Although the direct booking debate has been going on for many years now, none can deny that direct bookings deliver a series of advantages to both travelers and vacation rental businesses alike. From an owner’s viewpoint, using listing websites to promote a vacation rental business is a great way to reach more people and diversify the pool of guests.      Because developing the right strategy is critically important in order to build a sustainable future for your vacation rental business, we’ve gathered below a few myths and misconceptions you should be aware of.

Myth: The best way to get direct bookings is through your own website.

Fact:  There are different direct booking methods you could employ.  

Having your own website is a great way to increase brand awareness and credibility. But there are a few more things you can do in order to obtain more direct bookings. For instance, you can start promoting your vacation rental on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. As long as you comply with a few unwritten rules, you can easily obtain direct bookings through these 2 channels. What rules are we talking about? In a nutshell:

  • Identifying the social media platforms your target audience uses;
  • Carefully planning the best way of communication – according to industry data, personalized communication is extremely important to 86% of guests;
  • Using real photos and videos of your property and surrounding areas; 
  • Encouraging previous, current, and prospective guests to be active on your Facebook and/or Instagram page;
  • Opting for paid marketing services, like Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, to attract followers and extend your reach to potential guests;
  • Using specific tools, such as Facebook Pixel and Instagram Insights, to monitor your activity, performance, coverage, and engagement, so you can drive better results.

Another great strategy that could bring you more direct bookings is offering a discount for the bookings made through these specific channels. However, having a simple, straightforward booking process is equally important. Sometimes, this simply means adding a “Book Now” button, which takes people directly to your online reservation form. As well, opt for a payment service that allows people to choose among different methods of payment. And because increasing numbers of people are spending more and more time on their smartphones, a mobile friendly website is an absolute must in the “direct booking” war.

Myth: A website is all you need to get more direct bookings.

Fact: To get direct bookings, you need to optimize your website for both traffic and conversion.

Before trying to promote your vacation rentals on your own branded channel, it’s important to know how to make your website easy to find and effective at converting visitors into guests. Since bringing the right kind of traffic to your site can be more complicated than it seems, here are a few useful tips you should consider when developing your website:  

  • Building a well-designed website, with plenty of pictures and detailed, attractive descriptions is imperative in order to create a positive user experience; 
  • Adding a blog to your website will allow you to post content that attracts free organic traffic from search engines; 
  • Promoting your business on the right social media platforms can help you drive more qualified visitors to your site;
  • Opting for paid marketing channels will allow you to specifically target potential guests instead of waiting for them to find your website;
  • Using guest posting and holding contests on social media will help you drive brand awareness;
  • Planning for new functionality, such as event listings in the area and downloadable guides could help reengage past guests. 

Myth: Direct bookings are more profitable than third-party bookings.

Fact: Renting out a property more often for less money is usually more profitable than renting it out less often for more money. 

Having your own vacation rental website can boost your online presence, which may bring in more revenue for your business. However, potential guests are more likely to find your property on one of the vacation rental listing sites that get more exposure. Each day, these sites attract millions of people who seek different accommodation options for their vacation. Because listing sites are the perfect place where you can reach your target audience at the right time, they can maximize the number of bookings you can get like no other channel. Even though these sites charge a commission or fee, which can reduce your rental revenue per booking, using them to advertise your property will eventually translate into more money in your pocket.  The trick is to take those bookings and turn them into future direct bookings.  

When it comes to making the most of your short-term vacation rental marketing strategy,  diversification is key. The more channels you advertise on, the more bookings and revenue you’ll get. What’s more, you can now use multiple booking channels without worrying about double bookings. How’s that possible? With JANIIS lodging management software, which includes an easy-to-use channel manager, you can control all of your reservations, regardless of which channel they are made through.