At Kigo, we are never done improving how we perform with our channel partners. This year we are investing significant resources towards improved connectivity, higher stability and more flexibility. We will be releasing several new upgrades throughout the year that will provide insight to your performance, simplify the more difficult to understand concepts and expand the unique capabilities of each channel. Given the exciting release of the new Content API, and the success of our partnership, many of these features will be available at in Q3 if you syndicate to Booking.com.
As the director of product for vacation rentals, David Mau and his team at Booking.com have one mission: to make it easy for guests to book properties around the world.
We asked David about vacation rental industry trends and how property managers can get more bookings. Here's what he had to say.
What is the single biggest factor shaping the vacation rental industry right now?
The single biggest factor shaping the vacation rental industry at the moment is the increasing interest amongst consumers to explore different types of stay experiences beyond a traditional hotel. This trend has been building and evolving for years and it's definitely something we've seen accelerating recently at Booking.com.
Our customers are hungry for choice and keep looking to us to deliver more and more variety and diversity, particularly when it comes to the breadth of vacation rental options on our platform.
Booking.com offers over 2.1 million choices in homes and apartments. We are constantly looking at ways to make it even easier and faster for great properties to list with us and start sharing their unique stay experiences with our customers. This is the core of what we're focused on at Booking.com - scaling our offering and providing the absolute best experience possible, both for our vacation rental partners and customers.
What will the vacation rental home market look like in five years?
With the rate at which new technologies are evolving, it's impossible to predict exactly where we'll be in terms of e-commerce and vacation rentals in five years, but from what we're seeing at Booking.com, there is still huge potential in this industry to continue growing.
We'll see choices for consumers continue to expand in countries and territories all over the world, as the overall booking and check-in experience becomes even more streamlined and intuitive.
Who knows, with the rapid advances in AI and voice recognition, you might be able to simply ask your Booking.com app to find the perfect place to stay for you in Paris. Then based on your previous travel preferences, reviews and endorsements, we'll be able to present you with a personalized list of the best options for you, with your desired pick confirmed instantly in just a few words. We're not there yet, but that's the ultra-seamless experience we're after with the technologies we work with.
Whether it's a vacation home or an apartment or a treehouse or an igloo, we've got the property that's just right for the customer. And we'll help them book it and enjoy it in the most frictionless and delightful way possible.
What do you think of the industry’s shift from home listings toward online bookings?
What you're seeing is the industry responding to the demands of customers to have a more streamlined experience. We've always only offered instant booking confirmations for all properties listed on Booking.com because we know that's what our customers are looking for. We've never charged booking fees to customers, and we never will. And we've always provided instant confirmation for all bookings made on our platform, whether it's a five-star hotel in London or an apartment in San Francisco.
When people are booking a place to stay, they don't want to have to wait to hear back from a property owner who may not be able to respond for a couple of days, or longer.
With the mobile and smartphone paradigm shift we've experienced in recent years, consumers expect instant gratification and communication. Information is available at our fingertips in a matter of seconds and if it's not, we move on.
In many ways, the industry shift towards professional vacation rental managers is reflecting the changing demands of consumers. They're able to help bridge the gap and provide the content and responsiveness needed to support the demands of modern consumers. Guests can book a unique local stay in a home or apartment with all the comforts of an instantaneous digital experience.
What is on the roadmap for Booking.com features or improvements?
We're constantly looking at features and improvements that will bring enhanced value not only for our customers, but also for our accommodation partners.
We're happy to have rolled out our payments program in several countries and will continue to add new territories and payment methods, so that we can help facilitate payments for even more of our partners that truly need it, connecting them with new customers from all over the world.
Related: Kigo Vacation Rent Payment Solution
To top it all off, we just launched a new Content API, with specifications that make it easy for channel managers, content providers and PMCs to build and manage multiple listings in bulk.
What are other travel industry trends you're following right now? Why do they interest you?
We're really looking closely (and experimenting with) what's going on with machine learning and conversational commerce, as well as all the potential applications for us as an e-commerce platform.
It's still early days, but our aim is always to stay at the forefront of these developments to see what we can leverage to create the ultimate digital booking and travel experience for our customers and partners.
Imagine being able to order a bottle of champagne last minute on your way from the airport and have it waiting for you when you arrive in your room.
That's the kind of enhanced experience that technology can deliver and what we're looking at developing for our customers and partners through innovations in messaging and artificial intelligence.
What are Booking.com users hungry for when it comes to accommodations? What don't they want?
Booking.com customers first and foremost want choice. We have customers from all over the world who are travelling for a multitude of different reasons and as such, there is no one magic formula to appeal to all of them.
They simply want to find the stay that's just right for them for a great price in the most intuitive way possible...and this requires transparency.
So what we do at Booking.com is to help provide them with all of the information they need to make an educated decision, starting with high-quality visual content, great prices, accurate policy information, and authentic, unedited reviews from other travelers just like them. And with every property being instantly bookable on Booking.com, that means no waiting around to find out if your booking request has been accepted. It's all about that instant gratification.
Customers don't want is to pay inflated prices, extra booking fees or to have any unexpected surprises when it comes to their stay experience. They want their entire travel experience to be smooth and enjoyable and that's what we aim to deliver.
What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to property listings?
My biggest pet peeve as a customer is having to pay booking fees. When I'm booking a home or apartment or any property for that matter, I don't believe I should be charged an additional fee by the platform I'm using. That lack of transparency in the pricing really irks me, which is why I think it's so great that Booking.com has never charged booking fees to its customers.
As for the actual listings themselves, another pet peeve of mine is when an accommodation tries to be something that it's not. It sounds a bit trite, but properties should really just try to be themselves. Be the best you that you can be and show that to our customers in an honest way.
Most importantly, don't try to hide things from our customers in your listing. This will always show up in your reviews and may deter other customers from booking and enjoying your property.
What are the most effective ways to market vacation rentals?
As every home and apartment is unique, the most effective thing you can do is to showcase what makes your property special. Express who you are and what your property is all about, so that potential customers can get to know your space in a short amount time.
With that in mind, having lots of high-quality photos that are an accurate representation of your property is key. Customers want to know what they can expect if they stay at your home or apartment, so make sure you show them the kitchen facilities, the bathroom, the bedrooms, etc. If you have a pool, customers definitely want to see it.
It's also important to keep all of the available facilities for your property up-to-date. Many people who are booking vacation rental properties use specific filters to find and sort their options. This includes things as basic as air conditioning, a washer and dryer, or Wi-Fi to an outdoor pool or BBQ facilities. This all helps people to find your property more quickly and establish that it's the right choice for them.
Kigo Channel Management Software and Booking.com Extranet – Better Together
Kigo’s channel manager software enables you to market your vacation rental properties to a wider audience with Booking.com, Airbnb and HomeAway. It also allows you to target niche audiences with a great selection of other portal partners like Despegar, Only-Apartments, Zhubaijia, and more.
Watch this Channel Management Software Overview Video!
To learn more about channel management, attend RealWorld 2017 and join our VP of Product and Engineering for a session on Demystifying Channel Management.