It describes itself as "planet earth's #1 accommodation site." That's a pretty ambitious claim from Booking.com.
It's certainly a major player in the travel e-commerce sphere — from its early days as a small Dutch start-up, Booking.com now employs more than 15,000 employees in 198 offices in 70 countries across the world. But is it #1 for serviced accommodation providers? Here's what we think of the site six months after adding it to our list of rental channels.
1. Flexiblity. You can tailor bookings (and pricing) however you want, setting different minimum stays, prices and policies for different times of the year.
2. Accessibility. For such a huge company, Booking.com really do seem to value the personal approach. Whether you contact them via Pulse (their app) or on the phone, it's easy to speak to a real person when you have an issue.
3. Bookings! If you're starting out on a serviced accommodation journey, those first few bookings are a real confidence boost. Booking.com really do deliver.
The not-so good:
1. Payment structure. Don't expect to get your money right away. The process is slow and the slightest problem can take days to sort out while you start again. Bookings are calculated for the previous month at the end of the month and the paperwork is emailed at the start of the next month before you finally get paid around the 15th. This can be painful for a cash flow business!
2. Reviews. Feedback is great — and important. But the way the review system is structured seems to encourage negative comments.
3. Navigation. It's not the easiest site in the world to navigate. It could definitely be smoother.
Our top tips for Booking.com newbies:
1. Don't spend forever trying to work out how to navigate the finer details of the site and then pass control to a channel manager. If you have one or two units, you probably don't need a channel manager, but if you have three or more, spend a little more time choosing the right channel manager and let them take responsibility for Booking.com.
2. Consider alternatives to the Booking.com payment system, such as Stripe, which let you take payment by credit or debit card directly.
3. Keep it simple. Take your time and try not to get overwhelmed by the site. Take some great photos of your property and get your pricing right before worrying about anything else. Once you feel like you have a hold on the basics, there are plenty of opportunities for you to dive deeper, such as the Booking.com webinars where you can learn about developments to the platform.
Is Booking.com #1 for you? Let us know.