The question any property manager sooner or later would ask themselves would be:
"If I use a channel manager, will I never receive a double booking?"
Unfortunately, the answer is "NO". There aren't any software products in the world that can prevent you from risking double booking(s) when you work with multiple channels. All software products like Hostaway will do their ultimate best to limit the risks as much as possible.
Why isn't this possible?
It all starts with the time it takes for any server to process data. When you send an email from your own Gmail address to someone else at Hotmail.com, you will see that it takes 2-5 mins before that new email comes in. Does this sound familiar to you? Now try that same email by sending it to 5 different friends. You will see that all 5 of them receive the email at different times and so there is always the one who is able to reply sooner than the rest.
How does this now apply to channel management software and the double booking risks? Our software will try to collect new reservations from channels as soon as they are made. Some channels use email forwarding, like Airbnb and some have almost instant sync imports. Imports usually take 2-5 minutes because they let us know there is a new reservation made. Other channels can't and we need to connect to the channel and "ask if there are any new reservations".
This is the limitation any software will have to work with. It is possible that when we just "asked" the channel "are there any new reservations" and the answer was "no" 1 second after a new guest completed the reservation request, this one will now have to wait for 5-30 minutes to be synced with the software. In the meantime, it is possible someone on another channel makes a reservation and so will cause a double booking. Still, by automating it, your calendars are often blocked faster than when you do it manually - for example when you receive the booking in the middle of the night, this will be blocked automatically as our system is working 24/7.
Sometimes, technical issues can lead to double bookings. The most common reasons are issues with the account setup. For example, when a mapping changed or when the channel is connected to different software platforms.
This is the reason any other channel management software company can't guarantee that you will never receive any double booking. It is always advised to test your integrations regularly after you made changes in the channels and to prepare a backup plan just in case you will receive a double booking.
Channel management software helps to lower the risk and supports you to save time on other parts of your business like automated guest emailing, quick date blocking, multi-channel administration and a lot more.
You can learn more about channel syncing time.
Minimize the double booking risks
There are no golden rules to follow but these next steps will help you to minimize the risks of receiving double bookings:
- After you added a new channel, test if the rates and availability are being updated on all channels.
- Schedule a bi-weekly test: for one direct booking, you can cancel to see if all channels are being updated.
- Schedule a bi-weekly test & randomly verify if all channels block dates after receiving a new reservation.
- Minimize the access and use of channels' own calendars for management. Manually blocking days should be done using the channel management software only.
- Double-check reservations that have special requests, failed payments, channel security checks, changing reservation dates, changing listings.
- Some channels allow you to write booking terms to double confirm the reservation within 72 hours. Ask your channel for more options.
What to do should you receive a double booking?
Contact the guest as soon as possible and explain the situation. In most cases, the guests are willing to review their booked dates, accept alternative dates or locations. You might be able to negotiate with the guest.
In most regions of the world, there are different Facebook groups with active hosts. Try to connect with those local groups to work together if one of you has a double booking and need help with relocation. Guests often will highly appreciate your help relocating them in case of overbooking.
The last option is to contact the channel and ask for help. Please keep in mind that most channels charge a relocation fee or charge you a penalty fee in these cases. Calculating these costs into the average daily rate will help you make these fees affordable.
Hostaway Oy responsibility
When you are confronted with a double booking, the Hostaway support and development teams are there to help you investigate the source of the issue. Sometimes it is a setting that needs to be changed, sometimes it is user behaviour, like an owner who opened a date that should have been closed, sometimes it is technical on the channel side and sometimes it is impossible to find out why it happened. Regularly checking your channel connections will help you maintain your software setup.
Important to note: just like the way Gmail is not financially liable for you not receiving an important email, or your car company isn't liable for the fact your car didn't start this morning, preventing you from working, Hostaway Oy denies any liability for any damage or financial loss caused by, or as a result of, using the Hostaway software. Please make sure you read the Terms and Services of our Software.