Booking.com: Here’s How To Get Your Listings Ready For High Season
This is a guest post by Mieke van den Nouland, Commercial Excellence Manager at Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel companies.
2020 was a year full of ups and downs. While many of us can list the ‘downs’, we also did see some ‘ups’ as an industry. Short-term rentals recorded an uptick in demand and bookings last summer and consumers interested in the types of accommodations that you – professional hosts and property management companies – offer accelerated. In fact, short-term rentals, such as homes, apartments and other unique places to stay represented 40% of new bookings on Booking’s platforms during the 2nd quarter of 2020 and 33% during the 3rd quarter.
With more travelers exploring short-term rentals, we look forward to continuing the trends we saw in 2020, where we saw an increase in the mix of customers booking alternative accommodations as compared to prior year levels. At Booking.com, we welcome all types of partners to our platform from vacation rental owners to large property managers.
Here are some recommendations to get your listings ready for the high season:
Providing guests flexibility during uncertain times
Guests want to be able to make last-minute decisions given the current COVID-19 environment. At first, Booking.com launched a brand new cancellation policy conversion tool allowing partners to provide the option to cancel until 1 day in advance. We always try to balance guest needs with partners’ feedback however which is why, after learning that this cancellation window was too for rental partners like yourselves, we changed the flexible option from being able to cancel 1 or 2 days in advance to 3 or 5 days with great success. We also provided a bulk tool to enable you to enroll multiple properties in these flexible rate plans in one go, saving valuable time.
Making it easier for you to attract guests who want to stay longer or shorter at your property
Longer stays are becoming increasingly popular and to help you attract this demand, we’ve created weekly and monthly rate plans which can help to increase occupancy while reducing day-to-day operations. To amplify this, we’ve done something completely new at Booking: before 2020, guests weren’t able to book a stay of more than 30 days. It’s now possible however to book stays up to 45 – 90 nights in select markets (depending on local laws and regulations) and look forward to extending to more markets in 2021.
We also see a growing number of people working from short-term rentals. To help you attract these digital nomads, we’ve launched the Work-Friendly Program to make it easier for business travelers and remote workers to find properties, like yours. To let us know if you meet the criteria, go to the Extranet and indicate the work-friendly amenities your property offers.
Last minute (book window of 7 days) and shorter stays (1 or 2 nights) also continue to be popular, as consumers continue to look for more flexibility. Ensure you are available to meet this demand by relaxing your restrictions, especially for the next 30 days.
Leverage our tailored tools and features
Our loyalty program, Genius, works well for hotels but not as well for partners like you. Last year, we changed the eligibility to help more short term rental partners join the program. This year, we’re making the program even more tailored to you by allowing large professionals to trial the program for 90 days to get a review score quicker. We’re also revamping the program by adding guest benefits that make sense to your short-term rental. This unique benefit will be launched across web and apps to our guests which will provide more visibility to you on our platform.
Showcasing your properties on our platform
There are numerous actions we’re taking to better showcase and increase the quality of properties on our platform. We pioneered a first-of-its-kind quality rating system for alternative accommodations powered by machine learning to help travelers recognize, rely on and identify properties that match their quality requirements more easily. You can access the quality of your listings in the Extranet to retrieve your Quality Rating, Review Score, Reply Score, and Property Page Score. These scores matter, as higher scores may get you more visibility and more bookings so check them out and fill in the missing information that will increase your scores. With cleanliness becoming increasingly important, we also made it easy for you to inform guests about the cleanliness and safety practices you have implemented to ease their concerns, with a dedicated area on your property page for that information.
So, what are the 3 key takeaways for success?
- Add the right content to your listings.
- Set up the right price & availability to get more bookings.
- Leverage our tailored tools and features to maximize your exposure on booking.com .
We hope you can use these takeaways to make sure you’re ready for the high season. We’re looking forward to rebuilding travel together!