I got started in hospitality almost by accident. I bought three apartments before they were built from a local developer in 2006, thinking I’d rent a couple out. I still remember my first customer—£45 a night for a month—from a lady visiting from New York.
We’ve continued to grow ever since.
A lot of that growth has come from hard work. All my properties are about a three-minute walk from each other in Hemel Hempstead, England, so we’d literally walk around local businesses making introductions, handing out brochures, that sort of thing. I believe in taking responsibility for getting your own story out there. As a result, we became our own biggest source of new guests.
But the second biggest source? Without a doubt, it’s Booking.com.
Booking.com’s simplicity helped us scale
When we started, I signed up for lots of different platforms to try and see what worked best. It comes from experience when I say Booking.com is the most straightforward one to work with. Everything is clear. It’s easy. It frees us up to focus on the aspects that we can really add value to, like the guest experience.
Take payments, for example. I have a trip coming up for a guest who booked using a different platform. The platform took the card details but hasn’t processed any payments, so the guest isn’t guaranteed to show up. This is less than ideal – especially when they’re due to arrive at nearly midnight.
With Booking.com though, this is much neater. They handle the payment side securely, so we can feel much more confident.
They make it simple to work with other tech, too. We’ve built up a pretty sophisticated array of tech behind the scenes. At the stage we’re at, we need it. For example, we use a property management system and channel manager, and everything works together seamlessly.
Booking.com’s adaptability helped us scale faster
Another advantage of almost accidentally joining the industry was that I had no preconceived notions of what works. Instead, I tested everything.
There are two key variables when it comes to profitability – occupancy and room rates. I calculated that focusing on occupancy was key for us. If we were at full occupancy, I could cut my prices by 50% and we’d still make more money.
The functionality available in Booking.com has really amplified this ability to adapt – and helped us grow as a result. Our most recent realization was the potential of long-stay bookings, and Booking.com has been a fantastic source of these guests.
There’s a wealth of additional tools that we’ve experimented with, too. We tried mobile rates for example, but that wasn’t right for us, perhaps because we’re less of an impulse destination. However, the Genius program has been a great source of new (and repeat) guests. Most of the bookings we get are from people attracted through the Genius discounts, but at prices we’re comfortable with.
In fact, I tend to be pretty conservative on my pricing, but we use dynamic pricing so occasionally the system itself will suggest a higher price. I’m often pleasantly surprised that guests will pay it!
Booking.com has been our best source of new customers
People often ask me if I’d recommend Booking.com and I always give the same answer – definitely!
While there are always areas for improvement with any partnership, overall our experience with Booking.com has been great. I even had a local representative actually come out to meet me here in Hemel Hempstead, which was a nice touch.
At the end of the day, there’s no one best way to find guests. Whatever you pick still requires effort, investment, and determination. The vacation rental industry isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme some people hope for or promise it to be. Regardless, Booking.com has been the best source of new guests for me.
It gives us a global reach we otherwise could never get ourselves, some of them even surprising to us. For example, we have a repeat customer who travels from the Maldives to Hemel Hempstead. We also had a family from Orlando—home to some of the biggest theme parks in the world—come and stay to visit a tourist attraction just down the road.
There’s plenty we do to source guests ourselves, but those are the kinds of bookings we could likely never find on our own. Booking.com helps us unlock new business with more consistency. It helps us experiment with what works. And it’s helped us to grow to the business we are today.
- After direct reservations, Booking.com is Abodebed’s biggest source of bookings
- Booking.com’s simplicity and compatibility have made using the platform a seamless part of Abodebed’s processes
- Long-stay bookings have become an important part of Abodebed’s strategy – and Booking.com has been an invaluable source of those guests
- Being part of the Genius program has also greatly enhanced Abodebed’s reach