Already one of the most popular vacation rental platforms out there, Booking.com is aiming to solidify its business further by offering some of its most faithful customers complimentary airport transfers. You read that right: soon enough, returning Booking guests, especially those enjoying a Genius status, will benefit from free rides to the airport in select locations.
Now that the pandemic has been controlled and restrictions have been dropped across most of the Western Hemisphere, demand for international travel has skyrocketed, leading industry giants like Booking.com to increase offers and ramp up efforts to keep up with trends. Airbnb, for instance, is partnering with 20 destinations globally to promote digital nomadism.
Their strongest competitor may not have ventured down this path – yet – but they may be going a step further even introducing free transfers:
Booking.com Is Investing Heavily On Building Customer Loyalty
During the Skift Global Forum, held in New York on September 30, the CEO and President of Booking.com, Glenn Fogel, spoke candidly about the company’s future endeavors and their expectations for the hospitality sector moving forward, now that the health crisis has been overcome. Amid the influx of exciting news, one thing, in particular, did not go unnoticed.
Mr. Fogel confirmed Booking.com is planning on fostering loyalty among customers by launching a promising new product: they are supposedly developing a hotel booking + transfer ‘combo’. Effectively, some guests would be allowed to add a journey from the airport to their booking at no additional cost, as long as some requirements are met.
This would hardly be groundbreaking, seeing that numerous accommodation providers and even major airlines like the luxurious Emirates already offer airport transfers on some tickets, but it would mark a first for the Dutch-based agency, currently one of the largest in the market and an extremely popular website for travelers all around the world.
Just recently, a single hotel chain slashed prices by as much as 40% in more than 50 destinations as part of a discounting frenzy observed by Mr. Schaal, the interviewer. When asked what’s Booking’s view on the matter, after the company announced it’s leaning in ‘a little bit’ to merchandising, which Schaal deems a form of discounting, Mr. Fogel argued:
‘It certainly be offering a discount, or it could be offering an additional product. I’ll give you a perfect example. If a hotel says, look, we want to give you out of the inventory a free night, if the customer stays three nights, it’s kind of a discount, right? It’s not just handing cash, so there are lots of different ways to do it’.– Quote originally transcribed by Skit.com
A Level 3-Genius Only Feature?
He proceeded to mention the new ‘great’ product in question that’s going out ‘right now’, which will see people who are reserving ‘certain accommodations’ get a free ride from the airport to their hotel. In Mr. Fogel’s view, when it comes to building customer loyalty, ‘that’s offering a lot more value,’ and it’s not a mere discount.
The CEO then confirmed this will apply to the platform’s ‘Genius’ members, a three-tier loyalty program that enables travelers to get more benefits, including free breakfast and other upgrades, the higher they climb on the ladder. In order to reach a coveted Level 3 status, guests must have fulfilled at least 15 stays in under two years and maintain a review score of 7.5.
Mr. Fogel did not specify whether all Genius members, irrespective of level, would be eligible, but we’re guessing it applies only to those who have attained the minimum Genius 3 score. Again, it is simply a guess, as more information on this program, including whether transfers are available at the point of departure as well, is still needed.
For long-term travelers, especially digital nomads who would surely welcome any free rides they can get, reaching Level 3 in less than two years shouldn’t be an issue. Mr. Fogel concludes by conceding this could indeed be interpreted by some as a ‘discount’, seeing that the ‘total cost to the consumer’ is reduced:
‘So that’s why, yes, it is discounting and there is a lot. I don’t disagree with you on that’. Moreover, he discussed how Booking.com is spending ‘a lot of time, energy, and effort’ in building their Home business. Currently, a third of reservations made are in the ‘home’ area, placing it in direct competition with an increasingly-demanding AirBnB.
Sadly, we don’t know, as of yet, when this product will be rolled out on a wide scale, which members will get access, and where in the world, though it is certainly a given countries like the United States and Canada, and some of Europe’s top destinations, will be included. For more information, we suggest you watch the entire interview available at Skift.com.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com