Last month (September 2019) Booking.com held a workshop in Geelong, South West of Melbourne, where Account Managers Mandy Huynh (Western Victoria), Dean O’Leary (Eastern Victoria) and their Senior Account Manager Todd Lacey (Victoria and SA) took the attendees through what’s been happening and what’s coming up for Booking.com.
Some of the items which were discussed:
International Cricket Council:
The ICC has signed a 5 year sponsorship deal with Booking.com
The Victorian Government’s ‘Visit Victoria’ webpage search engine is now powered by Booking.com.
In the same way that Expedia does, Booking.com now offers ‘ad-ons’, where guests can book tours, restaurants, etc. all on their page.
Daily Worldwide Bookings:
On average Booking.com handles 1.6M booking in any given 24 hour period
Mobile First Selling:
53% of their customers now use the App compared to 47% using their website
80% of travellers use a smartphone app to research a trip
59% of Booking.com reservations come from a mobile device
The reason they were giving information about mobile bookings and research is that they now offer;
So, what is a Mobile Rate?
Booking.com will be suggesting that property owners offer a discount to guests who book via a mobile device, lower than what is available on their normal website. Properties who ‘opt-in’ and supply a discounted rate for mobile device bookers will have their properties listed higher on their search rankings than those who don’t.
The attendees were not impressed with this new way for Booking.com to force properties to discount their rates, and it didn’t go down well during the workshop.
Booking.com will be advertising to past guests who have advised that they are travelling for ‘business’ in an attempt to gain further bookings directly from businesses, thus trying to undercut specialised Corporate Rates properties already have in place.
There were some conditions;
1. Rates are for “Genius Business Guests Only”.
2. The MINIMUM discount offer that property owners can supply must be at least 15%.
3. Guests can book weekdays only
The implications of this were that a “Genius Business Guest” already gets a minimum of 5% discount, plus the new (minimum) 15% discount equalling at least a 20% discount on your rate.
I asked if Booking.com was going to reduce the commission on any of these bookings as (at least) 20% on top of the (at least) 15% commission meant that for a $100.00 value room, the property owner would only be getting, at a maximum $65.00, less if they have opted in for other features.
They advised that as this is a voluntary ‘opt-in’, Booking.com would not be reducing their commission to anyone.
It’s no surprise that Booking.com doesn’t like ‘minimum stays’ as these are potential ‘blockers’ for guests who don’t wish to stay for more than one night.
So, Booking.com is now suggesting that property owners stop minimum stays and instead double the price of the room for the night… Their argument, the property owner would still be getting the same amount, and if they are able to sell the room twice for double the amount, it’s a win for the property, not to mention them. The difference is they don’t have to deal with the potential arguments from guests who would be paying double what they normally would for a single night.
The three Account Managers hosting the workshop couldn’t understand why the attendees got upset by this as it (in their eyes) meant more income for the property. (their argument).
Virtual Credit Cards (VCC):
One item they did try to push was their VCC.
When one of the attendees asked why they were charged an extra 3.1% fee on top of their normal Merchant Fee, the Booking.com hosts tried to tell them that their banks did this to all VCCs…
I then informed them that this is not true, and banks don’t mind what type of credit card is used, and they don’t charge extra for using a VCC. The hosts continued to disagree with me until I informed everyone there that the reason a property gets charged the additional fee is because of what’s called; ‘Cross Border Transaction Fees’, and that just like everything that Booking.com do, it is all overseas and not in Australia, so you have to pay extra to your bank to have Booking.com’s VCCs.
The Senior Account Manager, Todd Lacey, then got up and was talking about how Booking.com pay all taxes due in Australia… This understandably didn’t go down well with the attendees.
I queried if paying $2.76M in taxes in 2018-19 sounded like a fair amount of tax payable, when compared to the income received in Australia for the same period.
A few of the attendees left during this subject, leaving their departing thoughts with the hosts.
This app looked quite interesting as you could manage your Booking.com account all from one app on your smart device.
The hosts suggested that people download it and have a play to understand what was involved with it.
The Partner Forum:
Similar to our closed Facebook page, Booking.com now have a Forum page where registered property owners can ask questions of other property owners. They did mention that this is moderated by Booking.com staff and any user not following their rules and guidelines would be barred.
All in all it was a very interesting workshop, but from my impressions, the attendees didn’t seem to appreciate Booking.com’s blatant grab for more commission on yet more bookings.
If you would like more information about any of these topics, please contact;
Senior Account Manager, Vic & SA
0422 564 790
Account Manager, Western Vic
0401 196 092
Account Manager, Eastern Vic
0423 519 549
Budget Motel Chain
(03) 9784 4111