.com:
You are obliged to offer the guest your other accommodation unit if it is available;
You are obliged to find alternative accommodation of the same or similar quality nearby;
You pay the difference in price and additional costs incurred by the guest due to overbooking and relocation.
Preventing Overbooking is a Must
Overbooking is not a pleasant experience for guests, property managers, vacation rentals, or hoteliers. If you advertise your apartments, villas, or rooms on multiple channels, chances of overbooking are always possible.
We listed the advantages of digital solutions, quality vacation rental applications, and hotel management systems. These solutions avoid double bookings.
However, there are still those who prefer traditional, manual methods of checking to avoid overbooking. This includes vacation rentals, property managers, and hoteliers. Updating the calendar and managing bookings manually is hard enough if you manage one property that you advertise on one channel.
Business automation is essential today. Technological solutions and software should be adapted to each vacation rental, property manager, and hotelier. This will provide guests with a superior experience, increase income, and optimally manage accommodation units.
Thousands of satisfied users, property managers, and hoteliers are already using Rentlio. They are doing business more successfully and faster, preventing double bookings. Join them today!