Are you ready for Direct Bookings in your short-term rental, holiday let, and Airbnb business?
Imagine what vacation rental direct bookings can do for your business. Whether as a vacation rental or serviced accommodation, direct bookings with the right booking engine can be game-changing.
When you shift your focus away from listing sites, you must accept that they aren’t on your side. They will continue to move the goalposts on a whim. Algorithm changes, going against your own business policies, rising commissions, and changes in T&C’s can all affect your business. However, consistently implementing Direct Booking Strategies can have a significant impact on the future of your business.
- Having peace of mind.
- Feeling & being in control.
- Looking ahead & seeing a full calendar.
- Taking informed, proactive actions ahead of time to fill any calendar gaps.
- Operating from a place of knowledge, no more overwhelm or not knowing where to start.
- Seeing & enjoying the results of your committed action.
Well, you have the opportunity to do just that, and a great place to start is with what you already have!
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Direct Booking 101 – A Quick Start Guide to Get Going with What You Already Have!
Many overlook the fact that anyone who has hosted guests has already established their email list. This list contains the email addresses of past guests who have already stayed. In many cases, it also includes the email addresses of people who have enquired via your direct booking website but have not yet booked for whatever reason.
So, get started with what you already have and invite your past guests to stay once more. Ask them for a referral and offer them a discount code towards their next stay. It’s really that simple – with a few things in place and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone!
You also need to be fast in importing your Airbnb listings into a new website. In order to facilitate the process, you should consider using a PMS converting Airbnb listings into a direct booking website. These types of features enable you to have your website up and running with no hassle.
We are short-term rental hosts and owners and we have gone through numerous changes before 2020 was even mentioned. So, we can grasp hold of different tech and know we can control our own businesses.
So Let’s Do This!
There are a few simple steps to get this done and get started with direct bookings. I’ll share what you need in just a moment:
BUT FIRST – one thing you’ll need in place:
A lovely smooth booking process from the guest’s perspective is absolutely imperative. Check the process is straightforward and easy and that all their questions are answered in the process. Test it yourself and make sure it’s easy.
1. Clear Instructions on How to #BookDirect with You
Your website, whether built on WordPress or via a vacation rental website builder, should have clear and concise calls to action for immediate engagement.
2. Live, Up-to-Date Calendar
People like to know immediately if their dates are available and will leave quickly if you can’t answer this question. A booking engine and a top-notch channel manager can deal with this and also take the worry of double bookings away.
3. Online Payment Collection
Can they easily confirm their dates and make a deposit/full payment? This means that your website should have a user-friendly interface that enables guests to make a payment directly through your website. Additionally, you may want to consider offering multiple payment options to accommodate guests’ preferences and provide a seamless booking experience.
4. Automatic Confirmation and Email Follow Up
Again a quality booking engine can handle many of the repetitive processes for you, freeing up time and mental bandwidth. Automated follow-up emails encourage repeat business by keeping your guests engaged even after they have made a booking.
5. Extra Info about You
Guests should be able to get in touch should they need to – phone, email, about us, with a focus on trust.
It doesn’t matter how much you focus on email marketing, email list building, networking, and sharing your place. If the booking process is clunky, slow, not obvious or doesn’t answer their questions quickly, you’ll lose them!
So Back to Reinviting Previous Guests – Here’s What You’ll Need
1. Join an email marketing software – e.g. Mailchimp, MailerLite, etc.
2. Create a discount code inside your booking software/channel manager.
3. Upload your existing email list to your email marketing software. To ensure effective communication, it’s important to create separate lists for different groups of people. For example, separate past guests who enquired but didn’t book and those who joined your email list through the website’s opt-in form or pop-up.
4. Email them and thank them for staying with you in the past. Invite them to come and stay again. Offer them the discount code and ask for a referral.
At the root, it truly is this simple. Yes, there will be learning curves and new tech and planning. However, keeping it simple is the key to taking imperfect, but forward-focused action. This will eventually lead to informed proactive action in building your own Direct Bookings Generator.
Where will you be in 12 months’ time if you don’t make any changes to your current marketing plan? If you continue to rely solely on the OTAs and allow them to take huge commissions from your bottom line? If they change your own Terms and Conditions and keep you guessing how to be ‘found’ in their algorithm?
You may think you’ll be in the same place. But in actuality, you’ll have moved backwards as the proactive short-term rental providers take action, move forward, stand out from the crowd, and take control of the future of their short-term rental businesses.
There has never been a more important time to take these steps and protect the future of your short-term rental business.
If you want to ask any questions or let me know how you’re getting on implementing, I’d love to connect with you. Find me on the podcast, on Facebook at www.hlspodcast.com/FB.
Let’s do This!!