Chapter 1

The Ultimate Booking.com Host Guide

In today’s market, the online travel agency (OTA) industry is booming: according to a recent survey by Travel Daily News International, more than half of all millenials prefer to book via an OTA than through other means. Given this popularity, property owners who seek ways to make a little more income or turn a second home into a money-maker can choose from several platforms to list their space for rent.

Rising above the pack in this crowded OTA field is Booking.com, one of the leaders in the vacation and short-term rental field that has grown their business in recent years to offer an increasing array of services to their clients. Booking.com offers property owners who use their platform the opportunity to accelerate their business and maintain a steady flow of customers. 

For those new to the platform, though, the various working processes that have helped Booking.com grow into an industry leader can be a challenge to navigate. Fortunately, this guide offers all you need to know to get started on the platform. In the following chapters, you’ll discover a comprehensive guide to all facets of the Booking.com experience, from listing your property on their website to managing your listings and maximizing your profits. We’ll also walk you through how to manage your property reviews and some best practices for policies you should have in place to safeguard your investment. 

Read on to gain all that you can from this comprehensive guide for all aspects of navigating Booking.com. Following the tips and advice provided in the following chapters is sure to supercharge your Booking.com launch and make sure that you are making the most of their amazing service to maximize your short-term rental success. 

What is Booking.com?

Before we begin exploring all of the functionalities of the Booking.com platform, let’s start with the basics: what is Booking.com? It is worth beginning with a little backstory on the brand and its mission to revolutionize the short term rental – and, indeed, the travel industry because it helps to frame the high level of innovation that defines Booking.com. 

United behind a mission to bring everyone joy in traveling the world, Booking.com was established in 1996 by some intrepid Dutch entrepreneurs as a way to streamline travelers’ searches for lodging by aggregating accommodation options across a series of search parameters. Once a simple start-up, Booking.com has grown this concept into a global leader for international travel, thanks in part to some clever mergers over the years since. 

In 2005, for example, Booking.com was purchased by Priceline Group and since took on the official corporate name of Booking Holdings. This acquisition was huge for Priceline.com, which also owns Kayak.com because it expanded its presence in the OTA market. It was also a benefit for Booking.com, though, because it meant that the Booking.com site could expand its menu to offer a panoply of services beyond hotels and short-term rentals, such as transportation and experiences, all to make their clientele feel like they are part of the local landscape. Adding Booking.com to its portfolio earned the Priceline corporation more than $1 billion in profits by 2011, and Booking.com’s reach has only continued to expand since. Today, it boasts nearly 30 million property listings and has continued to build partnerships with travel companies and airlines around the world. 

Beyond this impressive reach and its savvy for corporate collaboration, what truly sets Booking.com apart from the packed hospitality field is that it brings a massive customer base from around the world and continues to draw more new clients due to its focus on customer satisfaction. From its website interface and its comprehensive extranet for registered users to its streamlined apps for all smartphone operating systems, Booking.com seems to have a firm grasp on the needs and wants of the contemporary traveler, and they have earned a reputation for making sure those needs are met. At the same time, Booking.com’s innovative marketing approach means bringing visibility to rental properties and hotels around the globe that might otherwise not rank high on other internet search lists. These elements combine to make Booking.com a strong platform on which to list your rental property. 

How Booking.com Works

We’ll break down many of the elements of the Booking.com experience for hosts in the chapters to come, but generally speaking Booking.com functions as an intermediary, or “middleman,” between you, the property owner or host, and potential renters or guests. You create a page for each property you wish to rent, and travelers who use Booking.com can set search parameters – dates, locations, types, and so on – to pull up search result matches. 

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? In many respects, it is. Booking.com has worked to streamline the online reservation process, and those who choose to list their property on the platform can take advantage of that efficiency. 

Why Should You List Your Property on Booking?

Booking.com reported in 2018 that they were booking on average 1.5 million room nights per day, and that number has surely increased since. This volume of bookings alone should be adequate evidence to convince those on the fence to jump into listing their property on Booking.com, particularly when it is combined with the substantial traffic of travelers who visit Booking.com daily. 

Beyond the visibility, that listing on Booking.com can bring, however, property owners who list on the platform can also take advantage of Booking.com’s flexibility: as a property owner or host, you get to set your prices and your policies. You can add in promotions or deals as you wish, and you are not beholden to fees simply for listing on their website. Booking.com also offers owners and hosts an easy scheduling system that makes updating unit availability a breeze. 

That being said, elements of Booking.com’s platform still cater to hotels. Listing multiple rooms, for example, in a single property, can take some time, and the fee structure once your property is booked through their platform resembles those levied on traditional hotels. For example, as we’ll discuss later, Booking.com levies a 15% fee for each rental contract, which is relatively steep when compared to other OTAs and property rental sites. Regardless, an increasing number of apartments and homes are appearing in Booking.com searches, most likely because these owners have realized the massive client base that Booking.com can afford them.