Booking.com to Create Free Websites for Small Hotels

Booking.com is taking a novel approach to capturing new business from small hotel owners: it is building websites for them at no charge. The new service, called BookingSuite, will create a new website with no upfront costs. In exchange, the hotel pays a 10% commission to Booking.com for any reservation made through the site.

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Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Booking.com has been testing the service for months and will formally launch it later this week.

The service is aimed at independent and boutique hotels without the deep pockets to build their own online presence. Prior to starting BookingSuite, Booking.com had worked on websites for larger hospitality brands, including Marriott International Inc., which used the company to translate its website into several foreign languages, including Italian, Arabic and Russian.

Brian Saab, Booking.com’s global head of marketing, says his company already has partnerships with about 2,800 lodging owners, ranging from guesthouses in Spain to apartments leased in Croatia. Booking.com says another 3,600 lodging owners have signed up for it.

The new service could give Booking.com an advantage over its competitors in generating income from the many thousands of small hotel operators scattered throughout the world. These owners sometimes are reluctant to pay fees to online travel agents, where prices can run as high as 25% of room revenue.

BookingSuite’s 10% commission is below the starting 15% rate that Booking.com typically charges hotels. But Booking.com is also looking to get additional fees from these hoteliers for services like search-engine marketing and other ways to raise their stature on Google and other search engines.

Here's Booking.com's press release launching BookingSuite:

Booking.com today announced the launch of BookingSuite, a new unit of Booking.com that helps accommodation providers grow their businesses and brands through next-generation technology and distribution expertise.

Booking.com today partners with more than 600,000 accommodation providers to offer travelers around the world the best places to stay for every budget. Now with the launch of BookingSuite, Booking.com is extending its distribution expertise to accommodation providers so they can more effectively grow their businesses and brands.

BookingSuite offers cloud-based software solutions to accommodation providers worldwide. BookingSuite's first product - mobile-optimized websites - is engineered to drive organic bookings and give accommodation owners a sophisticated web presence with full content control. BookingSuite enables its partners to keep pace with fast-moving technology by continuously updating its products at no extra cost to partners. The result is future-proofed solutions and one less thing to worry about for busy accommodation providers.

"BookingSuite property websites represent a great leap forward for the industry, said Rob Ransom, Director of BookingSuite. "For the first time, accommodation providers in all regions of the world can benefit from a high-quality online presence with no financial risk and no operational and technical headaches. BookingSuite eliminates time and resources wasted with traditional website development and management, enabling partners to benefit immediately from a strong online presence."

BookingSuite's newest product, WebDirect, is for Booking.com partners who want a sophisticated web presence with minimal effort and no financial risk. WebDirect customers only pay when a reservation is made through their booking engine and results in a stay by guests, making WebDirect effectively risk-free. There are no other fees or charges. 

Building a strong online business and brand identity doesn't have to be challenging for property owners. Partners benefit immediately from WebDirect's advanced information architecture, engineered with a rich user experience and data-driven designs that perform flawlessly across all devices. WebDirect websites include all the essential pages needed to convert visitors to bookers and are easily updated through one simple-to-use content management system.

Shane Pappas, General Manager of The Keating Hotel in San Diego, California, has been using BookingSuite for a little less than a year, but has already seen significant return on investment.

"We've definitely seen that return on investment and felt the benefit of having this as a tool," Pappas said. "Running BookingSuite through Booking.com has created an added value for all our hotels in that it makes everything more seamless and easier on our end to do what we do day-to-day. As hoteliers, we are all busy. Anything we can implement that's going to add time is a huge added value for us."