We are all competing for travelers’ attention amongst a sea of tight competition and a plethora of OTAs ruling the market. Hence, the #BookDirect movement is a hot topic in the short term rental industry. There are lots of advantages of vacation rental direct booking, including being able to see one-on-one who is staying in your home and communicate with them directly. Perhaps the biggest advantage of taking direct bookings is more money in your pocket. You like cash, don’t you? Yet, some property owners still find it a bit scary to take that direct booking. Let’s bust some myths and give you some tips to overcome those fears, get more direct bookings and make more money.
Better Liability Coverage
Myth: If something were to happen, I don’t have to worry because the OTA handles everything.
Truth: When listing on OTAs you do get the benefit of some coverage if something goes wrong. But that coverage is minimal and you still need your own insurances and policies in place to actually be covered.
Pro Tip: Work with a trusted partner on getting the right coverages for you. You will have better protection and be able to offer your guests and yourself more peace of mind when taking a vacation rental direct booking. We highly recommend Rental Guardian. They are experts in travel insurance and offer superior products.
Direct Bookings Take More Time
Myth: Taking a direct booking takes a lot more time because I have to send the emails to guests and do all the communication myself that the OTA typically handles.
Truth: It’s the same amount of communication except it takes longer to use an OTA because of the extra step of logging in and out of multiple OTAs all day long to use their messaging on the platform. Aren’t your fingers tired of all the logging in and out?
ProTip: Use a software tool to set up auto emails that give your guests all the information they need when they need it. This is what the OTA did. Trust me, there isn’t someone sitting in the Airbnb office personally emailing every guest your property information and welcome emails. It’s all automated. And you can do that too with your email marketing tool or your property management software.
I Don’t Have the Marketing Budget for Direct Bookings
Myth: I’m just a small vacation rental property manager, I can’t compete with the big marketing budgets of HomeAway and VRBO. So what’s the point.
Truth: If you have zero dollars or time for marketing you shouldn’t be in business. If you truly don’t have $50 to spend on Facebook ads then you have time to market on Instagram. Yes, OTAs have huge marketing budgets for million-dollar super bowl commercials. You don’t need that. All you need is heart and some smarts, which you can get for free online.
Pro Tip: Be very specific about who you want to stay in your property and find those people on social media. For example, you want to target young families for your beach cottage. Use Instagram to showcase beautiful photos of your property and its ocean views. Then find a few Mom travel bloggers and reach out to them about how you can partner together to be featured on their blog or profile. With influencer marketing strategies you can determine the partnership that you can afford. It might be giving them a stay in exchange for a Blog review with a few Instagram posts and stories. You’ll have to inquiry to see what partnerships you can coordinate. The more you put into your marketing, the more vacation rental direct bookings you get!
I’ll Get Fewer Bookings
Myth: The number of bookings will drop if I go “all in” for direct bookings.
Truth: Not if you diversify. We are not saying get rid of listing sites altogether and only take direct bookings. Add direct bookings to the mix. Any good portfolio manager would tell you to diversify so having diversity in your booking channels is good too. Taking direct bookings in addition to your OTA channels will add a few more bookings.
Pro Tip: If you use property management software like Bookfull, you have a booking tool that takes direct bookings. Even if you don’t have a website you can use that link on your Facebook page, Instagram profile or Twitter bio. Don’t let the thought of expensive technology stop you from reaching your goals.
It’s too much hassle
Myth: Guests are scary and OTAs are my only line of defense.
Truth: Wouldn’t things be so much simpler if you could talk to your guest directly instead of going through a third party? Sure, sometimes you’ll get the grumpy guest but there are standard practices you can put in play to deal with them. And you have a much better shot of turning their frown into a smile if they talk with you directly vs. through an automated system.
Pro Tip: Using a vacation rental property management software can keep you organized so you get ahead of any issues early and they don’t turn into a thing. You can keep all your reservations, guests and unit information all in one place so you have everything you need right at your fingertips and aren’t searching a hundred different apps for the information you need.
You don’t need to be scared to take direct bookings and you certainly should be working toward getting more of them. Why would you not want another outlet for bookings and to keep more of the money you make? That’s a win-win in our book. Bookfull has lots of features that can help you get more bookings. Get started today and sign up for payment processing to use the Booking Tool and start taking payments and direct bookings.