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The #bookdirect Movement

This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content for products we've tried and loved.

 

If you are in the short-term rental industry, you’ve likely heard that developing your own website to collect bookings is a smart move. When it’s your platform, you control the booking, the communication, the terms, the marketing, the cancellation policy (*ahem*)… 

But do guests know about booking direct? 

The #bookdirect initiative from VRMIntel aims to bridge the gap between savvy owner/managers and would-be savvy guests who just need a little education. Many guests simply don’t realize the booking fees they pay to the listing sites—sometimes adding up to hundreds of dollars—are totally avoidable. 

With its increasingly popular hashtag, #bookdirect (which started in 2018) gathers hundreds of hosts and managers eager to educate guests with creative graphics, newsletters, and social media posts to reinforce the idea that we don’t need The Big Guys to be in charge of small business transactions. 

The official #bookdirect day is the first Wednesday in February, but really, any day can be #bookdirect day. 

How to Leverage #Bookdirect 

Already have a #bookdirect-ready website and want to start marketing its benefits to your audience of guests? Here are some steps to get started: 

  1. Create a #bookdirect graphic (like the one at the top of this post) on Canva
  2. Post your Canva #bookdirect graphic to your favorite social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… you know the drill!) 
  3. Send out a newsletter to past guests educating them about #bookdirect
  4. Craft a blog post educating travelers about #bookdirect
  5. Update all past social media posts with the hashtag #bookdirect 
  6. Add #bookdirect to all social media posts you create in the future 

How to Get Ready to Take Bookings Without Listing Sites 

Maybe you’re not quite at the “Book Direct” stage yet, but are curious how to get started. (Hint: one good first step would be to set up a time to talk with me, Alanna! I’ve been taking direct bookings since 2014 and am happy to show you the ropes.)

Here are some steps to follow. It can all be a bit overwhelming at first, but each small step leads nicely to the next. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

  1.  Get a sense of your brand. In order to stand out from the heavily-trafficked and branded listing sites, you have to establish a sense of what sets you apart. Who is your target guest? What vibe will they be looking for? Create a memorable name for your business, if you haven’t already, and make sure that website domain is available (so past guests can easily find you when they want to come back!)
  2. Set up a bookings-enabled website. TDG loves OwnerRez, combined with a vacation rental-specific website designer like Buildup Bookings or Natty Media who can expertly navigate OwnerRez’s backend and capture your unique brand with their website design.
  3. Set up your social media accounts. Start with the ones you’re familiar with and know you’ll actually use.
  4. Start collecting leads from your website. This could be as simple as adding an email capture popup that invites guests to join your mailing list for deals and travel tips… or as complex as a targeted campaign.
  5. Learn about SEO… or hire someone to help who knows! SEO, or search engine optimization, is how guests find you. Our top rec is Build Up Bookings, a vacation rental-specific SEO company with a solid record of helping rentals get noticed in a sea of options.
  6. Find creative and non-intrusive ways to get email addresses from your guests. Software like StayFi gates your WiFi and requires an email address to access.

Let’s band together to show guests that they can support local, small business and travel for less if they #bookdirect!

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Alanna's online, self-directed short term vacation rental course is THE one you want to take if you are serious about getting into the short term vacation rental game!  This course will take you step-by-step from the initial thought of why you should get involved in short term vacation renting to every possible aspect of operating, maintaining and protecting your investment.  Additionally, you will learn some of Hospitality's Best Business Practices along the way. I highly recommend this course for Beginners and Intermediates to learn much information in one succinct setting.  If you have been operating short term vacation rentals for some time and consider yourself to be at the Expert level, you should take this as a refresher/stay relevant course, as there are many gold nuggets to support you in enhancing your method of operation.
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In my experiences as a short term rental host, podcaster and founder of Host2Host, I have found Alanna Schroeder of The Distinguished Guest to be professional, ethical and informative.  She possesses great business savvy, offering views that express her knowledge and her caring.  I have seen Alanna go out of her way to help another host/owner achieve success.  In an industry that is continually growing, Alanna has developed an understanding of how our industry works and who works within it.  I trust her judgement and advice and have learned more from her than from almost anyone else in this field.   Alanna’s contributions and work with Host2Host have been invaluable. Her new course TDGs Blueprint for Beginning Rentalists includes comprehensive and vital information for the short term rental host.  Although it is designed for the beginning host, the course includes so much information it is also great for established hosts.  It’s comprehensive from the purchase of property, through the setup of rental space and navigating Online Travel Agency listings.  The TDG course modules will save headaches and missteps, increasing satisfaction as well as income!
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If you own a short term vacation rental or are considering purchasing a vacation rental Alanna’s course, Blueprint For Beginning Rentalists, is an absolute must. Alanna has gone above and beyond to lend her expertise in the hospitality business with several years of personal experience. This course is extremely thorough; complete with checklists and extensive resources, walking you through the process of finding a qualified realtor, to the ins and outs of running your business, marketing, and so much more. You will not find another course out there to match the quality of what this course has to offer. Coming in as a newbie myself I feel well equipped with the proper tools and know-how to run my business successfully and how to continue to grow in the future. In addition to the course material, Alanna holds weekly office hours via zoom where you can ask any questions you may have as well as connect with fellow owners gaining even more insight and knowledge to this ever growing and evolving industry. From personal help and feedback on website design, channel management, interior design, insurance and so much more. These are just a few of the many ways Alanna has helped me personally and I look forward to staying connected over the coming years through her office hours and private Facebook group as questions and scenarios arise. If you desire to create a profitable vacation rental investing in the Blueprint For Beginning Rentalists course will set you and your business up for success!
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Alanna at The Distinguished Guest has been an invaluable resource while setting up my first vacation rental.  I recently bought a house in Hilton Head Island and knew nothing about what it takes to be a successful vacation rental.  Alanna has always been willing to lend a helping hand and responds quickly to all of my many questions!  If you're looking to set up a new vacation rental or refresh an existing rental, I would highly recommend contacting Alanna to help out.  She provides a 5 star experience!
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