Tired to be dependent on the OTAs and Listing-Sites? You claim to be an independent owner or manager in vacation rental business? Then stop whining and start acting like a Pro. Your guests expect you to act. Please let them book direct!
Direct Bookings Do Not Come By Chance!
In area of hotel rooms OTAs are responsible for around halve of the online bookings for hotels (at least in Spain and also in other countries.) With independent hotels it is even worse – market talks about a ratio 25% vs. 75% in favour of OTAs. Branded hotels do better in case of direct bookings, they know about their abilities and use them.
There’re enough travelers, who would prefer to book direct. They value personal contact, experience and individuality. Maybe they just don’t like to deal with the big brands – or they want to avoid commissions.
Wouldn’t it be perfect for your vacation rental business to have a ratio of 50/50 – at least as a beginning?
What if your digital marketing target the 50% of travelers who do not book – and maybe even do not want to book – with OTAs?
Simple Truth About Vacation Rental Marketing
Like many independent hotels, the independent vacation rental owners and managers have to face some simple truth about vacation rental marketing.
- The fear of “angering” the OTA’s has ensured that simple investments were not made in the infrastructure. Direct bookings are impossible on many vacation rental websites – simply because there are no or only complicated booking tools.
- While the short term rental owners are focused on enhancing the guest experience with the intent to get returning visitors, they do not invest into the needed technology and marketing strategies to make them book their next stay due the brand domain.
- The own band is given away to the OTAs or treated like an unwanted child instead of using it for the own promotion.
- Too many vacation rental owners and managers just forgot, that they are able to present so many requested positive values they have which the big listing sites do not have – like to be a person (instead of a chat-bot or a call-centre agent in India) who is a specialist for the own product and region. That they belong to a positive travel experience much more than just during the booking process.
Giving away the best options for the marketing of your short term rentals means also kicking your possible guests – even if they are willing to book direct.
How to Get Those Easy Direct Bookings?
Digital marketing for more direct bookings is more than doing SEO and Adwords for vacation rentals. Choose the channels without competition of the big listing-sites and OTAs first. It is fast, cheap and includes your strength.
Make a plan
You cannot do all in once. It is essential to know your goals (like getting 50% of your bookings direct). Without a goal you cannot fulfil it.
It is essential to have a close look on whom you want to be your guest – you’ll be able to focus your marketing on channels where you find them.
Create a vacancy calendar and update it frequently. Make it easy to select and book as soon as you have the people on your website.
Remember: A (marketing-) plan should contain your financial budget and also time available to spend for your digital marketing. You’ll have to focus on using this time and money the most effective way.
If there is no option for direct bookings, you cannot get them.
Check your websites forms and contact options. Consider modern contact options like skype or an on-page life chat for your vacaton rental business’ website.
Check your answering inquiries policy (be fast in answers) and prepare templates for answers and standard send outs.
Open accounts like your Google “My Business” or basic social media accounts.
It is very useful to give info about “the best price in Web” already on your brands websites index page.
Your brand matters
Be available for research simply by showing your brand wherever possible. Signs of brand are your name, your logo, your website and a dedicated e-mail address.
People tend to research additional reviews or prices after they decide to book you. A brand name will help you to participate of the “Billboard effect”.
A Google My Business account will help your holiday rental business. You will also be better ranked in local search.
Take care for your guests
Stay in touch with your guests – they might (and will) return. A good option is to have regular newsletter.
Attract your guests to book direct when they become retuning visitors. Often just the information about their option matters and will bring you direct bookings.
Use the digital word of mouth
Work with your reviews (wherever they are). Answer the good and also the bad reviews. Use this option also to tell about the best prices in web on your brands website.
Ask for reviews. Ask for shares or likes. You will be astonished, how many people will be willing to do.
Use social media as a main source for word of mouth in web for more than just to promote the newest prices – be a specialist for tourism in your town or area.
Give your former guests stories to share and maybe benefits for being your ambassador.
Be Independent in your Digital Marketing!
You will see fast success for your direct bookings. Do not be afraid about the sharks – just start your digital marketing.
If you need help, feel free to contact the Open Booking Team for advice or help.