With the vacation rental market now larger and more profitable than ever, competition is heating up. Particularly for those who rely on OTAs and listing sites as their primary source of bookings.
Many owners are hoping to accept more direct reservations via their channels in light of recent changes from companies like HomeAway, VRBO, and others. For instance, via their own professional vacation rental website.
It’s no secret that listing sites provide a lot of publicity for your rental offers. However, a growing number of visitors are becoming aware of the “window shopping” phenomenon, which involves checking out what is available on OTAs such as Booking.com, then searching Google for the same housing choice at a lower price.
So, how can you guarantee that these window shoppers become bookings? Continue reading to find out!
1. Improve your website’s performance.
Although many customers want to abandon OTAs in favor of booking direct, they do not anticipate the experience to be any less flawless. You must ensure that your website is well optimized for booking conversion to convert people into reservations once they arrive. That involves providing a consistent user experience from beginning to end. We’re talking about fast loading speeds, smartphone compatibility, high-quality photos, and, probably most crucially, an integrated booking system that lets you take online payments for your rental company.
2. Collect visitor information
Just because a visitor has previously booked via an OTA does not imply their information is no longer available to you. You may leverage this experience to entice return customers even before the initial visit is complete. When guests check-in, collect contact information such as a personal, main email address. This allows you to remarket to them and target them for future promotions such as targeted email campaigns or social media marketing.
3. Mention your brand as often as feasible.
You’ll need a distinctive brand to lead these prospective visitors in the correct direction, so they can locate you. You might, for example, include your home’s brand name in your listing description, watermark your photographs with your brand’s emblem, and do whatever else you can think of to make it clear to your audience who you are (and what they should look for!).
4. Provide unrivaled perks for booking straight.
Guests, although they may not try to be, are selfish – and properly so! They want to secure the finest bargain possible so that they may make the most of their well-deserved holiday. As a result, the more value you can provide to your direct booking visitors, the happier they will be and the more likely they will convert. Consider giving a price match guarantee (or a 10% discount for direct reservations); freebies upon arrival (e.g., a bottle of wine, a breakfast basket, a local restaurant coupon); or even a late check-out option for direct bookings.
These kinds of perks may help convince hesitant bookers that switching from OTAs to direct reservations is much more worthwhile!
5. Stay in contact once you’ve checked out
Making ensuring the experience doesn’t stop when you wave your visitors out the door is an important aspect of providing excellent guest experiences. Staying in contact with visitors (both those who book via OTAs and those who book directly) gives an excellent opportunity to advertise a special deal and secure repeat reservations.
Sending out email campaigns a few months before clients’ booking anniversaries may just entice them to book again – but this time, they’ll know where to go. Another excellent strategy is to gather guest phone numbers and social media handles so that you may keep in contact through other platforms such as Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram, and Facebook. This will underline the fact that your connection with your visitor is more like a friendship than a commercial one.
6. Improve your OTA listings
Though it may seem paradoxical in the context of this post, ensuring sure your OTA listings are optimized and thorough might help your direct bookings significantly. Consistency across the board – on your website, social media, and all listing sites – can assist in unifying your brand, build credibility, and acquire trust online.
Potential visitors will go right over a bad OTA listing and onto the next rival, so they will never get the opportunity to discover your brand for themselves. Maintain engaging and high-quality OTA listings to boost your chances of converting window shoppers into reservations.
7. Provide memorable visitor experiences
Travelers who have a positive first impression of your brand from the time they land on your website are considerably more likely to convert. Make every interaction matter by responding to incoming questions immediately and professionally. You’ll be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to surpassing expectations throughout the visitor experience.
Learn something personal about them to customize their holiday experience and develop a lasting connection that does not stop when the visitor gives back the keys. This will encourage them to return to you directly for their next booking or to suggest your property to friends in the future.
8. Simply ask them to book immediately!
“If you don’t ask, you don’t receive,” as the adage goes. Why not use this advice with your vacation rental company? Every time you communicate with travelers or prospective guests, whether through email, phone, social media, or otherwise, mention your website and let them know they may book directly with you to save costs. Because of rising user fees on platforms like HomeAway, more owners than ever are plastering advertisements on their social media sites promoting “booking directly to save money.” You have no reason not to do the same in your groups and social circles.
With the cost of making a reservation increasing, intelligent visitors are always analyzing the market to discover the most acceptable (and cheap) deal. Make sure it’s yours they choose by inviting them to book directly with you. Not only will it be one more direct booking for your calendar, but they’ll also likely save money or benefit from your freebies or comparable incentives in another manner. Make managing your calendars a breeze by using a channel manager.
A great channel manager will be able to connect you to all of the major OTAs and give you a booking engine directly integrated with your site. Allows guests to book instantly on your site. This also makes synchronization between your calendars seamless, preventing you from worrying about getting any double bookings