How Booking.com rankings enable discovery

Rankings can be a complex topic, but influencing them needn’t be an impossible task. We explore how Booking.com rankings fuel guest discovery and how you can optimise your property accordingly

by Hielke van Trommel, Director of Product Marketing, Booking.com

Topic: Revenue management

Historically, a traveller would flick through the pages of a brochure, meticulously picking through lists of amenities and stylised stock shots, in search of the right holiday property. Dog-eared piles would sit on the coffee table for weeks before you narrowed down the options. Today, that process takes minutes – just a few clicks of the mouse and a carefully curated list of properties is ready for perusal, with those most suiting your needs at the top of the table.

The role of rankings

Booking.com looks at how a guest is searching at that moment in time. You could be searching as a parent planning the family holiday or arranging a romantic stay with your better half, you could be going with friends or travelling for business. The same person can be looking under many different guises. Where platforms like Netflix and Google have a strong bias towards search history and have a rich profile on a narrow persona, we consider a much wider persona set and the data that’s relevant at that particular moment. This produces the best results for current needs, rather than what a guest has done before.

This creates an opportunity for discovery – what great travel is all about. If we look at how a guest is behaving – properties they hover over, what type they don’t select, facilities and amenities they prioritise, and how that compares to similar guest personas – we can optimise the things that are important to them. In doing so, we can suggest experiences they might not otherwise have looked at. We can show them that pink castle they normally wouldn’t have considered, but that is perfect for their next adventure. For property partners, this increases the potential to be discovered.

Optimising your listing

Rankings are a valuable tool for your business and it’s how you optimise for them that really opens up the playing field.

You can be number one in your town or you can be number one for the people looking at you. Guess which matters the most? For example, if you are a hostel in New York you might not want to be number one in the city, but it’s important for you to be the most relevant for people looking with a certain budget, location and type of stay in mind. To understand if you are ranking effectively, focus on your competitive set (you can manage this via the Extranet) – the properties you’re measuring yourself against, from an inspirational perspective but also those you are losing bookings to. It could be that you are comparing yourself to a big hotel on the same street but in reality people that go there would never go to your hostel.

The first step is to make sure you are there from an organic perspective – in other words, you use all the free tools we provide that inform the ranking algorithm. Then as a second step you can make sure you are there commercially via paid position, using commercial tools that boost your ranking, almost like an advert. If you are not up there organically then paid might not make sense. Make sure you have the right pictures, that the right content is there – if you have a swimming pool do you have photos of it and is it described well? The Visibility Dashboard shows you how many visitors make a booking after looking at your listing, and suggests actions you can take to increase your visibility. Ensuring you have all the specifications and links so you can be identified in the filters, and that you have availability, particularly during high demand dates is crucial. Then, within the set you are potentially being compared to, make sure you are competitive; this doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest, but you should aim to have an attractive offer.

Rankings may be set by an algorithm but there is so much you can do to inform and influence your standing, from both an organic and paid perspective. Offer a compelling rate, provide good content and make sure customers are happy to drive review scores – then you are set for success.

Manage your property performance with tools including Ranking On Site and Property Page Score – all available on the Extranet and Pulse.

Hielke van Trommel is Director of Product Marketing at Booking.com

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