The success of your vacation rental business depends on maximizing conversions by promoting your listings effectively. For many property managers, a smart multi-channel strategy includes Booking.com.
Booking.com is a force in the travel industry: It has a dominant place in both the European and North American markets and it’s arguably the leading channel for vacation rentals with more than six million listings for homes, apartments, and other unique properties.
How can you rank higher among all those competing listings? These general insights, best practices, and insider tips can help you boost your performance on Booking.com as well as other listing channels.
1. Start with a listing that’s already optimized
Every thoroughly tested element of Booking.com is geared toward helping each guest discover the services they need to enjoy their trip. To deliver results that serve that goal, Booking.com says their ranking algorithm considers multiple factors:
“Where your property shows in search results depends on your own performance, your competitors’ performance and the changing demand in your market. Guest behavior is also a big factor, because depending on which filters or sort options they use, your property can appear higher or lower in the ranking for any given search.”
That may seem largely unpredictable, but in practical terms it means you need to start with an eye-catching vacation rental listing that’s targeted toward a specific niche you want to target. When you focus on a particular group and deprioritize everyone else, you can create a listing that speaks directly to their needs. Doing so may limit your reach, but you’ll increase your visibility among travelers who want to book a short-term rental that’s exactly like yours.
Also, ensure your house rules are clearly set out. This will help guests avoid surprises and reduce the possibility of last-minute cancellations that might knock your listing back.
2. Offer great customer service
Keeping guests satisfied is essential regardless of your angle, but there’s little doubt that a happy traveler carries a lot of weight on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Booking.com.
In an exclusive webinar for MyVR, the team at Booking.com offered a number of insider tips. One of their top recommendations? Respond to your guests quickly.
The logic behind this is straightforward. When you’re quick to reply:
- Travelers get the answers they need and are less likely to cancel their bookings
- Guests appreciate good customer service and are more likely to leave a good review
More successful bookings and higher ratings paired with a quick response time are all but guaranteed to get a positive bump with an algorithm that looks for metrics like these that signal guest satisfaction.
3. Take advantage of the tools available on Booking.com’s Extranet
More conversions for you means more conversions for Booking.com, which means you’re both invested in helping you succeed. To that end, the company provides a number of tools through the Extranet, the administrative hub for your properties.
One of those tools, the Opportunity Center, breaks each property’s “journey” into eight steps, from potential searches to net revenue (which accounts for lost revenue due to cancellations). Based on similar listings, Booking.com sets a benchmark for your properties then offers suggestions to help improve your performance at each part of the process.
You’ll also find:
- The Analytics Dashboard, which provides real-time insights into current guests and their booking behavior as well as sales statistics. You can also compare your results against your competition.
- The Visibility Dashboard, which makes is easier for you to track how well your listings are performing on the site, from visibility in search results to conversion rate.
- The Price Performance Dashboard, which helps you spot pricing discrepancies across listing channels, such as promotions or extra fees on other sites that you may not account for in your Booking.com rate.
These metrics highlight market dynamics to help you ensure your listings remain attractive to potential customers. Booking.com suggests that you, “regularly check your price quality score, the flexibility of your policies, guest reviews, promotions, property page score and inventory to make sure you’re providing guests with the right offering at the right time.”
4. Qualify for exclusive incentives
Property managers whose businesses thrive on Booking.com may qualify for exclusive programs that give their properties more visibility.
- The Preferred Partner Program is an incentive for high-performing properties. In exchange for a slightly higher commission fee, those admitted to the program can get extra visibility as a recommended partner. On average, this translates into 65% pageviews and 35% more bookings.
- The Genius Program is a loyalty program. If a property qualifies, it gets a badge and a bump in search results. This can help increase bookings by 18%. Qualifying listings are also promoted to Genius guests — people who typically stay longer, travel more frequently and spend more per night than the average Booking.com traveler.
5. Give your listings the occasional boost
Sometimes, listings need a short-term solution to get more reservations on the calendar. In those situations, Booking.com offers two types of promotions:
- Visibility Booster let’s you promote your properties to travelers from a specific location by adjusting the commission you pay.
- Promotions are special offers you can use to increase visibility or incentivize higher value bookings. Setting up a last-minute deal, for example, adds a flashy banner to your listing and can be an effective way to grab attention.
Booking.com is just one of the tools in a multi-pronged strategy to build a successful vacation rental business.