Booking.com is a powerhouse among online travel agencies in the world and the market leader in Europe, accounting for over 28 million listings, including hotels, villas, and apartments. Available in over 40 languages and dialects, it is home to hosts and guests in 226 countries and territories.
The platform is definitely worthy of being a part of your multi-channel strategy or sole booking agent, giving you the power to attract both local and international travelers. Listing on the platform is easy and can take as little as 15 minutes, but optimizing your listing on the platform requires a strategic approach. Here is a guide to optimizing your listing on Booking.com.
Top Tips to Optimize Your Listing on Booking.com
Optimizing your listing on Booking.com ensures not only that your listing will gain visibility but also that it will be booked. To optimize your listing, you first need to understand how Booking.com works.
Search results on Booking.com are based on the user’s search history, specific market dynamics, and the overall performance of listings on the site as well as how closely they connect with the user’s search. For example, the listings’ availability on the dates specified by the user or filtered amenities. Booking.com does not make public the specifics of its search algorithm, which is updated regularly, and where machine learning is used to provide users the best results for them. However, a few general rules of thumb are:
More Bookings Lead To Higher Rankings____ The conversion rate of your listing, that is, the number of user searches that are converted into actual bookings, is an important factor affecting your search rankings on Booking.com.
More Bookings Lead To More Views A higher conversion rate is taken into account by Booking.com’s algorithm when showing your listing to users with similar preferences to guests who have already booked with you.
Matching Is Key If the availability of your listing does not match with the dates searched by users, it won’t show up in their search results.
The Booking.com ranking algorithm considers each guest to be unique with preferences and needs that change over time. Thus it is optimized to meet these changing demands, through the booking journey. Booking.com breaks the guest journey down into 5 stages.
Stage 1 - Exploration At this stage, the user is considering taking a trip and starts exploring locations, types of properties, facilities such as swimming pools, prices, and dates.
Stage 2 – Comparison Users make a decision on what they need and start comparing accommodations to assess what best suits their requirements.
Stage 3 – Booking Guests choose the accommodation and make a booking.
Stage 4 – Experience This stage begins when the booking is made and ends when the guest completes their stay at the property.
Stage 5 – Evaluation The guest evaluates their overall experience with the property and rates the vacation rental via a review.
Your listing must remain visible throughout the five stages of the Booking.com guest journey if you are to optimize your listing and maximize your conversion rate. The number of searches that you are able to turn into bookings is the key indicator of performance and Booking.com’s ranking algorithm is geared for conversion. Here are things you can do to engage potential guests and increase your conversion rate.
There are many guests who plan their travels far ahead and being available in advance increases the chances of your listing getting booked. We recommend listing your rooms/units at least one year ahead. Don’t worry if you find determining your rates that far in advance overwhelming. Simply copy your past year’s pricing and take your time to adjust accordingly without losing out on advance bookings.
Market your listing creatively and effectively to grab the attention of potential guests. Make sure your listing includes:
Captivating, professional high-resolution photographs
If your property doesn’t look good, no one is going to be inclined to book it, no matter how great your rate or cancellation policy may be. Give users a full overview of your vacation rental, from the different rooms, facilities, exterior views, etc. as well as ideas of what their experience will be like.
Complete and Accurate Descriptions Guests are not mind-readers so include all the great details about your property so they will know. Highlight unique features, location-specific conveniences, etc.
A Full List of Amenities Amenities are important to guests so make sure you tick all the amenities available at your property. Access to high-speed wi-fi or extra pillows could be the deciding factor between you and a competitive offering.
Pro tip: To gain a better understanding of how you are doing with your content, check out your Property page score in the Property section of your Booking.com profile.
Price is a crucial factor when guests decide between listings. Your pricing strategy should suit your business but also appeal to different kinds of potential guests. For example, a business traveler may prefer a rate that includes breakfast while a guest interested in nightlife is likely to wake up too late for a morning meal and prefer one without. Also, consider the market you are competing in as guests will compare options before making a decision.
Keep your policies flexible to increase competitiveness. For example, offering free cancellation until 24 hours before check-in, reduced rates for longer stays, allowing pets on the property, or reserving rooms for smokers and non-smokers. What’s more, the wider the audience you appeal to, the more visibility your listing will get and the higher the chances of converting users to paying guests.
Reviews are an important consideration when potential guests are deciding between accommodations. Users can even filter reviews by type, so the more good reviews you have the better. Your review score also affects your visibility on Booking.com. While guests receive an email from Booking.com asking them to review your property when they depart, there is nothing stopping you from asking guests directly, sending a follow-up email, or encouraging reviews through discounts or referral programs. Always respond to your guests’ reviews, especially if they review you negatively. Respond quickly and offer them a solution to compensate for their less than perfect experience at your property.
Booking.com’s Genius program brings hosts closer to frequent users. Users who earn the Genius rank for booking frequently receive special discounts from Genius partners. Hosts who opt in to the program gain added visibility with Genius tagging, boosted rankings, and increased search result visibility. According to Booking.com, Genius partners increase their bookings by 29% and their revenue by 24% even after accounting for the cost of the discount. To join, listings must have received at least 3 guest reviews and a minimum review score of 7.5.
Preferred Partners rank higher on search results with a thumbs-up icon, and receive an average of 65% more page views and 40% more bookings in exchange for a slightly higher commission (17% instead of 15%). Guests view these listings as verified and are more likely to book. Only the top 30% of properties are eligible to join however and must maintain their eligibility criteria to continue to remain in the program.
To increase your listing’s visibility on certain dates or periods, you can opt in for Booking.com’s Visibility Booster which adjusts your commission rate based on the number of page views you expect. This is a flexible tool you can consider using during times of high demand, to stand out; low sales, when you have a lot of unbooked rooms; or to market to a specific country or region at specific dates.
There is always more you can do to optimize your listing on Booking.com. As more hosts enter the short-term vacation rental market, you compete against an increasing number of listings. Making an extra effort, no matter how small, can give you an additional competitive edge in optimizing your listing. For example, write each of your guests a personal message of welcome, respond to their questions readily and enthusiastically, offer more amenities or plan out a day of activities in the destination for them. Guests will remember your service, leave you good reviews and even return.