How to Rank Higher on Booking.com

Nov 18 2023

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.

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What’s in this article?

If you’re a short-term rental manager, you know how important it is to rank higher on Booking.com. Unlike its major online travel agency competitors (Airbnb, Vrbo), Booking.com caters largely to guests seeking hotels, flights, and experience packages. In this article, we will explore various strategies and tips to improve your ranking on Booking.com, compete with hoteliers, and attract more guests.

How does Booking.com ranking work?

Before diving into the tips, let’s first understand how Booking.com’s ranking algorithm works. The OTA takes into account several factors to determine the order in which hotels appear in search results.

Availability and prices

One of the key factors that Booking.com considers in its ranking algorithm is the availability and prices of hotels and vacation rentals. Listings that have a higher availability and offer competitive prices are more likely to appear higher in search results. This is because Booking.com wants to ensure that users have a wide range of options to choose from, and they prioritize properties that are more likely to be available and affordable.

Guest reviews and ratings

Another important factor in Booking.com’s algorithm? Guest reviews and ratings. Hotels and vacation rentals with positive reviews and high ratings are more likely to be ranked higher. Just like Airbnb and Vrbo, Booking.com values the opinions and experiences of previous guests and wants to ensure that users have enjoyable stays.

Location and proximity to popular landmarks

The location of a listing and its proximity to popular landmarks also play a role in the ranking algorithm. Booking.com takes into account the convenience and accessibility of a property’s location, as well as its proximity to popular tourist attractions, landmarks, and transportation hubs, including airports (especially since the OTA is a go-to flight booking platform).

Performance + engagement

Booking.com also considers a short-term rental’s overall performance and engagement on its platform. This includes factors such as the property’s responsiveness to guest inquiries, the number of bookings made through Booking.com, and the overall engagement and interaction with the platform.

10 Tips for ranking better

Now that we have a basic understanding of the ranking algorithm, let’s move on to the tips for ranking better on Booking.com.

1. Optimize your property description

Ensuring that your property description is detailed, accurate, and highlights its unique selling points is crucial for attracting potential guests. Take the time to carefully craft an accurate description that showcases the best features of your property. Use SEO keywords relevant to your location and amenities (“Vacation rental with ocean views in Cape Cod”) to improve your search engine rankings.

2. Showcase high-quality photos

Investing in professional photography can make a significant difference in how your property is perceived by potential guests. High-quality images can create a positive impression and increase the likelihood of bookings. Consider hiring a professional photographer to capture your property’s best features in the most appealing way.

3. Manage your rates and availability

Regularly updating your rates to remain competitive in the market is essential. Consider using a channel manager and dynamic pricing to automatically adjust in real-time based on trends, competitive listings, last-minute changes, and occupancy. Additionally, offering free cancellation or flexible cancellation policies can also attract more bookings, as guests appreciate the peace of mind it provides.

4. Secure positive guest reviews

Encouraging your guests to leave reviews after their stay can significantly impact your ranking on Booking.com. As previously discussed, positive reviews not only attract potential guests but also improve your credibility. Responding to reviews promptly and addressing any negative feedback in a professional and empathetic manner shows that you value guest satisfaction and are committed to providing a great experience.

5. Engage with potential guests

Responding to guest inquiries and messages in a timely manner is crucial for maintaining a positive image on Booking.com. Booking.com considers responsiveness as a factor in their ranking algorithm, so make sure to prioritize communication with potential guests. Prompt and helpful responses can make a significant difference in securing bookings.

6. Optimize your property’s location

Highlighting nearby attractions, restaurants, and transportation options in your property description can make your listing more appealing to potential guests. Many travelers prioritize convenience, so providing information about the surrounding area and transportation options can help attract guests who are looking for a convenient and enjoyable stay.

This is an example of what Hostfully guidebooks can do.
Digital guidebooks cater to a quality guest experience by allowing property managers to showcase listings with area maps, recommendations, and travel directions.

7. Offer attractive promotions

Creating special offers and packages can entice potential guests to choose your property over others. Consider offering discounted rates, free upgrades, or value-added upsells to make your listing more attractive. Promotions can help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of securing bookings (and revenue).

8. Provide accurate and detailed amenities information

Ensuring that your property’s amenities are accurately listed on Booking.com is essential for managing guest expectations. Make sure to include details such as Wi-Fi availability, parking facilities, and breakfast options. Providing accurate and detailed information helps guests make informed decisions and reduces the likelihood of bad reviews due to unmet expectations.

9. Go sustainable

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, it’s worth considering sustainability factors for your property. Many travelers actively seek eco-friendly accommodations, and Booking.com highlights a listing’s Travel sustainability level with a three-leaf system — so incorporating sustainable practices can attract a niche market, and bolster your property’s appeal and ranking.

Show casing Booking.com's sustainability measures on their website
Booking.com draws attention to green travel with sustainability filters and an eco-conscious rating system.

10. Consider accessible property types

Because Booking.com caters to guests casting a wide rental net alongside popular hotels, short-term rental listings that adhere to accessibility guidelines and amenities will have an easier time competing. Consider implementing accessibility features such as ramps, elevators, safety features, and accessible rooms. Highlighting these features in your property description can attract guests with specific accessibility needs.

Bonus! 11. Work on your conversion rate

Booking.com looks at how many views your properties gets vs how often a visitor converts. If your property keeps getting passed over, it may send a signal to their search algorithm that something is off. The root cause may be your pricing in relation to the amenities offered and location. Another culprit may be photos that don’t convey the warmth and cleanliness of your properties.

Booking.commetrics + programs

Metrics + performance

Booking.com’s extranet dashboard offers valuable analytics on performance and guest patterns, enabling data-driven optimization.

  • Analytics dashboard
    This dashboard delivers real-time insights on guest profiles and booking trends based on key metrics.
  • Visibility booster: This tool tracks engagement with vacation rentals across the listing site to boost your property’s visibility in search results.
  • Price performance dashboard: Booking.com’s price performance dashboard highlights pricing gaps vs. other channels to protect rate parity. Property managers should take note of how this tool works based on Booking.com’s pricing metrics.

Partner + Genius programs

In addition to analytics, Booking.com incentivizes top-performing listings through preferential ranking algorithm programs.

  • Preferred Partner Program: The top 30% of Booking.com properties can qualify for the Preferred Partner Program. For consideration, vacation rentals must have:
    • 70% or higher performance score
    • Review score of 7 or higher
    • Competitive pricing
  • Preferred Plus: Booking.com’s Preferred Plus Program takes preferred partner benefits even further for the top 10% of Preferred Partners, leading up to 60% increased visibility in search results compared to standard Preferred Partners. This higher-tiered program also offers Travel Credits to guests who book Preferred Plus properties.
  • Genius Program:Booking.com rewards qualifying listings with a special badge and search ranking boost as part of its Genius Program. The OTA claims partners typically see a 70% increase in search results, 45% boost in bookings, and 40% in revenue.
  • To qualify for the Genius Program, your listing must :
    • Be listed and actively available on Booking.com
    • Have 3+ guest reviews
    • Have a review score of at least 7.5

By participating in incentive programs and monitoring analytics dashboards, hosts can boost their Booking.com ranking and rental income. Regularly reviewing your property’s performance metrics and identifying areas for improvement is essential for staying competitive. By monitoring your performance, you can make data-driven decisions and implement strategies to enhance your ranking and attract more bookings.

Conclusion

By optimizing your property’s description, engaging with potential guests, securing positive reviews, and taking advantage of Booking.com’s programs, you can enhance your visibility and attract more bookings. Remember to monitor your performance and adapt your strategy to stay competitive in the dynamic short-term rental industry.