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How to get more direct bookings from your website

How to get more direct bookings from your website

Vince Breslin

If you build it, they will come…

Well, it’s not always that easy when it comes to getting people to your direct booking website. While a website is critical for any successful short-term rental business, you also need to execute a marketing plan to get potential visitors to your direct booking website.  

Your Direct Booking website

And just getting people to your website is only half the goal. Your website visitors need to take the next step and book a rental on your website.

Why do I need a Direct Booking Website again?

Before we dive into marketing and promoting, why do you need a direct booking website in the first place? Fundamentally, there are two key reasons:

  • Significantly higher profit per booking. You and your guests won’t pay a combined ~15%+ commission on bookings. Even better, you can offer a lower price to your guests and still make more profit.
  • Control. You are free to set your terms, policies, payment structures, prices, and availability. You are also the owner of the relationship. Guests don’t need to go through a third-party to communicate with you, and vice versa.

Furthermore, 67% of travellers think it’s easier to book on a brand website rather than a third-party website according to VRMA.

How do I get people to my Direct Booking Website

If you’re reading this, you hopefully were able to build your direct booking site. That’s a great start! (If not, you can launch a direct booking site in minutes with Uplisting)

Now you need to drive people to your new website. To do that, you will need to market and promote your listings to potential visitors. An effective marketing plan for your vacation rental business is one of the essential parts of your overall business plan if you aim to achieve long-term success.

First, we’ll list out some common tactics. Then we’ll dive a little deeper into much larger strategies to plan for.

Essentials tactics to promoting your Direct Booking Website

Marketing is far more than just launching a website.

It encompasses a wide range of topics from the proper use of distribution sites, effective photography, search engine optimization, lead generation, and much more. Every business’s needs are different, and it should be easy to customize a marketing plan specific to your needs.

Brand consistency

One of the easiest to implement. Ensure you have brand consistency on all guest touch points. Your host profile, company name and wording should be consistent across Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo and elsewhere.

Think about it...

When I'm searching for a short-term rental, I usually go straight to Airbnb. I search through the listings and come up with a short-list. I will then go straight to Google and try searching for the listing title, or the company name listed on your Airbnb user profile. This simple strategy will lead to direct bookings.

Search Engine Optimization

Now that you have your website all set up, it’s time to get potential guests to the website. Most people will get there by searching organically. As reported by Brightedge, 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search.

One significant way to attract potential guests via organic search is by creating an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. It’s important not only to have a strategy but execute it so you are visible on the first page of search engines. According to a recent report from Hubspot, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, so it is more important than ever to optimize your SEO.

To maximize results, it’s important to perform both on-site and off-site SEO strategies.

  • On-site SEO refers to the keywords and the content you optimize on your website
  • Off-site SEO is all of the content, NOT on your website. The content found internet-wide, which could include guest blogs, social media profiles, and much more!

Social Media

There are over 4.5 billion people on social media according to a study by Emarsys. With this in mind, it's obvious that social media can play a vital role in lead generation for your website and listings.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are popular social media platforms, and most people are familiar with the user interface on at least one of these services.

Social Media on your Phone

Like search engines, social media works both organically and with paid ads, and just like with an email campaign, you want to be careful to keep your audience engaged, but not overwhelmed with your content.

People are spending an average of 3 hours a day on social media platforms according to Globalwebindex. This means it is important to post often, keep your posts relevant, post on a variety of topics, and post different things on different social platforms.

Online Reviews

Online review sites are one of the most powerful ways to promote your brand online, mainly if you frequently receive positive feedback. In fact, Travelers are 80 percent more likely to book a vacation rental that has reviews, according to Tripadvisor.

Solicit online reviews from your guests after they have stayed at your property and remain active on the most popular review sites. The more reviews you get, the more likely travellers will want to book your rental property.

High-Quality Photography

A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?

Unique and well-constructed photos are among the best selling tools you can take advantage of for your vacation rental property. Unfortunately, if your rental listing doesn’t have either enough pictures or they’re low-quality, people may not feel comfortable renting.

Make sure you have high quality photos

In fact, according to a recent case study by Virtuance Photography & Virtual Tours, high-quality photographs can increase a vacation property’s bookings by up to 98%. This is a massive increase in revenue!

Be Available to your Visitors

Encourage direct bookings by making it easy for guests to contact you. Provide all contact information — including phone number, email, and text messaging number. You can even interact with customers through your social media channels.

Uplisting makes it very easy to accept bookings offline (eg. over the phone) with our guest payment link feature. Create a booking on your calendar and send your guest a secure payment link. Easy!

Look for Repeat Business

Did you know that according to a new report from Bigger Pockets, on average 30% of short term vacation rental revenue for the years to come from repeat bookings?

Engage your visitors after their initial stay on one of your rentals. With email marketing, you can entice your past guests to come back and turn them into recurring visitors.

Tapping into your existing database and getting some repeat visits on the books is not only a great way to boost rental income, but it’s also an important method that can impact other areas such as increasing word-of-mouth recommendations and getting more reviews that will help grow your business.

Marketing to previous guests is the first strategy I recommend hosts implement. It has the potential for immediate returns (you send an email to guests rather rely on Google to rank your website), the strategy is manageable (although it requires thought, all you’re doing is sending emails) and measurable (you can tell if the guest books again, directly).

Offer Incentives to Return

These incentives could be in the form of special offers, such as discounts or a free airport pickup. Another option is to let your past guests know what’s going on in your area. This is where you can get creative.

Long-term Strategies for Getting More Direct Bookings

Build a brand

When I think “strongest brand in the short-term rental space”, Sonder almost always comes to mind. Building a brand is much harder than it sounds. Everything about your communications, guest experience, website experience, and overall brand needs to feel seamless and high-quality. Invest in consistent, modern design across all of your guest touchpoints. Every guest experience should also feel like a consistent brand experience.

Brand consistency across multiple channels (Sonder)

Collect guest contact information (ie. phone numbers and email addresses) once they’ve booked. You can then (with permission) send book direct special offers to previous guests.

Set up a drip marketing campaign

You don’t want to overwhelm your previous guests, however, a timely email triggered at certain intervals (such as 6 months after their stay or year anniversary of their stay) to remind your guests that you exist and they can save 15% by booking direct is all you need. You should automatically add new guests to this marketing campaign so it runs in the background with little work required by you.

How Uplisting Can Help

These are a handful of useful tactics that you can implement to start attracting new business to your site. And our Direct Booking Engine can kick-start your marketing.

Optimized for Mobile

50% of Airbnb traffic in January 2020 was mobile. That’s why Uplisting is completely optimized for mobile with guest-friendly listing pages, booking flows, and high-performing page load speeds.

  • Mobile focused, guest-friendly listing pages, and booking flows
  • Optimized for performance with rapidly quick page loading speeds
  • Concentrate on potential guests converting into paying guests
Mobile Friendly 

Automated Communication

Automate guest messaging, auto-respond to inquiries, discount pricing, payment processing, and more. Plus, invite your clients to view progress, see bookings, and mark dates unavailable.

Beautiful Listing Pages

Listing pages are created automatically as soon as you connect your Airbnb account. Uplisting direct booking pages are:

  • Beautifully designed in look and feel
  • Responsive and optimized for all screen sizes
  • Simple and straightforward booking flows
Create beautiful listing pages

Get started today

Better experience for your guests, fewer headaches for you and your team. You’ll be set up in minutes with our Direct Booking Pages. Sign up right now.