Zeevou’s success in winning The Best Channel Manager Award at the Shortyz 2020 created a lot of buzz and interest in the hospitality management industry. But prior to that, Zeevou was recognised as the Most Innovative New Hospitality Technology at the Innovation & Excellence Awards 2020. The two awards generated a great extent of recognition, anticipation and excitement. As a result, more and more short term rental owners asked for an opportunity to join The Direct Booking Revolution! and be given a chance to try Zeevou’s specialist property management system and innovative channel manager. Without further ado, we listened and launched Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan, which is totally free.
Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan allows you to load your properties on Zeevou and enjoy almost all the automation available and the many integrations offered for direct bookings. Additionally, subscribers to Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan automatically get their listings published on Zeevou Direct, a completely commission-free Online Travel Aggregator and take advantage of the full automation for any bookings coming through Zeevou Direct. (Please keep reading the article to learn more about Zeevou Direct.)
Here are just some of the features presented to you for gratis in Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan:
Zeevou’s 5-Step Booking Confirmation Process
Zeevou Book takes bookings from any channels through a journey in order to help you capture all the data you need and take care of all booking-related issues, including security deposits and payments. The whole process is triggered by an automated email sent out by the system right at the time of booking. On Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan, you can make use of this feature for all your direct bookings.
Step 1: An email containing the booking information is sent to guests, inviting them to either modify or add to the existing information. The same email prompts guests to share their estimated arrival time and opt into your GDPR-compliant marketing list. The database can later be used for various marketing campaigns to retarget your guests, offer vouchers and promotions, turning them into returning customers. The main guest’s details and the purpose of the booking (leisure or work) can also be recorded at this stage.
Step 2: The actual booker enters information for each additional person accompanying them, and one of the guests is designated as a “Back-up Contact” should an emergency arise. Here, guests can also mark specific travel companions as “Do Not Contact” for surprise purposes, and those will not be contacted. The first two steps guarantee that you stick to The Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972.
Step 3: A 3D secure pay-by-link form is issued for guests to make payments for their stay. Zeevou integrates with both SagePay and Worldpay, and supports Elavon and FirstData.
Step 4: Guests get to specify the card they want the security deposit to be taken from. Zeevou will automatically pre-authorise and release the security deposit from the card depending on the timeline you specify for each unit type.
Step 5: Finally, you can automate the sending of an email through Signable (a legally binding digital signing software) to guests asking them to sign your terms and conditions and upload any ID as requested. Upon approval from the system admin, an email containing check-in instructions in line with the type of check-in specified is sent to the guest.
Zeevou integrates with many tech partners specialising in payments, access, dynamic pricing, accounting, e-signature, SMS and distribution:
Payments: Stripe, Worldpay, SagePay, Elavon, PayPal and FirstData
Dynamic Pricing: Beyond Pricing and PriceLabs
E-signature: Signable SMS: ClickSend
Free SEO-Friendly Website
A part of your subscription to Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan, you’ll get access to a SEO-friendly direct booking website automatically generated by Zeevou. The website is updated in real-time as you insert and modify your property information. The website is equipped with SEO-optimisation fields such as SEO Friendly Title, Meta Description, Focus Keyword and Google Analytics Tracking Code, as well as Open Graph tags for different social media channels. You can also set your brand colours and logo to be displayed on the website. Guests will be shown your property and units description, photos, amenities, reviews, blog, contact details and live rates and availability pushed from Zeevou. In short, you can create a direct booking website for your multi-location serviced apartments or vacation rentals connected to Zeevou Powerful Booking Engine with a few clicks without any developer skills.
If you wish to connect your serviced apartments and vacation rentals to external channels like OTAs, property listing sites and corporate booking platforms, Zeevou will also let you use iCal. In order to make use of two-way API integrations that allow for rates & availability to be distributed automatically and bookings to be retrieved, you simply need to upgrade your subscription at any stage of your Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan. We’ve recently updated our pricing strategy to make hospitality management more affordable and efficient. For more information, click here. And if you’re tied to a long-term contract you can’t break free from, Zeevou wishes to offer a helping hand by introducing The Freedom Discount. To find out more, please contact us.
Now, before we go on to introduce Zeevou Direct, which is also included in Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan, let’s quickly review the pain points you as short term rental owners are wrestling with on a daily basis in partnership with OTAs and property listing sites, and the necessity to take action and join The Direct Booking Revolution! There are also other book direct campaigns that you may wish to join. The following analysis is by no means an effort to undermine the giants of the industry, nor does it imply a fight against them.
Although the confrontation is in full bloom between OTAs and the proponents of direct booking movements, we at Zeevou seek to help the stakeholders of the hospitality community to come together and take back full control over their businesses. So, as much as we would like to focus first and foremost on direct bookings and cut ties with OTAs, we suggest using such channels as a stepping stone to drive bookings and turn them into direct bookings with the appropriate tools and means. Otherwise, the third-party reseller sites act as a diving platform into uncharted waters of confusion and financial loss, with the ultimate result being drowning in bankruptcy, or at best-shrinking revenue.
OTAs Do You More Harm Than Good If Not Used Correctly!
For vacation rental and serviced apartment owners, direct bookings seem to be a far-fetched milestone they can never fully get hold of no matter how wide and far they open their arms. The bells and whistles of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Booking.com and Expedia and property listing sites like Airbnb add to the disappointment, hence the failure. So, it’s no wonder that a vast majority of short term rental owners give in and lose sight of the 15%-30% of their nightly rates paid as a commission.
It goes without saying then, that such staggering commission rates will strike your bottom line at the very root, costing 30%-50% of your net profits. And to get those bookings in the first place, you initially need to appear on OTAs first pages, which means applying for sponsored and promoted listings and paying an additional 3%. But let’s not get into that right now!
Obviously, small- and medium-sized short term rental businesses are hit the hardest as they lack the power and leverage of big hotel chains to negotiate contractual terms with OTAs. The market power and resources are concentrated within the hands of OTAs, and it is highly probable that they’ll increase commission rates as their market share grows. Remember that when OTAs broke into the market, they just charged an average of 5% as commission, but what about now or in the future?
To make the conundrum even more complicated, OTAs use the commissions they collect from you as part of their marketing campaigns to push you lower and lower in SERP, i.e. Search Engine Results Page. In simple terms, they charge you commissions and pay a huge sum of the money earned from you to Google and metasearch markets like TripAdvisor to bid against your brand.
Inevitably, even if you have a fully-optimised website, your listings in your site appear way below OTAs in SERP even though potential bookers search the exact name of your business. Then, you are left to go through too much hassle to bid on your brand and take care of the legalities involved. There are, of course, workarounds that we’ll walk you through here and in future posts, so stay tuned.
The story doesn’t end here! The two industry giants, Booking.com and Expedia, have not left much of a choice to guests, even to those who look before they book. That’s why it’s not fair play. What happens, in reality, is that potential bookers land on pages with more or less the same look and prices for one obvious reason: a majority of OTAs in search results belong to one of the two giant OTAs: Booking Holdings Inc. and Expedia Group. The parity in pricing is on purpose for sake of uniformity, and they are sure they can turn lookers into bookers one way or another.
Surely but slowly, you will get to know more of such OTAs as they are ever-present in search results. As a vacation rental owner, you’ve definitely seen brands such as Hotels.com, Travelocity, Trivago, Homeaway, Pricelines, Agoda, Kayak, Orbitz, among many others. Just a word of caution, all of these fall under Booking Holdings Inc. and Expedia Group as a result of the two giants’ expansion plans. It comes as no surprise that together they accounted for 70% of the OTA market in 2018.
Zeevou Direct, A Commission-Free Online Travel Aggregator
To promote direct booking and help short term rental owners put the 30%-50% of your profits lost to OTAs back into your pockets, we decided to launch a completely commission-free OTA, Zeevou Direct. This way we are planning to bring about The Direct Booking Revolution! we promised the very moment we started developing Zeevou. Indeed, direct booking is Zeevou’s main raison d’être.
As there are no middle-men standing in the way and charging a commission, you can offer your vacation rentals and serviced apartments at very competitive rates. After all, you will no longer have to pay commissions which used to add up to your nightly rates. In addition, you will have direct access to your guests’ contact details while they have yours, and you will be able to establish smooth, direct communication with your guests.
Subscription to Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan will give you automatic entry to Zeevou Direct.
While we are trying to contribute to the direct booking movement through Zeevou Direct, we invite all short term rental owners to load their properties on Zeevou for free and both encourage guests to book through Zeevou Direct and promote it to other hosts around the world. So, please spread the word and let’s make The Direct Booking Revolution a reality together.
Here to Help, Heart to Heart
The COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed every aspect of life on a global scale. Few, if any, can claim to survive the shared catastrophe without unwavering support, universal unity, and unshakeable bonds. On the frontline of pushing the unwelcome newcomer out of our lives are the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and social workers making sacrifices. They’re also key workers in other sectors, separated from their families and loved ones to serve various organisations involved in fighting the outbreak for the common good. Quite obviously, they can’t go back to their families right after their service, and they need a safe place to stay for self-isolation.
So, to pay tribute to all key workers around the world and contribute to efforts against COVID-19, Zeevou took initiative and developed Here to Help, a free property listing site for accommodation providers of all types: serviced apartments, vacation rentals, self-catering lodges, campsites, guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, hostels or hotels. All you have to do is sign up for free, list your properties and check “Isolation Suitable” for the units you wish to offer to key workers or anyone seeking self-isolation. This way, not only will you be accommodating front liners battling against the coronavirus, but you’ll also be able to cover – if you so wish – some costs in a time when the travel industry is experiencing unprecedented hardships. We ask that hosts advertise cost rates on this site.
Brighter days are sure to come and shine upon us all. Let’s take some lessons together, exercise peace and unity, believe in our interrelatedness and connect hearts. Let’s hope the world will be a better place to live and love after COVID-19. Together we are stronger!
To join Zeevou’s Evangelist Plan, please click here.