It takes a multi-pronged approach to grow a vacation rental business, one that creates opportunities to maximize rates, attract higher-value guests, and reduce the amount of overhead invested in every booking. The most effective approach is to include more listing sites in your channel management strategy.
Why? Because in our experience, we’ve found that MyVR customers double their monthly revenue for every channel they add, on average.
A good place to start? Add Booking.com, arguably the number one marketplace for short-term rentals. The Amsterdam-based company is the third largest e-commerce site in the world, with roughly 65.5% market share in Europe and battling with OTAs like Expedia, TripAdvisor and Airbnb for the majority of the US market, and the only platform that allows travelers to book their trip end-to-end.
That seamless experience makes it a popular option for travelers, which makes the site a popular choice for property managers, too. But traffic isn’t the only thing that sets Booking.com apart: from visibility, to analytics and now benefits geared toward property managers, it’s a smart choice for your vacation rental channel distribution.
Let’s take a look.
How Booking.com can give you an edge
Every 24 hours, more than 1.55 million reservations are made through Booking.com. In addition to their traditional hotels, motels, bed and breakfast and more, it boasts more than six million listings for homes, apartments, and other unique properties, a sizeable inventory that puts it neck-and-neck with Expedia for the top spot in the accommodation and hotels space in terms of market share.
Vacation rentals aren’t the only properties available on Booking.com though: the marketplace offers more than 28 million units including hotels, homestays, bed and breakfasts and hostels.
It’s healthy competition, but it means you have the opportunity to tap into a fresh customer base: travelers who are just being introduced to vacation rentals. And when comparing prices and amenities, your property’s value will shine when placed next to a big hotel chain’s listing.
Even better news, 35 percent of Booking.com travelers want to stay in an apartment, condo hotel, or villa - a need traditional accommodations can’t satisfy.
And vacation rentals are only growing on the platform. Short-term rentals comprise more than half of Booking.com’s total supply of properties and are experiencing growth at 44 percent year-over-year (YOY) above hotels on the site. There’s a significant movement of property managers to Booking.com because of the increase in visibility and development tools they arm property managers with to get more bookings.
In addition, Booking.com is constantly evolving. With the growth of the short-term rental sector within Booking.com, it’s fair to say that you can expect Booking.com to continue to enhance the short-term property manager experience on their site.
Booking.com already has a powerful internal data center to improve and track your listings’ performance. A group account enables you to make bulk edits and track your listings individually or all together, and it also gives you access to better insights. Booking.com translates all the activity on your listings and the site as a whole into performance-boosting tips, including:
- An Analytics dashboard that makes it easy to benchmark sales across all your properties, track booking behavior, gain better insights into guests (e.g. country of origin, device used to book, purpose for travel) and compare your units against similar properties.
- The Opportunity Center, which provides real-time advice to help increase occupancy rates, reduce cancellations, increase bookings and improve the overall guest experience.
If you’re a MyVR customer, you can also view this same data across channels as well as make instant edits to all your listings’ straight from your MyVR dashboard.
While information is tailored to Booking.com, the tips could have a broader impact across your business. After all, the ultimate goal is to help you succeed and boost your bottom line.
Don’t pay until you get a booking
Booking.com prides itself on its customer-friendly business model: there’s no service fee charged to guests, and the site’s instant book feature - a requirement for properties on their marketplace - makes the process more customer friendly. Plus, it makes it a go-to site for last-minute bookings.
There’s no fee to add your inventory to Booking.com and once your properties are listed on the site, you gain access to the company’s free online marketing programs - not just the website and mobile apps but also its 17,500+ distribution partners.
Once you get a booking through the site, you pay a commission fee of 10% to 25% - the amount varies based on property type and location. To see the estimated fees for your properties, use the commission calculator.
Your success is their success
The commission-based pricing model means Booking.com has a vested interest in seeing your business succeed. That’s why it’s making a significant effort to support professional short-term rental partners (aka property managers) and address the unique challenges your businesses face.
When you join Booking.com, a host profile is created for you. This page helps you showcase all the properties you have on the platform with a custom description and a host (or staff) review score.
The company is now exploring new ways for you to grow revenue, manage your units more effectively and gain peace of mind. In addition to soliciting feedback from partners on a regular basis, Booking.com has:
- 20+ dedicated product teams to respond to feedback from their partners
- 200+ dedicated partner managers, available globally for 24/7 support
- Tailored products and services to help property managers grow revenue, manage more effectively, and get stronger peace of mind through trust signals and verification
- Developed batch editing tools so you can quickly update policies, house rules, promotions, messaging templates
And Booking.com is constantly expanding its brand awareness as a one-stop-shop for travelers to find vacation rentals by running TV, billboard and print ads in various markets.
Incentives and other perks for Booking.com users
As you build your presence on Booking.com, there are incentives to help your properties rank higher and become more prominent. There are also programs that you may be able to participate in:
The Preferred Partner Program is an exclusive status given to high-performing properties. In exchange for a slightly higher commission fee, preferred partners get extra visibility as a recommended partner. On average, this translates into 65% pageviews and 35% more bookings.
The Genius Program is Booking.com’s loyalty program. For users, it’s a way to earn travel rewards. For properties that qualify, the program delivers a badge and a boost in search results, both of which can help increase bookings by 18%. It also connects you to Genius guests: travelers who typically stay longer, travel more frequently and spend more per night than the average guest.
To take full advantage of all of the opportunities from any listing channel, it’s important that you have the proper infrastructure in place to do so. Property management software (PMS) with direct connections is an efficient and accurate way to manage multiple properties: it removes the middleman, third-party channel manager that can lead to double bookings, inflated rates and additional fees.
But how can you know if your PMS has direct connections? It’s a great question and luckily, has a straightforward answer. When evaluating PMS providers, check to see if they integrate with an external channel manager or if they use a “private API” to connect with each channel. If they do, it means they connect indirectly to Booking.com rather than using the channel’s official API; an improper integration that you’ll likely see the flaws of once you begin using the software.
MyVR not only has a two-way direct connection to Booking.com but to the other four major channels and their 70+ affiliates as well. When you add Booking.com to your channel management strategy with MyVR, you’re able to manage all of your properties across channels from one centralized dashboard - saving you time to reallocate to your business.