01 Nov 2018

Booking.com creates new filters and tools for short-term rental partners

Tools to help professional vacation rental managers save time and control who can book their properties are part of a new suite of products launched this week by Booking.com.

Booking.com vice president Olivier Grémillon, who leads the brand’s home division, says the company developed the tools based on input from professionals that manage some of the 5.7 million listings of homes, apartments and other private accommodations available on the site.

One tool created based on such feedback allows property managers to set filters that determine which Booking.com users will be able to book their properties – such as only guests with verified phone numbers or only guests that have made a reservation on Booking.com in the past. Partners can also now instantly report guest misconduct and block those guests from making future bookings.

“The instant booking model, we really believe that it’s actually what the customers want. They want to be able to book an apartment as easily as they book a hotel,” Grémillon says.

“The partners understand the instantly bookable model gives them more bookings as well. But one thing they told us, though, is the fact that they want to … be able to filter some of the guests that are coming to their place.”

“We think it’s the best of both worlds, because it gives control to the hosts on one side, and it’s still a very frictionless experience on the guest side because they can book instantly any property that they see.”

The system is starting with a few filters, but Grémillon says it may enable more in the future.

“These are strictly created by Booking,” he says.

“Obviously one of the things we want to avoid is that some partners do filtering based on criteria we wouldn’t necessarily approve of. So we are the ones deciding on the filters.”

Property mangers can also use a new Group Connect feature that streamlines communications with guests through message templates and automated scheduling.

Another time-saver is a new bulk action capability, enabling property managers to create cancellation policies, promotional offers and house rules across all properties at once. The system also now has a new profile page where partners can add personal messages about themselves, their properties and the neighborhoods where properties are located.

All of these new features are available on all of the platforms professional managers use for their portfolio of properties, including Booking.com’s extranet, its mobile app for partners called Pulse or a connectivity provider.

Next steps

Looking ahead, Grémillon says Booking.com is focusing its expansion efforts for the home division on the United States, “because we have some catch-up to do there,” he says. Asia, primarily China, is another region in his sights.

Along with growing the rental property inventory, Grémillon says it will continue to develop connections between Booking Holdings’ tours and activities business – boosted by its acquisition of Fareharbor in April – and its accommodations brands.

“Right now if you book an accommodation in Booking in some selected markets we actually propose you some of these activities – it doesn’t matter whether you book a hotel or a home or an apartment,” he says.

“The thing we are actually doing as well for some of our accommodation partners is if they actually provide experiences themselves, they can list that on our platform not only to their guests but to additional guests.”

And while, in the past, Booking Holdings has acquired businesses to provide software and tools to its hotel partners, Grémillon says that is not the current plan for alternative accommodations.

“I would never say never, but I would say our strategy is to partner with tools that exist that our property owners are using because the market is very fragmented,” he says.

“We are more in the strategy of partnering with a lot of them and having deep discussions on how to make the technology better for the partners, for the hosts and elevating the technology by providing them better connectivity and by also telling them what we need from their side.”

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