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How to Increase Direct Bookings for Vacation Rentals

When you’re just getting started with your vacation rental company, direct reservations might seem like a pipe dream. Most entrepreneurs in the sector will be creating their initial website with their direct booking website. It’s difficult enough to create a site that is appealing to visitors and provides all important information, but getting visitors there in the first place presents a whole other set of obstacles.

If there’s a will (and a fantastic website builder), there’s a way, as the adage goes. Fortunately, attracting direct reservations is not difficult; you simply need know-how. We’re here to assist you. We’ll go through what owning a direct booking website means, the benefits, and the specific actions you need to take to start building your direct booking portfolio.

What is the definition of a “direct booking website”?

Let’s start from the beginning: In the first place, what is a direct booking website? New vacation rental owners may be unsure precisely what goes into a direct booking website. Professionals will advise you that “you need a website” when starting a company, but what use is a direct booking website if your product is a vacation rental?

The direct booking website serves as a showcase for property photographs, a listing description, and a reservation system for visitors. Without the need for a third-party listing site, your direct booking site allows you to expose visitors to your property, persuade them to book, and securely secure their reservations.

What goes into a direct booking website, exactly? You may create it in whatever way you like! You may use customizable tabs to arrange content in any way you want with the correct website builder. On direct-booking websites, you’ll often find the following information:

  • Image gallery
  • Directions/How to Get There
  • A guide to things to do/attractions
  • Testimonials/reviews
  • Discounts and special offers
  • Page devoted to one’s biography or to the company’s background
  • Blog
  • Of course, there should be a “Book with Us” button or search box widget.

These are just a few ideas for what you may include on your direct booking website, but remember that the final decision is yours. Your website is a place where you may promote or display whatever you think is important to your company and capable of drawing more direct bookings.

Tip: Don’t only put your booking option on your website in one location. Adding a “Book now” button to the upper right corner of the page and integrating the search box on other sites would allow visitors to book additional destinations quickly.

What benefits do vacation rental operators have for their own direct reservations website?

We’re not going to lie: creating a fantastic direct booking website isn’t a quick process. You can build a terrific website in under two hours, but you’ll still need to put in the effort. So, what exactly are the advantages of having a direct booking website?

There are a lot of them! It’s also comforting to know that the benefits surpass the early fees and labor.

You may be curious as to what these advantages are. There are many more benefits to having control over your reservations than we’ve covered here.

More worth

One of the most important advantages of direct bookings is their value to your company’s bottom line. When you compare direct reservations to OTA bookings, the value of a reservation is substantially higher.

Consider the difference between direct reservations and the Airbnb counterpart. Except for the source, these reservations are identical, yet the value is vastly different.

According to VRMintel’s “The Value of Direct Bookings” research, the average value of an Airbnb reservation is roughly $906 per reservation based on the most recent numbers. When you compare that figure to the $1,935 worth of direct reservations, you’ll notice a $1,029 difference. According to these estimates, a direct booking is worth more than twice as much as an Airbnb booking.

Commissions are reduced.

You’ve put in the effort, spruced up your vacation rental, arranged it to perfection, and completed a few hours of administrative activities, only to discover that your payment is far smaller than you anticipated. You could be perplexed if your daily rate was $100, but you were only paid $74. The drawbacks of OTAs come into play here.

Every listing site has a fee or surcharge that must be paid to continue operating. These fees are used to pay for customer service, marketing, and resources for both the host and the visitors on these sites. Put another way, they’re purposefully spending more to market their vacation rental property, which would cost less if booked directly. The cost structure for each listing site may be found in our vacation rental websites guide.

Although OTAs may provide you with a lot of publicity and reservations, having your direct booking website avoids the additional costs. You may use the money you save on OTA commissions to offer breakfast at your resort or put together a welcome package for your visitors. These little touches can assist you in attracting repeat customers and obtaining more favorable reviews, which will encourage additional visitors to book via your website!

A longer stay is recommended.

When determining the value of a direct booking, it’s not all about the money. Yes, you’ll make more money and pay less OTA fees, but what about the time you put into your bookings? Direct reservations are also more valuable since they save you time and effort.

Any seasoned host will tell you that the higher the visitor turnover, the more work you’ll have to do. If you’re in charge of check-ins and check-outs, you already know that you’ll need at least half a day to clean and prepare for the next visitor.

To avoid these issues, hosts usually endeavor to cater to guests who schedule longer stays. Longer stays cause less interruption in the reservation process and reduce vacancies, saving you money and time.

There are a variety of strategies to encourage long-term stays, but the opportunity to book directly tends to encourage longer stays simply due to the nature of these bookings. Allow the figures to speak for themselves!

In 2021, the average duration of stay from a direct booking was 5.9 days, while Airbnb and Vrbo’s average was roughly four and a half days. By hiring your visitors directly, you’ll get at least one additional day.

Let’s take a look at it from the perspective of the bottom line. Let’s imagine you have four $100-per-night reservations per month. Before OTA fees, those reservations would earn you roughly $1,800 each month. Now, if you had four direct reservations for the same amount, a day’s increase in each booking may net you $2,360. Thanks to direct bookings, that’s a $560 monthly gain simply by keeping your visitors a little longer.

You have complete control over your property.

Each of these third-party websites has its own set of regulations and guidelines that you, as a host, must adhere to. Consistent rules assist in setting expectations for visitors. For example, when you book via Airbnb, you know what to anticipate in terms of travel insurance and house regulations. These rules may assist visitors in getting a sense of the home, but they might be restrictive for the host.

You’ve chosen to put your house on the market. Therefore you should be able to handle it completely. When you get visitors via your direct booking website, you have complete control over the reservation from beginning to end. It will be totally up to you how you manage check-ins, reservation requests, and payments.

It also aids you in providing a more tailored service to your visitors. Overall, you have complete control!

Improved interactions with visitors

Furthermore, your connection with your visitors will undoubtedly improve. Because you’ll be in direct touch with your visitors, you’ll be able to establish a stronger bond with them. The benefits of a good guest-host connection are enormous for your company. Consider recurring bookings, wonderful reviews, and recommendations from friends and family – all of which may help you expand your vacation rental company for free!

You may also seek to give customers the greatest value when they book direct, take advantage of special events (such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas), and offer unique discounts to keep your calendar filled even during the low seasons as an owner. On this, they’ll never be able to compete with you!

You can take control of the visitor experience when you have direct interaction with your guests via your booking site. You may contact your visitors ahead of time and ask if they have any specific requests so that you can accommodate them as much as possible. Perhaps a gluten-free or lactose-free breakfast is required. Alternatively, they may be traveling with a child who requires a high chair and a changing table.

Going the extra mile to make their stay flawless can earn you their gratitude right away. As a result, they’ll write glowing evaluations about your service and visitor experience, which you’ll be able to display on your website.

Create a strong brand.

Building a vacation rental website offers you a place to define your brand – including your logo, color scheme, and corporate values – and aids in establishing trust and a strong reputation with previous, present, and future visitors. Guests will remember your brand if they see your logo at the top of the page when they visit the site. Not only that but having consistent branding shows visitors that you’re serious about your business. A strong vacation rental brand, backed by an effective direct booking website, lends credibility to your vacation rental company.

Maybe you’ve been this traveler before: you buy a wonderful holiday home via Airbnb and spend your time there. What do you tell your friends about your vacation when you tell them about it? Do you refer to the place as “that Airbnb we stayed at in Cape Cod” or “that Airbnb we stayed at”? Your brand is a commodity on internet travel agencies, a needle in a haystack, one listing among many.

According to the BlueCorona study, 30% of customers won’t even consider a company that doesn’t have a website. This is because websites indicate trustworthiness and may aid in the establishment of authority on a certain topic. In fact, for vacation rental companies, websites are the ideal way to provide insider information about a certain destination, activity, or seasonal event. You build a connection with the possible visitor by offering valuable material that assists them in making their choice, and this might increase conversion into a booking.

Your brand will help you differentiate yourself from the competition, and your customers will learn to recognize your brand as more than simply another vacation rental company. This is especially true if you possess a beautiful vacation rental website!

Make your company unique.

You may customize your company online if you have your website. You may devote a whole section to “about us,” where you can share your narrative. Bitterroot River Ranch, for example, discusses their history, how and why it got into the industry, and why they like it.

Guests like reading about their prospective hosts and want to learn more about them, whether it’s a family-run company, doing it with your spouse, or doing it alone. Travelers want evidence that you care about them, that you’re there to assist them, and that a real person handles the booking forms and confirmation emails. Furthermore, they will have a greater sense that you care about them and their experience as a visitor.

Myths regarding direct booking websites debunked.

Despite all of the advantages that a direct booking website may provide, there will always be skeptics who would argue the opposite. The disadvantages of owning your vacation rental website, on the other hand, may be simply disproven, and we’ll explain why.

You may only book via online travel agencies (OTAs) or a direct booking website.

Some vacation property owners feel that you must use either OTAs or your direct booking website. Fortunately, the reality isn’t nearly that dangerous. You are free to market your property as many times as you like! Go ahead and list your house on Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, as well as maintain your direct booking website.

It’s OK if you list your property on many pages, including your own, on listing sites. It’s almost as though they anticipate it. Having your vacation rental home listed on many OTAs boosts your exposure and chances of obtaining a booking, just as having your direct booking website increases your visibility and chances of receiving a booking. What’s the point of limiting your ability to reserve as many rooms as possible?

Manually handling four listing sites and your direct booking website may be exhausting. Furthermore, your chances of getting double reservations increase dramatically. A channel manager unifies your reservation calendars, including those from your website, and prevents the possibility of multiple bookings or human mistakes.

There is a greater danger.

At first appearance, having a third-party listing site handle your booking may seem to be safer. In the event of cancellation or property damage, most OTAs provide host protection. Some vacation rental owners worry that their property is exposed to house parties and last-minute cancellations without these OTAs.

Having your direct booking website doesn’t have to mean leaving your property vulnerable. It offers you the power to manage risk-prevention measures such as damage deposits and vacation rental insurance.

Several vacation rental owners think that the coverage provided by OTAs is insufficient since proving a claim and receiving reimbursement for any occurrences may be difficult. You may as well take full advantage of hosting via your direct booking website if you’re going to require extra insurance for your home.

How much money do direct reservations save you?

Now, the real issue is how much money you save by hosting your direct booking website rather than using an OTA. Although the answer varies based on the property type, listing site, and host, the overall response is that utilizing a direct booking service instead may save you a lot of money.

Consider the case of Vrbo. You should anticipate paying roughly 7% of each booking if you pick the “pay-per-booking” option. Assume your average daily fee is $100, and you book a total of 12 nights every month. You’ll pay at least $84 every month out of a total of $1200. When you consider it on an annual basis, that’s $1,008 in service costs alone. Compared to Lodgify’s Professional plan, which costs $32 per month, you’ll save $52 per month or $624 per year. Isn’t that good?

Check out our post that breaks out the overall cost of listing on both this OTA and your direct booking website if you’re wondering about how much Airbnb costs you.

Keep in mind that most listing sites charge a percentage-based service cost, while a direct booking website charges a fixed monthly or annual membership price. The more reservations you get from a third party that takes a percentage of your total, the less money you’ll have for payment, while you’ll likely simply pay a flat cost for your direct booking website.

You should certainly check out our vacation rental revenue calculator if you want to evaluate the possible earnings you may generate with your vacation rental company!

How do you create a website for direct bookings?

We know you’re excited to start getting direct reservations. If you’re like most beginners, you probably just have your property listed on a few OTAs and don’t have your website. Having a place to send visitors will be one of the most important elements in obtaining direct reservations.

You may have a few informal reservations with friends and family that you manage with cash payments and manually marking off dates, but this is not recommended. With such a casual method of direct booking, your holiday rental may look amateurish. Furthermore, failing to have a secure payment gateway or a booking website can hinder your organization. Without a doubt, you’ll need a website to promote your business.

Website creator

We suggest choosing a website builder that comes with pre-designed templates unless you’re a web design expert. Having a shoddy, non-functional website is, in some ways, worse than not having one at all. Because your website is a reflection of your company, why not make it appear as professional and appealing as possible?

It doesn’t have to be so difficult to create a nice website. Your vacation rental company already takes up a lot of your time; your website shouldn’t take up much more.

You may quickly establish your direct booking website using a website builder geared for holiday rentals and/or other sorts of lodgings.

Lodgable’s website builder was created by and for lodging companies. Instead of starting from scratch, our website templates eliminate the time-consuming design, organizing, and formatting tasks.

You simply need to submit your material and images, and you can quickly link to booking portals, payment gateways, and other services. 

How can I get more direct reservations for holiday rentals?

The first step is to create an engaging website, but many hosts get disappointed when their direct booking website fails to bring in bookings.

For your vacation rental website, “build it, and they will come” isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a fully functional, engaging website for your visitors to visit, but how do you get them there in the first place? Follow the steps below to get your direct booking website noticed and bookings flowing in.

Concentrating on SEO

The ultimate aim is to be the top search result that prospective visitors see when they Google your name or any related terms. When it comes to getting your property recognized, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is critical. This strategy will also bring in new consumers who wouldn’t have discovered your vacation property otherwise. So, what are we attempting to express with this statement? Let’s examine this situation.

Let’s assume your direct booking website includes a guide to local attractions, best restaurants, and guest tales, among other things. You may use keywords like “things to do in Monterey, California” or “top breakfast spots in Central California” inside those pages to drive traffic to your website. You can turn website visitors into guests after they’ve arrived on your site.

With SEO, you may broaden your appeal to attract tourists who would not otherwise consider staying in a vacation rental.

Don’t worry if it sounds beyond your capabilities. We’ve put up the definitive vacation rental SEO guide to help you get your home listed and visible to prospective visitors.

Taking use of listed sites

Although it may seem contradictory, listing sites may help you gain direct reservations. Remember that they do a fantastic job of promoting and attracting new customers. Around 193 million reservations are made on Airbnb alone. Many tourists use these sites to compare properties before going to Google to get the best rate on their direct booking websites.

Having a solid online presence and a bookable website becomes crucial if you want to make your vacation rental company stand out from the crowded listing sites. Make sure to include your brand on all of your internet outlets, including your listing descriptions, after you’ve established it.

For example, if you have a beach home on Anna Maria Island with the name “Ohana Hideaway” or if you have many rentals in one property with names like “The Terra-cotta suite,” “The Sage Apartment,” and so on. Instead of naming your properties “Dog-Friendly Beach Bungalow with Private, Heated Pool, Balcony, and Lanai” on listing sites, you can call them “Ohana Hideaway beach bungalow (…)” and/or include phrases like “Welcome to Ohana Hideaway” or “Ohana Hideaway is a space that…” in the listing description.

After that, they are giving fantastic bargains on your website will ensure that those “window lookers” become straight reservations! Regardless matter whose platform provides it, most visitors desire quality at a low price. Discounts or welcome gifts, such as a bottle of wine or a welcome basket, serve to sweeten the direct booking bargain.

Putting a premium on customer loyalty

When you thank your customers for their loyalty, they are far more inclined to book straight via your website. If you’ve already earned their trust and their preferred vacation spot, all you have to do now is direct them to your website!

This is particularly true for visitors making their first reservation via an online travel agency. You may gently remind them after their vacation that they can book directly with you the next time they’re in town! Including certain incentives, such as a discount coupon or a free extra night, will assist you in converting these OTA customers into direct bookings.

Putting the referral process to the test

With an established client base, you have a wealth of opportunities. As a business, you are only as good as your consumers. What people say about you and your vacation rental is accurate and unbiased. They’re not just the most accurate source of information about how well your company is doing, but they’re also likely to have access to a network of other prospective customers.

Consider the following scenario. Assume you have a family that spends every year at your beach cottage. That family is probably involved in sports teams, extracurricular activities for the kids, and neighborhood events with other families who share their demographic. Wouldn’t it be the same for other families who fit a similar profile if your property is already a great match for these repeat guests?

Using your current visitor base to attract new customers is a brilliant and straightforward method to expand your company. Why not focus your marketing efforts on places where you’ve previously had success? Encourage visitors to recommend their friends and family to your vacation rental for a higher conversion rate than other marketing strategies.

Of course, you’ll need to figure up a method to thank your current customers. It’s crucial to reward visitors for their referral efforts with a gift or a discount since this motivates them to keep recommending new individuals! You boost your bookings, and they get a good discount on their future vacation. Win, win, win!

Developing a positive internet reputation

Social media, like SEO, is an excellent way to entice potential visitors. This means devoting time to providing information on social media, demonstrating to your followers (prospect or returning visitors) that you take your duty as a business owner seriously. Regular posting also indicates direct contact for inquirers with inquiries or concerns regarding the property behind the management.

Your visitors will see how much fun they can have at your resort if you have a strong web presence.

How can you use social media to get people to visit your direct booking website? Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend money on Facebook and Instagram advertisements.
  • Post about your rental on Facebook communities for tourists.
  • Creating exclusive offers for bookings made via your website
  • Getting the word out about your blog, guidebooks, and other website resources

Having a strong social media presence will encourage guests to book directly through your direct booking website, beneficial to your overall business.

It’s also critical that you accumulate several positive ratings from your visitors. Sending a nice email to visitors after they leave your hotel might prompt them to rate their stay. You may go one step further and ask them to mention your business when they write about their stays on social media, as well as permission to use the images they post on sites like Instagram.

Do you have a system in place for keeping track of all of your direct reservations??

Once your reservation calendar is full with non-OTA appointments, you may find yourself overburdened with responsibilities, organization, and reservation administration. It’s not a good idea to do it alone! Managing your reservations manually raises your chances of multiple bookings, delayed guest turnover, and human mistakes threefold. Why take the chance?

To handle all of your new direct reservations, you’ll need the necessary tools. What are the instruments needed for direct bookings? Here are a few tools that can significantly enhance your company’s operations:

  • A channel manager to keep track of all your calendars
  • Accounting capabilities to keep track of all your booking revenue

And, of course, a visually appealing direct booking website to lead visitors in the first place. It’s critical to have all of these tools in one place to avoid losing track of anything crucial.

Once you start getting more direct reservations, vacation rental management software like Lodgify will help you keep everything organized and manageable.

Create your direct booking website to get started.

You’ll be ready for more after hosting your first direct booking. The key selling advantages for direct bookings include:

Have total control over your reservations.

Retaining your revenue.

Establish stronger connections with your visitors.

It’s no surprise that hosts are keen to enhance their online booking volumes!

Creating a direct booking website does not have to hassle business owners. Lodgify’s software enables you to quickly and easily construct your hospitality website and take online reservations.

Lodgify’s vacation rental website templates are completely customizable, allowing you to customize every design part to match your company’s identity. All Lodgify websites are also mobile-friendly, ensuring that the quality of your site is not harmed when visitors reach it through a smartphone or tablet.

You’ll also be able to combine your website with other channels and manage all of your reservations from a single system due to the built-in channel manager. You can also quickly connect your Lodgify website to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram!

In 2022, any vacation rental company without a branded, bookable website will quickly fall behind its competitors. You’ll not only be seen as less reputable, but also lose out on the numerous advantages of having a website, such as marketing possibilities, direct bookings, and building a brand. If you’re like many other business owners, you still don’t have an optimized website, make sure you get one as soon as possible to enjoy the benefits for the year.

 

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