Before we start with the article, we are going to ask a quick question that will help us get in the context:
In the past 3 years, have you ever thought about renting your house or one of the rooms in any platform like Booking or Airbnb?
Most likely, yes. And, if not your own house, you probably thought about it for a friend or a family member.
Within a few years, the world of tourist accommodations has grown exponentially. This has prompted many “owners” to become “hosts”.
As it happens in all sectors, which was highly profitable at the beginning for those who first took the risk, it soon turned into a jungle of hyper-professional companies and quasi-automatic work systems.
Logically, this ends up creating a highly competitive tourism sector, where it is increasingly necessary (or rather crucial) to make a greater effort to be found and chosen by travelers.
According to the National Study of Holiday Rental, made by HomeAway and the University of Salamanca, tourist accommodations have been rented on more than 29.2 million trips on the last two years and its usage has increased by 32.7%.
Given this, tourist rental owners and hotels have seen the importance of siding with technology, since according to the same study, more than 62% of people planning their next destination, used specialized websites on holiday accommodations to search places to visit or where to stay.
Therefore, in order not to fall behind on competition, it is no longer important just to be present in different platforms, but also to have good positioning.
Using the biggest booking site in the world, Booking.com, as a reference for this article, we are going to elaborate a step-by-step guide where you can find everything you need to get more reservations and earn more money on Booking.
How to get more bookings on Booking: First steps, core content.
For the analysis of this article, we are going to start from the point at which you already have an account and registered apartments, therefore this guide will not explain how to list your accommodation on Booking, but what you need to do to get more reservations starting from here.
If you are already registered and working on Booking.com, now it is time to get down to business to get more reservations for your tourist accommodation.
Perhaps it is your personal case, you have heard of or even know people who have had a neutral experience with this platform, since they don’t get a growing number of bookings and, hence, their expectations don’t come true.
What could happen
Many times, the mistake lies with the simplest, but highly important, details.
The first, and basic, the thing is to have your holiday accommodation information 100% updated.
What does this mean?
Don’ worry. We will go through it step by step.
The basic thing is to have optimized texts and descriptions of your listings, not very extensive, where the strong and differentiating points of your accommodation are highlighted
Another key aspect is quality multimedia content: sharp images, with good lighting, color, angles that create depth, make the place look good and are real.
In this section, it is important to take into account not to upload the same information on your Booking page and on your website.
In fact, we recommend having different photos on each platform.
When this happens, only one of the pages will appear on Google search, while the others are deleted. Booking, due to its high level of content, will be given priority.
Both on multimedia content and the description, it is important to promote and highlight additional services. For instance, if the accommodation is located in a quiet area surrounded by nature, you need to let your potential guests know. As well as any activity they can do, if they have coffee service, bar and more. These details will give you a plus.
It is important to have different services that highlight your tourist accommodation. The more useful information you have, the more attractive your accommodation will look to those to wish to make a reservation.
Your brand image is key to improve your visibility on Booking
When you are visiting a new place, you decide whether or not to go based on the recommendations of family, friends, a review you found somewhere or something you saw that you liked.
The same goes for your accommodation.
If there is something even more valuable to guests when they make a reservation, it is the comments and reviews your tourist accommodation has received.
For that reason, it is important that you manage them the right way and answer each one of them, whether they are good or bad.
Make time for it. It is important and part of the brand image.
It can be of great help since you can get new ideas or improve any service from what they write.
For instance, maybe you have seen, whether in the comments of your accommodation or any other, negative comments about lack of cleanliness, damaged devices, the impersonality (there is no one to do the check-in and they just leave you the keys somewhere outside the house), not answering emails or phone and, the most important, not specifying the area where it is located.
Clearly, when this happens, the possibilities of getting a booking decrease since you don’t convey trust and tranquility. And even more, if you don’t answer complaints.
Remember that your duty as a host does not end at the check-in. You need to provide a satisfactory experience so the guests leave good reviews and recommend your accommodation.
At this point, it is necessary to understand the great significance of communication, since this is where you can differentiate from the competition.
When a guest requests more information about something specific or has left a comment or review, they expect a prompt response.
The operation is simple. The more details you give, the more booking you will have.
RIght now, maybe you are nodding your head or you have started to think about the things you stopped doing: successful accommodations are the result of good management by the host prior to, during and after the reservation was made and, generally, live up to or exceed the expectations of the travelers.
How to get more visibility on Booking?
When you join Booking, you want to stand out and see yourself in top positions, although it is not easy since Booking has more than 24.000.000 accommodations under its belt.
Once we have fully optimized all the information about our accommodation, we are going a little deeper.
To talk about visibility, you need to take into account a key factor that maybe, a priori, you may not directly associate with positioning on Booking: the availability of your accommodations.
Why are we telling you this?
You will find all kind of travelers, from those who book far in advance to those who improvise.
According to a publication made by Booking.com, in contrast with national travelers, international clients spend 18% more, make reservations twice as early and their stays are 40% longer.
So, do not limit yourself in terms of availability dates because the more availability your have, the higher probability of being seen by those who want a long term stay on specific dates, which increases the possibility of getting more reservations.
It is best to start listing your accommodation or rooms at least one year in advance, since there are guests who make their reservations on Booking.com even 16 months in advance.
Streamlining the management, when you achieve a certain level, is key to offer a great product.
In regards to the availability, we all know that the bigger your tourist accommodation business grows, the harder its management gets. Not only for the number of units you have to handle, but also because the number of listings, OTAs, guests and everything increases.
For this reason, once you reach a certain number of accommodations (usually more than 5), it is common to use a Property Management System, or PMS, that helps you centralise multiple tasks in one platform.
Why are we talking about this digital tool?
When you have a PMS, it is much easier to manage all your tourist accommodations, prices and, particularly, the availability in the different platforms where you have it posted. Booking among them (obviously).
This way, you will no longer have to from one site to another creating listings or changing the availability one you have a reservation.
Through this tool, you will be able to manage all your distribution channels, your own webpage and your booking engine in just one platform. The availability of your accommodation will be automatically updated on each of the OTAs you use. And, believe us, there are many.
What does it mean?
When you have a new booking for your accommodation, the date will be blocked in every site it is published and help you avoid overbooking.
So, in order to be a more efficient host, the most important thing is to know the best PMS and hire the best suited for your needs to achieve a better management for you, provide the best experience and focus your energy in giving better services, which results in higher sales.
To give you an idea, these are some of the advantages of using this digital tool.:
Prince equality control on the different sites you use.
You can make quick decisions since you have the possibility of comparing prices with the competition in real time.
Stock control of your accommodations from the same platform, that allows you to know the state of your bookings.
More visibility and approach to an international public, which leads to more reservations.
Time and effort-saving regarding price and availability.
Very important: Explore the specific tools of Booking
Exploring more tools inside Booking, we find some really interesting options.
We are talking about BookingSuite, a platform that provides a set of tools that will help you manage and promote your property in a more efficient way. This results in a better experience for the guest (and better quality of life for you).
What is exactly BookingSuite?
In Booking’s own works, they “take care of the technology while you take care of your guests, which means better management for you”.
At the moment, BookingSuite recommends two products. The first one, Webdirect, allows you to create a completely customized web with a booking engine in just a few minutes, i.e., it provides optimised webpages for mobile phones that allow you to make reservations.
The second product, which we will delve into more deeply since it will be useful for the goal we are aiming at, is RateIntelligence, a tool that compares prices and allows you to know all the detailed information you need regarding the demand to adjust prices accordingly.
This results in time savings regarding price searching and makes it easier for you to adjust it for your accommodation.
In particular, RateIntelligence provides you with:
An updated list of local events that could influence the demand so you can be aware of everything that happens in your city.
Price data relevant to your competitive group.
It allows you to plan the market demand forecasting 360 days in advance.
Other digital tools of Booking to improve your visibility
As with BookingSuite, the booking giante strives to offer all kind of solutions to all the problems we could have in our accommodations.
In that regard, we are now going to talk about a specific set of tools of Booking designed to make your accommodation as appealing as possible to the potential guest.
Everything we are going to see from this point forward, you can find it on the different tabs of your Booking control panel.
Get a boost of Extra visibility
This is a flexible option, since it allows you to improve your visibility on a temporary basis. As if it were an ad campaign (well, in fact, it is).
How does it work?
Through this option, you can choose, for instance, if you want to be visible to a group of travellers who are looking for an accommodation for an specific date like local events, national holidays or holiday season.
But it is not just for peak season, it is also of great assistance during low season. It helps attracting potential customers by country, since you can segment to stand out among travellers from an specific region.
Last minute cancellations?
Do not worry. The most important thing is to make your accommodation available again by using the Visibility Booster tool so you can position yourself among the top and get new bookings.
Since it is a tool that helps you improve your visibility for a short period of time, you can deactivate this option once you have reached your goal.
Be a part of the Genius Programme
In contrast with the previous tool, Genius is focused on giving a long term solution. It connect with frequent travellers and it is useful to get more bookings in a faster way.
When you become a part of this program, your accommodation will be visible to a select group of clients, “the frequent bookers”, who make reservations in advance and have a higher consumption rate.
Moreover, your tourist property will improve in positioning and visibility on the search results.
How to join the Genius Programme?
To join it is necessary to have at least 5 customer reviews, a minimum score of 7.5, be among the top 50% of your area, have an active account on Booking.com and meeting their pricing criteria.
Preferred partner programme
Like Genius, this program will improve your long term visibility but you need to meet a meet a series of requirements to be a part of it.
For starters, when you join you will obtain a better visibility on the search results and clients will recognize you with a thumbs-up icon, that indicates your accommodation is recommended by Booking.com and has a good performance. In addition to being very sought-after by those who make reservations.
As we have previously mentioned, if you want to join the program you need to see if you meet the necessary criteria.
Which are they?
You need to be among the top 30% performing accommodations in your area, have a minimum score of 7, low cancellation numbers, flawless payment record, good amount of availability, and popular rates of Booking.com.
You also need a higher-than-average conversion rate.
A few more things
We really recommend taking some time to explore all the options your Booking control panel offers. You can find anything from eco-friendly certificates to other tools that will help you do so much more.
There are multiple options to explore inside your control panel with the goal of improving your visibility. In fact. the more you complete, the better. Just like that.
As a highlight of the control panel, we recommend you explore the App Store, where you can find different options of external to Booking (who were accepted as an official or recommended partner) that will help you in anything you need on your holiday rental business.
Below, you will have some examples and where you can use them:
Software that will help you manage prices
In order to keep track of how the sector behaves and to know the tendencies of the demand, it is best if you see technology as your greatest ally and use a software that will help you adjust prices and implement strategies that boost your tourist accommodation.
Discover some of the options you can find and that can adapt to your needs:
Probably the most known solution, it is popular not only for good performance, but also for its intuitive design and for being easy to use. Recommended.
By providing an innovative revenue management solution, they analyse the market to search for tendencies on supply and demand to automatise prices. It also has a panel of performance indicators that will help you find which prices need to be updated.
Through its innovation on strategies and revenue management, they provide an advance method for a higher performance of your tourist accommodation and to establish daily rates.
Hotel Yield Management Software:
With this tool you can automatise all the calculation tasks, maximise your income in a simple way and create pricing strategies to maximise your sales wisely.
IDeaS Revenue Management System
This software provides an overview of your data through pricing, forecast and optimisation strategies that will give you more control over the tourist rental management. For instance, by having clearer and more updated information, you will be able to establish a better rate in relation to the arrival date, the length of the stay, and other details.
Cancellations, after all, can be a pain in the neck and, without a doubt, there are many reasons why this cannot happen. To minimise them, you need to keep in mind some steps you should follow.
Communication above all else
One of the most important aspects, that should be present prior to, during and after the reservation, is the communication. When a client receives a response after a long time or his question was never answered, there is a higher possibility that they end up cancelling. That is way it is important to pay attention to the notifications you may get and to answer as soon as possible.
Provide different payment methods
If the potential guests do not see a working alternative for the payment when they are making a reservation, the request will probably not be carried out. At this step, it is crucial that everything is as accessible and simple as possible to minimise the cancellation rate.
By having different payment methods like Alipay, PayPal and WeChatPay, your probabilities of attracting more international customer will rise and there will be less cancellation rates. In addition, to give the travellers an alternative, you can offer the possibility of online payment or paying at the accommodation.
Make sure, from the start, that you have a basic non-refundable rate that will give you peace of mind, because even after cancelling or making any changes, you will have an assured income since they have already paid in advance.
However, it has its pros and cons.
By choosing this alternative, it is possible that the number of reservations is smaller. Remember that there are all kind of travellers: those who has no objections to paying in advance if they see any sale, and those who like having more flexibility.
For this reason, it is best to have both refundable and non-refundable options.
There are several options you can try to reduce cancellations. Besides the aforementioned, you can also try to allow last-minute reservations since those who book at short notice are less likely to cancel.
Another aspect you need to take into account is that short term stays are less likely to cancel. Look at this like an opportunity to allow unrestricted short term availability, since it is the best way to catch the attention of this type of guests.
Appeal to your future guests with new strategies
If you need to fill your rooms, this is the moment to create strategies that attract different types of travellers in the different seasons of the year.
How to achieve this?
In this case, we are talking about making offer to suit your accommodation.
To achieve this, go to the “Promotions” section on the Booking control panel, where you will find different options so you can choose the one that suits your needs better and customize it.
Which alternativas can you find?
This section has different sections, where you will find:
Last minute rooms:
Perfect to catch the attention of clients that are looking for an accommodation on short notice. To this end, they want to simplify the reservation process.
In contrasts with the previous, some travellers are prudent when they plan their trips and prefer to do it early. This option is appealing to them. For instance, even if most of the rooms and accommodations are booked during low season, it is better to offer good discounts.
You can offer this option according to the minimum of nights the guests have to book to get the free night. Remember that this promotion is implemented on the last night of the stay.
Deal of the day:
You can offer a discount for a limited time, so you will have limited visibility.
After choosing the best suited option for you, it is time to select how long you want the promotion to last, when can the guests start to book, how long they can stay to obtain the discount and which rooms will have it.
In addition, you can decide if the promotion is public. That is, that all who enter Booking.com can see it or whether you only want the subscribers of your newsletter and those who are registered on Booking.com to see it.
What do we take from this?
In the end, the process is like a big circle that needs to be closed. That is right. To obtain a higher number of bookings, you not only need to have appealing pictures of the tourist accommodation (although it is an important part of it), there are also other necessary aspects that affect significantly and were previously mentioned.
The traveller’s experience can be divided in three parts:
Pre-stay, when they will see you apartment’s listing, information about the place, the services you offer and reviews from previous guests about their stay.
At this stage, it is very important to build strong communication channels given that, usually, guests have questions and you have to get everything ready for them (check-in time, additional services, etc.).
During the stay, communication with the client it is of great importance by paying attention to any concern or inconvenience that may arise, so a rapid response to any request comes first. In addition to the services they can enjoy or information about events and activities they can go to on the city.
Post-stay could be known as the final touch that closes the circle.
The guest is the key point of your business and the only one who will speak well or badly about you, not only to their family and friends, but also on the comments and reviews on your profile. Remember that will be seen worldwide and it affects the moment when a new client wants to make a reservation.
If you use technology to create a bond and to improve your guests’ satisfaction: request and show and efficient management through different accommodation channels, your conversion rate will improve.
For this reason, you should always keep in mind to provide a personal and quality service, together with a good use of technological tools like Cohosting, which facilitate and improve the management of your accommodation so you can stand out from your competition.