Online Travel Agency Feature – Booking.com
Booking.com has, over the years, grown and matched the demand for travel particularly in Philippines. It was certainly one of the first international Online Travel Agents appearing in the country, which resulted in a significant boom in online hotel bookings. Online Travel Agents, or OTAs, are known as ‘booking sites’, and are pretty much the online version of the traditional travel agent. They sell and arrange accommodations, tours, transportation, and trips via an online platform.
While the Philippine hotels, as well as its economy, are very happy with the business that these Online Travel Agencies have given, just how well do we know each of them? We will be taking an in depth look at some of the more popular OTA’s out there – learning about their background, finding out what makes them tick, and discovering ways to further boost sales using their platforms.
Let’s familiarize ourselves now with one of the bigger OTA producers at this time, Booking.com.
1. How long has your OTA been in the Philippines?
Booking.com officially opened an office here in Manila in 2012 and in Cebu just this year. However, we have been offering accommodation options in the Philippines since 2001. We have been building the business here and today we have over 25 dedicated staff and over 5,500 accommodations in the country.
2. How has your OTA done in terms of performance since you started up in the Philippines until today?
Booking.com – The online travel industry in the Philippines is a thriving, booming industry and one that we love being a part of. We have grown rapidly and we are one of the market leaders in the Philippines in the online travel booking space with over 5,500 properties and we are proud of that.
How have we done it? We provide a fantastic customer experience and we built strong relationships with our property partners. Customers love using our site because it provides them with a global selection of over 1.4 million accommodation options, it’s easy to use, and we have over 126 million genuine guest reviews to help travellers make informed choices.
3. Why do you think hotels will be at an advantage if they sign up with your OTA?
Booking.com is a highly cost-effective marketing channel, dedicated to helping our partners grow their brands and their businesses by helping them fill their rooms each night.
Our digital marketing expertise gives us the ability to reach consumers all over the world in their own language with the site available in over 40 languages, including Tagalog. This allows properties to focus on doing what they do best – running a great property – and leaving the marketing to us.
We give smaller, local properties a global reach otherwise impossible for many properties who may not have large global advertising budgets, through the most innovative digital distribution channels. Partnership with us also opens new promotion channels for big market players and helps them continue brand expansion on an international level, while helping customers all over the world find the most suitable accommodations with a best price guarantee.
We invest heavily in optimizing our website and mobile apps to meet our customer’s ever-changing needs, so properties can rely on our expertise. The process of becoming a Booking.com partner includes few steps, which are completely free for hotels. There is no cost to list and properties set their own rates and decide what to make available to customers through Booking.com’s website and mobile apps.
4. What are the demographics of your main clientele (age, nationality etc) in general, or you can also mention specific demographics per region and area?
Booking.com‘s mission is to empower every traveller to experience the world with local, authentic, well-priced experiences and stays – from solo travellers and couples to families, students and business travellers, road trip fanatics, spa seekers and more.
5. What makes your OTA different from the rest?
As an expert in the digital and mobile world, our vision is to take the friction out of travel by offering a seamless experience across all platforms. This seamlessness extends to our partners where we can help to navigate this ever-evolving ecosystem and provide 24/7 support. We help to ensure each property is provided with robust and credible content with great visuals and translations to bring transparency for customers. Booking.com also offers a suite of software services and products for our partners to help them grow their businesses and further capitalise on the digital opportunity
6. What tips can you give to hotels in order to increase and fully optimize reservations from your OTA?
Here are a few tips for boosting your performance.
Pricing: Keeping your rates competitive will attract more bookers and helps facilitate the easy and transparent price comparison process for consumers.
Availability: Don’t miss out on potential new bookings. By making sure you’re constantly bookable on Booking.com, you’ll help to improve your ranking. Remember to always show rates for high-demand dates.
Photos: Customers are always attracted to properties with great, high-resolution photos. You can check the size of your photos, as well as add and remove images, by checking the ‘Property details’ tab in Connect.
Extra features: We offer a range of additional features which can help to attract more reservations. You can choose from options like setting up last-minute reservations without credit card details. These types of additions can help to improve your visibility on the site
7. Do you have any new system features that you want to let the hotels know about?
BookingSuite – a unit of Booking.com dedicated to empowering accommodation providers with smart technology tools that help them enhance their guest experience and grow their businesses and brands. Solutions today include responsively designed, performance-driven property websites (WebDirect and WebComplete) and reliable and accurate revenue management tools (RateIntelligence, RateManager). RateIntelligence helps partners to make smart pricing decisions in real time, providing instant access to competitor rate information
Booking.com also developed the Pulse app specifically for our partners to manage their Booking.com reservations. The app includes features such as a calendar and an overview of arrivals and departures. Partners can manage their availability and they’ll also get notifications about new bookings, guest reviews and cancellations. Pulse allows partners to respond quickly to guest requests and connect with customers in a convenient way.
Genius is a travel rewards program connecting our top-performing partners with high-value bookers. Guests automatically become Genius after their 5th stay. To become a Genius property, all you need to do is offer 10% off your cheapest or most popular room. Properties will get a boost in the search results and Genius customers will be able to find partners faster.
8. What personal message would you like to convey to the hoteliers reading this article?
The travel space is very dynamic and ever evolving. There is huge opportunity to attract and delight our mutual guests, both local and international, in showing them the beauty of our country, and the hospitality of our people. Your Booking.com team in the Philippines will be here to support you through evolving booker behaviour and to navigate the digital ecosystem, to ensure your rooms are full and business grows.
Check out our Industry Talks interviews with traditional Philippine Travel Agents