With over 400 million total visits, Booking.com is one of the biggest online travel agencies in the world. The Amsterdam-based company, founded in 1996, originally focussed on hotels. Since then, it has evolved into a global platform—particularly popular among European audiences—that boasts an ever-growing inventory of vacation rentals.

As the vacation rental industry becomes more and more competitive, listing your rentals on channels with a wide reach like Booking.com has become vital. However, getting listed is just the first step—you can do it easily with a channel manager like Rentals United. But to be successful on the platform, you also need to rank high in search results.  

While Booking.com’s algorithm will always attempt to match each visitor with the perfect short-term rental for their stay, there are also actionable steps you can take to push your property to the top of the search results. Being proactive about this is key to a successful vacation rental marketing strategy.

So what can you do to improve your Booking.com ranking? Read on to find out.

As a Booking.com Premier Partner, Rentals United allows you to effortlessly manage your Booking.com listings while boosting your visibility and conversions. Find out more.

What determines your Booking.com ranking?

You’re probably already working on your vacation rental distribution to ensure your properties are displaying correctly and fully optimised on sales channels. Like any other channel, it’s important to familiarise yourself with Booking.com’s ranking fundamentals before listing your rentals online. 

Guests who search for accommodation on Booking.com see the results of their searches listed by ranking. These rankings are determined by how relevant each listing is to the users’ preferences. Booking.com’s algorithms also take into account a visitor’s past searches, the current demands within the market, and properties’ overall performance on their platform. As a result, the ranking of listings each visitor sees is completely personalised to them. 

Before exploring how to improve your Booking.com ranking, it’s important to first understand the key stages of a user’s journey on the platform. 

Each time a visitor logs into their Booking.com account, the algorithm will adapt to their evolving requirements, as determined by their search journey. 

This journey can be split into five stages:

  1. Exploration: This is where each guest begins their initial searches for a short-term rental. Here, they filter by factors such as destination, property type, facilities, prices and dates.
  2. Comparison: The guest begins to compare accommodation options and assesses which option best meets their needs. 
  3. Booking: Once they’ve selected the best rental for them, the guest reserves the property for their desired dates. 
  4. Experience: This encompasses the entire duration of their booking, from the moment their reservation is finalised to the moment they leave the property. 
  5. Evaluation: Visitors rank their overall experience of their stay up until check-out time. The guest reviews reflect the overall quality of the property, including facilities, amenities, cleanliness and service—which helps other guests decide whether they should book that property or not. 

Booking.com helps you better understand your guests by accessing key insights in the Booker Insights tool. These insights include which countries guests book from, which devices they use, and their reason for travelling. 

6 ways to improve your Booking.com ranking

1. Improve your properties’ conversion rate

When a guest books one of your properties, it indicates to Booking.com’s algorithm that similarly-profiled guests may want to book it too. For this reason, conversion is one of the main determining factors in how high the ranking algorithm places your listing in search results. 

To increase your conversion rate, you need to make your listing look more attractive. Here are a few simple ways to make your listing appeal to guests on Booking.com: 

  • Take high-quality photos of your property. As the first-impression guests have of your listing, the quality of your images is essential. Read Booking.com’s guide on how to take the best photos of your rental
  • Research your guest’s needs. Have you noticed that all your bookings are from a similar type of guest? Try to present your property so that it targets a specific niche. This will help you ‌rank higher when similar Booking.com users are searching for their next short-term rental. 
  • Provide a thorough property description. Make sure your listing includes all the facilities and amenities your property has. The more details you provide about your property, the more likely your listing is to appear in search results even after guests have applied multiple filters. 
  • Offer extra information and tips. Guests appreciate any extra information or tips added to a property listing. It shows the effort you make to provide the best experience. It can be something small and simple, such as directions to the property or tips to find good parking spots. 

You’ve done all of the above but your listings still aren’t converting as well as you expected? Now is the time to use data to identify opportunities for improvement.

Analysing your listings with data-backed tools is the best way to understand why users aren’t booking your vacation rentals. RU Data Studio Property Health Cards are a one-of-a-kind analytical tool designed to optimise conversions for rental properties listed on OTAs. 

The Property Health Cards quickly pinpoint the adjustments you need to make to your listings in order to win more conversions. This tool also offers a Listings Quality Score: a percentage that represents the quality of your listings, so you can understand the likelihood of conversions at a glance.

2. Ensure availability

Simply put, if a property doesn’t have availability on dates that guests are searching for, it won’t appear in search results. So, make sure you provide availability at least a year into the future and adjust your minimum stay restrictions to increase the visibility of your listings.

As a property manager, it’s important that you communicate directly with your homeowners and make sure that there aren’t too many dates blocked out in the property’s calendar. Otherwise, there won’t be enough availability on OTAs, which will affect your revenue potential. 

Rentals United Data Studio Property Health Cards allow you to easily track blocked dates via the Unsellable Nights metric. This shows the percentage of blocked nights so you can determine how much availability you need to unlock to increase your revenue. 

Making sure you have availability well in advance will not only encourage repeat bookings from satisfied guests, but it will also attract new guests who like to plan ahead. 

Now that the uncertainty around travel is decreasing, booking windows are getting longer, and an increasing number of guests are making early-bird reservations. Don’t miss out on them!

It’s also crucial to adjust your minimum length of stay. For example, if your MLOS is set to 7 nights, guests who are searching for shorter stays will not see your listing in search results.

3. Offer a variety of rate plans

Offering a wide variety of rate plans increases your chances of appealing to different guests because it allows you to market towards different priorities. 

Using special rate plans, you can increase your conversions, incentivise guests to book longer stays and even get bookings in the off-season. 

Booking.com now offers shared market insights and localised data via Booking.com Opportunities and Promotions that let you create promotional rates based on different criteria. You receive a high level of data about the kind of people booking your property and those nearby, so you can tailor promotions to them. Here are just some of the types of promotions you can think about adding to your properties: 

  • Mobile rate: Add a discount for booking made on mobile devices. Over half (59%) of Booking.com reservations come from a mobile device—adding a Mobile Rate helps your properties to stand out in search results and increase bookings from mobile devices by up to 28% on average. 
  • Country rate: Offer a discount only to potential guests in countries you want to target. This helps to make your pricing strategy more dynamic; be competitive within your region; attract guests from countries that tend to spend more at the property; attract guests from countries with the highest market growth percentage; remain competitive on meta sites; and attract guests from markets with lower cancellation rates. 
  • LOS (Length Of Stay) discount: Provide weekly or monthly discounts on longer stays.
  • Early-bird discount: Provide a discount for guests who book and pay well in advance.
  • Last-minute discount: Offer a discount to secure last-minute stays.  

It’s also a good idea to set different prices per occupancy—for example, 100€ for 2 people, 110€ for 3, 120€ for 4 people and so on. This allows you to showcase your listings in more searches as Booking.com’s system shows the option that adapts better to what travellers are looking for.

4. Provide flexible cancellation policies

In the past two years, flexible cancellation policies have become the norm. Because of the ongoing uncertainty around travel, guests have come to expect flexible cancellation options and are even willing to pay extra for it. 

While offering a full refund may increase the likelihood of a cancellation, properties with flexible cancellation policies get more bookings than properties with a no-refund approach.  

What’s more, many guests now filter their searches using the “Free Cancellation” filter on Booking.com—so if you don’t want to miss out on those bookings, you should definitely adopt a lenient cancellation policy

5. Join Booking.com’s exclusive programmes

Booking.com offers exclusive programmes designed to optimise your listings on Booking.com. 

Joining the Genius Programme gives you extra visibility through special tagging, ranking boosts, and better visibility in search results on our platform. On average, partners who join Genius increase their bookings by 29% and their revenue by 24%, with the cost of the discount accounted for.

The Preferred Partner Program is the next level up, helping property managers receive a boost in visibility and ranking. Preferred partners also receive up to 65% more page views and 40% more bookings.

To become a partner for each of these programmes, you must meet a set of criteria, listed in the table below:

GeniusPreferred Partner
Your property must be open and bookable on Booking.com.You must have a Performance Score of at least 70% (based on expected annual bookings and traveller demand).
Your property must have received at least 3 guest reviews.Your Review Score must be at least 7 out of 10.
It must have a review score of at least 7.5 (lower if the average score for your area is below 7.5 and your property scores above this average). In comparison to prices on other booking websites, your prices must be considered ‘competitive’.
To find out more, click Opportunities in the Booking.com extranet and select ‘Genius Programme’.To find out more, click Opportunities in the Booking.com extranet and select ‘Preferred Partner Programme’.
Requirements for joining the Booking.com Genius and Preferred Partner Programmes

6. Give your listings a boost with Booking.com’s Visibility Booster

For a final push towards increasing your listing’s visibility, Booking.com offers the Visibility Booster tool. For a small increase in your commission rate, the Visibility Booster will push your property up the rankings. 

This tool is completely flexible; when you use it is up to you. You can push your property during slow periods when you’re not getting as many bookings or when you have received multiple cancellations. Or, you could boost your visibility during the lead-up to in-demand periods, such as national holidays.

The key to boosting your Booking.com ranking

Booking.com offers a myriad of tools to help you rank higher—make the most of them. 

It’s best to start by dedicating time to making sure that your listings are as attractive as possible and offering all the information guests need to make a booking decision.

You can also use the intelligent tools Booking.com offers, such as Opportunities and Promotions, as well as the exclusive Partner Programmes to boost your rankings.

Finally, explore the tools available in Rentals United Data Studio to discover further opportunities for getting the most out of your listings.

Frequently asked questions about improving your Booking.com ranking

How do I rank higher on Booking.com?

Conversions! The more visitors you move from explorer to booker, the higher you’ll rank in Booking.com search results. You can improve your conversion rate by having great-looking listings with high-quality photos, in-depth property descriptions and lists of all the facilities and amenities your property offers.

How do I increase my Booking.com ranking?

When someone books your property, the Booking.com algorithm will show your property to guests with similar profiles. Finding a smaller group of people to target is one of the best ways to improve your rankings. It’s better to rank high for a smaller group of guests than to rank low for a larger group. 

How do I increase my visibility on Booking.com?

In the long term, providing a great place to stay and having happy guests is the best way—this is how you get great reviews which are key to increasing conversions. If you’re looking for a quick boost, however, Booking.com can help with its Visibility Booster. Give it a try!

As a Booking.com Premier Partner, Rentals United allows you to effortlessly manage your Booking.com listings while boosting your visibility and conversions. Find out more.