In Lahaina, Hawaii, a family overlooks stunning views of the ocean on a warm afternoon. Guests relax comfortably, and with free Wi-Fi, checking in on family and friends winds down the day.
Image via Booking.com
These views are far from anything off a hotel or apartment balcony. The locales are part of a plan that Booking.com has implemented to turn overnight stays into an experience unto itself.
Empowering people to experience the world
In March, Booking.com launched "Book the U.S.", which populates listings of "crazy, cool properties across each U.S. state" from caves and train cars to houseboats, castles, treehouses and yurts. World-wide, Booking.com features more than 30 types of vacation and short-term rentals to meet growing demand for an extra special place to stay.
According to recent research by the company, more than 37 percent of global travelers seek non-traditional vacation accommodations.
"At Booking.com, our mission is to empower people to experience the world and we continue to find new ways to do that," said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. "Our 'Book the U.S.' List aims to inspire travelers to go beyond the hotel and book a place they've only imagined staying at - or somewhere so epic they never thought possible."
Booking.com is also cultivating in-destination experiences for travelers through its Booking Experiences tool. This allows guests to view things to do in the area they are visiting and instantly book an experience. The product is currently live in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Cultivating local flavor through extended reach
Booking.com, a Kigo preferred partner, relies on penetrating the vacation rental landscape with an intensely local flavor. They do so through over 200world-wide offices that work with partners to maintain 5.7 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay out of nearly 30 million listings. Personalized support provides unique experiences for travelers, the company says.
Kigo's reach has allowed Booking.com to connect with more industry professionals and guests. This enables local Booking.com teams to not only help with listing properties, but also to better understand the types of consumers and needs within specific markets, says Christa Levesque, Booking.com's North American home manager.
“Our channel partnership with Kigo makes things simpler for property managers to keep control of their inventory, and support a growing trend towards instant bookability across multiple platforms,” she said. “Channel management can ensure that a portfolio of products are kept up to date.”
Levesque said leading Booking.com managers use channel management software to ensure rates and availability are updated as close to real-time as possible. The focus is not just on operational efficiency, but also on informing how partners can provide advice and support to property managers so their listings work the best on the Booking.com platform.
"That can be simple advice like 'make sure we know how your key handling works' or 'opt into our automated response service to save you time', or something a little more complex like how to specifically improve your content," she said. "Giving our channel partners this insight allows them to work with property managers so we all benefit from the partnership together."
These specific recommendations per property can be found in the Opportunity Center of the Booking.com Extranet.
Booking.com is also set apart the many different types of accommodations offered. "Unlike other online booking offerings, we have every accommodation option on Booking.com, including homes, apartments and other unique places to stay," Levesque said. "They are instantly bookable and instantly confirmable. When you come to our site, you can find what you are looking for and book the property based on your needs at that moment."
Levesque tells partners that going global in distribution means appealing to different markets, buying patterns and stay patterns.
“Your distribution channels can provide insight and tooling to help,” she said.
Investing in technology to save time
Booking.com is exploring advancements in technology to save partners time. The company is investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning, which handle basic communication between guests and hosts to speed the bookings process.
Relying on chatbots to either scan listing information or learn from previous communications can mean that every request doesn’t have to be answered by an owner or manager.
"Given these trends, Booking.com is testing in a lot of these areas to see what enhancements could be rolled out for partners," Levesque said. "As consumer interest is growing in the homes and apartments (alternative accommodations) segment, we want to ensure we are staying on top of the demand and maintaining the right supply."
Offering tools to enhance performance
Booking.com’s roadmap includes new tools that enhance performance. The company recently launched Visibility Booster, which allows vacation rental managers to increase property visibility and occupancy from specific countries during specific time periods.
Booking.com also offers bulk options, which can establish mass promotions, cancellation exceptions, key handling and management of required guest information. Vacation rental managers can include check-in and check-out times and if guest address and phone number are required during booking.
“We want to make it easy for a partner to join our platform and then provide them with the right tools to support their needs as well as manage their performance,” Levesque said.
The formula will further position Booking.com as the go-to place for any kind of stay. Already, Booking.com is hanging its hat on that along with the more than 1.5 million room nights that are reserved every day on its platform, Levesque says.
“We have an accommodation for everyone.”
Connecting your vacation rental properties to Booking.com through Kigo’s Channel Manager can be a game changer for your business.
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If you are already a Kigo customer and want to learn more about optimizing your listings on Booking.com, contact the Kigo Success team!