Travelers gained more flexibility in booking accommodation due to the rise of numerous booking platforms. In the past, travelers had to rely on expensive big-name hotel brands to guarantee quality accommodations during their trips. Nowadays, travelers can compare deals, locations, amenities, and other hotel offers with a few clicks on their smartphones. This makes it easy to find the best option for their needs.
The competition among hospitality businesses has changed due to this. Organic marketing used to be the main source of visibility, but now it heavily relies on booking website visibility. Leading the pack of these websites is Booking.com – and here's how property managers like you can make a competitive online presence on the website to get excellent conversion rates.
Why it is important to rank good on Booking.com
As of 2023, Booking.com is still considered the best booking website by travelers worldwide. With over $76.5 billion in bookings, 590 million nights booked, and 15.3 million airline tickets purchased, there's no denying that the company has proven that Booking.com indeed generates sales for businesses.
Despite leading the competition among booking websites, it's also worth noting that Booking.com doesn't pass on any advertising opportunity, as the company reportedly spends over $1 billion annually on Google Ads. In the last quarter of 2022, Booking.com gained 284.7 million online traffic, 55 million of which came from paid searches.
Booking.com's strong online presence and effective advertising campaigns enable businesses to reach wider audiences and increase their sales. Ranking on Booking.com is therefore more than just appearing on the website itself, but also on various search engines.
How to create a Booking.com listing?
Before creating a listing, you must first register for a business account. Here’s how you can do this:
- Go to https://join.booking.com/ and click Get Started
- Enter your email address and click Continue
- Fill out the information form and click Next
- Choose a password and confirm your registration by clicking Create Account
After creating a business account, you can proceed to create a listing. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Login at https://account.booking.com/
- Once you’re on your business account dashboard, select Add New Property
- Choose your property type and select List Your Property
- Supply the required listing details
- Confirm your registration by clicking Save
If you’re still yet to finalize your listing details, you can pause the registration process. To continue, just proceed to your business account dashboard and click Continue. Booking.com will review your registration and will send you a confirmation email once your listing has been activated. The review process may take two business days. You may be asked to provide more business documents to prove your ownership. Once you’re able to open the Extranet dashboard, you can start optimizing your listing.
Understanding search on Booking.com
Booking.com is a popular online travel platform that helps users find and book accommodations worldwide. The search results on Booking.com are tailored to users' individual needs, taking into account their search history, market dynamics, and the overall performance of listings on the site. The algorithm used by Booking.com to determine these results is not made public, but it is known that machine learning is used to provide users with the best possible results for them.
One key factor in determining a listing's ranking on Booking.com is its conversion rate; that is, how many user searches are converted into actual bookings. A higher conversion rate will lead to more views from similar users who have already booked with you, as this signals to the algorithm that your listing is popular and desirable. Additionally, having availability on the dates specified by the user or offering filtered amenities can also help boost your ranking in search results.
How does the Booking.com ranking algorithm work?
Just like any search engine, Booking.com's algorithm connects users to relevant searches, giving each visitor unique results.
The first factor that affects the search algorithm is the Guest Review Score. This rating is made of your previous guests’ evaluation of your property’s cleanliness, comfort, value, facilities, location, and staff. Property with at least 9.0 is most likely to appear on relevant searches, while those with 8.0 and below would appear only if they fit the search filters provided by the users.
The first factor that affects the search algorithm is the filters. Booking.com listings must fill in search filters, including rental time preference, location, facilities, property type, and prices. These filters are prioritized on user searches.
Next is the user's booking history. Previous bookings are more likely to rank higher on an individual search, especially when the user left positive feedback on the said property.
The overall website performance significantly affects the ranking of each property on the website. Regardless of how good their price list is, if the property has a low rating from previous guests, the ranking will significantly decrease.
Lastly is the content of the page. Booking.com prides itself on empowering guests to compare properties and deals. Because of this, a fully-optimized profile with engaging photos and detailed copies is a must.
Understanding the user journey of a guest on Booking.com
To help you understand which features of your Booking.com listing you should prioritize, here's a quick guide on a Booking.com user journey:
The user searches properties by indicating their location, number of potential guests, type of property, and check-in dates. They can further narrow their search by using filters such as budget, star rating, facilities, landmarks, and other previous filters.
Users would compare listings on their search by browsing through profile content. This includes browsing through room options, property photos, price lists, property house rules, and, most importantly, customer reviews.
Upon checking the property's availability for their target dates, they would choose their room type, where they can see a breakdown of booking fees. The guest may proceed to book accommodation or return to the list of properties to find better deals.
This stage begins when the booking is completed, and the guest proceeds to the property during the indicated check-in dates. This includes all online customer support services such as confirming the booking, answering online queries, accommodation requests, and offline services on the property itself.
Lastly, the guests are expected to leave a rating and a review based on their overall experience with the property. All ratings are then averaged to determine the overall performance of the property.
How do I optimize for booking com?
To make the most of the website's extensive audience reach, here's how you can appear on top of every relevant Booking.com searches.
Make sure all descriptions are precise and complete.
As mentioned a while ago, the first thing Booking.com considers when tailoring individual searches for every user is the filter they use. So, make sure all descriptions and precise and complete. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, properties are also required to create a health fine print for your guests–this includes vaccination requirements, sanitation procedures, and other health protocols to be observed within the facility.
It's also best to fill out the FAQs section of your profile. Aside from re-emphasizing your offers and a chance to re-use keywords, it also saves you time from an influx of customer inquiries. Include common questions like pool rules, discount offers, and on-site cafes or restaurants available.
Provide precise check-in and check-out times.
Under your "House Rules" section, make sure to provide the exact check-in and check-out time for guests and other check-in requirements, including identification cards and credit cards. This will help you rank your Booking.com listing on relevant searches and help business travelers manage their schedules.
If you require a damage deposit, declare the exact amount needed and how it would be reimbursed upon check-out. You should also include your additional booking fees, cancellation and prepayment policies, children's policies, extra bed policies, age restrictions, pet rules, and a list of accepted cards.
Add high-quality images.
Make sure to add high-quality images of your property that will be pleasing to the eyes of potential guests. Top Booking.com business profiles include photos of their rooms, bathrooms, pantry and receiving area of suites, the hotel's facade, function rooms, and nearby tourist attractions.
Add all your amenities.
Complete your list of amenities. This will not just help you Booking.com manage relevant filter searches but will also help you manage guests' expectations. The top amenities users look into are parking spaces, swimming pools, private bathrooms, wifi, and complimentary breakfast offers.
Other amenities you can declare are the availability of lifts, a 24-hour front desk, smoking areas, bathroom supplies, safety and security supplies. It’s also best to declare business facilities to cater business travelers. The more specific you can get on your amenities, the better.
Be available for your guests.
Being available in advance is an important factor for any property owner. Guests who plan their travels far ahead are more likely to book an already available listing. To ensure that your listing gets booked, we recommend listing your rooms/units at least one year ahead. This will give guests plenty of time to plan their trips and make reservations.
Don't worry if you find it difficult to determine your rates that far in advance. You can always copy the pricing from the past year and take your time to adjust accordingly without losing out on advanced bookings. This way, you can ensure that you have enough availability for those who plan their trips well in advance while giving yourself enough time to adjust prices as needed.
Be creative and grab the users' attention.
Aside from fixed sections on your profile, Booking.com allows you to personalize your listing through a property description, where business owners can highlight their edges among competitors. It's highly recommended that properties start by emphasizing their strategic location. Note near tourist attractions and airports, as most guests usually use these places to find accommodation.
Next, create an enticing copy of your hotel's facilities and interior. Aside from specific amenities, guests also look into "the feel" of the hotel. You can also add notes about your restaurants, customer service, and even positive reviews from publication websites.
Another way of grabbing the users’ attention is by offering discount deals. This includes limited-time promo offers, flexible rates, free breakfast, and more.
Making sure your prices are competitive
Having a competitive pricing strategy doesn't mean going below the market price. According to a 2019 travel survey, travelers are even willing to pay a higher price for hotels with positive guest reviews. Participants in the study said they'd pay 24% more for a hotel rated 3.9 versus 2.4 and 35 percent more for a hotel with a 4.4 rating than one with a 3.9 rating.
These figures show that creating value for your customer is more important than offering a cheap price tag. To do this, it's imperative to build strong customer engagement by replying to positive reviews, addressing bad reviews, and answering questions on Booking.com. To learn more about how you can connect with your customers, read our online reputation management guide for hotels.
Offer flexible cancellation policies.
Fortunately, international travel policies have become more stable since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the cancellation rate among hotel guests slightly decreased from 35.9% in 2020 to 31.9% in 2021. Despite this, the "book now, pay later" promo offered by other booking websites continues to fuel a steady influx of cancellations.
Flexible cancellation policies give confidence to guests. On the other hand, it could be detrimental to business owners. Luckily, Booking.com has flexible policies that can protect both guests and consumers. You can choose "No Prepayment Policy" with Free Cancellation at least two days before check-in. This cancellation offer is the sweet spot to entice your customers without sacrificing booking procedures.
Offer flexible payment methods.
Booking a hotel or other accommodation can be a stressful process. Many users turn to directories like Booking.com for convenience and ease of use. Allowing users to book without providing their credit card information or prepayment is an attractive option that can help increase the likelihood of them making a reservation with you.
By removing the need for a card and prepayment, customers are given more freedom when booking their stay. This helps alleviate any worries they may have about not getting their money back in the event of a cancellation, which makes them more likely to choose your business over competitors. Furthermore, this also allows customers to pay upon arrival or departure, giving them greater flexibility and control over their finances. Allowing bookings without cards and prepayment is an effective way to simplify the booking process for customers and increase their chances of reserving with you.
Actively collect reviews
Online reviews have become the best marketing tool for hotels, surpassing any form of paid advertisements. In our recent article on online review statistics for hotels, a whopping 81% of travelers say they always read positive and negative reviews before booking a hotel. This means travelers would pass on your deal regardless of how enticing your photos, copies, and deals are if fewer people attest to your services.
Aside from boosting your sales, actively collecting feedback from your previous guests also helps you create solid marketing campaigns and draw out areas of your property you could improve. Both of which can significantly affect your online reputation. To know more about how you can collect customer feedback on Booking.com, read our complete guide here.
Respond to all reviews promptly.
Aside from the reviews themselves, guests also consider the hotel's response to each review during their selection process. These replies attest to how committed and diligent the companies are in attending to their customer's needs. Each response also creates additional content that category-based and location-based keywords can further optimize for better visibility in searches and higher Booking.com ranking.
Despite this, our survey shows that the average response rate of hotels is only 40%, with a staggering response time of 6 minutes per review. Remember that it only takes a second or two for your guest to close your Booking.com business profile and move to their next option! Because of this, it's best to get an AI review reply assistant that can help you respond to each review promptly. This way, your staff won't start with an empty page and will get a hefty supply of personalized, SEO-ready, and engaging review replies that could help you in boosting your Booking.com listing.
Join the Genius program.
Genius is Booking.com's exclusive marketing offer designed to give businesses better access to higher-value travelers. Joining Genius gives you extra visibility through special tagging, ranking boosts, and marketing investments from Booking.com.
On average, partners who join Genius see an increase of 70% in search result views, 45% in bookings, and 40% in revenue with the cost of the discount accounted for. However, you can only be eligible for the program if your business achieves a 7.5 review score with at least three guest reviews. This means you would still need to fully optimize your account and respond to guest reviews before joining the Genius program.
To learn more about the Genius Partner Program, read our complete article here.
Consider the Preferred Partners Program.
The Preferred Partner Programme is another exclusive program that gives businesses a chance to be a part of Booking.com's top 30% properties and a special Booking "thumbs up" seal of approval in exchange for a slight commission increase. Preferred partners receive up to 65% more page views and, on average, 20% more bookings.
Just like the Genius Program, the Preferred Partner Programme is only open for Booking.com partners with existing satisfactory scores on the platform. They require at least a 70% performance score, an average review score of 7 out of 10, and maintaining competitive prices across properties.
What is Visibility Booster on Booking com?
Booking.com's Visibility Booster is an excellent tool for businesses looking to increase their visibility on specific dates or periods. This feature allows businesses to adjust their commission rate based on the number of page views they expect, allowing them to stand out during times of high demand or low sales. It also provides an opportunity to target specific countries or regions on particular dates, making it easier to reach potential customers in those areas.
The Visibility Booster is a flexible and easy-to-use tool that can help businesses maximize their visibility and reach more customers. You can use it to boost visibility during peak seasons, when there are a lot of unbooked rooms, or when targeting specific countries or regions. With this feature, businesses can easily adjust their commission rate and take advantage of increased visibility without making significant changes to their existing marketing strategy.
How to improve Booking.com ranking?
Booking.com ranks properties based on their relevance to users’ preferences, current demands of the market, and the listing’s overall performance on the platform. To improve your Booking.com ranking, ensure that you have competitive prices, a variety of accommodation offers, flexible cancellation policies, and fully optimized Booking com listings.
How do I get more customers on Booking com?
To get more customers on Booking com, you increase your visibility on relevant searches and improve your listings’ rankings. To do this, you should provide excellent services to your guests so they would leave positive reviews and give the best value-offers to travelers. You can also try Booking com’s paid partnership plans.
How do you get 5 stars on Booking com?
Booking offers a “Quality Rating” badge to eligible properties on their platform. Here are the following criteria to get this quality rating:
- All listings should be bookable to guests
- No existing star rating in the extranet
- All listings must have a cleanliness score of 6.0 higher on the Guest Review Score
Optimizing your Booking.com doesn't have to be that hard.
While it's true that fully optimizing your Booking.com listing for boosted sales is a long and winding process, responding to all your guest reviews doesn’t need to be that hard.
MARA AI review reply generator doesn't just craft generic responses to your guest reviews but writes engaging replies that encourage customer engagement and will help you increase your Booking.com overall score. Furthermore, it automatically writes SEO-rich replies that can generate enough content to boost your visibility in relevant searches–even beyond the Booking.com platform.
Here are some of the benefits enjoyed by hotels who use MARA AI reply assistant on their online booking platforms:
- 3x faster response rate to boost booking competitiveness;
- Improved overall star rating for better search visibility;
- Astounding response rate of 100% for greater customer engagement;
- Increased online reputation for better brand credibility among guests; and
- Saves brain power among your staff so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Your Booking.com listing can significantly impact your business as it connects you with relevant audiences ready to book your services in a heartbeat. Neglecting your Booking.com ranking through a low review response rate would be like throwing thousands of dollars in the wind. Register for a FREE MARA account today and boost your Booking.com visibility.
This article is part of our hero content series on “Optimize Your Hotel Listings to Increase Bookings - All You Need to Know" and “Booking.com Optimization: The Ultimate Guide for Hotel Managers".
Frequently Asked Questions:
Having competitive prices, flexible cancellation policies, optimized listings, and positive guest feedback are the best ways to increase your booking com conversion rate.
Booking com runs an algorithm that focuses on providing value to customers. A good Booking marketing strategy includes providing a variety of best-value offers to potential guests which include a wide-array of amenities, impressive facilities, and excellent customer service.
Booking doesn’t allow properties to cancel reservations. However, property owners or hotel managers can initiate a cancellation request to a guest if there are issues regarding their reservation and payment method.
Booking charges a 15% commission rate per reservation without a daily percentage rate. The commission would be credited from a partner account once guests complete their stay. If a partner doesn’t have any reservations, Booking will not charge them.
Booking offers the Genius Loyalty program to guests who complete a specific number of stays within a timeframe. Genius Level 1 requires two stays within two years, Level 2 requires five stays within two years, and Level 3 requires 15 stays within two years.