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Hey everyone, it’s John from Vacation Rentals with John. Thanks for joining me again today. On today’s podcast, I want to talk about booking.com, if you should use it, why you should use it, why it’s special, how it’s different from Airbnb and Vrbo, and all in between. So let’s get into it. So I wanted to start off with a story that happened to me about five years ago. The first time I used booking.com to list a vacation rental, and it was a nightmare experience. So let me, let me start by saying booking.com has changed significantly in how it works over the last few years, and it made a ton of really great improvements to their platform. So a lot of what I’m saying in this story is just my personal experience from five years ago, but I, I want to open with it because it’s going to show how far the platform has came, um, for their users.
First, a Booking.com horror story from my personal experience
So what happened was, I took a booking on booking.com. I had instant booking on because it’s by default on, on booking.com, and someone sent me a fake Florida license and it looked absolutely photoshopped, so I knew it was fake. Um, I went back and forth with the guests before they checked in, and they were definitely using a fake ID and a stolen credit card. So yeah, it wasn’t a great experience because they were trying to check in under false pretenses. But to make matters worse, the next booking that I received, um, they did book with the fraudulent credit card. They did have, um, an ID that looked more realistic, and they came in and it was a nightmare. We had, let’s say 12, 12 people there. There were a lot of nice flashy luxury cars outside, um, all of Florida plates. Mind you, this vacation rental is in Florida by Davenport and Soterra Resort, Polk County, and they were having a party at that house.
It just kept getting worse.
And if you’ve ever seen a rap music video, it, it was all of that and very MTV style and it smelled like marijuana right from outside the house. Um, you went up to the house and you can see that this was like legit a party. So what I did was I called the sheriff’s office and they came, um, but they didn’t want to go in without backup. So they waited for more sheriffs to show up, and they decided to have me trespass the property. So I was a trespass, not the trespasser, but the one who was going to trespass them. That’s the police jargon for it. So went in and as soon as we went through the door, the police went in and there were credit card making machines like to, to make fake credit cards. There were firearms, um, lots and lots of drugs on the table, and everyone was just having a jolly old time in there. Um, what was even more shocking was there were like babies there. There were like kids, uh, three years old and under in the house while all this was happening. So yeah, that’s what happened, uh, with my
How much commission does Booking.com charge?
Second.com booking. Um, two of them were arrested and the rest were, um, they took their information and, and sent them on their merry way. Um, but the reason I’m telling this story is because they have improved, um, how they screen guests. Um, their photo ID verification has came a long way and they also have came a long way in checking for fraudulent credit cards. Um, so my experience from way back when is not the same experience that many people who are listing on the platform are having. Now, what has stood constant is the platform is still charging 15% commission, uh, 15 that’s one five commission, and it’s really expensive. So why is it expensive? Well, booking.com is actually a larger outfit, a larger company than Airbnb right now. At the time of this recording, the market cap is about $109.72 billion. So we have like close to $110 billion of market cap and Airbnb’s market cap’s around 95 billion.
Better to optimize your existing Airbnb and VRBO listings first…
So booking.com is larger, but they do have different types of accommodation. Lots of hotels on booking.com, they’re famous for hotels and packages, um, Airbnb’s strictly, you know, short-term rentals and rooms. So should you list your vacation rental and booking.com, well, if you’ve already optimized your listing for Airbnb, it is a great place to start. Um, if you’re on vrbo, I, I really enjoy VRBO more personally than booking.com, but if you’ve already optimized for Airbnb and vrbo, booking dot com’s, not a bad place to list your property, a lot of booking activities actually happening there because they have that genius rewards program and they actually give you, um, perks. So Airbnb doesn’t have a rewards program booking.com does. So I know when I’m looking to travel and I have hotels on my mind as well, um, I will use booking.com and I have genius level there, so they give me different discounts and offers.
Optimize first, then branch out to other vacation rental marketplaces.
So a lot of people will go to booking.com first and not Airbnb unless they’re for sure they want an Airbnb. So when they go to booking.com, they may be searching for vacation rental accommodations and that’s where they can find your listing. So if you decide to listing on booking.com, there’s going to be millions of people that could potentially book your property, and that’s a really good thing. So I really suggest it if you’ve already optimized for VRBO and Airbnb. But if you haven’t done everything possible to help your ranking on Airbnb, vrbo, I would first start there. I would start by optimizing the listings you already have and putting your effort there because time is scarce. Um, but if you’ve already done that and you’re pretty confident in those listings and you still want more exposure, booking.com is not a bad place to be right now.
Most of booking.com users are on mobile devices…
So about 73% of booking.com users are searching on mobile devices. So right on your iPhone. Um, most of those searches are happening for booking.com, right on a phone. They have a pretty easy to use app. So if you’re looking to travel and you’re on the go, you’re in the car, you’re in the airport, people are using booking.com because it’s easy to search and browse through properties similar to Airbnb’s app. So booking.com has a lot of users that love to search on mobile, and if you want your listing to be shown to them while they’re searching on mobile, it’s a good idea to list with booking.com. Now, here’s some things you need to know about listing there. It’s interface is a little more complicated than Airbnb’s. In my personal opinion. Airbnb was super easy to set up for me. Um, booking.com seems a little bit confusing when you’re setting it up, but if you follow the instructions, you sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, you will be able to figure out on your own.
Booking.com has instant booking on by default
You don’t need professional help for it. However, it does take a little bit longer to navigate through, um, and it’s a little bit clunkier in my opinion. However, once you get it listed, it’s pretty easy to use after that. The ranking algorithm’s pretty similar to Airbnbs. They show the most popular properties first, the properties with reviews and the most bookable, meaning the most affordable property. So the algorithms on all these platforms, they’re really similar. There are little nuances between booking.com and Airbnb, which I’ll go into in a subsequent podcast episode. But for the most part, what works on Airbnb works on booking.com. Now, something important to know about booking.com is instant booking is on by default. Their whole platform is instant booking. Um, it’s made for people who just want to go on there and book up properties, click it, book it done. And if you’re hesitant about leaving book, uh, instant booking on, you should not be at this point.
Confusion from booking.com’s payment system.
But if you are, booking dot com’s not gonna really work for you because their whole platform leaves that instant booking option on. That’s the only option you have. Um, so that’s something you need to be mindful of if you’re thinking about actually listing your property on booking.com. In regards to cancellation policy, booking.com doesn’t have like a default standard cancellation policy. So you’re welcome to choose the cancellation policy that works best for your property. However, the most flexible is going to be the most popular, just like on Airbnb. So you do want to keep that in mind. The biggest confusion about booking.com is their payment system. That’s the biggest difference I’ve seen with booking.com, Airbnb, VRBO because booking.com actually allows using external payments to send and receive money. So guests can pay you online using different payment methods. They could use PayPal, Alipay credit card, they could use anything.
Different ways to get paid.
And then as a host you can use Stripe to get paid on booking.com. So if you’re using like a property management system, you can connect your Stripe account and get paid from booking.com. That way they also have their own payment processing services, but it’s not as easy as Airbnb just taking the payment and sending it to you. Um, there’s options on how to get paid and the guests have a lot of ways they can pay. So their payment system should really be ified and simplified more because when I read about it and learn about it, it just seems really complicated. However, there are several ways to get paid there. Um, so you will get paid if you on booking.com. It’s just not as straightforward as Airbnb’s payment system. Now, you may be wondering if the commission rate for booking.com is actually just straight flat, 15%.
Booking.com commission per booking varies from 10-25%, but is 15% on average.
Well, no, um, there on average 15%, but they can charge between 10 and 25%. I’ve seen it all over the place. So if you’re an average listing, you’ll probably be paying 15%, but depending on your location and the type of rental you have, they say it’s approximately 15%, but it can differ. So you do want to make sure you contact a rep from the company or actually see what your service fee is going to be when you list with booking.com, but you can expect around 15%. But you, you still wanna do your due diligence to make sure you know and understand what you’re paying. Now, there’s no upfront fee to list your property on booking.com. You only pay when you get a booking placed, but you need to really find out what that host fee is going to be because the commission is variable. Now, if you are worried about the calendar and double booking and your property management system while booking.com integrates with all of that, so you can copy your booking.com link into your Airbnb calendar or vice versa, or you can easily integrate your booking.com link with your property management system.
Booking.com is easy to add into your existing marketing mix.
So it’s really easy to add it to your existing platform stack, so to speak, and get bookings on there right away. Now in my personal experience, Airbnb gets you way more bookings and booking.com, but booking.com can add another five or six bookings for you throughout the year. So if you’re struggling with occupancy, this can get you another eight, 9% occupancy or more depending on how aggressively you mark there and what your nightly rates are. So I wouldn’t completely swear off booking.com and say, I’m not using it. You know, it’s complicated. But I would put your effort in optimizing your Airbnb VRBO listings first and getting good at that, perfecting that before you start playing with another platform like booking.com. But once you are ready, it’s a great addition to your existing stack, you could definitely drive more bookings with it because it has really great exposure.
You are invited to join our Facebook Group.
So I hope this was helpful. Thank you so much once again for listening to this episode and for joining the Facebook group. And if you haven’t joined the Facebook group, I’m inviting you to join because we’re gonna share experiences and it’s going to act as our inner circle, so to speak, so we can help each other grow in this business. And if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, I’ll include details to that in the show notes. Now, I want to briefly touch base with all of you on the format of this show. I’m going to be posting more frequently with shorter episodes. I am not going to do interviews with different, uh, companies, um, that are advertising things, uh, because I, I really value your time and I am not trying to just take companies on the show to try to sell you some software or sell you, uh, property management service.
Format of the podcast…
What I want to do is deliver the most actionable information I can. And I feel like, you know, saying less is more sometimes and sometimes a lot of the banter, although entertaining, um, this is an educational podcast, so I want to keep it educational, short, sweet, to the point so that we can really briefly learn what we need to learn and then go on with our day. Um, we will be doing interviews, but my interviews will be with other hosts, so other hosts. And why are we doing it that way? Because I feel we can learn from each other and we could learn from other hosting journeys, right? And there’s so much goal to packed in someone else’s journey, someone else’s walk, that that’s what I feel is going to work best for this particular audience. So what you can look forward to is shorter, more frequent episodes with actionable information. Short, sweet to the point. I hope this was helpful. Looking forward to the future with all of you. And if you haven’t joined the Facebook group, the link will be right there in the show notes. So until next time, take care.