Delving into the world of direct booking and understanding its impact can provide a big boost to your success as a host. In this blog post, we'll examine the essence of direct booking, its pivotal role in your vacation rental business and effective strategies for its implementation.
Basically, direct booking is a direct transaction, of booking and payment, between you, the vacation rental property manager or host and the guest.
Direct booking and OTAs are two different approaches to attracting guests and converting them to make a reservation to stay at your property. Each has its own pros and cons and often, hosts use both means to ensure higher occupancy and revenue.
Think of direct booking as your showroom, located online, where potential guests can come in, take a look at all you have to offer and make a purchase directly, or in this case, a booking, if they like what they see. Usually, you also have your products selling in chain stores, where lots more people gather — in this case, the OTAs.
Using direct booking alongside listing on OTAs allows you to get your property in front of more travelers, increasing the visibility of your property.
By increasing the number of potential guests who see your property, you can improve the chances of converting them to customers who book, increasing the revenue you bring in.
Because direct booking doesn’t involve OTA commission fees, you can also have a higher profit margin while charging your guests a lower rate (i.e. if you want to).
With direct booking, you are in control of the entire process, from how you market your vacation rental to the booking process, means of communication, refunds, guest information requirements, etc — within the bounds of all regulations that apply, of course.
You can decide what guests to allow, without worrying about OTA penalties, and what and how to showcase reviews that you receive. You can also collect payment upfront and don’t have to wait for payment remittances long after guests have left.
Larger OTAs in particular can be fickle masters, suspending or even removing your listing from the platform because of an unproven guest complaint. They also often change platform rules, forcing you to change your marketing and hosting process accordingly. By also using direct booking, you reduce your overall dependence on OTAs and mitigate the risks.
Free of booking platform rules on how to showcase your property, your vacation rental website can act as the hub of your vacation rental brand. Use video and YouTube content, use the titles and descriptions that best fit your objectives and display photographs the way you want.
There’s more than one way to go about building your direct booking website.
You can use Hostaway’s website builder which is the easiest option and comes with a booking engine. You can also use a WordPress plugin or a website builder like ICND, Boostly or Wix. And if you have a big budget and complex ideas about how you want your website to look and function, you can always hire a professional to build you one.
Multichannel distribution is a must for hosts looking to maximize revenue and requires a channel manager to do so effectively.
Make sure you use a reliable channel manager like Hostaway to sync your booking calendars across your website and the OTAs your list on to avoid double bookings.
The world wide web is very large indeed so don’t expect travelers to find you just because you built your website.
Things you can do to bring in direct bookings include:
Having SEO-optimized content throughout your website
Listing on Google Travel, a meta search engine, which will direct users to your direct booking website when they find and click on your listing
Having a frequently updated blog on your website that features SEO-optimized content useful to potential guests
Paid marketing methods like Google Ads and PPC marketing
Offer incentives like lower rates, discounts and package deals that guests can’t get on OTAs
Upselling is a great way to increase revenue and profit and direct booking provides you with the perfect opportunity to do so.
Unconstrained by OTA regulations, you can upsell amenities like hot tubs, curated packages like a romantic getaway or additional experiences like scuba diving or skiing. You can also collect payment upfront, eliminating the stress and uncertainty of chasing payments after guests have left.
Hostaway’s Guest Portal allows you to provide a unique portal for each reservation where guests can choose from the additional amenities and experiences you offer and pay for them upfront.
Direct booking is an alternative approach to listing on OTAs to get bookings. It offers flexibility, improves visibility and helps increase your revenue and bottom line. Best combined with OTA distribution, when done right, it can become a significant strem of revenue for your vacation rental business.