5 tips for marketing your direct booking website

Having a direct booking website is an incredible investment and opportunity for vacation rental owners.

But you may be asking, “why do I need a direct booking website when there are OTAs like Airbnb and Booking.com?”

The answer is simple. There are lots of great benefits that come with increasing your direct bookings. For example, no hidden fees, stronger guest relationships, full control of T’s & C’s, and many more.

According to “The Value of Direct Bookings” report by VRMintel, the average booking from Airbnb based on the latest figures is worth around $906 per reservation.

In comparison, direct bookings are valued at around $1,935 (a difference of $1,029). Therefore, a direct booking is worth over double the value of a booking on Airbnb.

But how do you attract these guests that you would usually expect to come through the major booking platforms?

Here’s a clue – it’s all in the marketing.

Marketing your vacation rental business, the right way will help build your authority, increase your direct bookings, increase repeat bookings, and grow your revenue to new heights. 

For this post, we asked direct booking expert, Damian Sheridan (from the Book Direct Network), for his top 5 marketing tips when it comes to direct booking websites:

  1. Discover your target market

  2. Conduct effective keyword research

  3. Claim your Google my Business

  4. Use guest incentives

  5. Develop trust

Targeting the right market for your rental

Remember, not every traveller is going to be your target audience for your rental property. BUT your rental property is going to be the ideal vacation home for a specific market of travellers.

Therefore, identifying your target market is an essential cog in the mechanism of marketing your direct booking website.

Think of who you are targeting. Are they families, couples, business travellers, or digital nomads? Are your guests retired, millennials, or Gen Z? Then dig even deeper. Is your property pet-friendly, good for walkers, or a unique experience maybe?

Once you have found your target market you can build your direct booking website towards what appeals to them:

Damian Sheridan

“Adapting your property amenities and website imagery and copy to appeal to your target market, will convert far more travellers to guests than a generic offering.”

How to conduct effective keyword research for your direct booking website

Content and copy go hand in hand when building a good quality website. So what are your target travellers actually searching for?

Damian Sheridan

“Forget trying to rank for high ticket search queries like ‘Paris Vacation Rentals’. The OTAs will win every time. Instead, focus on less common ‘long-tail’ keyword phrases with greater intent and focus like ‘pet-friendly apartment rental in Montmarqtre’. Whilst the search volume is far less, the chances of higher search engine ranking and booking conversion are greater.”

This is keyword research. Essentially, it is one of the fundamental tools SEO marketers use to optimize websites in search engine rankings.

Make sure that you’re carrying out comprehensive keyword research before writing content for your direct booking website.

Don’t panic, there are many useful and free tools that will help you check average monthly search volumes across Google.

Check out: Answer The Public, Ubersuggest and Google Ads Keyword Planner; however, treat all of these as a guide and not as your bible. Damian also recommends Keywords Everywhere as an excellent and inexpensive Chrome extension.

Use Google My Business

Damian Sheridan

“Google My Business is a ‘simple and effective way to develop your brand and help the discerning traveller find your company, and direct booking website, outside of the OTA gates.”

Damian’s top tip is to claim your free Google Business Profile today and be sure you optimize your listing by verifying your location, adding those high-resolution images, and remembering to add your company description, address, telephone number, and amenities too.

Don’t forget to encourage those reviews!

Utilising incentives the right way

Damian Sheridan

“The three magic words: Make a fuss! Best price guarantee, no booking fees, more flexible policies, earlier check-in, later check-out, free upgrades.’

If you’re only using a simple ‘Book Now’ or ‘Book Direct’ button, then you’re not doing enough!

You want to be succinctly highlighting the actual benefits of booking direct to your website visitors, and you do this by “making a fuss.”

Customer service shouldn’t go amiss either! Let your guests know you offer the very best and follow this up with a clear call to action button.

The importance of trust in direct bookings

Proving your credibility and trustworthiness to your target market will help convert potential guests into direct bookers.

Why should a traveller trust you over instantly recognizable global brands?

Here are 5 tips from Damian that you can utilize to help bridge the trust gap between you and major OTA’s – such as booking.com and Airbnb – to give you a better chance of generating that organic booking:

  1. Publish a trust page dedicated to why your guest can trust you (after all, they’re the ones who are parting with their hard-earned money)

  2. Be less anonymous! Show team photos

  3. Show your accreditations. It’s ok to be proud!

  4. Try new ways of showing off your guest reviews: video reviews and testimonials

  5. Ensure you’re using a trust and safety solution like Superhog so you know exactly who your guests are

Trust is an extremely important factor to consider when transacting in the short-term rental industry.

It works both ways!

“One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that direct bookings are riskier than OTA bookings. This is simply not true!” says Kathryn Ryan, Head of Partnerships at Superhog.

You need a risk management strategy in place. Superhog can provide peace of mind in knowing your guest is who they say they are. The added benefits are that you have protection in place, and if something still goes wrong, you have our resolutions team on hand to help.

Quicker, easier, and dedicated to trust and safety.

You want your guests to trust that your direct booking website is trustworthy and that you’re running a legitimate establishment, but you also want to know that you can trust your guests.

With Superhog, you can do exactly that.

Speak to us today!

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