Before we explore the ways that’ll help you get more direct bookings, let’s look at some facts as some of you may not be still convinced that direct bookings can get you more profits in the long run:
- Overall, you pay 15-30% of your rates as commission to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and property listing sites.
- When guests book directly with you, it is possible to provide them with an improved experience. However, this may not always be the case when using OTAs. Because of the high commissions, you should forsake either a part of your profit or the quality of your services.
- With direct bookings, you have the chance to provide your guests with personalised experiences, hence you can get better reviews.
- More direct bookings allow you to grow as a brand, and travellers will get to know you under your brand’s name. By contrast, on OTAs, you’re just a serviced accommodation, a B&B, or a holiday home among thousands of others.
If we were to talk about this topic more, we could go on and on. But what we’re going to focus on in this article are the solutions that’ll help you attract more direct bookings. However, if you’re still not convinced, you may take a look at this blog post as it sheds more light on this matter.
An SEO-Friendly Direct Booking Website
In the Internet era, people are constantly looking for ways to meet their requirements online. So, if you don’t have a direct booking website, it’s almost impossible to get any direct bookings.
Therefore, the first step is to have your website up and running, but that’s not all. The domain authority of OTAs is astounding. To surpass them in Search Engine results, you have to frequently enhance your website’s SEO and optimise its content.
You can manage this aspect of your business in two main ways. The first is to use a PMS (Property Management System) that includes a direct booking website as a primary feature. To simplify the process of converting your Airbnb listings into a direct booking website, we recommend looking for PMS options that specifically cater to this need.
If you use a PMS that does not offer a direct booking website feature, you can opt to create a website yourself. However, this will require a considerable amount of practice and knowledge. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to create the website for you, which can save you time and effort. Ultimately, the decision depends on your budget, skillset, resources, and desired outcome.
If you can ask for help from an expert, well that’ll work best for you. But, if you choose to design a website yourself, make sure you gather all the necessary information. There’s a whole bunch of tips on improving your website regarding SEO aspects. You can start with this one.
Integrate Your Website with a Booking Engine
Without a booking engine integrated with your direct booking website, there’s no way you can get direct bookings through it. A booking engine enables your guests to see the rates and availability in real time and place a booking seamlessly.
Using your PMS direct booking website shouldn’t be an issue as their website package should already include their booking engine. But, if you still want your custom website designed outside your PMS, your PMS must give you an iFrame or a WordPress plugin. When your visitors tap the search button on your website, they get redirected to the booking engine and can make a reservation.
A booking engine can also help you handle the payments based on your booking regulations and different payment options.
Improve Your Short-Term Rentals’ Online Reputation
After viewing your property photos, the next thing potential guests scrutinise is your rental’s reviews.
If you can collect your guests’ email addresses, you can send them an email asking them to leave you a review. It is wise to remind them to share their experience with others. Because, there’s always a chance that after they get back home, they’ll forget to leave you a review.
Also, here’s a guide that will help you make up for lost Airbnb reviews in case your guests don’t get a chance to write an Airbnb review.
Offer Vouchers and Discounts for Direct Bookings
Vouchers are like gifts that help you build a strong customer relationship, as well as holding on to revenue. So, using vouchers is a win-win strategy for both guests and hosts.
When you’re using a direct booking website, various types of vouchers help you attract more customers, especially during low seasons. Moreover, vouchers will increase the chance of the continuity of direct booking flow through your website.
Work on Marketing Strategies to Gain Guest Loyalty
Last but not least, always keep an eye on gaining your guests’ loyalty. Even if your first-time guests came through an OTA or channel, you can always turn them to repeat guests and earn their loyalty.
Some guests scan OTAs and after finding your rental, land on your website and book directly with you. If they’ve already done this, your job is easier. You only have to offer them better rates on your website and an enriched guest experience during their stay. However, if they’ve come through a channel, be sure to make them aware of the much better rates you offer on your website, alongside the marketing campaigns, discounts, and vouchers.
Just like a first date, you have to win their heart during their first stay in your short-term rental. One way to ensure that your guests have a great experience is by asking for their feedback. This can be done through a survey or a quick follow-up email after their stay. To read more about these strategies, just tap this link.
Finally, Balance Your OTA Strategy
Even though it’s any property manager’s dream to get rid of the OTAs’ commissions, you still can’t fully let go of booking channels. As mentioned before, many travellers come directly to your website after finding you on an OTA. So, these websites can bring you a lot of exposure. But, it is important to work on strategies to convert more of these guests to direct bookers by giving them quality, top-class service.