With more than 1.5 million hotel listings worldwide, you should have no problem finding a place to lay your head for the night. With so many different travel booking sites to choose from, airlines changing award charts, and numerous lucrative travel rewards credit card points, should you use Booking.com? In this review of Booking.com, you can find out everything you can do on the popular travel booking site, and more importantly, if it’s worth your time.
Reviews act as one of the highly significant sources of information by allowing the guests to read them and then make their decisions. Hence it is important for every business, a company or hotel, to think of the ways in which they can generate more quality reviews in order to convert visitors into customers. It is true that 88% of the customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Booking.com is a travel fare aggregator and metasearch engine for lodging reservations. With over 29 million listings worldwide, this comes across as one of the most widely used OTA platforms for the guests to visit and book accommodation for themselves.
It is evident from the research that “travelers are more likely to trust property with 20 reviews than one with 2 reviews –” Thus along with the quality even the quantity of reviews matters!
In a way, the implication is that one has to constantly persevere in order to keep the reviews flowing on this platform since Booking.com increased reviews carry a lot of weight.
So once you have registered your business and started responding to the reviews on Booking.com, it is time to look for ways in which you can increase these reviews and improve the score.
Booking.com Pros And Cons
- Very good search ease of use
- Searches return a reasonable number of matches
- Very good hotel comparison facilities
- Only site where you can specifically search for twin rooms instead of doubles
- Excellent support options
- Very easy to use different languages and currencies
- In 2016, the ACCC found that the parent company, Booking Holdings, were forcing accommodation partners to provide them with the cheapest rates, via parity clauses. This stopped hotels and motels from offering cheaper rates on their own sites, over the phone or at the hotel desk. These clauses have since been removed.
- In early 2019, Booking.com was subject to an enforcement action from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (which is similar to the ACCC). This was related to pressure selling; misleading information regarding discounts and hotel popularity; hidden charges; and withholding information regarding the impact of commission on search results. As of February 2019, Booking.com has agreed to not engage in these practices.
What Exactly Can You Book on Booking.com
You can book just about every travel reservation possible on Booking.com, including:
- Hotel Accommodations
- Business Apartments
- Rental Cars
- Airport Taxis
Booking.com is a member of the Priceline group, so, the search result will be very similar to what you will find on Priceline.com. Although, Booking.com appears to be built for business travel as they ask if your travels are business-related so Booking.com will recommend properties that offer free breakfast, parking, and wi-fi.
You might also appreciate Booking.com because you can book European train and bus rides, airport taxis, and making restaurant reservations.
Booking Hotel Rooms on Booking.com
Despite being owned by Priceline, the results are not identical when you perform a side-by-side comparison. The prices are very similar, but, the search results are not stacked in the same order.
When researching a hotel room for two adults in Asheville, NC, these were the top three hotel recommendations from Booking.com:
- Four Points by Sheraton (8.1 Rating–$89/night)
- Brookstone Lodge (7.9 Rating–$112/night)
- The Residences at Biltmore (8.9 Rating–$159/night)
Here were the top three results of the same search on Priceline:
- Hotel Indigo (8.8 Rating–$104/night)
- Crowne Plaza Resort (7.2 Rating–$96/night)
- Country Inn and Suites (9.2 Rating–$102/night)
With the exception of the Four Points that was already sold out for the same date on Priceline, there was vacancy for the other five hotels on both booking sites. It seems that Booking.com places more emphasis on the boutique hotels and smaller brands, while Priceline primarily lists the larger brands with more name recognition.
Once you get outside the top three recommendations for either site, Booking.com also lists locally-owned hotels that were not found on Priceline. You will pay the same price for the hotel on either website, but, it seems that Booking.com has a wider selection to travelers that want to stay somewhere different if they are willing to comb browse the listing for a few extra seconds.
What you won’t find on Booking.com are the last-minute mystery deals the Priceline offers on last-minute unsold hotel rooms.
Booking a Flight on Booking.com
Booking.com makes it easy to find flights. If you are flying to a destination with served by multiple airlines, Booking does a good job at showing the different flight options based on price, time, and carrier. Their website is a little easier to browse than Priceline, even though you will pay the same amount at either website.
Another reason you might prefer looking for flights on Booking.com is that they have a trend window in the upper-left corner. This window will tell you if you should buy now or wait, based on their prediction of when fare prices will increase. Since the flight search results are powered by Kayak, both the Booking.com and Kayak search results look identical except for website colors and the website name.
Unlike Priceline where you can book flights through the portal, Booking.com takes you directly to the airline website to complete the reservation process.
Overview of Booking.com
Verified Reviews vs Non-Verified Reviews
It is important to know that Booking.com has verified reviews, which means, only guests who stayed can leave a review unlike Google and TripAdvisor, which have non-verified reviews, which means the stay is not necessarily confirmed.
Why This Distinction?
With sites like Booking.com and Expedia, the write a review link is only sent to guests who have actually stayed at the property and not available to anyone. Usually, most of these OTAs send out a post-stay reminder email to encourage guests to leave a review, so they are Verified Reviews.
Keeping this in mind we need to have more of a nurturing mindset, setting yourself for success:
So, Let’s Look at the Guest Journey:
- The Stay (Core: cleanliness, suitable amenities, warm service + delights)
- Check out
- The right set of reminders as well as the reminder at the checkout
That being said, here are a few highly proven steps under each of the framework categories (see the table above)that will help you get more Booking.com Reviews:
Nothing can beat the exquisite experience that you can provide to your guests during every touchpoint in the customer mapping journey. These touchpoints include the pre-arrival, mid-stay/during the stay and check-out/post check out experiences where you can check on your guests to see how they are doing or is there anything they need at the momentwhich will allow you to make their stay even better. Guests will surely remember that and this, in turn, will help generate more reviews.
Make sure that your core offerings are solid: Amenities, Cleanliness, Warm Service with a smile which are core expectations that the guests have. Add Delights along the wayThough an indirect way of asking the guests for their feedback, delights along the way like greeting the customers and presenting a complimentary drink to them on their arrival, by offering a warm cookie or water bottle upon check-in or by providing them a special experience on their big day or any other occasion in their life will surely make a difference as it is always about creating an experience, however small it may seem.
Guests remember the special things you do for them and this, in turn, might just encourage them to leave you a review on Booking.com. Again, it can also mean checking in with the guests mid-stay if things are going well or are there any special requirements, etc.
Leave a Personal Note to the GuestsAnything that has a personal touch to it is loved by all. A personal note welcoming your guests or bidding them goodbye will be highly appreciated.
Make sure that you include the reminder for sharing feedback at the end of this note to encourage the guests to share their experience with you.
Make good use of your Guest Messaging tool
Text messaging will play an important role here at every touch point for the seamless guest experience. Especially, a text message post-check-out will not only make the customer happy but at the same time, will remind them about reviewing their experience with you.
Compile a ‘Welcome Pack’ for the guests Another way in which you can lead the guests to review is by presenting a booklet or brochure to them on their arrival which gives out all the details about your property including the facilities, timings for using them, explains the house rules and offers tips about local restaurants and attractions. But remember to make it short and sweet as guests would not have the leisure time to go through it all. Make sure you also include a simple review reminder at the bottom in a sweet, simple way.
Though it qualifies as one of the most conventional or traditional methods of getting reviews, ‘asking’ can still never go out of fashion. The best way to get customer feedback is by asking for it. Look for the ways in which you can very strategically ask for customer’s feedback:
it can be through text messaging, e-mails or even in person by making your staff your mouthpiece which will help you approach the customers directly for their feedback. But avoid being coming across as too clingy in this regard as it might pester the guests and, in turn, dissuade them from leaving a review.
Again, there are various ways of asking feedback from the customers:
Let your staff do the honors by asking the guests in person about their experience as well as for the feedbackWith adequate staff training, you can always ask your staff to participate in the process of asking for more reviews and feedback from the customers. Allow them to do it courteously and with a smile on their face. This might be one of the traditional ways of asking customer feedback, but again, this hasn’t really gone out of fashion.
Ask feedback through text messages or follow-up emailOne of the best ways to ask for feedback is through guest messaging where you are able to communicate with your guests easily, again at every touchpoint to know their requirements better.
Even a short text message will help remind the guests for reviews and it would be easier in redirecting them to the review interface to pour in their feedback as mobile phones are more preferable over emails. Text messages also allow the customers to share feedback mid-stay or post-stay directly with the hotel and encouraging the hoteliers to take the necessary call.
On the other hand, even if text messaging takes precedence over emails, you can still continue to make your email game stronger by carrying it on side-by-side and sending a quick, short email asking for customer feedback to generate more reviews. Remember that in your emails:
- You sound professional
- Thank the customer for choosing your property,
- Let the customer know that you read and value all their feedback,
- Provide a direct link for the visitors where-in they can leave a review.
Leave behind a Review CardA review card is more of marketing collateral that will act as a reminder to your customers that they are to review you on Booking.com. During check-out, you can very courteously present a review card to them which should have the follow-up indicators:
your contact details and the reminder to review you on Booking.com. Again, we are not really recommending this as a 100% effective way of gathering reviews as sometimes the customers might choose to ignore it or forget to get back to it later on. But you can still include it as a part of your review-generation campaign.
Prepare in advance for the review outcome by engaging in a conversation with the guests about their experience
While a good guest experience and the resultant review can be aided by giving constant reminders, you can also reduce the negative reviews to a great extent by engaging in a conversation with your guests prior to their leaving a review on Booking.com, especially in the case of a negative experience. If the experience is a positive one, you can express your gratitude and politely remind them about clicking on the link they will receive from Booking.com to post their review.
On the other hand, if the experience is a negative one, you can play your own part in pacifying the customers and coming across as responsive as possible to earn back their trust. It is highly likely that the customers would not want to waste their time writing or talking about the grievances once again on a review platform, especially if they’ve already discussed them at length with you.
Thus, your conversation can play an important role in regulating or determining the quality of reviews that you receive on Booking.com
- Hotel Manager: Hello, Miss Smith! How was everything?
- Ms. Smith: Oh! It was great,
- Manager: Glad to hear that and oh, you will receive an email from Booking.com. Please take a moment to review us, we’d appreciate it.
Manager: We are sorry to hear that. But is there something you think we could do to improve? If so we will be sending feedback please do let us know, it goes to our management so we will make sure it gets taken care of, Once again our sincere apologies.
Provide visual reminders to the guestsThe biggest problem with most of the guests is that even when they are interested in leaving a review, they keep it on hold and forget about getting back to it later on due to other preoccupations. Hence, the task is to make the process easier for guests by leaving visual reminders like flyers or posters here and there, reminding the guests to post a review.
One of the things about Booking.com is that only the verified users can leave a review by clicking on the review link that they will receive from Booking.com itself. Hence, keeping this in mind, make it easy for your guests to access that link and send effective reminders regarding the review posting.
Play your own part well in leading the guests to review you by giving ample reminders and making it simpler
Even though you cannot send a direct review link from Booking.com’s side to the guest, you can put in your best effort to lead the guests to review you on this platform. As noted above, timely and strategic reminders will really serve the purpose well, besides asking and indulging in a conversation with them.
Opt for an automated solution which can aid you in review generation
An effective and technology-driven end-to-end solution will be the most effective in helping you with your reputation management which, in turn, will help you increase your Booking.com reviews. Again, a review generation tool will help streamline the entire review process. It is also one of the most effective means of a reminder to the guests and also presents them with an easy process of review-writing where they just have to click and leave their review. In short, an easy, time-saving and simple technique of review-writing
Timely respond to the reviews on Booking.com as this can also encourage the guests to leave you a review by conveying the message that you consider their feedback valuable and care to respond to each of them.
Handle the negative reviews pretty well by deploying a personal yet professional tone in curating your response which acts as a great indicator of your reputation as a hotel or business.
- Register on Booking.com and completely fill out your business details.
- Finally, provide a review-worthy service to your customers which is the real prerequisite for the ultimate review generation on Booking.com.
Following the above steps with diligence and dedication will surely work wonders and aid in increasing Booking.com reviews for your hotel or business. Obviously, you can also opt for an automated solution or review generation wizard to strengthen the process even further.
Summary on Booking.com
If you don’t need to book a mystery deal to save money and enjoy using the Priceline family of websites, Booking.com is a good option. It’s quick and easy-to-use, plus, it makes planning a European trip easier when you need to figure out train and bus schedules in addition to your flight across the ocean. Booking.com might not save you money necessarily, but, it can save you time when you plan your next trip.