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Direct booking cancellations and modifications: frequently asked questions
Direct booking cancellations and modifications: frequently asked questions
Updated over a week ago

💡 Important to know:

  • To set up cancellation policies, go to Direct booking > Configuration > Cancellations.

  • The information in this article applies only to our Booking Engine. You may be able to configure the cancellation and modification policies for other channels via their extranet.

Public messaging for cancellation penalties

The penalties you create will determine what messages guests see on your Booking Engine when clicking on the cancellation or modification links of their booking confirmation email. These messages are important because they let your guests know when or if they will incur a fee for cancelling or modifying their reservations.

When browsing room rates on your Booking Engine, your guests will see one of the following four messages depending on the penalties you have set up:

  • Non-Refundable — guests are required to pay the whole reservation if they cancel the booking at any time. This type of penalty is configured using zero (“0”) Days prior to check-in and a Full amount as the Penalty type.

  • Cancellation fee applies — guests are required to pay a partial amount of the reservation if they cancel it.

  • Free cancellation! — guests won’t need to pay if they cancel at any time, as the room rate has no applicable penalties.

  • Free cancellation before —guests are not required to pay a fee when cancelling before the stated date. However, cancellations after this date will incur a fee.

➕ Here is an example of how penalties can change the messaging that guests see.

You have set up two rules:

  • Rule 1: guests are required to pay the Full amount of a reservation if they cancel within seven days prior to the check-in date.

  • Rule 2: guests are required to pay 50% of the reservation if they cancel between eight and 14 days prior to the check-in date.

Now let’s look at three scenarios where these rules can be applied.

  1. If the guest is looking at the room rate six days prior to check-in, rule 1 applies and they will see the message “ Non-Refundable ”.

  2. If the guest is looking at the room rate 12 days prior to the check-in date, rule 2 applies and they will see the message “ Cancellation fee applies ”.

  3. If the guest is looking at the room rate 18 days prior to the check-in date, no rules apply yet, so they will see the message “ Free cancellation before ”.

Internal room rate cancellation tags

Under Direct booking > Configuration > Cancellation settings > Room cancellation settings, any room rates that have penalties will have tags on them. These internal tags indicate that some settings should be highlighted at the room rate level, such as:

  • Penalties — this tag appears when there is at least one active penalty rule configured for this room rate.

  • Policy — appears if text has been added to the Room cancellation policy text box. If there isn’t any text and the Policy tag doesn’t appear, however, the Property cancellation policy applies instead.

  • Expired — appears beside a penalty that has a date range occurring in the past.

  • Non-Refundable — appears if Allow guest cancellation is unticked at the room rate level.

Create a room rate with the “Non-Refundable” messaging for your direct booking engine

Here is how you can get a room rate that always acts as non-refundable on your direct booking engine to generate the “Non-Refundable” message:

  1. Go to Direct booking > Configuration > Cancellation settings > Room cancellation settings

  2. Click on the down arrow next to the room rate that you wish to become a non-refundable rate

  3. Click on its ellipsis button ( ... ) and select Edit cancellation settings

  4. Create a penalty with a rule set to:

    1. Date range — choose the range of dates that this penalty will apply to

    2. Days prior to check-in — write “0” (zero)

    3. Penalty — select Full amount

  5. Click on Publish changes. Once the penalty has been set, your room rate will show the “Non-refundable” message to guests when they try to book it

Add multiple penalty rules for the same period

You can also add additional rules to an existing penalty on both the property and room rate levels.

  1. Go to Direct booking > Configuration > Cancellation settings > Room cancellation settings

  2. Click on the down arrow next to the room rate

  3. Click on its ellipsis button ( ... ) and select Edit cancellation settings

  4. Find the relevant penalty and click on Add rule

  5. Enter the following settings:

    1. Date range — choose the range of dates that this penalty will apply to

    2. Days prior to check-in — select how long the rule should be in effect before check-in

    3. Penalty — select the penalty type.

When creating the new rule, ensure you take the following into consideration:

  • The period for each penalty starts from the Days prior to check-in and ends on the check-in date.

  • If two penalties have overlapping periods, the penalty with fewer Days prior to check-in will override the longer penalty.

➕ Here is an example of where an additional rule is needed for an existing penalty:

  • You have configured a penalty that charges the cost of the First night if the reservation is cancelled within five days prior to the check-in date.

  • You would like to make it stricter, however, so if a guest cancels three days before arrival they’ll have to pay the Full amount.

  • You therefore add a new rule to the current penalty that requires guests pay the Full amount if they cancel three days before arrival (or later).

  • Now guests will only pay for the First night if they cancel five or four days before the check-in date, and from the third day onwards they will have to pay the Full amount.

Learn how guests can cancel and modify reservations by themselves

You can give guests the option to cancel or modify their booking online by allowing guest cancellations at both the property and room rate levels. Once these have been enabled, two buttons will appear in the guest’s reservation confirmation emails: Cancel your booking and Modify your reservation.

When guests click on either of these buttons, a confirmation page will appear, and if there are penalties where full or partial payments are required, the message “A cancellation fee may apply” will be shown on the page.

⚠️ Note:

  • If you don’t tick the Allow guest cancellation checkbox for both the property and room rate levels, your guests will need to request cancellations via phone or email. This could be a suitable option for properties that prefer to have more control over guest cancellations.

  • Even if a payment gateway is connected, a penalty won’t trigger an automatic charge to the guest: all cancellation and modification payments need to be manually processed at your property.


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