Do I have to use discounts to get more direct bookings? Do direct booking discounts actually help my short-term rental business? If yes, when should I do that? Should I have a strategy to offer discounts? Or can I do just randomly whenever I feel like one is needed?
Has your mind ever juggled with these questions while thinking about ways to boost your property management business?
Before saying a word about the answers, let’s read a short story together:
The first-ever coupon was offered by the world renowned company, Coca Cola, in 1887. What was the voucher? According to WNYC, “The coupons offered a free sample of the year-old drink, which was initially sold for 5 cents.”
Based on A Brief History of Coupons by Coupon Sherpa, as a result “between 1894 and 1913, an estimated one-in-nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola, for a total of 8,500,000 free drinks. By 1895, Coca-Cola was being served in every state.”
So far, we can conclude that coupons have helped big companies boost their growth. But you might ask what Coca Cola has to do with short-term rentals? How can I be sure whether it’s possible to get more direct bookings using a discount? After all, if Coca Cola made it, doesn’t mean I can make it too?
Well, there are logical concerns and they all make sense. But we can check some data that shows the overall effects of discount on people.
Coupons.com and Claremont Graduate University have done research that shows coupons make people happier and take the stress of shopping away from them. Based on the results:
· Recipients who got a $10 voucher experienced a 38% rise in oxytocin levels and were 11% happier than those who didn’t receive a coupon.
· Their respiration rates dropped 32% and heart rates decreased by 5%.
· Sweat levels were reportedly 20 times lower than their peers. Therefore, they felt more relaxed and less stressed.
See? This data doesn’t have anything to do with a particular niche but the general good feeling using discounts gives to your customers. Now that we’re sure about the benefits of using coupons, let’s talk about how and when you should use discounts to get more direct bookings.
Discounts Attract More Direct Bookings in Low Seasons
When we’re talking about offering discounts, we don’t mean that you should lessen the quality of your guest experience merely because you’re offering them a lower price. Of course in high seasons when your property sells for itself, there’s no need for a discount to get more direct bookings. But just imagine the recent pandemic and its effects on your vacation rental business.
Many landlords and property managers faced several cancellations and had to confront severe financial struggles. For times like this, discounts come to your rescue. Now that we know travellers have intended to go on mid to longer-term stays, it’s a good time to revise your prices and give the direct bookers a special discount.
After all, a full property for a lower price is better than an empty one! Moreover, when you offer good service at catastrophic times, you’ll remain in the minds of your guests and be able to build good customer loyalty in the future.
Check out Your Calendar in Advance
Keep track of your availability calendar all the time as by not doing so, you may miss out on a lot of opportunities. For instance, the weekend is so close but your property is still empty. You can simply offer a discount, post it on your social media and share it wherever you are present.
If you have other employees, ask them to share the post so that it’ll get more attention.
Also, you can run a last minute competition and ask people to share it and say that you’ll announce the winner in a day. You might think it’s better to give a couple of days to social media competitions, but the sense of emergency that lies in this type encourages them even more to take action immediately.
Take Everything into Consideration
Even though discounts are beneficial, if not used correctly, they can double your hassle. Remember, you’re giving a discount not just to make your guests more satisfied, but in the very first place, to create benefit for your business.
So, if you don’t want to be left out of pocket, calculate your profit margin carefully and then set a discount, offer, package, and so on.
There are different types of discounts for short-term rentals that could come handy in various situations:
· Stay (n) nights and get 1 free
· Free breakfast
· Free early check-in or late check-out
· 10+5% OFF (in case you already offer 10% discount if they book direct)
· Free welcome basket
If you want to be creative, you can think of many more types of discounts to get more direct bookings. Don’t limit yourself. Just think outside the box and find the one that not only suits your guests’ needs but also brings you profit. Ultimately, it should be a win-win for both the guest and the host.
Take Everything into Consideration
If you want to encourage more people to book through your direct booking websites, you can create promotions for the people who visit your website. What you need is a kind of voucher system and choose which groups of guests you want to allocate these voucher codes to.
Fortunately, Zeevou’s vouchers have streamlined this process. You can easily select this feature in the system, fill out the necessary information, and you’re good to go.
You can read more about this feature here.
How to Promote Discounts
Now that we know when to offer discounts, the different types of it, and what we should consider before setting the type, it’s time to talk about some ways to promote them and make more people aware of your direct booking discounts.
Use 100% of Your Social Media to Advertise Your Discount
It doesn’t matter if you’re offering a discount for a specific occasion or a voucher code exists for all the people who book direct with you. You have to market any kinds of discount you offer using all your social media platforms.
If your discount is something like “10% OFF Every Direct Booking”, promote it in all your social media posts so that it’ll get fossilised in the minds of your previous and future guests.
While publishing the posts about your discounts, especially the time-limited ones, use all your social networking forces to get as much exposure as you can.
Share it on your personal page, ask your colleagues and connections in the industry or even your staff to share it on their personal accounts as personal accounts, mostly the public ones, get even more visibility than business pages.
If you don’t know how to get the most of social media for more direct bookings, just take a look at this article.
Showcase the Unique Selling Point of Your Property
If you want more people to become aware of your discount, don’t make do with one post. Share the images of your property that contain its unique features.
For instance, if your short-term rental boasts bright, beautifully-decorated bedrooms, share more pictures of them.
If you want to offer free breakfast, post a photo of it on the bed of your property’s bedroom. And when we say a picture, we mean a GOOD-QUALITY one.
Videos will get you a lot of exposure and engagement as most social media users tend to watch videos nowadays.
You can simply create a video giving a virtual tour of your property. Be sure this will help you get more direct bookings using and promoting a discount.
Promote Your Offers on Your Direct Booking Website
Getting more direct bookings without having a direct booking website seems nonsense in the age of the internet. So, if you don’t have one, get one right now!
You can use banners or the footer of your website to promote your vouchers as well.
Maybe someone finds your website accidentally when they are surfing the internet and don’t know about your voucher or even any time-limited offer you have.
By advertising them on your website, you’re actually increasing the chance of getting more direct bookings using discounts.
Don’t Underestimate Email Campaigns
Did you know that an email user receives 416 emails per day on average? What does it tell you? Email marketing works and now every company is using it. Then, why not you?
Especially, when you’re offering discounts that you’ve put a lot of energy on and are hoping they will work.
The good thing about email campaigns is that they’re cost-effective, measureable, popular and easily accessible.
Here’s a complete guide on how to run perfect email campaigns to get more direct bookings.
To Sum up, Discounts Bring You More Direct Bookings If…
If they’re used at the right time using the right strategy! Don’t give up if your first-ever discount doesn’t work out how you’ve expected. Analyse your process and find what you did wrong and do it again another way.
Rest assured that if you find your own perfect strategy, you will get more direct bookings by using discounts!