How to Handle Overbookings


Overbooking can be stressful for your staff and our mutual customers alike, for someone travelling though, there is nothing more frustrating than to be told that your hostel is full and their confirmed reservation is not on the books.

Overbookings are not uncommon even for the best of hostels & hotels if they sell their beds through multiple channels. When handled well, such guests can later become your loyal customers, whereas poor handling, on the other hand, will lead to complaints, which can damage your online reputation and relationship with Hostelworld

In this article, we will talk about how to best handle the overbooking in line with industry standards and Hostelworld policies.

All Hostelworld reservations are confirmed immediately when the customer completes the booking, therefore the booking cannot be simply cancelled either by Hostelworld or a hostel who is overbooked. As availability and rates that are published on-line are fully managed by your property, it is ultimately the hostel’s responsibility to manage the overbooking.

If you find yourself being overbooked:

  • Double check your on-line availability immediately, in case you are still displaying rooms for that sold out period. Please check this on-line as well as in your Channel manager/PMS, if there is a configuration problem – some of the updates might not have been successful.
  • Check your cancellations: e-mail cancellation or cancellations done on the website can result in the cancelled beds being released for resale online.
  • Consider your average level of cancellations and no-shows, unless this is an event booking (i.e. New Year), and the overbooking is small enough, you might be able to accommodate the guest.
  • Call around the properties in the area and see what they have available. This way you can get an overview of the alternatives available to relocate your guests.

 What is expected from a hostel in case of an overbooking:

If you are certain that you cannot accommodate a certain guest, in line with Hostelworld policies and industry standards you have to relocate the guests. It is best to let the guest know in advance of their arrival & provide a solution there and then. If the guest does not like the alternative and would prefer to cancel, it is up to the property to refund the booking deposit to the guest directly.

Relocating the guest:

  • Remember: alternative accommodation should be of the same or higher standard as originally booked and located in the same area. Customer cannot be expected to pay more than due on arrival as per original booking.
  • If new accommodation is more expensive- you should be covering the difference.

If you are relocating the guest after their arrival, you can potentially expect a very frustrated customer. It is very important that you follow the points above and, in the event that the alternative is not in the same location, it is best practice to cover the cost of transfer to the new property.

When the dust has settled, and the guest has been successfully relocated, you might want to look at your processes that lead to the overbooking in the first place. Do you or your staff need a better overbooking handling process? Does your allocation distribution strategy need an overhaul? Was this caused by a lack of technology/technical failure, etc?

While the onus of handling an overbooking will always be with the property, Hostelworld are here to help. Let us know if you need assistance with the system, help resolve any technical issue, or if there is a force-majeure situation. Our agents will be able to quickly assess the situation and suggest a solution if you are unsure.

We have a 24/7 phone line +353 1 498 0700 so that you can easily get a hold of one of our agents * 

*As Hostelworld does not manage property availability, and our partners are not contractually obliged to give us beds, with the exception of those that are already booked, we cannot relocate the guest in case of overbooking.







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