As a vacation rental owner or manager, it's important to maximize your direct bookings in order to increase your revenue and profits. By reducing the amount you pay in commission to booking websites, you can keep more of the money you earn for yourself. Here are 5 strategies for increasing your direct bookings:
Food For Thought:
Nearly two-thirds of guests prefer to book direct with short term rentals and vacation homes.
Optimize your Website: Make sure your website is optimized for search engines, is user-friendly, and allows visitors to book right then and there. Also provide detailed information about your rental and its surrounding attractions, as well as information about booking procedures and policies.
To get started we first need to have a mobile-friendly direct booking website. Which allows it to be available on all devices, such as computers, laptops, tablets and phones. The more accessible or reachable you are, the larger potential there is to get direct bookings. Also, keep in mind that the very first page that any visitor to your website will encounter is your homepage. For a better book in rate, present as much enticing information, and images as you can on your website homepage. We wanna be sure we're grabbing attention and getting visitors excited to book!
Also highlighting your unique services, beautiful location, elevated amenities and/ or your gorgeous surroundings to persuade visitors to book with you.
Enlisting Search Engine Optimization with Google: In a perfect direct booking world, when a potential guest goes to Google and performs a search to stay in your neck of the woods your direct booking site would be the top choice. And while we definitely want this…it’s not as easy as this. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process used to rank your short term rental website on search engines when guests are searching for what you offer. There are quite a bit of factors that play into how your direct booking site will show up in search results. From proper citations, to backlinks, to mobile loading speeds, to relevant keyword phrases and descriptions. But when implemented correctly, your direct booking site will eventually shine on the top pages of your desired search results.
Utilize Social Media: Utilizing social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to promote your vacation rental, is also a part of this equation. Sharing photos and videos of your rental, as well as behind the scenes is engaging to watch and gives your visitors a sense of being a part of the process. You can also use social media to engage with potential guests and answer any questions they may have.
Offer Special Deals and Discounts: Offer special deals and discounts to guests who book directly through your website, that they wouldn’t get if they booked with an OTA(Online Travel Agency). You can offer a lower rate for direct bookings, or offer additional perks, such as a free bottle of wine or a discount on a future stay. Adding in bundle bookings or deals so guests are more likely to book directly is a sure fire way to keep more of your profits, while building a solid relationship with your guests.
Permission Marketing: Essentially getting permission to keep in touch with guests and potential guests via your website will allow you to share news, updates, specials and upcoming events they won’t wanna miss. Permission marketing on your direct booking site, is quick to include, with an app or website widget. All of your email contacts will be in one convenient location, so that you can send them updates as you see fit. The key is to be sure to stay in touch and don’t let them forget about your vacation rental. Especially during peak times, seasons or events.
Offer Referral Incentives: Referral incentives work wonderfully for those guests who refer their friends, family and maybe co workers to your vacation rental. You can offer a discount on a future stay or a cash referral bonus for each successful referral. Easy way to implement this idea is with pretty referral postcards guests can take with them upon checking out. You can explain the details of the incentive and they can take it with them. Create them with pictures of your rental, for a more memorable take away.
Utilize Online Travel Agencies (OTA): Utilize listing sites, such as Airbnb and VRBO, to promote your vacation rental. However, make sure to include a clear call-to-action they can’t refuse on these sites directing guests to book directly through your website for the best rates and perks. A great way to do this is with a branded picture in your photo dump. Sharing a better deal or an added perk for direct booking could be just enough to get them from the OTA to your website instead.
Utilize Google AdWords: Utilize Google AdWords to promote your vacation rental and drive traffic to your website. You can target keywords potential guests are using related to vacation rentals in your area, and use targeted ads to reach them when they’re actively searching for vacation rentals.
Offer Packages and Add-Ons: Offer packages and add-ons to guests who book directly through your website. You can offer packages that include activities, such as wine tastings or cooking classes, or add-ons, such as airport transportation or a rental car.
Utilize Customer Reviews: Utilize customer reviews to promote your vacation rental and encourage direct bookings. You can include positive reviews on your website and social media platforms, and use them to show potential guests why your rental is the best choice.
Provide Exceptional Customer Service: Provide exceptional customer service to guests who book directly through your website. Respond promptly to any questions or concerns they may have, and make sure they have a positive experience with your rental.
By utilizing these strategies, you can increase your direct bookings and maximize your revenue and profits. By providing exceptional customer service, offering special deals and discounts, and utilizing social media and email marketing, you can build a loyal following of guests who prefer to book directly through your website.
If you're still struggling with your direct booking website for your short term rental, I help STR and Vacation Rental owners get a website that not only is breath taking, but also attracts new bookings. Contact me and let's chat.