In 1996, Dutchman Geert-Jan Bruinsma and his partners launched a project called Booking.com, which grew and developed years in advance, until 2005, when the site was bought by the Priceline Group.
After the acquisition, the site, together with the spread of the Internet, is making a big expansion and to this day it is ranked as one of the largest sites for booking accommodation in the world. Currently, Booking.com is a convincing leader in Europe, but in addition to them, other booking sites are recording sales growth also.
How can you advertise on this booking giant, attract new guests and what are the tips you should hear?
Before you decide to advertise your accommodation on Booking, you need to collect the basic necessary little things to complete your business. To advertise on this, as well as on all other sites, you need to be ready to welcome foreign guests, to have employees who are trained to communicate in English and preferably in another foreign language. In addition, it is very important that your accommodation meets the required criteria.
The accommodation should be equipped with functional furniture, an internet connection, equipped toilets, beds, no problems with hygiene, light in the rooms, etc. In short, it is necessary to have everything basic that someone would need to temporarily settle somewhere.
Once you have equipped your accommodation and taken care of all the necessary permits for issuance, you need to take high-quality photos of your accommodation and start creating a profile on the site. Once you have filled in all the necessary information about accommodation, you need to define your prices, and if you advertise on other sites then make sure that the calendars are linked to the channel manager to avoid double reservations.
In case of overbooking, and you are not able to accommodate the guest, Booking can find another accommodation for the guest, and if there is a difference in the price of the new accommodation and your accommodation, then they can calculate the difference in the invoice next month.
How does booking payment work? There are several options for how you can charge for guest reservations. The most commonly used option is to charge for overnight stays in cash. When the guest comes to the accommodation and makes sure of the quality, he pays you in cash + nights and taxes and additional charges if you have them. Taxes usually mean a tourist sojourn tax. And from the additional fees, there are the costs of cleaning and maintenance, meals, transportation, etc. You must emphasize all these costs on your profile so that guests are informed in a timely manner.
In addition to cash payment, you can ask guests to leave their payment card details (debit or credit) when booking. In order to be able to charge a certain amount from the data left, you need to have a physical POS terminal or account on one of the online payment processing systems.
The requirement for guests to leave card details is characteristic of hotels and luxury suites, while those of lower categories can be seriously affected by demand. In addition to cards, guests can be offered online booking payments. In that case, guests pay directly to Booking, and Booking then provides you with Virtual Card information. This Virtual Card is a one-time-only, it contains the exact amount that guests should pay for overnight stays, but not for taxes and other costs, which should be charged by the guest directly. For this option, you will also need a system through which you can charge the cards. In that case, the bank or financial institution that processes the collection, can take a fee for compensation, and those fees range up to 4-5% per transaction, and on average amount to 2.5-3%.
Every first of the month, Booking.com issues your invoices for its services. The commission for services ranges from 12% in some countries, per reservation, and you can adjust it yourself to be more. In the experience of our clients, increasing the commission through the Visibility booster does not significantly affect the increase in the number of reservations.
On-site ranking and number of reservations are always an active issue for this site. The most important thing that affects your ranking in relation to the competition is certainly the number of accommodation reviews and the number of reservations. In addition, the number of reviews and reservations is affected by the Genius discount, which is granted to guests who have traveled 5 or more times via Booking.
In addition to Genius, the Preferred partner program also has a positive effect. To be able to enter this program, you need to have an average score of more than 7, have a high conversion rate (guests look at the apartment and often book), pay invoices on time, and have your calendar updated and not have many blocked days. Of course, this recommended program brings with it another condition, and that is that you give Booking a 3% higher commission than the current one. Certainly, for both Genius and the Recommended Partner the option should take some time, and when you have that option Booking will notify you through your extranet.
Through this site, you can regularly post special promotions and benefits. Some of these promotions are last-minute, early bird, free nights, travel offers, basic discounts for guests who book a larger number of nights, but also a geo-price list through which you can give special offers to guests from certain countries.
The geo-price list is activated by sending a message via the extranet to Booking employees to activate a certain offer. All these promotions and special discounts affect the number of reviews of your accommodation and also represent an additional motivation for potential guests to book.
Our advice is to attract guests out of season with discounts, to give early-bird discounts so that you can count on some reservations in advance, and to fill only empty dates between reservations from the last minute. When it comes to the season, our recommendation is to freely shut down the program of the recommended partner for a couple of months, because during the season the demand is certainly strong, so there is no need to pay additional commission.
What is very important with this, and with all other sites, is that you have an updated calendar, that you have no problems with reservations, and that you regularly respond to messages to guests. To be more up-to-date in replying to messages, you can set up automatic replies, which guests will receive immediately upon booking or when they send an inquiry. In addition, you can set up template messages in multiple languages, so you don’t have to type explanations to guests every time. Template messages can be for instructions for paying an advance, how to get to the accommodation (google maps link and coordinates), instructions for checking in and out of the accommodation, etc.
Booking offers its partners a really wide range of possibilities and one book could be written about all the options and situations, but what is evident is that the booking channel is very important and it is desirable to be visible on their site.