What is the Booking.com cancellation policy?

The Booking.com cancellation policy outlines the terms and conditions that apply when a guest cancels a reservation at your hotel. It includes specifics about refund procedures, penalties, and fees associated with cancellations. Booking.com offers customisable cancellation policies that hotel owners can choose from, allowing you to select one that best aligns with your business model. 

It’s important to note that the responsibility of communicating the cancellation policy to the guest lies primarily with you, the host, although Booking.com should provide this information during the booking process too.

The Importance of the Booking.com Host Cancellation Policies

Booking.com’s cancellation policy can make a huge difference to your hotel’s success when hosting guests. A well-structured policy can provide a safety net for potential revenue losses due to cancellations. On the flip side, a poorly managed policy could lead to a negative guest experience and harm your hotel’s reputation.

Here’s an example:

  • A non-refundable policy could ensure a steady income stream but could deter potential guests who prefer flexibility. 
  • A free cancellation policy might attract more bookings initially but could result in more last-minute cancellations.

The specifics of your Booking.com cancellation policy matters, and so does the way you communicate your policy. Clearly stating the terms of your policy nice and early sets concrete expectations for your guests at the outset. This leaves less room for confusion or dissatisfaction later.

It’s essential to find a middle ground that meets your guests’ needs while safeguarding your business interests. But no two guests are the same – even if they’re staying in the same room. How do you deal with that as a host?


Consider offering a range of options for guests, such as non-refundable rates for those sure of their travel plans and free cancellation for those seeking more flexibility. 

You can also set different cancellation policies for different rooms and rates so when you have more to lose from a cancellation, you can set a more strict policy to recover costs.

This way, you cater to a wider audience and give guests the freedom to choose the option that best suits their needs.

Booking.com Free Cancellation Policy and Other Policies Your Hotel Can Use

With Booking.com, there are generally two types of cancellation policies available through its extranet:

  • A fully flexible policy – Guests only pay when they stay and can cancel free of charge during a time frame of your choice prior to check-in.
  • A customised policy – You can choose how long before check-in guests can cancel for free, how much they’ll be charged if they do cancel, if they need to make a prepayment before check-in, and how and when you’d like to receive that payment.

Notably, you can apply different policies to different room types with a customised policy setup.

Here are some types of cancellation policy strategies and rules you might choose for your hotel:

  • Non-refundable. In this case, guests will be charged the full amount even if they cancel. Great for high-value rooms.
  • Free cancellation. Guests can cancel free of charge until a specific date before their stay. Awesome for bringing in cautious travellers during slow seasons.
  • Partial refund. A partial refund policy allows guests to cancel up to a certain date before their stay and receive part of their booking back. A good middle ground between free and non-refundable.
  • One night penalty. This is another form of partial refund where the guest is charged for the first night of their cancelled stay but refunded the rest. Nice if you have a wide variety of differently rated rooms.

Each policy type comes with its own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your specific circumstances, guest demographics, and business model when selecting the most suitable one. Make sure they align with your no-show policy, group cancellation policies, minimum stay, seasonal cancellation policy, force majeure policy, and any special event cancellation policy you may have.

How to Change Cancellation Policy on Booking.com

As a hotel operator, your policy can be adjusted (within reason). You can do this through the ‘Property’ tab on your Booking.com dashboard, where you can select ‘Policies’ and then ‘Cancellation and prepayment policies.’ 

You should try to review your cancellation policy every so often to ensure it aligns with changes in market conditions and guest expectations.

Best Practices for Handling Cancellations on Booking.com

Handling cancellations effectively can significantly mitigate potential revenue losses. Here are some best practices for a small accommodation business to follow:

  • Communication is key 

Ensure that your guests are well-informed about your cancellation policy at the time of booking. Include your policy in your listing on OTAs and in guest communications (especially in the lead up to the booked date). And make sure that any staff members are aware of how it works too!

  • Flexibility is best 

Consider offering a more flexible cancellation policy during uncertain times to attract more cautious travellers. Switching from non-refundable to partial refund can make all the difference.

  • Leverage data 

Use the insights from Booking.com analytics to understand cancellation patterns and adjust your policy accordingly. If a particular time of year sees a lot of cancellations, it may be worthwhile swapping to a more strict cancellation policy to mitigate the damage to your bottom line.

  • A quick turnaround is essential

In case of cancellations, promptly update your room availability on Booking.com to maximise the chances of a new booking.

Understanding the Booking.com cancellation policy is vital for all small hotel owners. It not only affects your bottom line but also shapes the guest experience you offer. By leveraging the resources and tools provided by platforms like Little Hotelier, you can navigate these policies with ease and optimise them for your hotel’s advantage.

Reinforce your Booking.com cancellation policy with Little Hotelier

Cancellations are never fun, but with Little Hotelier, they can be easier. Our software integrates with Booking.com, including cancellation policies, along with 450+ other OTAs and direct bookings on a single platform.

With Little Hotelier, you get all-in-one direct booking management software with one single login, all in one place!

  • Customisable cancellation policies. With Little Hotelier, you can create and customise cancellation policies that align with your operational needs and Booking.com guidelines. This allows you to effectively manage cancellations, reduce last-minute vacancies, and protect your revenue.
  • Efficient cancellation management. Little Hotelier allows for seamless and efficient cancellation management. You can process cancellations promptly, update room availability in real-time, and communicate with guests efficiently, reducing potential disputes and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Analytics and reporting. Utilise Little Hotelier’s robust analytics and reporting features to gain insights into cancellation patterns. This can help you refine your cancellation policy, understand peak cancellation periods, and devise strategies to minimise revenue loss due to cancellations.

By using Little Hotelier, businesses can enhance their guest experience and revenue, with potential increases of up to 46% in bookings and an ROI of 63x!

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).