The Booking.com Genius Partner Program is one of the most lucrative ways to generate higher and continuous sales on Booking.com. While other partner programs are designed to attract new guests, the Genius program gives select hotels and properties a chance to connect with frequent travelers, thus opening the opportunity of gaining loyal customers. This blog will discuss how to make the most of Booking.com Genius program.
What is the Booking.com Genius Program?
Booking.com is one of the leading online booking platform among travelers, hotels, and online travel agencies. It was hailed as the most visited travel and tourism website in the world, with 511 million unique visits in the last quarter of 2022. Aside from its numerous advertisement efforts, the website doesn’t fall short of creating marketing campaigns to increase customer retention for its partners.
One of Booking.com’s most popular marketing campaigns is the Genius Partner Program, which is as alluring to guests as it is for partners. The program connects businesses to avid travelers who have reached a certain number of required stays. These “Genius” users are granted exclusive discounts and other travel rewards in exchange for their loyalty and support to Booking.com. Thus, it works like a hotel loyalty program to encourage more people to book Genius partners.
The discounts granted by the partners range from 10-20% of the regular booking rate. While these discounts are based on the Genius level of the users, businesses are also eligible to do special tagging, ranking boosts, and other marketing promos to maintain a competitive edge among other Genius partners.
What are the benefits of the Genius Partner Program?
While the Genius program requires fixed discounts and perks from partners, it’s actually a highly lucrative way to generate more sales. Here are some of the benefits enjoyed by Genius partners:
Increased booking rates.
Genius users would always prefer Genius hotels compared to other hotel chains. Aside from the perks they’ll get, most users actually book accommodations just to reach their quota and get into the next Genius level. This gives Genius partners a boost in their booking rates.
Better visibility to relevant searches.
Booking.com gives better visibility to businesses that are in their partner programs. After all, their programs follow strict membership guidelines, ensuring they provide nothing less than an exceptional guest experience. So, suppose you’re still starting to fully optimize your listing and collecting more reviews to boost your ranking. In that case, the Genius program may significantly increase your visibility in relevant searches.
To learn more about optimizing your profile, read our complete article, Optimizing Your Booking.com Profile for Maximum Visibility.
Decreased cancellation rates.
Guest cancellation is Booking.com’s biggest problem. According to recent surveys, cancellations on Booking.com are 104% higher compared to direct channels and 31% higher compared to Expedia websites. While this is genuinely scathing to the website, it poses even more significant risks to partners.
Considering these figures, hotels must explore various solutions to mitigate revenue loss because of cancellations, such as the Genius program. Since users are granted the Genius membership based on their previous bookings and customer behavior, they are the least likely to cancel bookings.
Achieve customer loyalty.
Genius users are avid travelers. So, they’re the ones who are most likely to book properties in the future. Once you provide them with an excellent guest experience, they will definitely book your property again. For businesses, this isn’t just an opportunity to generate sales but also a great chance to upsell your services.
Opportunity to collect reviews.
Collecting guest reviews is one of the most crucial strategies to increase your visibility and conversion rates on Booking.com. Unfortunately, some guests don’t have the time and willingness to do this.
Genius users are considered experts on the website due to their booking history. For this reason, most of them are more than willing to post reviews about their accommodations, especially if they were granted the perks and privileges.
How does the Genius Partner Program work?
Booking.com applies the Genius rates to their partners’ least expensive or most popular listings. If they are the same, the discount will only apply to one of them. Furthermore, they set the required discounts in reference to the Genius Rewards Program of the users.
Here’s a quick guide to Booking.com’s Genius Loyalty Program:
Booking Genius Level 1
This entry-level membership is granted to users immediately after signing up. Users get 10% discounts on their accommodations after taxes and charges. Once completed, the user will get a lifetime membership without any further requirement to maintain Genius Level 1.
Booking Genius Level 2
Granted to users who have completed five stays within two years. It comes with a 15% discount, complimentary breakfast, and free room upgrades on Genius partners.
Booking Genius Level 3
Users must complete 15 stays within two years. Users are awarded a 20% discount, priority assistance, complimentary breakfast, and free room upgrade on select accommodations.
The free room upgrades are subject to the approval of the partners. However, it’s worth noting that most users expect these Genius benefits as they are stipulated on the website. Aside from this, the discount can also be stacked with other discounts, including the Early Booker Deal, Last Minute Deal, Basic Deal, Secret Deal, and Free Nights Deal.
How do you qualify for Genius on Booking.com?
As mentioned a while ago, the Genius Partner Program is free. No subscription fees, application payments, or commission rate increases. However, Booking.com ensures that they provide nothing less than the best accommodations for their loyal users, so they observe strict eligibility guidelines for their partners.
Here’s how you can get into the Genius Partner Program:
- Ensure your listings are open and bookable through the website.
- Collect at least three guest reviews.
- Maintain an average Review Score of 7.5. (Booking.com makes an exception for specific cities. As long as your Review Score is above average within your area, you will be considered for the program.)
If you meet these criteria and wish to enter the Genius Partner Program, proceed to the “Opportunities” tab on your Extranet dashboard and submit your application.
How can you remove your Genius discount?
While the Genius program requires a specific set of discounts, partners can block out related deals for up to 30 days each year. This allows brands to optimize their listings or modify price lists before re-activating Genius promos.
Here’s how to temporarily suspend your Genius discount:
- Log in to the Extranet.
- Click the Genius Partner Program under the Opportunities tab.
- Select Suspend Genius discount and choose dates when you want to block out the Genius promos.
- Click Suspend dates to confirm
You can choose 30 consecutive or non-consecutive dates. However, note that Genius users who booked their stay before you blocked out dates can still claim discounts.
How do I get out of Genius Program on Booking?
Booking.com also allows partners to opt out of the program whenever necessary. All you have to do is send Booking.com a message through your Extranet inbox requesting the removal of your Genius membership. Remember that it will take six months to rejoin the program.
What is the difference between Genius Partner Program and Booking Preferred Partner Program?
As of this writing, Booking.com has two major marketing campaigns for its partners, the Genius Partner Program and the Preferred Partner Program.
The Genius Partner Program is designed to boost customer retention of businesses by giving users additional benefits. Since it caters to frequent travelers, companies can connect with people with the highest likelihood of rebooking your property. So, if your business doesn’t have difficulty attracting new customers but finds it challenging to retain them, this program may be the answer. Most importantly, the Genius program is free of charge as long as your business meets the requirements.
According to the website, partners who join the Genius program see an increase of 70% in search result views, 45% in bookings, and 40% in revenue with the cost of the discount accounted for.
On the other hand, the Booking Preferred Partner Program is designed to help businesses attract new customers, as it automatically grants greater visibility in search results. Furthermore, if you get into the program, Booking.com will give a special ‘thumbs-up’ seal of approval on your property page, which increases your competitiveness among users.
Booking.com claims that businesses under the Preferred Partners Program receive up to 65% more page views and a 20% increase in booking rate. Despite this, it’s worth noting that this program isn’t free. In exchange for the increased visibility and the thumbs-up seal, Booking.com will charge higher commission rates for your listings.
Businesses don’t really have to choose between the two programs, as they can join them simultaneously. Both programs are designed to achieve different business goals, ultimately leading to an increase in revenue. However, due to its additional benefits, the Genius Program is significantly more popular among users.
How to make the most out of the Genius Partner Program?
Numerous businesses claim that the Booking.com Genius program is, in fact, counterproductive for hotels and properties. The fixed discount rates, the required freebies, and the selection of the least popular listings aren’t that fruitful for some companies. However, just like any marketing campaign, the program’s effectiveness relies on how the Genius partners implement it.
Here are some of the tips to maximize the Genius Partner Program:
Promote your Genius discount to your social media accounts.
Like any promo, it’s highly recommended to promote your Genius discounts to your social media accounts. Aside from making a buzz among your followers, it’s also an excellent opportunity to reach out to other Genius users who are yet to book your property.
Engage with Genius users.
Good marketing campaigns would always have follow-up offers to maintain the interest of their leads. In line with this, it’s best to engage regularly with Genius users. While Booking.com encrypts the email address of guests, business owners can still send them messages even after they checkout. Update your guests about your existing promos, ongoing change in facilities, or pretty much anything that will entice them to book your property again.
Grant freebies or room upgrades whenever possible.
Always give Genius users the discounts, room upgrades, and travel rewards specified on Booking.com whenever possible. However, it’s best to have backup plans whenever you can’t accommodate their requests. For instance, during the peak seasons when you can’t grant room upgrades, you can try giving room upgrade vouchers which they can use for their next booking. You can also explore complimentary lunch, additional discounts, and other freebies.
Actively collect guest reviews.
As mentioned a while ago, guest reviews are excellent marketing assets to attract potential guests. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to actively collect guest reviews from Genius users. Send follow-up emails and SMS reminders, add a welcome pack to their rooms, and respectfully ask them upon checkout. To learn more about the best strategies to collect more Booking.com reviews, read our complete article here.
Respond to guest reviews.
Your response is as important as the guest reviews–this is especially true for the travel industry. According to recent surveys, 77% of travelers are likelier to book businesses that respond to reviews.
Replying to guest reviews is an excellent way to build rapport with Genius users. It can also encourage other guests, even non-Genius members, to post reviews that can help your overall score on Booking.com.
Read our complete article here to learn more about responding to Booking.com reviews.
Build customer loyalty with Genius users plus an AI review reply assistant.
Responding to online reviews can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with avid travelers who connect with numerous hotels and properties in a year. For this reason, getting online reputation management tools is highly recommended to help you strategically build customer loyalty among guests.
MARA AI review reply assistant can help you write well-written and engaging responses within seconds. Each generated reply highlights key features of your business that will give you a competitive edge among other Booking.com listings.
Here are some of the benefits enjoyed by MARA users:
- Achieve 100% response rates with cutting-edge AI
- Make guests feel valued through unique and human-like responses;
- Reduced response times and costs
- Saves brain power so your team can focus on other tasks
- Get consistently high-quality responses that will surely connect with guests
Register for a FREE account to see how the MARA AI review reply generator can strengthen your reputation among Genius users.
The entire tourism industry is becoming more competitive every day. For this reason, hotel managers and property owners must explore numerous ways to establish customer loyalty among frequent travelers. Booking.com’s Genius Partner Program is a great way to connect with a solid customer base who will likely revisit your property. After all, you can opt out of the program anytime, and it’s free!
This article is part of our hero content on Booking.com Optimization: The Ultimate Guide for Hotel Managers.
Frequently Asked Questions:
As of this writing, there are currently two Booking.com partner programs. First is the Genius Partner Program, which allows businesses to connect with frequent travelers. The second one is the Preferred Partner Program which grants listing a Booking-approved badge to attract new guests.
Yes. The Genius Partner Program is free. However, you need a bookable listing, at least 3 guest reviews, and an average Review Score of 7.5 to qualify.
There are currently three Genius Levels on Booking.com, each with a unique set of requirements to qualify.
Users must reach the booking target set for each level to level up on Genius booking. Once completed, users don't need to apply for the next level, as Booking.com would automatically grant exclusive discounts given to each Genius Level. However, remember that only bookings done on the website will be honored.
The highest level a user can reach on the Genius Loyalty Program is Level 3. Users are awarded a 20% discount, priority assistance, complimentary breakfast, and free room upgrade on select accommodations.