VRS339 – 6 Stages of a Short-Term Rental Book Direct Strategy

This pandemic has delivered a lot of lessons and they aren’t all about getting the spinach out of your teeth before joining a Zoom call!  It’s got many people thinking seriously about the amount of control the OTAs have and what we can do to take that control back.  While #BookDirect isn’t a new term, it’s one to which many hosts and managers are paying much more attention these days.  But how do you tease it all out and actually get started?  We are here to help you with that.

You could be in several different places right now with your business.  Maybe you:

  • list on just one platform
  • have listings on more than one platform and manually update calendars
  • use a channel manager to co-ordinate bookings
  • have a website but all bookings go through OTAs
  • have a hybrid business

My property management business is what I would term hybrid. We’ve actually gone the other way than most businesses and started out in 2004 with 100% direct bookings.

We listed with the sorts of listing sites we long for now. Those where we bought an ad and they drove traffic back to our site.

We listed with Flipkey (bought out by Trip Advisor); VRBO (bought out by Home Away) and Canada Stays (bought out by Expedia). And a solid cottage rental site called Cottages in Canada which is still going strong today.

But we are now at 75% direct with repeats and organic bookings and 25% on the OTAs. Yes, over the years we’ve got a little lazy and opened ourselves to the convenience of instant booking and less work.

We briefly listed on Airbnb and have already delisted all our properties. This year has set the seal on us walking that back and getting control in our hands once more. Our goal is to become 100% direct within the next year.

This doesn’t mean direct booking is for everyone and if you are at least 80% happy with the way it’s going right now then why not stick with what you are used to.

But if you want to take more control then maybe this is a good direction

So, let’s kick off with dealing with some of your beliefs around becoming more independent?

Do you think this way?

  • It’s too much work
  • People don’t trust individual owners
  • I have no way of collecting money
  • I don’t know how to manage a listing on multiple sites
  • I don’t know how to get traffic to my website

Those are the most common objections to developing a book direct strategy but there’s plenty of businesses who have done just that and are happier for it.

In this episode I talk with Jason and Mike and we go through four of the six stages we’ve outlined as most important to get you started, because if you break it all down into manageable components it all becomes much simpler.

You’ll hear:

  • The key actions you can take to build a solid foundation
  • Why you should revisit your core regularly regardless of where you currently are in your business
  • What middle-aged quilters in Ohio mean to an owner in New Brunswick
  • How to analyze your internal strengths and weaknesses and external threats and opportunities can help re-define your business.
  • What you can do to evolve your brand
  • How planning for hurricanes and red tide helped managers face the pandemic
  • Ways to heighten your guest experience
  • Your business is flourishing, achieving goals, and bringing in revenue. You are ready to bring in the team that will support your growth.