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:
- Create a #bookdirect graphic (like the one at the top of this post) on Canva
- Post your Canva #bookdirect graphic to your favorite social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… you know the drill!)
- Send out a newsletter to past guests educating them about #bookdirect
- Craft a blog post educating travelers about #bookdirect
- Update all past social media posts with the hashtag #bookdirect
- 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!
- 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!)
- Set up a bookings-enabled website. TDG loves OwnerRez, combined with a vacation rental-specific website designer like Boostly or Natty Media who can expertly navigate OwnerRez’s backend and capture your unique brand with their website design.
- Set up your social media accounts. Start with the ones you’re familiar with and know you’ll actually use.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!