We’re almost caught up, just another post to go after this. I can’t express quite how much hassle Booking.com caused us over payments, but the whole system has changed since this post was written. Enjoy!
Lismaine Cottage is now the number one B&B in Magheralin according to TripAdvisor! We may also be the only B&B, but we had our first TripAdvisor review last weekend, and a glowing one it was:
“Fantastic B&B with very welcoming hosts, lovely room, comfortable bed, and beautiful peaceful surroundings, the nearest town Moira is only a 5 minute drive with plenty of nice places to eat and drink, it’s great value for money and I will certainly stay again if I’m in the area 👍
It’s really nice to get some positive feedback, and to see our hard work paying off. Here’s to many more reviews!
Booking.com has been a mixed blessing. As you may have previously read, I was reluctant to embrace the huge corporation given a few of the write-ups I read scattered across the internet, but it has resulted in a lot of new bookings. The commission is relatively high at 15%, but they have such a large potential market that 15% doesn’t seem so bad. Everything was going well, until it came to payments. Unlike Airbnb, Booking.com does not pay us directly. Instead, the money our guests pay to Booking.com goes into a virtual credit card (VCC), and the details of that VCC are passed on to us. Another cost! You would expect the 15% commission to include the payment processing fee, but that’s on the accommodation provider, not Booking.com itself. That means the effective cost to us is closer to 18% total.
At least we get a VCC which we can charge for the full amount of the reservation on guest checkout. Except that we can’t. You need a merchant account to charge cards without the physical card present (for the most part), and they don’t come cheap. Start-up costs and monthly fees all add up, and a merchant account is not really viable for the volume of transactions we would be processing. So the money was available, but it wasn’t. The card details did not include the card verification code (CVC), the three digit security code we all know and love, and without a merchant account there was no hope of charging them. Not that Booking.com would tell you any of this. In their frequently asked questions
I can understand that we are not a lucrative property for Booking.com, but at the same time, they are taking 15% and for that amount I want decent customer service, and at the very least to be able to access our money. Getting the CVC codes for the cards was like pulling teeth. I had to send increasingly impatient and aggressive messages to get their attention, and after some time, they gave in and provided the codes.
There are some websites for processing card details online, but again these have monthly fees and add unnecessary expense. We have an account with Payleven, who provide our card reader – they offer telephone payments/processing card details remotely but require three months of regular activity on the account. Three months is a long time to not be paid! Stripe is the payment processing service we use on the Lismaine Cottage website, and thankfully they have a facility for charging cards, but require a CVC. Once I got the CVCs for the virtual cards, I was able to charge them and finally get payment.
Booking.com don’t make it easy for small businesses – it took from the 13th when the guest checked out until the 21st before we could charge the card – but with a few workarounds, you can dodge setting up a costly merchant account and still get paid. I highly recommend Swipe for this purpose, though was disappointed in Payleven as being able to take telephone payments was one of the deciding factors when choosing them over iZettle and PayPal.