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Booking.com – the threat goes on…

So they are at it again… As hoteliers, we know that this industry is always changing but just when we thought that Booking.com couldn’t do any more to harm our business, they have recently upgraded their targeting to not only hit our business customers (we all know and hate the Genius programme) but now they are also targeting our leisure guests!  But before any of us decide to shut down our brand site, stop selling to direct customers and just keep writing blank cheques to the OTA’s, lets understand how real this threat actually is. Let me explain:

Our Leisure Guests

If one of your guests book a leisure stay at your hotel (and we know that Booking.com can identify them as leisure as they ask the guest to complete as part of their booking).  Some hotels thought that Booking.com were alerting them as to whether the guest was leisure or business so that the hotel could segment them and this was a lovely thing for Booking.com to do, but please never be fooled – Booking.com are not on your side and this was always going to be for their marketing purposes, not yours…

So they have this leisure guest with a booking confirmed at your hotel.  As soon as this guest receives a confirmation, they also receive a second email.  This second email contains a unique link which is tracked by Booking.com.  The guest is encouraged to send this link to all of their friends.  If a friend uses this link to search and book on Booking.com, the friend will receive a £15 reward.  The initial booker and person who sent the link to that friend, will also receive a £15 reward once their friend has stayed.

To my knowledge, this type of targeting is new and I am not denying for one second that this isn’t a threat and concern for all of us, but lets think this through logically.

Ask yourself this question: how often do you get this type of ‘chainmail’ email?  I would suggest fairly regularly if you are anyway active on the web.  But how often do you actually send it on to friends?  I know that I wouldn’t be comfortable bombarding my friends with chainmail emails and I think the number of friends I have would diminish quickly if I did.  So before we all throw more toys out of the pram, lets not panic too much.

That said, this will be almost impossible for us to track as we have no visibility on Booking.com, but ask yourself, where does this £15 reward come from?  Well the truth is, your commission!

Our Business Guests

We all know about the Genius programme on Booking.com and the damage this can do to your business is subject for another blog I think, but over and above that, Booking.com seem to be actively targeting business guests.  I would strongly urge you to keep looking at their site and use it like a customer would – you will get all sorts of surprises!

I checked this week, and I was welcomed to their Booking.com for Business programme:

Hello Adrienne,
Thank you for choosing Booking.com for your upcoming business reservation. We hope you were able to find what you needed for a perfect stay.
There’s now an even more convenient way to get more from Booking.com for all your work stays. It’s called Booking.com for Business.
It’s a free account for travellers and organisers to easily plan, book and manage bookings, and start getting the most out of every trip.
Save 10% on certain bookings with the Booking.com travel rewards program
Use smart account features to save your preferences for frequent business destinations
Create travel budgets to help your company find the right accommodation faster
Your account is built with comfort and convenience in mind, and only takes a few seconds to create.

This business programme allows me to set my location and budget preferences, will track my spend, send company reports on my activity and of course reward me for staying.

This is where I feel the real threat will come.  Booking.com are actively moving into the Corporate space – a space we all felt was ours and protected.  This is no longer the case.  So what do we do about it? Well there are actions we can take – lets review those next week

(and for all things revenue, just ask@rightrevenue.wpengine.com)