Or Why not to list your accommodation on Booking.com
If you provide accommodation and use Booking.com try googling your brand name sometime. I can guarantee that the first listing on google will heavily feature the brand of your accommodation and go straight to the booking.com website. I have tried this with countless bunkhouse and hostel names and sure enough there’s the booking.com link, at the top of the page, every time.
These valuable listings are being paid for by booking.com using Google Adwords. They look very much like a genuine google listing and will always be listed above your own website.Returning guests and people who hear of you by word of mouth will all go straight to google and search your brand name. And where will they end up ? On booking.com !
This is a disaster. Why should these loyal bookings, hard won by the great service you provide, all end up on the booking.com website. It’s a downward spiral. The more guests enjoy and recommend your accommodation, the more reliant you become on booking.com and the more this company has to spend, stealing your custom. I have seen this lead to hostels having a complete dependence on a company that gives guests no-fee cancellations.
Booking.com is by far the worst offender, but all the OTA’s complete with your own marketing in some way. They heavily invest on social media too. So next time you are considering your marketing spend, ask yourself : Is this company competing with my own marketing ?
It’s easy to identify OTA’s (Online Travel Agents), they don’t list your own contact details or link to your website, and they charge a commission on each booking they provide you with. They have a vested interested in preventing you receiving Direct Bookings. AirBnB, Hostelworld , laterooms and even the YHA are all OTA’s.
One of the way around becoming reliant on the OTA’s is to spend your promotional funds on companies that supporting your marketing. This is any website that provide a link to your website or includes your contact details. Local sites like national park or town websites, will support your own marketing, as do we at Independent Hostels.
Another is to ensure your have online booking available on your website. Many accommodation providers resort to the OTA’s thinking it’s a simple way to allow their guests to book online. It is, but ultimately it costs you thousands of pounds in commission and a loss of control of your guests. There are lots of easy low cost ways to provide an online booking system yourself. Get in touch if you would like some recommendations.
If I could only say one thing in this blog, I would say beware of booking.com. Be aware that the minute you list a single bed with them, direct bookings from returning guests and word of mouth referrals will start to come to you via booking.com. You lose 15% and booking.com gets control over your customers.