Quick Q&A: Tony Kaldas, Booking.com

George Sell By George Sell
Uploaded 02 January 2018

SAN talks to Tony Kaldas of Booking.com about the OTA's plans for the serviced apartment and holiday home segments in the MEA region.

• How is Booking.com growing its serviced apartment, aparthotel and oliday home offering in the region?
 
"Our mission is to empower people to experience the world, which means we focus on using technology to remove friction from travel.  Booking.com helps properties of all shapes and sizes and in every corner of the globe to remain relevant and reach customers in this digital and increasingly mobile-dominated travel landscape."
 
"With more than 1.5 million properties in 229 countries and territories across the globe, our aim is to empower property owners everywhere to be able to capitalise on the digital opportunity to reach new customers and ultimately grow their business. Our teams around the world are continuously innovating our product and services to provide our partners with easy and convenient access to the data, tools, and insights they need to be successful. This also includes local market expertise and support by being locally present in 70 countries worldwide, also supporting through translations and customer service in 43 languages, in addition to our comprehensive digital marketing services."

"One of the biggest trends we've seen growing amongst our own customers in recent years is travellers wanting to visit more off-the-beaten-track destinations and to explore a wider, more diverse range of authentic, local stays and experiences for themselves. We're constantly looking to showcase even more variety and diversity of accommodation options on our platform. Booking.com includes 860,000 instantly bookable holiday rental properties that have more than two million choices in holiday homes and apartments, and we are continuously experimenting with the best ways to leverage user generated content (property reviews and destination endorsements) to surface this information for other travellers and help them find the types of unique experiences that they're searching for, which reflects on any region including MEA.

"We've seen a distinctive demand in MEA and the interest of staying in holiday rentals; however, each country in the region has its own ​uniqueness in terms of demands but the trend is growing throughout all the countries to meet all the customer needs. Looking at the UAE for example, we've seen in Dubai the growth of holiday homes - the number of operators is continuously growing according to the DTCM.  Booking.com is empowering partners to drive an incremental business through our local support and tools, aside our customer service 24/7, translation in 43 languages and of course our comprehensive digital marketing services."

"We've seen also the interest of several building developers investing in holiday homes to create an additional business of short-term let for their units, which will influence the market to grow in terms of number of units and meet the demands of the customers looking to book any holiday home. We're constantly looking to showcase even more variety and diversity of accommodation options on our platform."
 
• What proportion of your MEA business is made up of business travel and extended stay corporate travel?
 
"We are constantly looking at offering various choices to customers to leisure and business segments.  Business travellers are budget conscious and seek balance between set company budget and convenience. We know that one out of five reservations on Booking.com are marked as a business trip. We've seen the segment growing and showing interest in all types of accommodations including holiday homes and apartments due to the functional space of having a kitchen and self-catering."


Tony Kaldas was a speaker at the 2017 Serviced Apartment Summit MEA in Dubai.
 

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