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Working with OTA reservations

This article covers the amount of control your property and ThinkReservations have over reservations booked via an OTA. OTA bookings, cancellations, and changes are communicated to ThinkReservations, but it doesn't work the other way around. ThinkReservations can't tell any OTA that the reservation needs to cancel or move. This restriction is something that is set by the OTA's and outside of ThinkReservations' control. Once a reservation has been made by the guest through an OTA, that guest has a confirmed reservation immediately. This is true even if the OTA discovers an issue with their credit card. Once booked, you may run into the following scenarios.

Please note:

It's important to know that you cannot use ThinkReservations to cancel, modify, update, or change any reservation booked through an OTA. Changes made in ThinkReservations to OTA reservations will revert back to match the OTA booking the next time a sync is performed on that reservation.

The guest calls or emails to move or edit their reservation.

If the guest reaches out to you directly to update or move their reservation, you will need to remind them that because they didn't book with you direct, you don't have the authority to modify their reservation. The change must happen through the OTA. If you edit an OTA reservation in ThinkReservations, this can result in a double-booking as no message is sent to the OTA.

The Fix:

  • Ask them to use the links in the confirmation email they received from the OTA to update their reservation.
  • Have them log into their account, if they have one, to update their booking.
  • They can call the OTA's support phone for assistance. See the "Channel" of the reservation in ThinkReservations to help them identify the parent company if they don't remember where they booked.

As soon as the reservation has been updated on the OTA, it will be updated in ThinkReservations automatically.

The guest calls or emails to cancel their reservation.

If the guest reaches out to your directly to cancel their reservation, you will need to remind them that they didn't book direct, and therefore you don't have the authority to cancel their reservation. The reservation must be canceled on the OTA somehow. Once canceled on the OTA, it will be canceled in ThinkReservations. 

The Fix:

  • Ask them to use the OTA's provided confirmation email.
  • Have them log into their OTA account and modify their booking there
  • They can call the OTA's support phone for assistance. 

Sometimes you will have guests that booked through an affiliate site and not know or remember where they booked. You can help them with the parent company that will be able to take their call, such as or Expedia.

  • Alternatively, you can call and ask the OTA directly to reach out to the guest to request to cancel.

ThinkReservations will never charge or refund a guest due to a cancellation.

Note: Due to the coronavirus, some OTAs are making it easier to request to cancel on their portal or extranet.

The guest doesn't show up/no-show.

A "no-show" and a cancellation are two different things from the OTA perspective because when you mark a reservation as a no-show on the OTA, it doesn't communicate to ThinkReservations as a cancellation. In this particular case, you will need to cancel the reservation in ThinkReservations as well manually.

A reservation came in without a valid credit card.

If you are supposed to get the guest's credit card, but it is missing from the reservation, this is because the credit card processor connected to your ThinkReservations account was not able to retain the card, or the card was not retained initially from the OTA. ThinkReservations doesn't do any card validation or processing, so any issues with the card validation or charge is not a problem with ThinkReservations. Likely the problem is with the guest's card or your payment processor's account configuration. ThinkReservations will send an email to the property ever time the channel manager receives a card that cannot be retained or charged.

The Fix:

  • Check your email for a message from ThinkReservations about the card. The email will be from and have a subject line similar to
    [] A reservation has an invalid credit card: 1701234567 or
    [] A reservation has an invalid credit card: 1234567890
    The email will contain the error message we received from your connected payment processor when we attempted to retain or charge the card.
  • Check your OTA settings to make sure you are getting a guest credit card as you would expect., for example, allows you to set credit card exceptions. You might be getting a VIRTUAL credit card that can't be used until check-in. Only HotelTonight's virtual card can be used on the date of booking.
  • Work with your payment processor to make sure you can accept the credit card. Some processors have trouble with international cards.
  • View the card details in the OTA's portal or extranet and attempt to retain and charge again.
  • Reach out to the guest to see if you can get an alternate form of payment.
  • Cancel the reservation from the OTA, asking the guest to rebook with valid payment if no other options work.

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