How Does Booking.com Work for Vacation Rental Hosts? ᐅ Guide

Booking.com is one of the most important hotel booking platforms in the world. Therefore, listing on Booking.com is very important for all vacation rental owners, hosts and landlords.

What is Booking.com?

Booking.com is an online booking platform that mediates between hotels, guesthouses, vacation rentals and their guests. Hotels and hosts offer their accommodation through the website and mobile apps. Travelers can use the search function to set what they are looking for and book directly. In most cases, guests can cancel free of charge until shortly before arrival. In addition to hotel rooms, vacation rentals, villas, etc., the site also arranges rental cars, flights, travel tours and airport transfers.

The beginnings of Booking.com

Booking.com was founded in 1996 by Geert-Jan Bruinsma in Amsterdam under the name Bookings.nl. The company quickly grew to become one of the most important online booking platforms and now belongs to the US company Booking Holdings Inc. Meanwhile, the portal is available in 43 languages and offers almost 29 million listings all types of vacation accommodations worldwide.

Today: Private vacation rentals are becoming increasingly important

While the origin of Booking.com clearly lies in the hotel industry, private vacation rentals are now becoming increasingly important. This can be seen, among other things, by the fact that the term “vacation rental” appears more and more often in their search results. In the last months the range of private hosts was strongly simplified, therefore, private owners can now list accommodations on Booking.com very easily.

Partnership with Booking.com

Accommodation owners and hosts who advertise through the platform are referred to Booking.com as “partners”. They pay a monthly commission for using it. We will go into the costs for hosts later in this guide. Do you also want to list your vacation rental on Booking.com? We will explain you step by step how to do it:

Instructions: How do I advertise on Booking.com?

  1. Register

    The registration process is very simple and is done through the Booking.com extranet login. You should fill out the first registration form with your email as early as possible, even if you don’t want to start renting out your vacation rental for a few weeks. It may take a few days before your accommodation is actually online. One reason for this time delay is that some steps can only be done with Booking.com support. The most time consuming step is the address verification. Usually, Booking.com simply sends a letter to the given address to verify it. Therefore, you should definitely make sure that your vacation rental has a mailbox.

  2. Create your ad

    Now you create the listing for your holiday home. The photos are especially important, because they are the figurehead of your ad. The texts are not so important on this platform. It is best to look at the ads of your competitors and create your listing according to the same scheme. If you have already created a standard description for another portal, you can easily adopt it.

    Additionally, Booking.com gives you tips on how to improve your listing. Especially by the right labeling of the pictures you can optimize a lot. You should implement these suggestions, because the more you act on them, the easier potential guests will find your accommodation via the search function.

  3. Maintain calendar and prices

    Now you enter the availability of your accommodation and nightly rates. Booking.com offers countless possibilities when it comes to pricing. If you can’t find certain settings in the extranet, Booking.com support will be happy to help you.

  4. Special features for vacation rentals at Booking.com

    Since Booking.com started as a hotel portal, many processes are geared towards hotels and guesthouses. Therefore, as a vacation rental you have to consider a few peculiarities. If you have several accommodations at the same address (for example a vacation home with several apartments that you rent out individually), you only need one hotel ID on Booking.com, but several room types.

    If you have multiple apartments in different locations, you need a separate accommodation ID for each one. Later you can combine your accommodations into one group account. While it makes sense for a hotel with 50 double rooms to combine them under one sub-ID, this does not make sense for vacation homes and apartments. Here you better create single sub-IDs and set the maximum availability to “1”.

  5. Instant bookings only

    Booking.com does not offer the possibility to make or decline booking requests. Instead, guests can only book directly and bindingly. Such instant bookings are good for you as a host, because you don’t waste time with non-binding requests. However, you always have to make sure that your calendars are up-to-date on all other booking portals like Airbnb, VRBO or your own vacation rental website.

    Synchronizing your booking calendar is so important because otherwise double bookings easily happen. This would be very inconvenient for you as a host and especially for your guests. In case of an overbooking Booking.com helps you to rebook the guest to another accommodation. But sometimes all cheap accommodations are already fully booked and it may be that the replacement accommodation is much more expensive. These additional costs are borne by the hosts – you.

  6. Synchronize calendar automatically with a Channel Manager

    Booking.com offers some interface partners that avoid this problem. These software solutions are called “Channel Manager” and link different booking portals together. While there are many providers for hotels, the choice for vacation rental hosts, owners and landlords is limited. Smoobu is specialized in private and semi-professional hosts of vacation homes, apartments & co. and helps you to synchronize your calendars in real time and keep them always up to date. This way you avoid accidental overbookings and have less work overall.

    Learn more about the benefits of channel managers for vacation rentals here.

  7. Payment processing

    Booking.com is also a little different than most vacation rental portals when it comes to payment and collections. As a pure agent, the company is not involved in the booking process. Instead, the guest pays the accommodation provider directly before or after the stay. Meanwhile, Booking.com also offers the possibility to take over the collection details for the hosts. You should take advantage of this, as it means less work for you and, above all, reduces the cancellation rate. Payment processing via Booking.com is not for free (see policy below).

  8. Place your listing online and become bookable

    As long as you are still working on your listing and have not entered prices and availability, your accommodation is “not bookable”. When you are done, Booking.com will check your information again. Afterwards your listing will go online in consultation with the support team and will become “bookable”. Now you can get started!

Increase sales with Booking.com

If you also offer your vacation rental on Booking.com, you will definitely increase your visibility and be found better. The portal does not set any price limits for you. You decide how much you want to charge. You can manage cleaning fees and other service fees via the extranet.

Genius partner program

The Genius partner program from Booking.com offers you a marketing measure to become more visible. Genius accommodations offer loyal Booking users a 10% discount on their cheapest room, resulting in 29% more bookings. Despite the discount, they generate 24% more revenue on average. Genius accommodations are specially marked in the search results and can be recognized at a glance.

This is how your vacation rental becomes a Genius accommodation:

  1. Your accommodation is listed and bookable on Booking.com
  2. It has at least three reviews from guests.
  3. The rating score is at least 7.5 (exception: your region has a low rating average).
  4. You meet all criteria? Then you can register for as a Genius partner on the extranet under the “Opportunities” tab.

How much does Booking.com charge for hosts?

Booking.com charges a commission for the use of its platform, which varies for each country. Hosts have to pay a fixed percentage per booking, which is 15% on average. The exact fees for landlords depend on the location and type of accommodation. In addition, a payment fee of 2.2% has applied since 2019.

Additionally, Booking.com offers hosts a “Visibility booster” program. This allows you to select an higher commission in exchange for higher search results.

Conclusion: Reasons why you should list your vacation rental on Booking.com

  • More bookings: If you also advertise your properties on Booking.com, it will be found more often online.
  • Marketing: Booking.com invests a lot of money and effort in advertising and as a partner you will also benefit from this.
  • No hidden costs: The fees for you as a host are transparent thanks to the commission model and you have no surprising additional costs.
  • Management with Channel Manager: If you use a Channel Manager to manage your vacation rental, you can connect Booking.com and other booking portals. As a Booking.com Connectivity Partner, Smoobu is ideally suited for this.

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