If Airbnb is your go-to site for advertising your vacation rentals, here’s why you should think again.
If you are a landlord with vacation rentals, the last thing you want to worry about is creating and operating your own website. Surely it’s easier to use a platform like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com or Expedia to list your property and get bookings? While these global sites attract millions of viewers, they are not necessarily the best for your vacation rentals. In this blog post, we will explore some of the benefits of having your own direct booking website and how it can help you increase your profits, control your brand, and build better relationships with your guests.
Save Money on Commissions and Fees
One of the main advantages of having a direct booking website is that you can avoid paying commissions and fees to the online travel agents (OTAs) that dominate vacation rentals. According to a Hotel Price Reporter, OTA charges between 15% and 30% of the booking value as commission, depending on the platform and the subscription model. This means that for every $1000 you earn from a booking, you could pay up to $300 to the OTA. That’s a significant chunk of your revenue that could be better spent on improving your property, marketing your brand, or rewarding loyal guests.
Having your own direct booking website can eliminate these costs and help you keep more of your cash. This translates into more competitive pricing you can offer your guests, who might also be paying service fees to the OTAs when they book through them. Eliminating these costs gives you a competitive edge and the opportunity to attract more price-sensitive travelers looking for a good deal.
Build Your Brand and Reputation
Another benefit of having a direct booking website for your vacation rentals is that it allows more control over how you present your property and brand to potential guests. You can showcase your property’s unique features, amenities, location, and style with high-quality photos, videos, and descriptions. You can also highlight your reviews, ratings, awards, and certifications demonstrating your credibility and quality. Other essential branding elements include creating your logo, slogan, and domain name that reflect your brand identity and values.
In addition, instead of being overshadowed by the OTAs’ branding and marketing, you can stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself from similar properties on the same platform. You can also avoid being affected by the OTAs’ policies, algorithms, and ranking factors that might limit your visibility or exposure to potential guests.
Create Stronger Relationships with Your Guests
A third benefit of a direct booking website is that you can create stronger relationships with your guests before, during, and after their stay. The ability to communicate directly through email, phone, or chat without any intermediaries or restrictions greatly benefits landlords and guests. You can also personalize their experience by offering them special deals, discounts, upgrades, or extras that suit their preferences and needs. You can also collect their feedback, reviews, and testimonials and use them to improve your service and reputation,
Loyalty and Repeat Business
Direct booking fosters loyalty and repeat business. You can encourage guests to book directly with you again by offering them incentives such as loyalty programs, referral programs, or gift cards. You can also keep in touch with them through newsletters, social media, or blogs and update them on your latest offers, news, or events.
Avoid Faceless Management Companies
Some management companies or hosts attract Airbnb landlords simply because they have lot of other owners they manage properties for. That doesn’t mean they’re doing a good job. By claiming “We having over 50 satisfied customers in your area,” should not be a reason for a landlord to say, “well if these other hosts are using this company, they must be good.”
Sometimes, ‘hosts’ on Airbnb might claim to be the property owner but are not at all. As this New York Times article reveals, ‘hosts’ falsely represent their stake in the vacation rental and sometimes use a false name. They have no vested interest in your enjoyment and as the article demonstrates, the rental is not always up to the standard advertised. These type of scenarios are avoided when booking on the landlord’s direct vacation rental site.
How To Start Your Direct Booking Website
Many tools and services are available to help you set up a professional-looking and functional website without much hassle or cost, allowing you to focus on running your business, not your website. Here are some steps to follow:
• Choose a domain name that is catchy, memorable, and relevant to your property and brand.
• Choose a web hosting service that is reliable, secure, and affordable.
• Choose a website builder that is easy to use, customizable, and optimized for STRs.
• Choose a booking engine integrated with your website builder that allows you to accept online reservations and payments securely.
• Choose a channel manager compatible with your booking engine that allows you to sync your availability and rates across multiple platforms.
• Choose a property management system connected with your channel manager that allows you to manage your reservations, guests, housekeeping, maintenance, accounting, and reporting.
• Choose a design template that matches your brand identity and style.
• Add content that showcases your property’s features, amenities, location, reviews, rates, policies, and contact details.
• Add features that enhance your guests’ experience such as maps, calendars, guides, FAQs, blogs, or chatbots.
• Promote your website through SEO, social media, email marketing, or paid advertising.
Owning a direct booking website can greatly boost your STR business and gain more control, profit, and satisfaction. Following the steps above, you can create a website that attracts more guests, showcases your brand, and builds stronger relationships. At a time when many global websites are incorporating AI, such as Chat GPT to help travelers plan their stays, the specificity of a direct booking site that is personally curated and not a one-size fits all offers a much more customized vacation with a people you can communicate directly with.
If you need any help or advice on planning your vacation to the Miami area, contact our customer service team, and we’ll be happy to help.