Property Performance Course

Lesson 3: A deep dive into Booking.com’s products

In Lessons 1 and 2 you learned how to use the Focus Finder and key business metrics to analyse the performance of your portfolio. You also received a quick overview of commercial tips that can help you positively influence property performance. To help you become an expert in accelerating property performance via the Connectivity Programme, we’ll now take you on a deep dive of Booking.com’s strategic products. These can have a strong impact on conversion and stayed room nights, and can ultimately lead to increased revenue for your properties.

1. Genius
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Genius Education

What is Genius?

Genius is an exclusive programme that brings accommodation partners closer to our most frequent bookers. Joining Genius can help properties get more bookings faster, through a ranking booster and better visibility in search results on our website.

In addition, Genius properties are displayed to a select group of customers who travel more often, book further in advance and spend more when booking. Genius guests are those who have made at least two bookings on Booking.com and completed those stays in a two-year window.

What are the eligibility criteria for a property to join Genius?

To be eligible for the Genius programme, a property must:

  • Be available and open for reservations on Booking.com.

  • Have received 5 or more guest reviews.

  • Have a review score of at least 7.5*.

  • Be among the top 50% of performers in their city or area.

  • Meet our pricing criteria**.

* Exceptions may be made if the average review score in their city or area is lower than 7.5 and if the property’s review score is higher than the average in their city or area.

** Exceptions on pricing can be made for different countries, in accordance with local regulations.

If their property meets these eligibility criteria, a partner can sign up to Genius via the ‘Opportunities’ tab in the extranet. Joining the programme automatically enables a mandatory 10% Genius discount on the least expensive and most popular room. In situations where the least expensive room is not the bestselling one, the discount will apply to both room types.

As soon as a partner joins Genius, they start attracting high-value Genius guests. On average, accommodation partners who join the programme increase their bookings by 18% and their revenue by 17%, after subtracting the cost of the discount.

How can a partner opt into the Genius programme?

How can a partner opt out of the Genius programme?

This depends on their property type. In most cases, partners can opt out of the programme by going to the ‘Opportunities’ tab in the extranet and clicking on ‘Genius Partner Programme’. Properties can also contact Booking.com through their inbox in the extranet. Keep in mind that if a partner opts out of the Genius programme, they won’t be able to opt their property back in for six months.

Hear from the Senior Product Marketing Manager on the Genius programme

2. Preferred Partner Programme
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Preferred Programme Education

What is the Preferred Partner Programme?

Preferred is an exclusive programme that gives greater visibility to accommodation partners who are in the top 30% in terms of performance. Properties that meet the criteria can expect a big boost in bookings in return for a small increase in commission.

Preferred partners enjoy greater visibility in the search results and receive a special thumbs-up icon to indicate their preferred status. These factors can contribute to up to 65% more page views and 40% more bookings for preferred partners.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Preferred Partner Programme?

Partners become eligible to join when they meet these three criteria:

  1. They have a review score of 7.0 or above.

  2. Their property’s performance score – calculated using their expected annual sales and customer demand – is in the top 30%.

  3.  The average price difference between their property’s prices on Booking.com and other platforms does not exceed 5%.

Each quarter, we make sure that the partner still meets these criteria. Partners can always check their status by going to the ‘Opportunities’ tab in the extranet and clicking on ‘Preferred Partner Programme’.

How can a partner opt in to the Preferred Partner Programme?

How can a partner opt out of the Preferred Partner Programme?

To leave the programme, partners simply visit the extranet and click on the ‘Opportunities’ tab. In the ‘Preferred Partner Programme’ section, they can select the option to leave. The property status and commission amount will change automatically, and they will receive a confirmation message in their extranet inbox.

Keep in mind that once a partner leaves the programme, they will only be able to rejoin after 180 days and if they still meet the criteria.

Hear from the Senior Product Marketing Manager on the Preferred Partner Programme

3. Payments

What are payments on Booking.com? 

There is a growing trend of guests paying for bookings online through a variety of payment systems, including PayPal, WeChat Pay and iDeal. For example, research shows that over 900 million people worldwide use the Chinese digital wallet Alipay. German and Dutch guests, on the other hand, are more accustomed to using EC cards than credit cards.

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Alternative Payment Methods

The reality is that guests around the world use different payment methods, and properties can’t always support all of them. Our research shows that one in five potential guests don’t complete a reservation because their preferred payment method is not available.

To help properties attract more international guests, Booking.com offers two online payment systems:

  • Online Payments are for properties that accept credit card payments.

  • Payments by Booking.com are for properties that don’t accept credit cards.

These systems enable guests to make secure payments online using their preferred system. Booking.com facilitates these payments according to each property’s policies and sends guaranteed payments to our partners. This reduces operational hassle and helps properties grow their revenue while reducing risk.

What are the benefits of Online Payments for partners?

Partners that are signed up to one of our payment systems don’t have to worry about chasing payments or dealing with invalid credit cards, fraudulent bookings or chargebacks. When a guest chooses to book and pay online, we take on these responsibilities and send the money directly to the partner.

Properties that have Online Payments enabled typically receive fewer cancellations. In fact, data shows that guests who pay online on Booking.com are four times less likely to cancel. We’ve also seen that using Online Payments significantly reduces no-shows, because guests who have already paid are more committed to their booking.

How does it work for properties?

We facilitate payments from guests in a way that suits a property’s specific needs. Depending on that property’s policies, we pay partners through either a virtual credit card or bank transfer.

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Online Payments Education

What is a virtual credit card and how does it work? 

Virtual credit cards (VCCs) are digital MasterCards that allow for easy, secure online payments between a guest and a property. A unique VCC is used for every booking that a property receives. Every VCC has a different card number, expiration date and card verification code (the code that’s usually on the back of a physical credit card).

Every VCC has an activation date that determines when it can be charged. This activation date depends on the property’s booking policy. For non-refundable bookings – or bookings for which over 90% of the chargable amount is non-refundable – the property can charge the VCC as soon as they receive it. For bookings made with flexible policies, the activation date is 14 days before the guest’s check-in date. Partners can charge a VCC for up to six months from the guest’s check-out date, when it will expire.

A VCC’s chargeable period can be extended for another six months from the original expiry date. After the end of this second six-month period, the partner will no longer be able to access the funds. From that point the funds will belong to Booking.com.  

Do properties receive payments via virtual credit card or bank transfer?

To find out whether they can expect payment via virtual credit card (VCC) or bank transfer, partners can click on the 'Finance' tab in the extranet and select either ‘Online Payments’ or ‘Payments by Booking.com’, depending on which payment system they’re signed up to.

This information also appears at the individual reservation level on the 'Reservation details' page in the extranet. Partners can see each reservation’s payment method in the ‘Total price’ column.

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Online Payments in Education

Partners can also see how a guest has paid in the ‘Payment status’ section of the reservation details.

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Online Payments Reservations

 

How can partners charge a virtual credit card?

Information on virtual credit cards (VCC) can be found in the partner’s guest information system. To charge a VCC accurately, please keep in mind the following information:

  • The activation date: This is the first date that the VCC can be charged. A charge made before this date will fail.

  • The expiration date: This is the last date that the VCC can be charged. After this date, partners must apply for an extension to be able to charge the VCC.

  • The current balance: This is the available balance on the VCC. Please keep it in mind to avoid incorrect charges.

What is the Payments Clarity Package?

The Payments Clarity Package is designed to bridge the gap between information in the extranet and Connectivity platforms. It includes a price clarity feature that shows price breakdowns, as well as three virtual credit card (VCC) tags.

  • Price Clarity ‘include_price_details’ feature (what to charge). This feature displays a detailed price breakdown of all charges, regardless of whether the property handles VCCs. Price details include taxes and extra charges like cleaning fees, resort fees and service charges. Properties that do handle VCCs can also see which extra charges are excluded from the VCC.
  • VCC Activation Date tag (when to charge).This tag shows the VCC activation date, so you know when your property or properties can start charging the VCC.
  • VCC Current Balance tag (how much to charge). This tag displays the available balance on the VCC, so you know the exact amount your property needs to charge.
  • VCC Expiry Date tag (when the VCC expires). This tag shows the VCC expiration date, so your properties can avoid charging an expired card. A VCC is activated 14 days before check-in for flexible bookings. For non-refundable bookings it is activated immediately. It expires six months after check-out, or whenever the whole amount has been charged.

Among early adopters of the Payments Clarity Package , we saw a 65% reduction in card authorisation failures.

How can partners opt in to Online Payments?

Podcast: ‘Transformation of online payments’

In today’s travel industry, creating a seamless customer journey for payments is a must. In this podcast, you’ll find out more about the online payments sector and how Booking.com is offering different payment options to meet  guests’ various needs. You’ll hear from Brian Dammeir, Head of Product at Adyen, and Morten Larsen, Head of Product Marketing at Booking.com. 

Listen to the podcast on Click.

4. Occupancy-based pricing

What is occupancy-based pricing?

Occupancy-based pricing (OBP) allows properties to maximise the occupancy of their more spacious and valuable rooms. They can do this by offering a tailored price based on the number of people staying in each room.

For example, a queen room with two queen beds might accommodate a maximum of four guests. Using occupancy-based pricing, this room could be offered to groups of two or three guests, or even to a single guest. Each group would see a different price for the same room. The same applies to double, triple and larger rooms.

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Occupancy Based Pricing

 

What are the benefits of occupancy-based pricing?

This pricing model allows partners to set different rates for the same room depending on the number of people staying in it. It makes it possible to reach different types of travellers with the same room type, which helps to increase occupancy and grow revenue.

Our research shows that occupancy-based pricing increases property revenue by an average of 3.5%. In particular, offering solo rates for double rooms has been shown to increase clicks on a property’s page by as much as 7% and bookings by up to 5%.

5. Mobile rates
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Mobile Rates Education

What are mobile rates?

Mobile rates are exclusive prices offered to guests searching Booking.com on mobile devices. This can be on either the Booking.com app or mobile browsers). Setting up a mobile rate means offering an exclusive discount of 10% or more for mobile users. Once a partner sets up mobile rates, a special badge appears next to their property in search results and on their property page. Mobile rates give properties greater visibility and can ultimately increase bookings from mobile traffic by as much as 26%.

How do mobile rates benefit properties?

In 2018, for the first time, more than half of our accommodation reservations were made on a mobile device. 80% of travellers now use a mobile app when researching a trip. By setting up mobile rates, partners can tap into this valuable and expanding traveller segment.

In addition to more visibility and traffic, better prices also translate into better property reviews, and these help properties rank higher in search results. Two thirds of mobile bookings are made by millennials, who research has shown write more reviews than any other traveller segment. Attracting these bookers can positively impact properties’ overall ranking on Booking.com.

How do mobile rates work?

Connected properties can set up mobile rates in their property management system if they’ve adopted the Promotions API. Without this API, properties can set up mobile rates in the extranet, under the ‘Rates & Availability’ tab.

  • Mobile rates are only visible to guests searching on mobile devices, on either the Booking.com app or a mobile browser).

  • Mobile rates apply to all of a property’s rooms and rate plans.

  • We recommended a minimum discount of 10%.

  • This discount is in addition to discounts for the Genius programme, as well as any other active promotions.

  • The discount is not applied to country rates or Deal of the Day rates.

  • Properties can set up 30 blackout days per calendar year, when the mobile rates do not apply.

A step-by-step guide to setting up mobile rates

6. Country rates
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Country Rates

What are country rates?

Global travel is on the rise, and more international guests mean more opportunities for our partners. Country rates are targeted discounts that properties can offer to guests from specific locations. They enable properties to tap into completely new markets, fill available rooms and generate extra revenue during the local low season. Keep in mind that country rates aren’t available in certain countries because of legal or commercial restrictions. To see which countries they’re available in, visit the ‘Promotions’ section of the extranet and click on ‘Country rates’.

Partners can find personalised country rate recommendations in the extranet’s ‘Rates & Availability’ tab. These recommendations are based on data tailored to their properties and can help partners decide which regions to target.

How do country rates improve properties’ performance?

  • Country rates help properties grow their revenue by targeting international travellers, who tend to book earlier and cancel less.
  • Offering country rates in high-demand countries gives properties a better ranking and more visibility in Booking.com’s search results.
  • Country rates help to fill in available rooms during holiday periods, high-demand dates or local low seasons. 

How can partners set up country rates?

7. Risk-Free Reservations

What are Risk-Free Reservations?

Risk-Free Reservations are a way for properties to attract guests who value extra flexibility. When partners set up Risk-Free Reservations, we update their policy to free cancellation. If the property already has this policy, we extend the period of the free cancellation.

But this doesn’t mean partners are left with more risk. If a guest cancels a reservation, we’ll either find a new guest to replace them or pay the partner the commissionable amount for any room nights that we’re not able to replace.

Because of legal and commercial restrictions and eligibility criteria, Risk-Free Reservations aren’t available in all countries or to all partners. Partners who want to set up Risk-Free Reservations must also sign up to Payments by Booking.com.

What are the benefits of Risk-Free Reservations?

Risk-Free Reservations add even more flexibility to properties’ existing cancellation policies, which helps them appeal to more guests. Our data shows that properties with flexible cancellation policies are more likely to convert property page views into bookings. These bookings don’t have a higher cancellation rate; our research shows that guests just prefer the extra peace of mind that comes with the option of cancelling for free. Upgrading to Risk-Free Reservations helps partners fill their properties faster without increasing their level of risk.

How can partners set up Risk-Free Reservations?

Partners can set up Risk-Free Reservations by clicking on the ‘Property’ tab in the extranet. They should select the ‘Policies’ section, scroll down to the ‘Risk-Free Reservations’ box and click on ‘Join now’.

8. Messaging
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Messaging Education

What are automatic replies?

Automatic replies are standard messages that can be set up to answer the most common questions guests send to properties after they’ve made a reservation. Research shows that 50% of travellers don’t mind whether they’re dealing with a person or a computer, as long as their questions are answered.

Automatic replies are available for questions about parking, checking in and out and bed types. Guests select from a menu of frequently-asked questions and receive an automatic reply via email or the Booking Assistant chat interface. Guests also have the option of typing in their own question. In that case, the question is sent directly to the property for a manual response. In addition to the existing template responses, partners can create additional templates to provide more information as needed. Partners are always in control of the type of automatic replies that are sent out.

 

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Customer Flow Education

What are messaging templates?

Messaging templates are used to send customised responses to the most common requests and enquiries that a property receives. Guest details can be added automatically, depending on who the partner is responding to. Partners can also add image attachments to their templates to provide guests with extra information.

How can partners set up automatic replies and messaging templates in the extranet?

How do properties benefit from setting up automatic replies and messaging templates?

Setting up automatic replies and messaging templates helps partners save time and effort handling requests about parking, checking in and out and bed types.

Hear from our Product Marketing Manager Kevin So on automatic replies

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More lessons in this course

Content API

Education

Lesson 1: Focus Finder

This course will walk you through Focus Finder, a tool created by Booking.com that details the guest booking journey on our platform – and helps you identify the factors that impact your properties’ performance.
Partner Programme Update

Education

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.