In the past several weeks, vacation rental hosts have found themselves facing an unexpected challenge – delayed payouts from Booking.com. It seems a technical glitch in the company’s custom-built payment platform may be the culprit. The problem, which has particularly affected European hosts, has caused an upheaval, leaving them without their expected income for an extended period. In the US, Booking.com offers another payment solution, Payments by Booking.com, which works differently.
Booking.com’s email about finance maintenance delaying host payments
Here’s the message from Booking.com that hundreds of hosts, mainly in Europe, received a few weeks back.
“We’re writing to inform you that we’re performing maintenance to our finance system on 1 – 11 July 2023, as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance the products and services we provide you. During this period some of our financial services will be impacted. Payout for reservation check-outs from 28 June onwards will be processed by 24 July 2023 in one consolidated payment. Regular payout schedule is expected to resume by 27 July 2023“
What does it mean in plain English?
- Booking.com is saying they will be doing some updates and improvements to their finance system. They’ll work on this from July 1 to July 11, 2023. During these 11 days, some of their financial services – how they handle money – won’t be operating as usual because they’re being updated.
- If guests check out of their vacation rentals any time after June 28, the payment that property owners usually receive for these rentals won’t come through immediately as it typically does. Instead, Booking.com will gather these payments and send them all in one batch on July 24, 2023.
- Then, they anticipate everything to return to the regular schedule by July 27, 2023. This means after July 27, hosts should receive individual payments for each check-out as you normally would, not in one big batch.
Now, calling “maintenance” something disruptive to hosts sounds like a euphemism.
No host payout during the high season – what do Booking.com hosts think about it?
Based on our analysis of host complaints on Booking.com’s Partner Hub, the primary issue is that Booking.com has decided to undertake maintenance on its financial system during a peak business period. This decision has led to delayed payments to the business partners, specifically small business owners, creating significant financial difficulties for them.
The key points include:
- Delayed Payments: Booking.com’s decision to conduct maintenance during the busiest period for its partners has led to delayed payments. Many business owners feel that this action reflects poor customer service. It has further fueled concerns, as Booking.com already had slower payments than other companies such as Airbnb.
- Poor Communication & Support: Business owners are having difficulty getting clarity or support on this issue from Booking.com. The customer service, being largely call center-based, has failed to provide satisfactory responses or reassurances.
- Concerns about Financial Stability: Several business owners are worried about Booking.com’s financial stability. The delay in payments and poor communication has led to (unfounded) speculation that the company might face bankruptcy, further escalating concerns.
- Negative Impact on Business: The delayed payments have created challenges for businesses, particularly those that depend on prompt payments to manage operational costs like cleaning and maintenance. Some have expressed that they might instruct customers to cancel their reservations and book directly to avoid these payment issues.
- Call for Collective Action: The business partners have discussed various responses to this situation, such as reaching out to media, contacting CEO, starting a class-action lawsuit, or reporting to the ombudsman for resolution.
In conclusion, the recent payout delays experienced by vacation rental hosts on Booking.com highlight the critical importance of reliable, robust financial systems in the digital rental marketplace. This incident, particularly felt by European hosts, underscores the need for transparency and efficient problem-solving. As Booking.com works towards resolving this issue, it’s clear that trust, communication, and reliability remain fundamental in preserving confidence among all parties involved in the vacation rental industry.