Just when you through your relationship (and I use that word tentatively as no relationship should be one-sided) with Booking.com couldn’t get any worse, well it has…

NB: This is an article from Right Revenue

This morning Booking.com announced that they will be offering your Genius Rates (which as you know, you have very little control of anyway) to all of their other subsidiaries.  These include their parent company, Priceline; Kayak and Agoda.

Hotels will automatically be opted into this programme and if hotels ignore, Booking.com will take this as ‘silent consent’ that you agree to participate.  So, what does this actually mean for you?  In my opinion, this means handing over yet more control to Booking.com and with, let’s face it, yet another hugely detrimental effect on your rate strategy.

I am not a fan of Genius in any shape or form although I do appreciate that some hotels feel they need it to stimulate demand in a very suppressed market.  However, those instances should be few and far between and my concern is that hotels feel rail-roaded into making these decisions when really as a market we should be saying no!

In my humble opinion, hotels should really consider what this means to their business overall before allowing this to happen.  Isn’t it time to just say no?  Isn’t it time that as an industry we came together and pushed back, even a little?  It happens in other markets, why not yours? 

If you do decide to opt out (and just in case you are under any illusion with this blog so far, that would absolutely be my recommendation), then login to your Booking.com extranet; click on: Analytics – Genius Report – Manage your audience.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on – You’re gaining access to a wider audience – then opt out.

If you add this latest announcement to other programmes recently announced by Booking.com – as an example their ‘mobile-only preferred rates’ – and they really are cutting away at everything we as an industry do.  For those of you who aren’t aware of this programme (which you probably have already been opted-in to), Booking.com will take higher commission on all bookings made on mobile as they are attempting to position themselves as the booking engine of choice via mobile.  Rates will be discounted for mobile bookers and you end up paying for it!

We also know that last week Google announced that they will be pushing all travel related sites further down the rankings in a bid to make their Google Travel solution more prevalent for searchers.  In an attempt to combat this lack of Google placement, Booking.com is now changing tactics.  Instead of using your commission to fund their own PPC campaign against your brand name, they are now using that lovely commission that you pay them to incentivise travellers.  As an example; if you book a hotel in London, you might get free entrance to Madame Tussauds or The Tower of London.  The attempt here is to make travellers believe that they are the only solution in the market that put the booker first, which of course we know is not true…  They desperately want loyalty from travellers and we are paying the price for this.

Yet again we find the scales of fairness tipped and not in our favour…

There is of course the argument that if the market is moving toward seeing Booking.com as their preferred booking solution and the answer to all of our customers prayers, then maybe we have to take this buying shift and just deal with it.

However, I feel physically awkward with the tactics used by Booking.com to ‘bully’ hotels into these programmes.  The bottom line is that they are a commercial entity.  They care not one little bit about our customers.  We provide the service and the experience.  We are the ones working at very tight margins.  They are the ones making 3 or 4 times (or more) what we make on a hotel room whilst we basically do all the work of servicing our wonderful guests.

Yes, they market our hotel 24 hours per day in places we could never reach but come on guys, play fair here!  These tactics are down-right despicable, and I really look forward to the day when we as an industry feel that we should do something about it.  Is today that day???

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