What is the Booking.com Preferred Partner Program?

The Booking.com Preferred Partner Program is an exclusive partnership between Booking.com and the top 30% of properties on the site. 

While it does have criteria that hotels need to meet, it offers increased visibility to travellers in search results and a boost in bookings.

Eligibility for the program is checked every 90 days to ensure partners still meet the criteria, while hoteliers can opt out of the program at any time via their Booking.com extranet.

There is also Preferred Plus – a very similar program but this one is only offered to the top 10% of properties and thus has stricter criteria.

How to become a Booking.com partner

If you simply want to become a Booking.com partner and sell your rooms on the platform, just create a Booking.com listing.

Becoming a preferred partner requires a bit more work. Booking.com states the following requirements:

  • You must have a Performance Score of at least 70% – This is arrived at via a combination of your expected annual bookings and traveller demand for your property.
  • Your review score must be at least 7 – This is the average of how your guests rate you out of 10 once they have completed their stay.
  • Your prices must be competitive – Booking.com checks your prices on its site compared to what they are on other sites.

If you tick all these boxes, you’ll be able to join the program and start enjoying the benefits.

Is there a Booking.com partner program commission?

Yes, there is still a commission when your hotel is a preferred partner. In fact, the commission fee is generally around 3% more than the normal commission rate.

This is justified by the extra visibility and bookings your property will be winning by being part of the program, however not all properties are comfortable with this. You may decide you are perfectly capable of getting enough bookings as it is, and don’t want to incur the extra fee.

What is the Booking.com Genius Program and why do properties join it?

The Booking.com Genius Program is a loyalty program that both guests and properties can benefit from. It allows travellers to be rewarded via discounts, free extras, and additional services. Guests will have three levels of the program to work through, and each time they unlock a new level, the rewards are available for life.

For participating properties, benefits include extra visibility on the platform leading to more bookings and revenue.

Joining programs like Booking.com’s Genius Loyalty Program can be a good way for properties to boost their exposure if they are struggling to get the amount of bookings they’d like. The more bookings you get, the more you can also work on guest relationships and start enticing direct bookings via return stays and your own loyalty programs.

Who can use the Booking.com Genius Discount?

The Booking.com Genius Discount program is available to all travellers – they simply have to sign up and start booking stays via the platform. Sign-up is free and progress through the program is automated.

For accommodation providers who want to participate, they can sign up via ‘Opportunities’ in their extranet. However there are certain criteria that need to be met before a property can be successful in joining the program.

How does the Booking.com loyalty program work?

The Booking.com loyalty program is a fairly simple process for both travellers and hotels.

Booking.com Genius Discount for guests

  • A guest can sign up simply by creating a free Booking.com account
  • Each stay they book via Booking.com gives them progress through the program
  • There are three Genius levels – Level 1 provides small discounts, Level 2 provides bigger discounts along with free extras, while Level 3 provides the biggest discounts along with free extras and additional services
  • Discounts and rewards are automatically applied to a guest’s account
  • A cancelled reservation does not count towards the program

Booking.com Genius Program for properties

  • Sign up is also free
  • Three criteria must be met: 1) Your property must be open and bookable; 2) You must have at least three genuine guest reviews; and 3) Your review score must be at least 7.5/10 – unless your destination’s average score is below that
  • Extra visibility is granted via special tagging, ranking boosts, and marketing efforts from Booking.com
  • Properties can enjoy an increase of 70% in search result views, 45% in bookings, and 40% in revenue according to Booking.com
  • Properties can choose to block out Genius discounts 30 days per year
  • They can also opt out at any time via the extranet

Unlike the preferred partner program, there is no additional commission fee, however a discounted rate will apply for the guests so you won’t receive the full revenue amount from your standard rate.

What Booking.com rewards are available on the Genius levels?

Guests who are part of the loyalty program on Booking.com will receive three levels of rewards. This means participating properties will also work with Booking.com to provide these rewards. They include:

  • Level 1 – 10% discount on stays
  • Level 2 – 10-15% discounts, Free breakfasts on select stays, Free room upgrades on select stays
  • Level 3 – 20% discounts, Free breakfasts, Free upgrades, Priority support on all stays

For travellers to unlock level 3 they need to have completed 15 stays over a period of no more than two years. Level 2 only requires five stays in two years.

While the Genius program benefits both guests and hosts, the Preferred Partner Program only really affects properties.

How to make the Booking.com programs work for you

Ultimately, your experience will help you decide whether the Booking.com programs are an advantage or disadvantage for your property.

If you are a new property, or simply new to Booking.com, they can be particularly useful for helping you rise up the rankings and start taking bookings on the platform quicker. Afterall, if you’re just starting out, you won’t have the reviews and reputation on the site that existing properties do.

Once you are established, however, you may find that the negatives of losing additional revenue per booking outweigh the visibility boost. If you build up enough positive reviews and optimise your listing profile, you will probably be able to stand on your own two legs just fine.

To fully understand Booking.com and make your listing a success, we recommend reading our full guide to the platform. Learn how Booking.com works, the key features and services, and how to maximise your opportunities.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).