Property Performance Course

Lesson 2: How to improve your portfolio’s performance

In Lesson 1, you learned how the Focus Finder identifies which factors have the biggest impact on how your properties perform in the guest booking journey. Now we’ll look at each metric in detail, so you can influence your portfolio’s performance with the right products and commercial decisions.

1. Availability

What is availability?

Availability refers to the amount of bookable inventory (i.e. rooms) a property makes available on certain dates. Offering enough availability on Booking.com, both long term and last minute, improves your properties’ visibility in guests’ search results. 

Having long-term availability helps your properties attract travellers who plan ahead. For example, 44% of UK travellers plan their main holiday 3-6 months in advance, while 17% plan 7-12 months ahead. On Booking.com, we see demand for advance bookings worldwide, which is why properties can add availability for up to 16 months ahead.

It’s also vital that your properties offer short-term availability – we know from research that 35% of all bookings are made last minute (2-7 days before arrival date).

If your properties don’t have a mix of long-term and last-minute availability, they risk not appearing for guests’ chosen search dates. The more availability they can add, the better their chances of being seen and booked. And the more they convert searches into bookings, the higher their visibility in our search results ranking.

Of course, a property can close out rooms on Booking.com whenever they wish. Naturally though, this affects their conversion rate, which in turn may result in lower visibility in search results compared to a property that has been available and receiving bookings.

You can help drive more business to your properties by making sure they offer consistent availability on Booking.com all-year round.

What to do if your portfolio has availability issues?

If your properties’ inventory is not available on enough search dates, their Focus Finder will highlight the ‘Available rooms’ metric as needing improvement (orange/red). The tool will also propose specific commercial opportunities as potential solutions.

Tips to optimise your property portfolio’s availability

Aside from the solutions suggested by Focus Finder, you can also help your properties appear in more searches:

  • Check if any of your properties are auto-closed due to no availability. If so, advise them to update their availability to get back on Booking.com. 

  • Check if your properties have added long-term availability to attract early bookers.

  • Check if your properties are sold out or almost sold out on high-demand dates. If so, advise them to add more availability.

  • Check your properties’ restrictions, particularly for high-demand dates – relaxing some restrictions can often lead to more bookings.

  • Offer to let Booking.com resell their cancelled rooms. If they activate this feature, we’ll automatically put any cancelled rooms back on sale for up to 24 hours. If we find a new guest, we’ll send the property an updated reservation. If not, we’ll notify the property of the original cancellation. 

  • Encourage your properties to use Booking.com’s instant room upgrades. This helps them secure bookings from frequent travellers looking for a deal, and frees up their cheaper rooms (usually their best-selling) for further bookings.

2. Ranking

What is ranking?

Ranking is the order in which we display available properties in guests’ search results. These results are sorted based on what’s most relevant to guests’ particular preferences. 

We take into account their past search behaviour, specific market dynamics and properties’ overall performance on Booking.com. This makes it easier to match guests with the right kind of accommodation, and helps properties attract guests who are looking for a property like theirs. 

Booking.com’s ranking system is dynamic and personalised for each guest. Rather than presenting the same ranking of properties for all types of guests, we tailor guests’ search results to make them relevant to their preferences. 

Where exactly a property appears in search results depends on their performance, their competitive set’s performance and the changing demand in their local market.

Understanding a guest’s search process on Booking.com

Every guest is unique, and their preferences and needs change over time. That’s why the Booking.com ranking algorithm is optimised to meet guests’ changing needs throughout their search process  – which, in turn, helps showcase your properties to the right kind of guests.

A guest’s search process can be split into five different stages:

  • Discover: they’re thinking about taking a trip and start searching for and exploring destinations, property types, particular facilities (e.g. swimming pool), prices and dates.

  • Compare: they’ve decided what their needs are and start comparing different available accommodation, weighing up which one best fulfills their needs.

  • Book: having chosen the accommodation that best matches their preferences, they make a reservation.

  • Experience: the guest’s experience of a property begins the moment they’ve made a booking and continues right through to the end of their stay.

  • Evaluate: the guest evaluates their overall experience both during their stay and after they check out. So guest reviews are a good indicator of how guests rate the quality of (and service at) a property.

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Booking.com customer funnel

What factors affect ranking?

Every guest is unique, and their needs change over time. That’s why our ranking algorithm automatically adjusts search results based on guests’ preferences, past patterns of website traffic and other factors that help us make the ranking relevant for each guest.

We also use machine learning to continually evaluate what matters most to guests, which in turn helps your properties attract the right kind of guest.

While there is no single determining factor, conversion – turning lookers into bookers – is important, and improving your properties’ conversion rate starts with making sure they’re seen by more potential guests.

Conversion is the main indicator of how well your properties perform on our website, which is why our ranking algorithm is designed with conversion in mind.

Conversion also helps us to predict the likelihood of your properties being booked. If a guest who searched using particular preferences books one of your properties, this indicates that it will also appeal to similarly profiled guests in the future – positively affecting the property’s future ranking.

What to do if your portfolio has ranking issues

If your properties are not seen enough in guests’ search dates, their Focus Finder will highlight the ‘Ranking’ metric as needing improvement (orange/red). The tool will also propose specific commercial opportunities as potential solutions.

Tips to optimise your properties’ ranking

Aside from the solutions suggested by Focus Finder, you can help your properties improve their visibility in ranking:

  • Your properties can offer availability for up to 16 months ahead on Booking.com. To attract early bookers, suggest that they load at least 12 months ahead.
  • Make sure your properties have high-resolution photos, accurately listed facilities and complete descriptions. This helps attract potential guests who are exploring and comparing accommodation.
  • In the extranet ‘Property’ tab, check the ‘Property page score’ to see what other content can be added or improved.
  • Price plays an important role when guests are searching for and comparing accommodation. If your properties set up different rate plans, they can appeal to more kinds of guests.
  • If your properties are eligible, suggest they join the Genius programme to attract frequent travellers – who tend to book further in advance and spend more in-stay.
  • If they meet the criteria, your properties can become verified Preferred partners to stand out more in search results – and get up to 65% more page views.
  • Your properties can turn on the Visibility Booster and get a short-term ranking boost whenever they need it. They get to choose the target guests and dates.
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Ranking
3. Click-through rate (CTR) & Conversion

What is click-through rate (CTR)?

A property’s click-through rate, or CTR, represents how often potential guests click on that property in the search results and view the property page.

What is conversion?

Conversion represents how often property-page views result in actual bookings. It’s the main indicator of how well your properties are performing on our website and, as mentioned earlier, it strongly influences ranking.

What to do if your portfolio has CTR or conversion issues?

Guests can choose from around two million properties on Booking.com, so it’s important that your properties stand out enough to get clicks and secure bookings. 

Tips to improve your portfolio’s CTR and conversion

Here are some things you should consider in order to boost your properties’ CTR and conversion:

  • Think of your properties’ content like a shop window. It should showcase their best features, differentiate their offering and encourage potential guests to book.
  • Make sure your properties have high-resolution photos, accurately listed facilities and complete descriptions.
  • In the extranet ‘Property’ tab, check the ‘Property page score’ to see what other content can be added or improved – a 100% score can generate up to 18% more bookings.
  • A good price is mix crucial. If your properties set up different rate plans – discounted, non-refundable, flexible – they can appeal to more kinds of guests. This variety also provides a point of comparison and illustrates the value they offer.
  • We’ve seen this play out in experiments: whether we remove non-refundable rates or flexible rates, overall bookings go down – it’s the combination of the two that works best.
  • Having different rates can mean offering special promotions and deals, such as:
  1. A free night’s stay (final night) when guests book a specific number of nights.
  2. Last-minute deals for guests who book seven days (or less) before arrival.
  3. Early booker deals for guests who book a long time in advance – either visible to all guests or to Booking.com account holders, app users and newsletter subscribers only (‘Secret deals’).
  • Offering discounts to Genius guests – Booking.com’s frequent travellers – can increase your properties’ bookings by 18% and revenue by 17%, even after factoring in the cost of the discount.
  • Becoming a verified Preferred partner can help your properties get up to 35% more bookings.
4. Length of Stay (LoS)

What is length of stay (LoS)?

Length of stay, or LoS, refers to the average number of room nights guests book at your properties.

What to do if your portfolio has LoS issues?

If your properties’ lengths of stay are shorter than similar properties nearby, their Focus Finder will highlight the ‘Length of stay’ metric as needing improvement (orange/red). The tool will also propose specific commercial opportunities as potential solutions.

Tips to increase your properties’ LoS

Aside from the solutions suggested by Focus Finder, you can help your properties increase their lengths of stay:

  • Inform your properties that LoS restrictions (min. or max. nights) can be applied to booking conditions and displayed on their Booking.com page. 
  • Suggest to your properties that they offer a free night’s stay (final night) when guests book a specific number of nights. This encourages guests to book for longer than planned, and increases your properties’ LoS.
  • Advise your properties that they can offer longer stays for a reduced price. For example, help them add a special promotion for week-long stays.
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Content API - Room Amenities
5. Average Daily Rate (ADR)

What is average daily rate (ADR)?

The average daily rate is the average rate a property receives per room night.

What to do if your portfolio has ADR issues?

If your properties have a lower ADR than similar properties nearby, their Focus Finder will highlight the ‘Average daily rate’ metric as needing improvement (orange/red). The tool will also propose specific commercial opportunities as potential solutions.

Tips to increase your properties’ ADR

Aside from the solutions suggested by Focus Finder, you can help your properties boost their average daily rate:

  • Suggest that your properties pitch guests an upgrade to a higher priced room, which will increase ADR.
  • Advise your properties to create a more package-like proposition by offering extra services (e.g. meals, add-ons, activities) throughout the guest experience. Why?
    • 84% of Booking.com guests check a property’s services before booking
    • 61% of Booking.com guests prefer to book breakfast before arrival
    • 50% of global travellers frequently or always use extra services at their accommodation
    • 30% of Booking.com guests paid for extra services on their last trip
6. Cancellations

Podcast: ‘Talking cancellations’ on Click.

In this Click Podcast we delve into implementing effective policies to establishing good communication between properties, guests and peers to reduce cancellations - featuring insights from Peter Heule, CEO of Short Stay Group and Fabrizio Salzano, Group Product Manager at Booking.com.

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Click. podcast

Listen to cancellations podcast 

What is a cancellation?

A cancellation is when a guest or a property decides not to keep a booking. Depending on the cancellation policy attached to the reservation, this may include fees for the guest. 

We know from research that there’s a strong correlation between a longer booking window and the likelihood of cancellations. The longer the booking window, the higher the chance of cancellations.

We also see that family bookings tend to have fewer cancellations. As there’s more planning involved for this kind of guest, they tend to be more committed to their booking.

Different types of cancellations: 

  • Most cancellations on Booking.com come from guests trying to modify their bookings – contact details, dates of stay, number of guests, etc. 

  • Guests can cancel due to personal reasons, external circumstances or by simply forgetting about the reservation.

  • Guests sometimes book multiple properties for the same trip, and once they decide where to stay, they cancel the rest.

  • Some guests cancel and try to rebook if you’ve reduced your rates since their original booking. Others cancel if they find another property at a better price.

  • Some cancellations are due to guest fraud, visa application fraud, prank bookings or mistakes. These bookings are from people who have no intent to stay.

  • Cancellations also occur when guests try to upgrade their original room but can’t.

What to do if your portfolio has cancellation issues?

If your properties’ cancellation rates are higher than similar properties nearby, their Focus Finder will highlight the ‘Cancellations’ metric as needing improvement (orange/red). The tool will also propose specific commercial opportunities as potential solutions.

Tips to reduce your properties’ cancellations

Aside from the solutions suggested by Focus Finder, you can help your properties to reduce cancellations and secure more revenue:

  • Make sure your properties’ content matches guests’ expectations. High-quality photos, accurate facilities and detailed descriptions can persuade guests to keep a booking rather than cancel it.
  • Your properties can build trust and reduce the risk of cancellations by replying promptly to requests – when guests send messages, it indicates an intent to stay.
  • Rather than cancel bookings when a payment is declined, advise your properties to get in touch with their guests – there’s often a logical reason that can be resolved easily.
  • If your properties offer consistent year-round availability for all room types, they can let guests modify their bookings rather than cancelling them.
  • Advise your properties to keep their rates attractive. They should check competitive set data and offer deals, services and rate plans that appeal to different guests.
  • Encourage your properties to avoid decreasing rates close to arrival dates. This can cause guests to cancel (at the original price) and seek a better deal elsewhere.
  • Your properties can secure revenue and reduce last-minute cancellations by adding a non-refundable rate with a deposit policy.
  • Your properties can use Booking.com’s instant room upgrades to secure bookings from frequent travellers looking for a deal – and reduce the risk of cancellations.
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