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Who makes the short descriptions ?

I have two apartments listed on Booking. They spend their time sending me emails trying to help me "make more bookings", but the short automatically generated descriptions that they provide for each listing shows absolutely no marketing nor SEO skills. One says that the apartment was built in 1949 (who cares?!) and the other one that the next city is "a 9-minute walk away from the apartment" when there is a sea inlet in between! Why can't we make our own short introduction text?

28 Replies

7
pibomarco

Because it is based on a guest demand. Guests want a straight forward information, not some blablabla descriptions. You attract guest with the pictures, facilities, amneties, etc. If some information is not correct you can request a description change.

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

Fair enough, but then it could be accurate information. Like I said, in the description it says that the apartment is ""9-minute walk away from Valletta" when you'd have to be Jesus and walk on the water to go there by foot!

And who on earth rents an apartment because "it was built in 1949"?!

Give me a break.

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

It is clearly noted that distances are areal. For the second part.. you can request a description change.

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

If distances are aeral, then you don't write "X-minute walk away", you write "is X minutes away from". Mentioning "walking" is clearly misleading. Anyway I requested a change, we'll see...

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

At my listing it is not written a walking distance, but yes if not correct just request a change.

1 year ago
1
Info

I completely, 100% agree with this complaint. Automatically generated nonsense. I am new to Booking.com. I have listed on Airbnb, VRBO and Tripadvisor. I already have a well edited description I would like to use.

First problem, the booking.com bot generates nonsense like how many km my house is from Eureka Peak or Covington Flats, very little-known destinations. Customers can see on the map where it is. I put in my description how many miles or minutes it is from the National Park Entrance, that immediately makes sense.

Then the automatic description provides some more boring and not too relevant generalities.

Second problem, you have to ask Mommy to change your description for you and then wait a week. That's a waste of time for all concerned.

The companies that have made huge successes on the Internet do it by harnessing the power of vendors and customers, not by being nannies.

In fact, the whole vacation rental business is based on people trusting other people to be reasonable adults, and getting bad reviews if they aren't. We don't need to be micromanaged.

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

I'm glad I'm not the only one! Who else than the owner of a place knows what the selling points are? They say that it's written after what people research, but that can be true (who searches or request an apartment that was built in 1949?!). I really don't understand the logic here.

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

So that means you didn't request a description change for that 1949 or they didn't approve to remove this information?

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

I did request it, but apparently it takes 6 days to change it!!
But that is beyond the point; it's not a relevant information and should never have been in the description in the first place. These bots don't know how to write and they provide stupid information.

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

You would be surprised in how many cases owners thinks they know but they actually don't.
Anyway.. Jawn.

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

We don't care. It's our problem. We should at least have the choice; either write it ourselves or let a bot do it. I can't understand why you're defending this so much; how could misleading and badly written information sell better than a text written by somebody who knows his stuff?!

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

Descriptions are made based on the data you put in the location, amneties and facilites etc.. I had to make a description change too so that the data was fully correct. Isn't it easier to just let it go? Correct the mistakes and move on.. I am not defending, I am accepting. If you will put so much energy in the things that you think they are doing wrong or against you, you will be too frustrated and unhappy. This business is so huge, if you would be able to see a wider perspecitve from a different point of view you wouldnt be pissing off for such a "little" things.. I was in your shoes too, working with booking since 2009 (those were the frsutrating years I wont even start) and its not worth it because you can do nothing about it. You can still delist them in the end. What I've learned is after I was suspended for few months that I need them more then they need me. Thats it.. I've already made my point in the first posts.. I am out, and you can continue crying over this matter if you want. Yes you are right they're wrong, we get it. Take care.

1 year ago
1
Info

Hi Pibomarco,

maybe i was too harsh in my comment. Actually I'm not trying to attack booking.com, I'm trying to be helpful, because I don't like it when one company becomes a quasi monopoly (like Amazon or Airbnb) thanks to their clever user friendly platform. Because it is better for us vendors when they have real competition, after they get too powerful they won't offer us as good a deal.

On the one hand modern especially US society is known for high volume sales talk and a low key presentation can get lost in the noise. But I also see your point about the value of a more objective presentation. Sometimes I do get irritated when shopping online and there is a lot of fuzzy woolly description but you can't even find the dimensions of the article!

So I think there could be a place for Specifications which would be more cut and dried and a place for Description which could be more flexible. And not only for bragging, I need to tell people that we don't have A/C, just evaporation cooling, but I only have a choice of clicking or not clicking on A/C. So I will have to send a corrected description to include that info.

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

I understand ofcourse... You don't wish going through the things with booking.com in 2009+ and their early system where they were not flexible at all.. I was constantly arguing for the features that are now available but at that time they weren't. Acting like they were the owners of the proeprty. We even had to (out of my 12 rooms) reserve 4 for Booking.com, which means I could not sell them outside of booking.com. If I did I couldn't close the availabilty and risk an overbooking. This was the biggest annoying feature ever etc etc. Also the policies and payment options sucked big time.. That is why I also held a big grudge against them. But I need them.. that was the most annoying part lol. Now in 2018 it's a tottaly different story. Basicly with all the experiances I had with them, I don't have any issues with Booking.com (mostly) and are slowly improving their system which is more friendly also to the owners comparing as it was before. Some things needs to be understood and accepted..
I also understand your A/C issue..
For example I would like that cleaning fee could be marked as optional (not just included or paid extra). So we don't charge final cleaning fee if the guest decide to tidy the apartment before check-out for themseleves or they can choose to pay a cleaning fee.
For some features that are still not available I have a generated email with my house rules/policies which I send to the guest after each booking is made. So more or less everything works OK. Could be better, but could be also lots worse when I look at the past. As I said I was in those shoes like everyone else now (new users), but sometimes you need to see also a wider picture, not just from your personal perspective. BC knows what are they doing based on the milions of guests booking every day and milions of owners. The system is very well improved if you set it up good enough for yourself (and not being greedy for getting as much bookings). And thanks to their competition they become more flexible in general.

1 year ago
1
Info

Hi Pibomarco,

yes that must have been terrible without syncing and not allowed to cancel! It's amazing but syncing is one thing that seems to work quite well.

It's a lot better now. Funny, the thing that bothers me most is a WORD. The word "ROOM." They always call my property a room (and you "sell" rooms that's weird too but it doesn't matter).

Calling a unit a room would work for hotels and also for homes where you offer rooms separately. In fact, because of this approach I even considered doing that with our place, but decided not to so far.

So we have a 4 bedroom house which they call a room. They ask me to upload separate pictures for each room - but it's all only one room? How can "a room" have 4 bedrooms, let alone 2 baths, a kitchen, dining and 3 more rooms?

It's not just a semantic issue. It's architectural. Very hard to describe a house when you consider it as a single room!

What they need to do is if you select "room type" as Vacation House, then it should let you select bedrooms etc under that unit, and choose whether to combine them as one unit or rent as separate rooms.

Or maybe I still don't understand how it is supposed to work?

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

From my point of view that sounds like an Apartment. So I would describe it as "4 bedroom Apartment". I guess they thought you are selling 4 rooms. I don't know exactly how new listings are created nowadays.

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

Booking was originally designed for hotels, so they would only deal with bedrooms. They are now after the apartment rental market, but it takes time to adjust. That is why you can still encounter these problems from time to time.

1 year ago
1
Info

Yeah I thought maybe that might be it, they started with hotels before vacation rentals got to be so big.. Maybe we can start talking about renting units instead of selling rooms, and see if it catches on.

Regarding cleaning fees, I also thought of refunding or charging extra, and there has been a long thread about that on AirBnb. However, it turns out that you always need to spend enough time cleaning the floor and bathroom, changing the linen and checking the amenities, even if they are neat and clean. Of course you generally have less work on a short stay than a long one, but by charging the same, that encourages longer stays, which are preferable. In one case we did charge extra after a group of young people left a big mess and the cleaning lady had to spend twice the time, but aside from that one, it seems to work OK with a rate that covers the typical time required.

1 year ago
1
Info

SAY "RENTING UNITS" instead of "SELLING ROOMS"

& PASS IT ON :-)

1 year ago
7
pibomarco

I have two cleaning maids, and the point of the optional cleaning fee is just a prevention for the guest to leave a big mess (specially in the kitchen). So they rather do a basic cleaning then pay extra 50€. And I am focused only in the kitchens. Bedrooms and bathroom is not important. I have quite a lot "units", and my maids can not spend in one unit cleaning the mess for couple od hours. Specially on the day when there are lots of check-outs/check-ins. If I will have a mandatory cleaning fee or included in the rate, some guest will leave the place even messier and won't give a shi*t. :)

Since I regsitered my property to Booking.com I was "selling" rooms and apartments, and now also chalets.

1 year ago
2
Ericoutram

Why why ,why ,do we all have too write in this window

,medium ,about booking ,co

does that mean we are all more intelligent than the clones at head off ,ice

every time I read a comment I see ,that

the persons whants. to ,

make there life ,easier ,more organised

and solve ,another persons problem

who are suffering from a burnt out Webb search engine ,

advice get on as many other sites as possible

and ya won’t have to deal with the inconvenience

1 year ago
2
Eric (Malta)

We're making progress! The short description for one of my apartments has been amended. I hope the next one will follow shortly.

1 year ago
5
MikeM

Hi Eric (Malta), how goes the 'War' of words ?

No one has offered 'multi-lingual' site listings - as a possible reason for the limited options of short descriptions. - its just my guess. - maybe someone can step in and tell me if I am right or wrong ?

Software can calculate a distance from 2 points on a map. but it needs to be smarter to confirm it's 'Walking Distance'...

8 months ago
5
MikeM

Ok, I found your listing.

When I change language to French, it changes your short description to French.

( It does not do that on my property Listing. )

I have a suggestion, if you remove " Valletta Waterfront " - from your "Closest Landmarks"... then hopefully - after some time your 'short description' will no longer say...

" a 12-minute walk from Valletta Waterfront. "

Good luck, let me know if that works... :)

8 months ago
7
pibomarco

The reason of short descriptions is to provide the guest only with basic & important information.
Overall bookers don't like to read much.

8 months ago
5
MikeM

Hi, thanks for your feedback... but - this is only your educated guess ? is that correct ?

Basic - Yes... agreed.

Important ? - well, that is debatable.

in the example above - it is in fact a lie:

" a 12-minute walk from Valletta Waterfront. "

As the guest would need to walk on water.

If the only criteria was 'Basic and Important'
- then why not let the user write or at least edit the short description ?

it could be limited to a total number of characters...

I have at least proved that my 'theory'... that is is 'Probably' - to make it easier to translate, and that is why it is limited - and computer generated.

8 months ago
7
pibomarco

The exact answer you'll probably get when you will contact your account manager or Booking.com support.

It's not a lie.. It's just algorithm where information in some cases will not be shown correctly based on the property information/location/facilites/amenties.. That is why you are able to edit/modify the existing description.

Translation ofcourse is also the main factor.

8 months ago
5
MikeM

Pigeon Chess.

8 months ago