Booking.com has come a long way since our founder Geert-Jan Bruinsma set up in a small Amsterdam office space back in 1996. And in the time that we’ve grown, so too have our partners and the market.
“The industry, as a whole, has really changed. From the emergence of homes and apartments to how customers engage,” says James Waters, Vice President of Partner & Customer Services at Booking.com. “The way we work with our partners has evolved and integral to that has been listening to their needs, researching their world and understanding the challenges they face. Our partner promise is a way of showing that our partners are joining us on - and shaping - that growth journey”
Harnessing industry developments
European-based Belvilla Holiday Homes has over 25,000 properties across the continent. It started working with us six years ago, when vacation rentals was still a relatively new area of the business. “It was a difficult decision. Our company and the industry at that time was completely different to hotels, which Booking.com was really known for,” says Martijn Leenders, SVP of Distribution and Managing Director. “But we’ve never looked back. It’s been a success from year one commercially, and every year has shown growth in revenue but also in coming closer to each other, understanding each other better.”
VR UK, which has over 50,000 units in 50 countries, took a similar leap of faith. Sally Henry, Sales Director, was there from the very start: “When we began it was referred to as non-hotels, which is very telling. The space travelled in the last five years is phenomenal and it’s been really interesting to watch that evolvement. We’ve benefitted hugely from being able to work really closely and there were a lot of things that we fed back in terms of what’s important to the vacation rental industry, but on the other side you’ve taught us how global players operate and how things are looked at differently.”
Partners in the hotel segment too have collaborated on new directions that push boundaries and drive into new markets. Fairmont Austin worked with its Booking.com team to launch Fairmont Gold - a hotel within a hotel that provides an elevated luxury experience. “Right away they [Booking.com] understood what we were trying to accomplish and our vision - this was something really unique to the market that would bring a new kind of customer to our hotel,” says Benjamin Cachau, Director of Revenue Management, Fairmont Austin.
“Everyone embraced the idea and helped us implement it - from creating a new listing, to new distribution channels, customising promotions specifically for a discerning guest who values experiential travel. The idea that Fairmont Gold would bring incremental demand and no cannibalisation has been proven - conversion rates are as high as with regular listings and cancellation rates are very low.”
Embracing new technologies
A key contribution to moving with the times has been the integration of new technologies. “The industry is pushing for more standardisation, and while it might feel like we’ve had to make [technological] changes to suit others’ systems the reality is that these were necessary changes. The content and reporting API’s have been a huge benefit for us. It is quite amazing to think back and realise how much manual work we had to do before we implemented these API’s.” says Leenders.
It’s not always been straightforward, as VR UK experienced. “The integration was quite different to anything we’d done before. We really had to turn our systems on their head and invested a lot in the technology,” says Henry. “There were a lot of teething problems on both sides … but what strikes me most is that it’s been one of the most impressive transformations in the industry. Tech is something we have worked through and how we present our product has been a constant work in progress, so we keep challenging ourselves on that. I really do see it as a true partnership - you do listen and we respect each others' worlds.”
The human connection
“It all comes down to people - its a level of human connection and mutual understanding that is exceptional,” says Leenders. “It’s something I truly value, we’ve embraced that relationship and it really sets Booking.com apart from the crowd. If you have a good connection, get each other and share the same goals, then you overcome any of the niggly problems.”
The partnership helped Fairmont Austin overcome challenges around the introduction of Fairmont Gold to the local market: “Some of our competitors felt it was an unfair advantage. Our Booking.com team were the ones having to take those calls and talk them through the differences, and then we partnered together to welcome other hoteliers on a site tour so they could see the differences in the Fairmont Gold product. We work hand-in-hand to ensure we make the best decisions for both of our businesses and that we have a strong partnership in place to optimise the revenues.”
“Our partners know their customers and they are hungry for knowledge, so we are committed to being able to provide the insights, tools and support they need to grow their business,” says Booking.com’s Waters. “Growing Together is about exactly that - collaborating and sharing what lies ahead, with the collective ambition of continuing to provide incredible travel experiences for all our customers.”
- Results: we promise to share even more tailored commercial advice that helps you grow your revenue, reduce your workload and leave your guests even happier
- Relationship: we promise to express our appreciation more, to listen more, and to show you exactly how we're acting on your feedback
- Value: we promise to be more transparent about what you get out of your partnership with us - from top-class marketing and tech solutions, to local teams who know your market inside out
- Support: we promise to be there for you: to keep you informed, to inspire you, and to help you connect and share with each other