The largest online travel agency (OTA) in the world, Booking.com has emerged as a vacation rental powerhouse, with over 6.4 million listings and more than one billion guest arrivals to date.
After a sharp downturn during the pandemic, parent company Booking Holdings emerged stronger than ever, generating $27.3 billion in gross travel bookings in the first quarter of 2022—the highest quarterly amount in the company’s history.
As a Connectivity Partner, VacayHome Connect has worked with Booking.com for over ten years. We provide vacation rental property managers with advanced connectivity, access to a range of products and services, and insider knowledge on how to reach travelers through the site.
Here we draw on this expertise to share five essential strategies for driving more vacation rental bookings on Booking.com.
Let’s start with the obvious: to benefit from Booking.com’s massive reach, you need to be listed on the site. While the first priority is always direct bookings, Booking.com opens you up to a world of travelers you could never reach on your own. The company spends billions of dollars on marketing each year to keep top of mind with travelers.
Once you’re up and running, the incremental revenue you generate should easily justify the commissions paid. And, of course, you only pay when bookings are realized.
The best vacation rental channel managers provide direct, seamless connectivity not only to Booking.com but also to its affiliates. This includes Priceline, which is immensely popular as a discount site and for last-minute bookings; Kayak, a metasearch platform that allows travelers to compare a property’s pricing on a range of booking channels; and Agoda, a Singapore-based OTA with huge followings in the Asia Pacific region.
As the saying goes, the cream rises to the top, and that’s especially true on Booking.com. The site regularly evaluates the quality of property listings and gives high-quality listings more visibility in search results. The higher your ranking, the more eyeballs your listing will attract.
To measure quality, Booking.com uses a property page score, which assesses the quality of a property’s content, with a maximum score of 100%. The company also uses a quality rating designed exclusively for short-term rentals. Derived from an algorithm that considers over 400 different features, its maximum score is five out of five.
In addition to quality, Booking.com also considers pricing and booking volume when determining how to rank listings. Properties that offer special deals and attract a lot of bookings receive greater exposure on the site. This provides a big incentive to maximize sales, and Booking.com makes it easy by offering promotions that aren’t available on other OTAs. It’s a major reason why so many travelers flock to the site.
Depending on the promotion, participating properties may receive special placement in search results, email marketing, pay-per-click promotions, banner advertising, promotion filters, or listing badges. Your offers can target special segments like early bookers, last-minute travelers, or business travelers, and can be blacked out on busy dates.
Visibility Boosters can help increase bookings when your sales are low or cancellations are high. Partners who join the Genius program see an average increase of 45% in bookings and 40% in revenue, according to Booking.com.
Traveler ratings have a powerful influence on booking decisions. A 2019 survey from Booking.com found that 53% of travelers had decided not to book short-term rental accommodation because of negative reviews about the host.
Booking.com’s review score is derived from the average guest review score for a property, with a maximum score of 10.
Ratings are displayed prominently in search results and on rental listings, and properties with high ratings receive more exposure. Moreover, users often filter out properties with low ratings when searching for accommodations; if you don’t have a high rating, they might never see your listing.
It’s no surprise, then, that properties that pay close attention to reviews outperform properties that do little and hope for the best. Here are just a few ways to maximize guest ratings:
Managing Booking.com along with other distribution channels can be time-consuming and complex. To help, only VacayHome Connect provides state-of-the-art-technology combined with full-service distribution. In addition to being able to manage all channels from one centralized platform, you will benefit from added services like:
To find out more about how VacayHome Connect can help you drive more bookings on Booking.com and other distribution channels, contact one of our experts today.