Mobile technology has proliferated in the last decade and today more than 5 billion people are said to have a mobile, half of which being a smartphone. Such is the prevalence of these devices, they are increasingly used in our professional lives - with 74% of Booking.com vacation rental partners now using mobile to communicate with guests*.
On-the-go property management
In 2015, Booking.com embarked on a project to create a product that helped partners better prepare for their guests ahead of the stay. In essence, a notification app. “Partners really liked to have an app, but notifications didn’t fully cover the need,” says Bas Schopman, Group Product Manager, Booking.com. “We realised the app could really improve guest experience as partners were able to respond to queries much faster, and by adding additional features - like reservation management and availability calendars - messaging use actually increased too.”
Pulse’s capabilities have expanded since its first iteration, and now partners can use it across a broad range of operational tasks. Through the app, partners can add facilities and improve their content score; update room availability to avoid any double bookings; and the all-important guest messaging - quick responses actually lower changes of cancellations and help with better reviews. In the event of a mishap, partners can also report any guest misconduct helping reinforce a sense of security. Pulse users can also update their host profile and add information on amenities.
“In the last year we have been really focusing on stability and developing features for homeowners. App use grew from a couple thousand properties to over a million - and we worked on a stable, reliable product to support these partners,” says Schopman. “We don’t yet have all the features of the Extranet, and that’s deliberate. We see Pulse as the tool for the most urgent and easy tasks while partners are away from their desks: replying to guest messages and reviews, updating availability last minute - for example if a property gets a walk in or a booking from another channel they can make sure their Booking.com inventory is up to date. Closer to check-in they can see if they need to do anything for their guests’ arrival.”
Pulse in action
One of the big focuses of Pulse, was creating something that enabled on-the-go property management. For Maria Adamopoulou, Owner of The Adam’s Studio - a country house in the small town of Oropós in Greece, this level of convenience is vital as limited internet connection at her home means she often needs to find free wifi at a local cafe. “Pulse has helped me a great deal in my everyday routine. I don’t have to stay stuck to my desk computer all day,” she says. “It’s is a very easy way to handle my listing as I please. All features are very well set up, waiting for me to discover them while having fun and enjoying my coffee.
“In the morning [the app] gives me my daily report. While having breakfast I check up on my reservations and if I have any pending messages. Guests appreciate it when hosts are responsive and available on the spot. During the day I upload or delete pictures, check to see that my policies, facilities and amenities are up to date.”
When serviced apartments complex BridgeStreet at Liverpool One, based in the centre of Liverpool, UK, introduced a condensed staffing policy, the team had to find a way to enhance the way they operated. “There are not many of us [in the building], so because of that I needed to get something in place for my team and I for communicating with the guests - something that was quick and easy,” says Ian Smith, Guest Experience Manager. “I’m not here 24 hours a day and I was always scared of something being missed, but now I can log in to the app on my day off and check any guest requests for the next day - maybe they want a twin bed or an extra duvet - and then go back and action that without even being in the building. I like to read the reviews and it shows us how we can improve and adapt to the guests coming to Bridge Street.
“I’ll always sign off on Pulse personally, introducing myself, so when the guest checks in you’ve already built a rapport … from that you gain that positive relationship and I think it does drive the guest to come back. We’re not a big, well-known name so guest experience and that relationship is so crucial to us, Pulse has just taken us one step further in building that.”
“Bigger properties tend to use Pulse to stay aware of everything that’s happening with their business and act on it promptly,” says Schopman, “Whereas smaller properties and entrepreneurs who are hosting on top of their 9-5 job use it more as a property management tool so they can be less reliant on a desktop device. We don’t want to pour every feature from the Extranet into Pulse - we need to get a balance - but for real-time updates and quick, important changes it’s a valuable tool.”
*Research conducted among a sample of 4,956 Booking.com partners across 20 markets (Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Greece, Croatia, Indonesia, India, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, USA). Respondents completed an online survey in February 2019
- Pulse - Booking.com's property management app - is available on Android and iOS
- Through the app, partners can view and update their rates and availability to take maximum advantage of guest demand and last minute changes. They can also reply to guest questions, offering an extra opportunity to turn potential customers into real guests
- On the rare occasions that guests don’t follow house rules and policies, Pulse can be used to report guest misconduct giving partners full control of their listing
- Partners can also update their host profile and add information about amenities