CEO of Lodgify, a vacation rental software that allows rental owners and managers to easily build and grow their own online booking channel.
One of the things vacation homeowners love about the rental industry is the control it gives them over their investments. Their success depends significantly on the time, money and effort they choose to put into the investment. The more self-sufficient owners are, the easier it is to take control of their business and generate bookings. Many owners are starting to shift their focus to direct booking technology to help them connect with travelers, enhance their marketing efforts, and generate more bookings.
When it comes to direct booking technology, not just any basic website will do. Not only does a vacation rental website have to speak to its potential guests with a stunning template and optimized content, but it’s crucial for it to be bookable.
There’s an increased demand for a more direct and personalized path to booking a vacation rental, and that’s where owner websites and direct booking channels come into play.
What Is Direct Booking Technology?
The main source of direct booking technology is a well-thought-out bookable website. This independent website gives travelers everything they need to book directly through the owner and is the first point of communication they have with vacation rental owners. It allows for a more personal booking experience for guests and a more profitable one for owners.
The Benefits Of Direct Booking Technology
When guests are in vacation planning mode, they’re looking for convenience, clarity, and confidence. They want as much information about their vacation rental upfront as possible and want to feel like their vacation matters to the owner.
A direct booking website helps owners create this experience for the guests but also benefits the owner in many ways:
Increase In Bookings
Direct booking technology can help increase lead generation and bookings. Cutting out the “middleman” reduces fees and personalizes the booking experience. If the website is easy to use, the owners communicate clearly and effectively, and the guests feel confident using the website, they’ll be more likely to book.
Upon checkout, they can leave their guests a business card directing them to their bookable website, or send them an automated email thanking them for choosing their vacation rental — and could also offer a personalized discount for their next stay. Repeat guests will most likely want to book directly, especially if they can get a better offer on their branded website.
Diversify Revenue Channels
According to Phocuswright, online bookings have increased from 53% to 77% in the last few years. More and more travelers choose to book on branded websites instead of (online travel agencies) OTAs. What’s more, direct bookings are estimated to grow to a 50% share by 2022.
Many owners and property managers use vacation rental listing sites or OTAs to promote their vacation rental businesses. However, they complement that activity with a bookable website to reduce revenue dependence and get more exposure.
Potential guests are always looking for the best deal. They want to create memories with their families and want to do it in the most cost-effective way possible. Guests will choose direct booking websites if they can get a better price, as well as avoid service fees and other charges that are standard on most listing fees. This means fewer commissions and more money in the pocket of the owner.
Build A Brand
Although owners can name-drop their brand on OTA portals, they won’t always have as much control over it as with their own personalized vacation rental website. Many consumers opt to “window shop” around on OTAs then research property brands on their own. With a branded website, owners and property managers can set themselves apart from the competition and establish brand consistency.
Control Over Marketing
Third-party channels can restrict the number of pictures homeowners can display or the length of the property’s description or amenities. While with a direct booking website, owners have the freedom and space to focus on every aspect of their vacation rental. This allows interested guests to get an in-depth look at the property and learn more than they would on a traditional listing site.
Homeowners can have more control over the booking experience when they use direct booking websites by creating their own rules, processes and expectations.
If they want to make an exception to a rule, they have that freedom. They have control over cancellation policies, the marketing strategies and the overall booking management. It all comes down to being able to connect with the potential guest on a more personal level and have a hand in the online booking experience.
Does Your Business Need Direct Booking Technology?
Before considering software with direct booking technology, vacation rental professionals should also consider its flaws. Here are a few things you should consider before subscribing to a platform:
• Time: Software helps reduce time spent on admin and manual tasks, but in order to get everything set up, you will have to spend hours learning all of the features and training your staff on how to use it.
• Initial Investment: Although the right booking technology will help you save money in the long-run, it is an additional cost of running your business.
• Integrations: A lot of website builders don’t come with important features, such as booking engines, channel managers and accounting software. Think about all the extra features you need so you don’t have to juggle different software solutions.
Giving guests the ability to book directly through the owner can be beneficial on both sides. However, think about the additional costs, the learning curve of using new software and all the internal processes you’ll have to change to keep up with new demand.