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Minimum Cleanliness Score: Booking.com to de-rank and de-list dirty properties

Rental Scale-Up

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

booking.com minimum cleanliness score
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Booking.com has launched a new procedure targeting less than clean vacation rentals and short-term rentals. What should you make of it?

Why should you care about Booking.com’s newly introduced Minimal Cleanliness Score?

If you are a vacation rental owner or a property manager, then all of your properties are now subject to Booking.com’s Minimum Cleanliness Score. Properties whose cleanliness score, as calculated from reviews left by past guests, consistently falls under 6.0 out of 10.0 are at risk of being de-ranked in the search results and even de-listed from the platform.

If you have a large portfolio of properties with a few black sheep where cleanliness is not the best, you may want to check whether you are on Booking.com’s list.

How do I know whether my properties are at risk?

If you have dozens of properties listed with Booking.com and you have a designated account manager, this person should already have contacted you. If not, ask your account manager.

If you have fewer properties, then you have two ways to know you are on this list:

  1. You have received an email about it on November 4,
  2. And/or there is a related banner on the homepage of your Booking.com extranet.

Here’s what this email said:

We’re writing to you because your property has an average cleanliness score below 6.0, and as a result we’ve had to place it on a warning list. You’ll need to commit to our Minimal Cleanliness Score by 4 December 2020, or risk your property losing visibility in search results and potentially being removed from our platform.

Why is the cleanliness score so important? We want to support you in creating unforgettable experiences for your guests. An important part of that is guaranteeing a certain level of hygiene and comfort, which is why we require partners to score an average of at least a 6.0 on cleanliness. This is especially important now, as we adapt to evolving customer demands throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

What this the Minimum Cleanliness score is not

  • This is not a one-size-fits-all procedure: Only consistently dirty properties are targeted and have been contacted.
  • This is not about imposing long-winding super detailed cleaning checklists, but about sharing industry best practices with owners and managers who may need some support.
  • This is not about COVID-19: To measure progress, Booking.com is counting on its guests. They can tell whether a property is dirty or not.
  • The procedure is part of a partnership with the Properly cleaning app, but there is no obligation to use it.

Which actions should you be taking if you are on this warning list?

  • If you click “I will try to improve my cleanliness score” on the banner, you will have until 4 May 2021 to earn a new average cleanliness score of 6.0 or higher through better guest reviews.
  • If you click “I’m not interested” on the banner, Booking.com will remove your property from their platform. This is in accordance with clause 7.3 (VIII) of their General Delivery Terms, which give them the right to restrict or suspend properties for repeated poor ratings or reviews.
  • If you do not react at all to the banner in the extranet, your property will be de-ranked from the Booking.com search results. This means losing visibility to guests, which may result in fewer bookings.

OK, I need to improve my cleanliness score. What do I do?

Booking.com understands that there are challenges to preparing a property for guests. That’s why they have partnered with the property care experts at Properly. Together they have created a custom series of educational checklists – the Blue Fresh Start – based on industry best practices and a study of low cleanliness reviews from guests on the Booking.com platform. The Blue Fresh Start has more than 20 cleaning checklists – straightforward and actionable guides to improving guests’ experiences.

To download these checklists, and for more educational resources, please visit Booking.com’s Partner Hub.

How does it differ from Booking.com, Airbnb, and Vrbo’s previous measures?

Booking.com minimum cleanliness score

Booking.com

In June 2020, Booking.com rolled out Health, Safety, and Cleaning guidelines and mentions on property pages. These guidelines were a response to COVID-19 concerns (e.g., Safety features, Health and hygiene, Social distancing, and Food safety), while the Minimal Cleanliness Score is 100% about cleanliness.

Airbnb

In June 2020, Airbnb released its Enhanced Cleaning Protocol, complete with a 38-page Airbnb cleaning handbook, a 5-step protocol, and an online quiz.

In October, Airbnb launched more COVID-19 safety practices, with mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and 5-step enhancing cleaning process. This applies to all Airbnb hosts, while Booking.com’s Minimum Cleanliness Score only applies to properties with a consistently low cleanliness score.

Vrbo

The industry has also received the Vrbo / HomeAway cleaning checklist called “guidelines for owners and property managers for enhanced cleaning and disinfection of vacation rentals.”

These are guidelines for all vacation rentals. There is no special sanction for owners or managers who do not respect the guidelines.

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