One philosophy we’ve always held true to at Bookabach is that, in order to please bach owners we should look first to please travellers.
The thinking here is simple: bach owners care most about getting bookings. By focusing our attention on travellers, providing them with the best possible booking experience, we get more bookings - and more bookings make for happy bach owners. The idea of creating a traveller-centric marketplace is not new to us, but moving forward we want to take this further. We want to be an entirely transaction-focused business. So, what does this mean?
A move to ALL online bookable. As of May 2017, over a third of properties listed on Bookabach use online bookings and over half of rental payments now pass through Bookabach Online Payments. But, in New Zealand we’re playing catch-up to the rest of the world. The HomeAway websites are nearly all online bookable. Our global competitors are all online bookable.
For travellers, the eCommerce experience of online booking is vastly superior to the old approach of requesting a stay, waiting for a response, paying off-platform, waiting for confirmation etc. Online booking, and the 24 quote-and-hold process, gives travellers and owners more confidence and certainty around bookings and saves time, reducing the back and forth communication. Also, travellers like it when a trusted intermediary like Bookabach holds funds in trust.
We know there’s lots more to do to make online booking more appealing to owners. Calendar synchronization and taking/refunding bonds are two obvious missing pieces that are firmly on our roadmap for the future. But, we know that travellers prefer transacting in this way. Online bookings on properties are 2.5x more likely to convert into a stay. For bach owners there’s every reason to use online booking today.
A “best-match” search experience. We want to show travellers the best possible selection of properties given what we know about their individual needs and interests, and with the single-minded objective of getting that website visitor to make an enquiry/booking. Because each website visitor is unique it could mean different search results for different travellers.
We know that by giving ourselves the freedom to put the best options forward for any given traveller we will drive more bookings and more value for all bach owners.
We’ll also be making design changes to the search results page, removing distractions and making it much easier and faster to filter results. Our recent announcement on end-of-life of the Showcase listing add-on is one example of this.
The phasing out of annual subscriptions. Bookabach has been a subscription business since it launched in 2000. It wasn’t until 2008, when we launched our first transactional commission-based listing option, that there was any alternative. It was subscription only. The problem with subscriptions is they force us to take our “eye off the ball”. In fact, they are anti-transactional, requiring many parts of the business to spend time on work that has no relationship to our core objective of driving growth in bookings. We spend time selling new subscriptions and chasing existing customers to resubscribe, etc. It’s a serious miss-alignment.
For new customers, subscriptions provide a pointless barrier to listing. Therefore, the clear majority of new customers choose our free-to-list, Pay Per Booking product.
Over time we will be phasing out our annual subscriptions. We’ll start by no longer offering it to new customers. We’ll also be encouraging existing subscribers to switch to the Pay Per Booking plan as their subscriptions come up for renewal.
Sometime in the not too distant future, we will attain this goal of being entirely transaction-focused. The faster bach owners can work with us to align to this future the more effective we will be in delivering continued growth in bookings and value for money.