New holiday rental site launched
Amsterdam-based online travel accommodation booking site Booking.com has launched a service for larger groups planning longer holidays.
Booking.com, which makes up about 85 per cent of Nasdaq-listed The Priceline Group, launched Villas.com yesterday with more than 146,600 properties listed in its first day.
The site had rentals available in more than 24,000 holiday destinations worldwide, including 330 properties in New Zealand.
Speaking at the launch in Amsterdam, Booking.com global head of villas Megan Anderson said holiday rentals had been a popular form of travel accommodation for some time but existing booking services were unreliable and not user-friendly.
Villas.com differed from other sites by guaranteeing properties that were advertised as available were available, and staff verified the existence and legality of the properties, Anderson said.
The site also gave the customer an instant booking confirmation and there was no booking fee.
Like Booking.com, Villas.com charged the property owner a commission of about 12-15 per cent.
However, the commission rate, the timing of payment by the customer and the deposit required, differed depending on the property and the country, she said.
Despite the name, properties on Villas.com ranged in price, quality and size from luxury villas and chalets to baches and cabins in the woods, she said.
The site had search filters so travellers could find specific features, such as how close a property was to the beach, whether it was pet-friendly and if it had a barbecue.
Anderson said the backing of Booking.com added credibility and the support of the company's 7000 staff in 135 offices worldwide, including one in New Zealand, and 24x7 customer service in 42 languages.
Booking.com had been working on establishing the new service for about two years, with all of the property listings on both Booking.com and Villas.com.
The Priceline Group and Booking.com chief executive Darren Huston said the difference between between Booking.com and Villas.com, and sites was the scale and the hype.
Booking.com took a "very Dutch" or "very humble" approach and did not talk about the business despite its size and success, he said. The company was focused on its product and service rather than creating media hype.
"If we just do our jobs and quietly grow then people will love us because we do what we do well."
Booking.com, which started in The Netherlands in 1996 and was bought by The Priceline Group in 2006, has more than 460,000 hotel-type properties listed from 200 countries and 28 million verified users.
The company was the largest internet company in Europe, and one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world, he said.
Like other online travel sites Booking.com and Villas.com used customer reviews, which helped keep the accommodation-provider honest and to improve service, Huston said.
Laura Walters travelled to Amsterdam courtesy of Booking.com.