VRS375 – The How’s & Why’s of Book Direct


This episode of the Vacation Rental Success Podcast is sponsored by NoiseAware
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February 3, 2021, is the fourth annual Book Direct Day where owners and managers share messages with the hashtag #BookDirect and educate guests about the benefits of working directly with them.

Damian Sheridan has been championing the movement from the European perspective and after successfully presenting both a live and a virtual conference in 2020, has just launched the Book Direct Network online.

Four years after the inaugural event the movement hasn’t lost any momentum as more and more owners and property managers see the benefits of releasing their dependence on the major OTAs and increasing their confidence in the ability to market directly to travelers.

The cancellation policies operate by the listing sites at the start of the pandemic only served to strengthen the determination of many to make this a goal in 2021, and it was interesting to hear Andrew McConnell at the start of the year, suggesting direct booking was going to be an ‘opportunity’ for operators.

Regional listing sites are reporting more success as platforms such as ECBYO and Florida Rental by Owners demonstrate the demand for local marketing.

VRM Intel reports on several large property managers who have become wholly independent of the OTAs.  And owners are showing creativity in the ways they market on social media with bookings coming from their Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and Google Business.

Should the goal be 100% independence?

This is a great question and drives some interesting arguments.  According to Steve Milo in a recent Facebook post:

“Based on what I have seen and heard, the companies that truly practiced multi-platform marketing outperformed those who were on only one major channel including direct or “Airbnb”…….To me, book direct is not yield management. It has become a PC buzzword that leads some in the wrong direction. OTAs serve a purpose in generating new customers as does pay-per-click on Google or Bing.”

While there may be some who are striving for full independence, a model that allows owners and agencies control over where they market and the channels they use, is clearly the best. Book Direct proponents who push the idea that putting all your eggs in one basket by just listing on one channel, then advise only booking direct, are actually missing the point.

While I take a small issue with some of the comments Milo made in a further post, he’s spot on with his views on multi-platform marketing.

The whole concept of independence is driven by a hospitality focus coupled with a strategic perspective on income and profit, and all this takes time and effort.  It’s not sufficient to build a direct-booking website and expect it to be a success from day one…or day 365 come to that.

A robust plan includes content and automation and a thorough understanding of the business – both from a historical position and from one looking to the future.

In this episode, I discuss all this with Damian and we cover:

  • Why a ‘Direct Booking website’ may not be the best choice
  • The crucial elements of a book direct strategy
  • The value of content and SEO
  • How to use OTAs strategically
  • Investing in connecting with guests at every stage of the guest journey
  • The Book Direct Network and why it was created
  • Future conferences

Links:

Answer The Public

VRM Intel

Book Direct Network

The Business of Short Term Rental & Property Management