Worldwide: Booking.com has launched a suite a products to help vacation rental managers save time and control who can book their properties.
Booking.com vice president Olivier Grémillon, who heads the brand’s home division, said the company developed tools based on input from professionals that manage some of the 5.7 million listed homes, apartments and other private accommodations available on the site.
One such tool allows property managers to set filters that determine which Booking.com users will be able to book their properties, for example if they have verified phone numbers or have already made a reservation on the site. Partners can also now instantly report guest misconduct and block those guests from making future bookings.
Grémillon said: “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.
“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,” he added.
The system is starting off with several filters, but Grémillon says it may enable more in the future.
He said: “These are strictly created by Booking. 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 managers can also utilise a newly-launched Group Connect feature which streamlines communications with guests through message templates and automated scheduling.
Another time-saving tool is the bulk action capability, which enables property managers to create cancellation policies, promotional offers and house rules across all properties at once. The system has also updated its profile page where partners can go to add personal messages about themselves, their properties and the neighbourhoods where the properties are located.
All of the features are available for professional managers to use for their portfolio of properties, including Booking.com’s extranet, its mobile partners app called Pulse and a connectivity provider.
Grémillon added that Booking.com was focusing its expansion efforts for the home division on Asia and the United States.
“We have some catch-up to do there,” he said.
Along with growing the rental property inventory, Grémillon said Booking.com would continue to develop connections between Booking Holdings’ tours and activities business – boosted by its acquisition of Fareharbor in April – and its accommodations brands.
Grémillon said: “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.
“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,” he added.
Although Booking Holdings has previously acquired businesses to provide software and tools to its hotel partners, Grémillon said that was not the current plan for alternative accommodations.
He said: “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.
“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,” he added.