Skift Take

The Amsterdam-based company has put a lot of emphasis on the U.S. over the past couple of years.

Booking.com is taking a U.S.-first approach, tapping into increasing demand for short-term rentals from families and international travelers.

Short-term room nights were about 25% of all bookings before the pandemic and hit 36% in the first quarter of 2024, and the company sees growth continuing to increase, Eric Bergaglia, VP of Homes & Growth Segments at Booking.com said at Skift’s Short-Term Rental Summit Wednesday. 

“We are seeing more of our Booking.com customers starting to book vacation rentals with us,” Bergaglia said.

The Amsterdam-based company has put a lot of emphasis on the U.S. over the past couple of years.

“We need to adapt better, and we’ll be on the journey for a few years, but at the same time, we know that we just need to be more U.S.-centric in the way we develop our products,” Bergaglia said. “We are U.S.-first, structuring everything we do. If it works for a U.S. apartment or U.S. traveler, we will do that first.” 

Short-Term Room Nights as a Percentage of All Bookings

  • 25%

    Prior to Pandemic

  • 36%

    Q1 2024

How Booking.com Is Tapping the U.S. Traveler

Booking.com has focused on payments, liability insurance, damage policy and more in its bid to tap the American consumer.

“The U.S. travelers and partners are really guiding the way we are drafting our roadmaps right now and developing our product,” Bergaglia said, including marketing with Super Bowl ads featuring Idris Elba and, more recently, Tina Fey. “See the investment we’re making, we’re putting more and more homes front and center of our communication, because we know that from an awareness standpoint, we’re not in the U.S. where we are in other markets.” 

The demand for homes on the platform keeps growing: “We’re seeing some big, big, big growth in terms of people more and more willing to try and book vacation rentals,” Bergaglia said. One in three customers books a short-term rental without having began their search for a specific property – that compares with one in seven a year ago.

There’s been a spike in interest from families, which is an “untapped opportunity” for Booking.com, though it’s not as simple as it may seem on the face of it. A family can consist of a couple and a baby, a single parent with three teenagers, or even multiple generations traveling together. And while they might be budget-conscious, they still spend plenty of money while seeking the best value for their vacation investment.

To address those different demands, Booking.com is leaning into artificial intelligence to take into account specific needs and influence search results.

One big thing going in their favor? No hidden fees. “We’ve never had a booking fee, or any other type of fees for the guest that creates a bad surprise. And this is something that will continue doing so.”

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Tags: booking, booking.com, online travel newsletter, STRS2024, tourism, Travel Trends

Photo credit: Eric Bergaglia, VP of Homes & Growth Segments at Booking.com. Skift

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