As we head into 2022, there’s good news and bad news about vacation rentals. But if you make the right moves now, you’ll maximize your bookings regardless of what’s happening out there.
Just when COVID seemed to be waning, another variant began sweeping the globe. That’s the bad news. On the positive side, it appears to be less serious than previous strains, and travel and isolation restrictions have thus far not been as severe. The use of vaccination cards has also helped authorities loosen the rules a bit.
Still, with the number of travelers reduced, it’s critical that you lure as many as you can to your own properties and eliminate barriers to booking.
Kigo is proud to be a Premier Partner of Booking.com, and with them we present these tips on maximizing bookings as we move into the new year.
Boost your Supply Flow
Booking.com monitors a metric called Supply Flow, which is the total number of rooms you have listed on their site. While it’s obvious that you can’t rent properties not showing as available, you’d be surprised at how many vacation rental managers fail to keep the calendar updated for future months.
So first, be sure your properties have rates and availability loaded for 18 months into the future.
Next, Booking.com suggests reducing restrictions to make it possible for more people to find and book your properties. A particularly important offering is flexibility in cancellations in response to the uncertainty arising from successive waves of the pandemic.
Allowing bookings on short notice (even up to one day before the intended rental) is something worth considering as well.
And then there’s a subject of much debate: allowing shorter stays.
Yes, there are downsides to allowing short stays. They mean more turns (with the associated cleaning costs), more customer support, and potentially more last-minute cancellations or even fraudulent charges or invalid credit cards.
But Booking.com says these negatives can be more than offset by the increased income you’ll generate through allowing shorter stays, particularly in an environment where properties are competing for reduced customers. One-night stays can make a significant difference by filling gaps between bookings. And Booking.com mentions that more stays mean more reviews, and lots of positive reviews can be a major driver of bookings.
What’s more, you can to a great extent mitigate the concerns typically associated with short stays.
For example, you can add the higher cleaning cost to your rates, and then let the traveler decide whether it’s worth it. That’s better than not offering the opportunity in the first place.
You might consider making one-night stays available only to fill those gaps between bookings. You can address the higher operational costs for these short stays by automatically relaxing length-of-stay limits while adjusting pricing up accordingly through your Channel Manager in KigoPro.
To eliminate costly cancellations, you can make one or two-night stays (along with last-minute bookings) non-refundable. To reduce fraud and bad credit cards, Booking.com offers their Payments by Booking program; and you can strengthen your own fraud prevention program across platforms.
Review your restrictions and see where you can loosen up a bit to maximize opportunities to book.
Other tips and tools from Booking.com
In volatile times like these, it pays to get a clear picture of what’s happening in the market so you can adjust your pricing and restrictions in order to keep your properties competitive with other offerings. The Analytics tab on Booking.com’s Extranet helps you better understand booking patterns and customer trends.
Booking.com also offers pricing suggestions to help you keep your pricing in line with what’s being offered in your markets.
And don’t forget that promotions such as early bird or last-minute discounts are an effective way to gain a competitive edge. When built into your pricing strategy, they give you the flexibility to offer discounts according to your business needs.
Finally, Booking.com reminds you to showcase your health and safety measures during this time of special concern. The site maintains a library of COVID content you can access and leverage.
You can also visit the Booking.com Opportunity Center for more ways to grow your business.
Booking.com predicts what lies ahead
Booking.com commissioned extensive research in 2021 to better assess what we might expect in 2022. While the hopeful travel expectations picture has dampened a bit with the spread of the COVID Omicron variant, other aspects of the research remain highly useful and relevant. Here are a few of the things the research turned up:
• The importance of being flexible
The research showed as top priorities the right to cancel (33%) and to reschedule without charge (32%). This comes as no surprise, with COVID waxing and waning unpredictably, and work-at-home policies shifting back and forth.
• Mixing work and travel
COVID has ignited the trend of working away from the office, which has naturally affected travel and led to hybrid work/play vacations. The research shows there are both those wanting to extend vacations by tagging work to the before-and-after, and those willing to take shorter vacations if they can completely turn the work off. You should consider catering to those mixing work and pleasure by offering things like long-stay rates and business amenities and services.
• The rise of wellness travel
Two years of COVID weariness have travelers thinking about the connection between travel and wellbeing. In the research, 62% of global travelers said they realized how critical travel was to their wellbeing only after they could no longer travel, and 79% said their wellbeing was elevated by travel more than by other forms of rest and relaxation. Mental and physical health-oriented amenities and services will be high on the list of travelers in 2022.
We’re proud to be a Premier Partner of Booking.com, and trust this look ahead to the coming year will give you some ideas for how to better prepare your business to seize opportunities in a rapidly changing travel environment. Of course, we’re always standing by to help you here at Kigo, and we’re looking optimistically towards the unfolding of the 2022 travel year.
Should you need any help in configuring to implement any of the suggestions above, please email us at AM@kigo.net or reach out to your Account Manager directly.