VRS305 - How To Win In Short-Term Rentals With Direct Bookings Featuring Nancy McAleer

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For property managers and most short-term rental owners, the major listing sites are a source of the majority of our bookings.

Guests seem immune to the nature of service fees that drive the overall cost of a vacation up by as much as 12% in excess of the base rental rate.

They say it’s ‘quicker, easier and more secure’ and accept the add-ons as something to be accepted.

However, the Direct Booking movement is still alive and well encouraging both guests and rental operators to consider the alternatives.

In this episode, Nancy McAleer, co-founder of the independent listing site Florida Rental By Owners addresses the issues faced by hosts and managers in educating guests in the benefits of booking direct.

Nancy and her business partner Michele Totino founded FLARBO in 2018 from a mission to create a space where owners could advertise their homes and speak directly with their guests.

While it’s easy to dismiss the notion of independent listing sites as an attempt to return to the ‘good old days’ before the OTAs took hold, the success of FLARBO is a testament to the determination of the founders to promote the #BookDirect movement.

Nancy runs a successful business renting her homes on Anna Maria Island in Florida, most of which are now directly booked. In this episode she shares:

  • Why she believes owners should consider a direct booking strategy
  • The basic components for a successful website
  • How to persuade guests that direct booking is safe
  • What goes into creating a successful marketing strategy
  • How to craft an email signature
  • A way to turn FB into a booking platform
  • How networking and collaboration can drive traffic
  • The value of creating a comparison to show guests how much they can save
  • The benefits of writing a press release
  • How paid outreach with bloggers can bring extra benefits
  • Why advertising with a smaller listing site can increase your competitive advantage

Links mentioned in this episode

Florida Rental By Owners

Anna Maria Island Home Rental


This month’s recommended book is Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

by Ann Handley.

The book is in 6 parts and covers most aspects of writing for online content including grammar, story rules, publishing tips, marketing tasks and has a reference list of sources.

This isn’t the definitive book on writing, or grammar, or publishing – rather it offers useful guideposts on the path towards better writing..

My favorite quote from the book is:

“Start with empathy, continue with utility, improve with analysis, optimize with love”

This is an invaluable reference book when you are writing listings or creating content.


This week’s resource is Canva.

While most people know what it is and may have dabbled in it, many haven’t explored the benefits of it for creating direct booking graphics.

If you want to share your message across social media platforms, you’ll need to be doing this, and Canva is a great platform for the purpose.