Booking.com launches rental site Villas.com

May 13.2014

Major product extension for Booking.com as it launches its first standalone brand in the guise of Villas.com.

The Priceline-owned accommodation giant officially unveiled the site this week in a bid to capture more of the vacation rental market beyond its existing coverage on the main Booking.com brand.

The Villas.com site has almost 150,000 properties listed, covering villas, apartments and rental homes.

The company says it  built the site because it understands the “big difference between booking a room in a hotel and planning a do-it-yourself vacation”.

Although Villas.com has significantly fewer properties than HomeAway (the US-based rental pioneer currently has around 952,000), customers will be able to book all properties from within the site (with instant confirmation, according to the website) rather than often having to secure reservations through the owner or a third party offline.

In some respects the new Villas.com is a simple re-skinning of the Booking.com site with only relevant properties – it has the same functionality, filtering tools and image galleries, although there are some minor differences to the design and user experience.

Airbnb logo

Airbnb logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is the strategy to provide a dedicated site for the product itself which is likely to capture the attention, not least with HomeAway, TripAdvisor and Airbnb gaining traction (and making acquisitions) in recent years.

Such a move will also not come as the biggest surprise to those watching the sector and seeing the rise of other players.

Booking.com has been gradually adding more vacation rental properties to the main site for the best part of 18 months, adding to the small numbers of bungalow and cottage rentals it had featured for many years.

In January 2013 it struck a deal with InterHome to start plugging in properties from around the world (an initial 2,500 was announced at the time).

It is unclear as yet if Booking.com is contracting all 146,000 properties itself or has simply extended the existing vacation rental agreements it has to bolster the portfolio number.

Villas.com claims to have around properties featured from some 25,000 destinations in 176 countries around the world. Many of the properties listed have guest reviews imported from the existing Booking.com website.

via Booking.com launches rental site Villas.com.

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Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL – Globaltimes.cn

Hotels onlineOne of the worlds largest online travel booking sites released their official Chinese website and app earlier this month.”We hope to show our determination on developing the Chinese market by offering online hotel booking services of high quality,” said Zhuang Peifu, marketing director in China of hotels.com, at the press conference.

Hotel booking site HRS also entered the China market in July last year, offering Chinese language pages and a booking system on websites and mobile terminals. Its listings include castles and those with special services or designs, especially European destinations.China has become the largest tourism spender in the world, according to China Tourism Academy statistics released last August. With about 98 million person-time Chinese mainland tourists traveling overseas last year, the market has potential.

The prediction for this year is 16 percent growth to 114 million.  Chinese online travel booking sites are also growing rapidly. Two domestic online travel booking sites – ctrip.com and qunar.com – ranked 10th and 15th globally on skift.com last October. Customized for Chinese”There are a lot of foreign websites offering hotel booking services with different promotion styles, but some of them set up their Chinese language pages early, which means it will be easier for them to habituate Chinese customers,” said Li Peng, a freelance overseas travel consultant.

Li recommended two sites under Priceline Group, booking.com and agoda.com as his first choices when booking foreign hotels for his customers.Cooperating with Chinas largest online booking site ctrip.com, booking.com has explored the Chinese market since 2012. With its customer services and Chinese language pages, the site has gained wide praise from Chinese users. Of course another reason booking.com is preferred by many Chinese customers is that most bookings can be canceled for free. The site can also automatically form an itinerary list with details of all the hotels customers are booking, a very necessary tool for Chinese people applying for travel visas in other countries, such as the Schengen visa for European countries. Most places can be changed or canceled for free later if they want to change their destinations or schedules.

Booking.com has taught a lesson to new arrivals. Both HRS and hotels.com announced it was free to cancel or change a booking.  “These international websites have their strong database of hotels, which means many hotels can be found on all of these sites and the discounts they offer always make a difference over time,” Li said.HRS customized services for Chinese tourists. “China friendly” listed hotels offer special services for Chinese customers and “HRS Deals” promote half-price hotels daily.Agoda.com attracts members with its personal purchase points. “We can get the discount back by adding up the purchase points which means that the more we book,%

via Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL – Globaltimes.cn.

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NYC tourism organization partners with Booking.com to power hotel reservations on city website

New York City’s marketing and tourism organization is partnering with the travel website Booking.com to power the city’s official tourism website.

Now when travellers log onto nycgo.com, they’ll be able to book hotel reservations at the city’s 253 hotels through Booking.com.

NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta says the booking page will appear in the local language when users sign on from their respective countries to book a hotel room.

He says the partnership will increase tourism and generate additional hotel bookings from overseas visitors.

By year’s end, New York City will be home to 98,000 hotel rooms throughout its five boroughs. By 2016, that number is projected to reach 110,000 rooms.

via mysask.com – Travel News.