Vacation Rental Tips to Avoid Expensive Double Bookings

Double bookings may pose a major threat to the success of your business. This scheduling risk can have a few negative effects, including getting an unpleasant review, the inconvenience of finding a last-minute alternative for guests, and expensive cancellation charges from OTAs.  It’s crucial to understand, however, that a duplicate booking is a symptom of a wider management issue because it shows you aren’t utilizing the right tools and that you need to put stronger processes in place.  You may remove multiple bookings from your list of difficulties and work in a less stressful workplace by utilizing the proper booking software and putting standard operating procedures (SOPs) into place.

What are double bookings, and why do they happen?

When two different guests reserve the same property for the same dates using two different booking systems, this is known as a double booking. These errors can be expensive in terms of reputation and revenue.  Some online travel agencies (OTAs) demand that you locate alternative lodging for the troubled traveler; failing to do so may result in the suspension or removal of your account and/or listing. After a double booking, your listing will drop in the search results on other booking websites.  A double booking can occur for a variety of reasons, and if you manually handle all your booking calendars, a busy week might result in a straightforward error and two reservations for the same time slot. Double bookings can occur for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Multiple listings managed manually: It becomes more difficult to keep track of when each property is booked the more listings you handle.
  • Not using the correct software: Without a channel manager, managing reservations and updating all your OTA calendars can be challenging before guests make or modify their appointments.
  • If you use iCal to keep track of your reservations, a delay in updating could lead to a double booking.
  • Your iCal briefly going offline can result in you missing a reservation and allowing an expensive double booking to happen.
  • Errors that can occur when owners block off their own dates: Keeping track of the dates that your owners reserve for themselves manually also offers a risk.

How to Organize your Schedule to Avoid Making Duplicate Bookings

Diversifying your VR channels is better for business, but it does make it more difficult to manage all your reservations. However, it’s not necessary for double bookings to happen just because you list on several OTAs. Check out these three useful suggestions for organizing your schedule and avoiding the negative effects that double reservations can have on your company.

Sync your Availability via a Channel Manager

Your secret weapon for avoiding multiple bookings is a channel manager. Channel managers automatically sync your availability across different OTAs, so if a guest books on Airbnb at 12:00, it is unlikely that someone else will go to and book through Vrbo at the same time.  A channel manager provides the following benefits and features:

  • Double booking avoidance
  • Calendar management software
  • Lower manual input error rates
  • Nightly prices are automatically updated
  • Listing content synchronization
  • Detailed dashboard for a single view

For your Direct Booking Website, Add a Booking Widget

You might start to rely less on OTAs as your vacation rental management company expands and more on acquiring direct bookings through your website. However, it can be challenging to manage numerous rentals when bookings come in both directly and through other channels like Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com.  By adding a booking widget to your website, you may avoid manually entering reservations that visitors make directly with you, hence reducing the possibility of human mistake.

Keep in Constant Contact with your Homeowners and Long-term Guests

Long-term guests and owner stays are two other factors that can affect your occupancy and availability in addition to reservation requests.  These guests, who might remain with you for several weeks or months at a time, typically want more latitude about the length of their stay and might not be aware of potential schedule difficulties. Establish clear communication expectations early in the relationship with long-term guests to avoid this problem.

Terminating an OTA Reservation

A guest has just arrived, and you learn that another is scheduled to arrive the following day. Depending on the OTA you’re listed on, the results and what you need do next will vary.  For instance, there is typically a cancellation fee on Airbnb, and if you repeatedly cancel booked reservations, you risk losing your Superhost title and having your account or listing suspended or removed. The same can happen to your search result rankings if you cancel a reservation on Vrbo.  While on Booking.com, you oversee assisting your visitors in finding other lodging that is of comparable or higher quality.

Prepare a Backup Strategy

Have a standard operating procedure (SOP) and email template ready for your staff that outlines what to do in this circumstance in order to mitigate the issue and lessen stress.  By immediately altering the template, they may provide the guest with a reason for the cancellation as soon as possible without having to stress about coming up with a polite reply on the spot.  Offer a better unit whenever possible for no additional cost if you manage numerous properties. It goes without saying that this is the best course of action, and you won’t even need to apologize.  You can also collaborate with another nearby host or property management service. In that case, you can relax knowing that you have reservations for another high-quality stay.

Avoid Double Bookings Hinder your Business

Double bookings can be an expensive mistake. However, they are easily prevented with the correct planning and procedures in place, which results in less stress, greater business, and more devoted guests.  Therefore, make sure to put good SOPs into place and cultivate great relationships with your homeowners. Additionally, take full advantage of automation solutions like a channel manager and a booking widget for your website to prevent double bookings without always keeping an eye on your reservation calendars.

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