Booking.com is looking to expand its ‘genius rates’ across affiliates from December, prompting fears of rate leakage as travellers are induced to book through “other companies within the Booking Holdings family”.
Marketing the feature as is “an effective way to increase your visibility and bookings”, the OTA says it will allow operators to gain greater access to high-value guests, those who have completed at least two stays booked through the platform within two years.
To be included in the scheme, properties must generally have a review score of at least 7.5 and be among the top 50 percent of performers in their area that meet the company’s pricing criteria. A mandatory ten percent ‘genius discount’ then applies to its cheapest or most popular room.
In an email currently going out to operators globally (whether New Zealand is included is not yet clear), the OTA says the absence of an active response from the hotels will be considered as “silent consent.”
“If you’re happy to extend your Genius rates to this new group of customers,” it says, “there is no further action required.”
Industry consultant and Futurist CEO Simone Puerto says the move could be an “open highway for even more rate leakage”.
And Budget Motels operations manager Chris Fozard has urged any operators approached about genius rates to opt out of what he describes as “ this latest attempt to gouge yet more commission.”
“I see that Booking Holdings is once again ‘auto-opting’ clients into their features, but this time calling it “silent consent”, which they tell properties they won’t do,” he said.
“From my understanding this will mean properties that have asked/requested/told Booking Holding to not share their rates across the OTAs affiliates is about to have them reactivated on all these other OTAs, again causing huge problems with rate leakage.”
Fozard says among the issues he foresees are random discounts in property rates, email demands for commission payments from unknown OTAs and sales including unauthorised extras such as ‘late check-out’ and ‘included breakfasts’
“I implore property owners to take back control and opt-out of this latest attempt to gouge, [yet more], commission,” he said.
And he has urged operators to “not be dictated to or bullied by these American behemoths, who then blame and hide behind their affiliate OTAs for any problems caused by them”.
Puerto advises operators concerned about opaque rates being sold via booking.basic or on third-parties to install a virtual private network and search for their property on different countries and different channels, making sure they cover all of Booking Holdings primary brands, including Agoda.
“Take screenshots and get in touch with your account manager”, he said.