The digital trail doesn’t lie. A recent surge in search queries on our website Rental Scale-Up paints a telling picture of the turmoil surrounding Booking.com. Phrases like “booking.com not paying hosts,” “booking.com payment issues,” and “booking.com financial troubles” betray a mounting concern, fear, and deep-seated uncertainty among the platform’s hosts. A few weeks ago, we covered Booking.com’s Payment Crisis: A Breakdown of Trust with Hosts and a Test of Reputation.
While the situation seems to have been resolved for the majority of hosts, many continue to express concerns in forums about delays, errors, or the financial challenges of missed payments. Some are even grappling with two months of missing revenue. Despite these challenges, there appears to be no compensation offered. However, these hosts, while still expected to pay their 15 to 17% commission to Booking.com, have occasionally had it waived upon request.
Booking.com experienced payment delays, sometimes amounting to thousands of euros for individual hosts, causing financial distress during the peak season. As the company struggled to process payments correctly and lacked clear communication with its hosts, these hosts were still obligated to accommodate Booking’s guests, pay their cleaners, and manage their own expenses.
What’s happening to Booking.com?
Starting in July, Booking.com has faced severe challenges with its internal payment system, notably delays in paying European hosts. This issue distinguishes Booking.com from competitors like Airbnb and Vrbo, which have steadier in-house payment platforms. The situation is characterized by complaints, unfulfilled assurances, and growing doubts about the platform’s financial stability, all potentially damaging Booking.com’s brand and host relations.
As of this week, it seems that many hosts have finally been paid, but Booking.com’s own partner forum and several Facebook groups still show fresh posts complaining about the following issues:
- Pending Payments: As of August 24, numerous hosts still await payments despite some online discussions indicating progress.
- Changing Deadlines: Hosts report frequent shifts in payment dates, undermining their trust in the platform.
- Payment Report Issues: Inconsistencies appear in payment summaries, causing confusion.
- Vanishing Payouts: Some hosts see completed payouts on their dashboards but no corresponding bank deposits.
- Overburdened Support: Many hosts report unhelpful interactions with stressed Booking.com customer support representatives.
If Airbnb had done the same, social media would be aflame. Only a few articles here and there mention the issue.
Booking.com has somewhat dodged the bullet when it comes to widespread public scrutiny, largely due to its geographical clientele distribution and its less prominent position in the social media landscape compared to Airbnb.
If such a situation occurred with Airbnb, especially in the US, it would likely have been magnified under the intense lens of social media and become headline news. The majority of Booking.com’s hosts are scattered across various European countries, and this fragmentation makes it challenging for them to unify and mount significant pressure.
Nonetheless, the communication lapses, exhaustive calls to customer service, and continued errors have left a lasting impression on hosts, potentially jeopardizing Booking.com’s future relationships with them.
Yet, the issue hit the news in various countries but was not often reported as a worldwide problem:
- The Scottish Sun bemoans the plight of numerous hosts with its article titled ‘TOTAL NIGHTMARE’ Booking.com owes us thousands of pounds in room payments – but they keep taking bookings.
- The Herald Scotland tries to cut through the noise and elucidate the crisis for its readers with Booking.com: Payment row explained in five minutes.
- Hungary doesn’t stay silent. While Schengen Visa Info reports that Hungary is pressing Booking.com to clear dues without delay, Hungary Today paints a picture of domestic hosts left high and dry. Voice of Europe shares Hungary’s urgency in investigating the root causes of this debacle
- The staggering sponsorship deals of Booking.com are under scrutiny as well. An article on Inside World Football highlights the contrast between unpaid hosts and the FIFA sponsorship.
- Insider draws attention to the individual plight of a holiday rental host, left unpaid to the staggering tune of $63,000.
- The frustration and demand for action culminate in a petition titled ‘Booking.com is not paying its hosts’.
- From the Southern Hemisphere, a Kiwi homeowner’s struggle encapsulates the global reach of this crisis.
Facebook Group: Booking.com is not paying its hosts
More than 1,800 people are members of a Facebook group called “Booking.com is not paying its hosts”. We asked them how they felt about the situation:
- Affected Regions: Hosts from a vast array of countries, including South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, report payment issues. However, U.S. hosts seem to be less affected.
- Miscommunication: These hosts say that Booking.com has frequently changed payment dates without honoring them, and hosts feel misled by excuses such as “bank payment rejections.”
- Financial Strain: The delayed payments are causing severe financial hardships for hosts, with unpaid bills and salaries being a common complaint.
- System Errors: Hosts suspect technical glitches in Booking.com’s system, pointing out inconsistencies in payment postings.
- Emotional Impact: The ordeal has evoked strong emotions, with hosts expressing feelings of being abused, and they question the moral stance of Booking.com’s leadership.
What can hosts do?
Booking.com appears to be billing hosts for reservations that have experienced significant payment delays or haven’t been paid. In certain cases, instead of sending the net payout directly, Booking.com provides the total payout and then invoices the hosts for its 15 to 17% commission. Some hosts have managed to get Booking.com to forgo this commission through the Extranet and the Pulse app. Ideally, Booking.com should automatically eliminate these commissions for delayed payouts, but it’s advisable for hosts to request this concession proactively.
The recent payment issues faced by Booking.com underscore the importance of reliable systems and transparent communication in the digital age, especially in the hospitality sector. As hosts juggled their responsibilities—ensuring guests had pleasant stays, covering operational costs, and more—the expectation of prompt and accurate payouts became paramount. While technical glitches can occur in any business, it’s the handling and communication of these issues that can make or break trust. For many hosts, the financial strain during peak season, coupled with the lack of clarity from Booking.com, could have long-lasting implications for their loyalty to the platform.