How to launch a direct booking website in minutes (genuinely!)

direct-booking-website Jun 08, 2020

A direct booking website is critically important for any successful short-term rental business. However, it can be daunting to get started. Especially when you are unfamiliar with web development. Even then, is it worth the hassle of building and integrating into a booking engine, processing payments, maintenance, upgrades and everything in-between?

The purpose of this guide

In this guide, I'll show you how to launch a top of the range direct booking website engine from start to finish in a few minutes. We call it an engine as it's much more powerful than a regular website.

Our direct booking engine powers property portfolios of all sizes. From those starting with 1 listing to large operators with 300+ listings. It's incredibly scalable and grows with you.
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What to expect from your new direct booking engine

Your booking engine will sync in realtime with Airbnb, Booking.com & VRBO (Homeaway). You can accept guests payments instantly (and securely for both you and your guest). Availability and prices are always up to date. Your website design will be top of the range, using the latest (and always up to date) design trends, geared for optimal conversions, both on desktop and mobile. And that's just the beginning, as you'll see.

Why a direct booking website is critical

Before we dive in, why do you need a direct booking website? Fundamentally, there are two key reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Common challenges building a direct booking website

It can be daunting to create a reliable and guest-friendly booking website. You may be thinking:

  • A website is expensive, how much will it cost?
  • Do I need to hire a developer?
  • Do I need to pay for hosting and a domain name?
  • How do I take bookings and payments?
  • How do I avoid double bookings with Airbnb etc?

These are very common questions. On top of these more obvious concerns, you also need to consider:

  • SSL certificates
    Your website must be secure to accept payments, but also rank on search engines and display correctly on browsers like Chrome and Safari.
  • Usability, and in particular the mobile booking flow
    All consumers have a low attention span. If it's too challenging to book (for example, the booking function isn't always in view), they won't.
  • Page loading speeds
    If your website takes too long to load, you are losing money. Especially if you are paying for advertising! Here are a few scary stats:
    - 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
    - A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • Design, credibility and trust
    You are competing with Airbnb and first impressions matter. If your website is out of date and looks amateur, your guests may think your property is too.
  • Maintenance & up to date best practices
    Websites aren't a one-time task, unfortunately!

Don't worry. These challenges are all solved with the Uplisting direct booking engine.


Step by step guide to creating a direct booking website in minutes

Video guide to creating a direct booking website

This short video will show you how to create your direct booking website. The step by step guide is provided below.


Step by step guide (with screenshots)

Step 1: Sign-up to Uplisting

Click here to sign up for your free trial of Uplisting (no credit card required)

Step 2: Connect your Airbnb account

Don't worry, you can disconnect instantly either on Airbnb (here) or on Uplisting (here).

Click the Connect with Airbnb button.

Connect with Airbnb

Click "Allow". Again, you can disconnect this at any time. Clicking "Allow" lets Uplisting import all your listing information and enables us to sync availability and prices to Airbnb from Uplisting (so your calendar is always up to date).

Step 3: Uplisting will import all your active listings from Airbnb within a few seconds

Uplisting imports your listings, photos, descriptions, prices, availability, extra guest charges, discounts, cleaning fee and more. This means you don't need to do anything to create your direct listing website!

Import listings from Airbnb

Click the "Get started" button. We're nearly there!

Nearly there

Step 4: Open the Direct screen

This is where you set up your direct booking engine. You can explore the rest of Uplisting later (we have lots more to offer like automated guest messages, channel management with Booking.com and VRBO, etc).

Direct booking engine setup screen

Enter a domain name here. This is most likely your company name, for example, londonrentals.

The link for your booking site will then be; https://londonrentals.bookeddirectly.com.

Click the save domain button.

Step 5: View your ready to go booking website!

That's it from the content side. Can you believe it was this easy?

Click the "Preview direct booking engine" button.

Preview direct booking engine

You should see something like this! This is your "All listings" page, where your guests can search for dates and filter by city (if you have more than one), number of guests and price.

PS: Check how fast this page loads! We work hard behind the scenes to ensure your website loads quickly and keeps visitors engaged on desktop and mobile.

Search listings page

And this is what that page looks like on mobile.

Click to view individual listing pages. Looks pretty good!

One last step to start accepting payments.

Step 6: Connect Stripe to process payments
To accept payments, you need to connect your Stripe account. Not familiar with Stripe, click here to learn more.

Go to the connect screen, then click on Stripe (or skip to the Stripe settings screen by clicking here).

Go to the Connect screen

Click the Connect with Stripe button. This directs you to your Stripe account to confirm the connection to Uplisting. You can disconnect this connection on Stripe at any time.

Connect with Stripe

Select the listings you want to connect to this Stripe account. You can connect multiple Stripe accounts, which is why you have this option.

Click Save and connect Stripe.

Done! You can now accept secure guest payments.

Guest payment screen

Optional settings:

On the Direct booking screen, you can:

  1. Configure and setup your Homepage
    Here you can add a bit of content about you
  2. Upload your logo and main hero image (for the homepage)
  3. Integrate with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for tracking and advertising
  4. Use your domain name (eg. www.londonrentals.com rather than londonrentals.bookeddirectly.com).

Over to you!

I can't wait to see your direct booking websites up and running and accepting commission-free bookings!

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Vince Breslin

I'm one of the founders at Uplisting and am obsessed with helping property managers solve problems and grow their business. Join us at Uplisting and we'll do whatever we can to help.