Booking.com offers free website service to small hotels

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Online travel agent Booking.com is targeting small hotels with its new free website building service.

BookingSuite offers the owners of small, independent hotels a website building service with no upfront cost, and in exchange the client hotel will pay a 10% commission to the OTA for any reservation made through the new site.

Booking.com has been testing the service for months and will formally launch it later this week.

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The service is specifically aimed at independent and boutique hotels that don’t always have the money to spend on building their own online presence or budget to hire someone to create a website.

Brian Saab, Booking.com’s global head of marketing, says the company already has partnerships with about 2,800 accommodation owners, ranging from guesthouses in Spain to apartments leased in Croatia. Booking.com says another 3,600 owners have signed up for it.

“Some have no web presence at all,” Mr. Saab says. “Some you just need to improve it.”

BookingSuite’s 10% commission rate is below the starting 15% rate that Booking.com typically charges hotels. But Booking.com is also looking to get additional fees from these hoteliers for services like search-engine marketing and other ways to raise their rating on Google and other search engines.

The BookingSuite service is a refined version of buuteeq, a Seattle-based company that provided online marketing for hotels and was bought by Booking.com’s parent company Priceline Group Inc in June.

Booking.com lists more than 590,000 hotels and accommodations in about 200 countries.

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