The competition is becoming tougher as the vacation rental market becomes larger and more profitable, especially for those who primarily generate bookings from OTAs and listing websites.
Numerous owners are trying to increase the number of direct reservations via their channels in light of recent adjustments made by websites like HomeAway, VRBO, and others. For instance, via their own expert vacation rental website.
It’s no secret that listing websites provide your rental services with a tonne of visibility. However, it’s important to note that more and more visitors are becoming aware of the “window shopping” phenomenon, which involves looking at what is offered on OTAs like Booking.com and then using Google to discover the same hotel choice at a lower price.
How can you then guarantee that these window shoppers make reservations? Find out by reading on!
1. Whenever feasible, mention your brand
You’re going to require a recognizable brand so you’ll be simple to locate to lead these prospective visitors on the appropriate route. To make it clear to your audience who you are (and what they should look for! ), you might, for instance, include the brand name of your property in your listing content and watermark your photographs with your business’s emblem.
2. Improve your webpage
Even though these customers prefer to book directly rather than via an OTA, they do not anticipate a worse-than-ideal experience. Make sure your website is well suited for booking conversion so that once visitors are there, they can convert to reservations. This entails a seamless user experience from beginning to end. We’re talking about speedy page loads, compatibility with mobile devices, high-quality photos, and—possibly most importantly—an integrated booking system that enables you to receive payments online for your rental company.
3. Compile visitor data
You shouldn’t assume that a guest’s information is no longer valid just because they previously made a reservation via an OTA. You may exploit this experience to draw returning customers even before their first visit has ended. Do this by recording the guests’ contact information during check-in, such as their personal and main email addresses. This will provide you the chance to remarket to them and target them for future sales using tactics like social media marketing or customized email campaigns.
4. Provide exceptional discounts for direct reservations
Despite their best intentions, visitors are selfish—and rightfully so! They want to save money for themselves so they may enjoy their well-earned holiday to the fullest. Because of this, your direct booking customers will feel better and be more likely to convert if you can provide them with additional value. Consider including a price match guarantee (or a 10% discount for direct reservations), welcome gifts (such as a bottle of wine, a breakfast basket, or a restaurant gift certificate), or even a late check-out option for visitors who make direct bookings.
These kinds of advantages might effectively convince hesitant travelers that switching from OTAs to direct reservations is considerably more worthwhile!
5. Produce memorable visitor experiences
Travelers are far more likely to convert if they have a positive experience with your brand from the time they land on your website. Make every interaction count by promptly and amiably responding to incoming inquiries. By doing so, you’ll be one step ahead of the game when it comes to surpassing guests’ expectations at every turn.
To customize their holiday experience and to create a connection that lasts longer than the moment the visitor gives back the keys, learn something unique about them. This will entice them to make their next reservation directly with you in the future or to refer friends to your house.
6. Maintain contact after checkout
Making ensuring the experience continues after you wave your visitors out of the driveway is a key component of providing excellent guest experiences. Staying in contact with customers, whether they book directly or via an OTA, gives you the chance to advertise a special offer and encourage repeat business.
A few months before a guest’s booking anniversary, send email campaigns to encourage them to make another reservation; this time, they will know to do so directly. Gathering visitors’ mobile phone numbers and social media handles will enable you to keep in contact through platforms like Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram, and Facebook, among others. This will serve as more evidence that the connection you had with your visitor was more friendship-based than strictly “business-related.”
7. Make your OTA listings better.
Making ensuring your OTA listings are optimized and thorough may do a lot of good for your direct bookings, even though it may seem paradoxical in the context of this post. Consistency across the board can help your brand come together, establish credibility, and earn confidence online. This includes your website, social media accounts, and all listing sites.
A subpar OTA listing will cause potential customers to quickly move on to the next rival, eliminating any possibility for them to independently research your company. Maintain engaging and high-quality OTA listings to improve your chances of turning window shoppers into reservations.
8. Just tell them to make straight reservations!
As the adage goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.” Why not put this advice to use for your vacation rental company? When interacting with tourists and prospective visitors, whether via phone, email, social media, or any other means, make sure to include your website and let them know they may book directly with you to save costs. More owners than ever are covering their social media sites with advertising to encourage “booking directly to save money” as a result of rising user fees on websites like HomeAway. You are free to carry out the same actions in your social networks and friendship circles.
Being paid extra to make their reservations, shrewd travelers are continually scouring the market to discover the best (and most reasonable) deal. Make sure they choose yours by personally requesting that they make the reservation. They’ll likely save money or get something else from your freebies or other bonuses, so it won’t just be another straight booking for your calendar.
You’ll have the greatest chance of converting any OTA window shoppers into direct reservations if you stick to the eight tried-and-true processes listed above.