VRS366 – Direct Booking Hot Topics with Mark Simpson

As we approach 2021 there’s still a lot of unpredictability, and in our industry, this is something we’re used to.  Owners and managers want to keep control of their business but continued changes from the OTAs just add to the uncertainty many are feeling.

We see this growing concern in the questions about direct bookings being asked in forums and Facebook groups.  Questions that point to professionals looking more at escaping from the confines of the major platforms and become more independent.  They want to know how to do it.

For the property managers and owners who were around 15+  years ago when direct booking was what we did, it’s a little easier to see that it isn’t difficult.  We were doing it before there was the technology to build websites, manage bookings and channels, and to drive traffic from a wide range of social media sources.  It just took organization, an ability to be agile, and to recognize opportunities when they were presented.  When the likes of Homeaway and Airbnb came along they seemed like the ideal progression to an easier and more streamlined way of doing business.

But we haven’t lost the ability to do this stuff for ourselves and in the process, regain control.

Mark Simpson has honed his skills in the short-term rental industry by walking the talk.  His backstory of running the farm/hotel his parents developed near the East Yorkshire town of Scarborough describes an immersion in hospitality, that was underpinned by previous work in the digital marketing world.

This is a powerful combination and he brings really fresh insight into a world that can seem disjointed and jaded at times.

In this episode, he answers some of the hot topic questions that have been buzzing around the online communities.  Questions like:

  • Should I learn WordPress and build my own website, hire someone, or use a built-in site from a booking software platform?
  • What does a website have to do to attract more direct bookings?
  • Is social media actually worth the effort and if so, what platforms give the best return?
  • What type of content should I have on my website to pull in more traffic?
  • How can I rank higher on Google?

In the course of the discussion, Mark brings a wealth of tips and suggestions on the little things you can do to create a success of your direct booking strategy.

He shares:

  • What he learned from being on the farm
  • The one thing that must be on your home page
  • Why you must explain the benefits for site visitors
  • The incentive that gets around the OTA walls and converts guests to a direct booking alternative
  • The Cheers philosophy of community and the simple thing that will take 10 minutes per day
  • What you need to add to your personal profile on Facebook
  • An inexpensive Google Adwords tip (and the video that explains it)
  • How long-tailed keywords can drive traffic

Links mentioned in this episode:

Boostly Youtube Channel

Building a Story Brand