Tina Villis

HOW TO #BOOKDIRECT AND AVOID THE FEES

The word is out about Online Travel Agencies – Airbnb, HomeAway, Stayz, Trip Advisor to name but a few OTAs – all charge fees to the consumer. These fees can be significant, anything from 3% to as much as 20%, often equating to hundreds of dollars on top of the nightly rate. So how can travellers and holiday makers bypass the fees and book directly with the owner or property manager?

So here are 5 ways to avoid paying fees when you book your next holiday:

  1. SEARCH GOOGLE LOCAL

    Scroll past the paid listings (they say Ad in small letters) and go to the local listings under the map. Click on the search map and up will pop a range of listings for you to choose from based on location. This can be an excellent way to discover local accommodation.

  2. TRY GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH

    If you find the perfect property on one of the OTA sites, try copying the image into Google Image Search; this may reveal the original source of the property.

  3. USE TOURIST AND VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRES

    These centres provide a portfolio of short term and holiday listings, are funded by the local councils therefore the guests can be assured that rental companies and owners are legitimate, licensed and reputable.

  4. SEARCH DESCRIPTION CLUES

    Look for clues in the description on the big sites, check the photo captions and the reviews for any information that can lead you to the direct booking source.

  5. LASTLY – SEARCH ON FACEBOOK

    Most owners and rental managers have Facebook pages. You will then be able to communicate directly with the owner or manager, saving you both time and money. They also have intimate knowledge of their properties and the local area – use this direct connection to your advantage!

 

The final twist in the #bookdirect saga. Most of the finest homes are not even listed on the big websites. I encourage every holiday maker or traveller to find ways to book direct. Aside from saving money, you will have an all-round better experience. More and more of the big sites are preventing contact with the guest prior to making a booking. This lack of ability to communicate directly can be a precursor to a bad experience for both the guest and the owner or property manager.

#bookdirect #bypassbookingfees #australianluxurystays

Tina Villis

#BOOKDIRECT – What’s this all about?

The #BookDirect campaign started Tuesday February 7 2018
– so  what is this all about?

The #bookdirect Movement aims to show travellers booking online that hefty booking fees are avoidable if they book through the owner or property manager’s website. February 7 was Guest Education Day, with the objective to let guests know that it pays to book smart, book local and book direct. There are many advantages to bypassing third party channels like Airbnb, Stayz, Expedia, Booking.com, HomeAway, Trip Advisor and Flipkey. These Online Travel Agencies (or OTAs) are almost entirely removed from the hosting experience. They do not own or manage any properties; they won’t meet you at the property when a possum is running amok in your suitcase. Their business model is limited to connecting travellers with hosts. My aim for this post is to continue spreading the word to the general public; I am concerned that the majority of travellers may be unaware of the fact that when they book through these sites they are paying a higher rate for a lessened accommodation experience!

SO WHY BOOK DIRECT?

  • You save by booking direct – OTAs add hundreds of dollars to your booking total; often as a percentage so the longer the booking, the greater the fee.
  • When you book direct you have direct contact with the manager or owner. Managers and owners have intimate knowledge of the property and destination – you can find out more about the property and location; if you have special needs (say family or a pet), your host can work with you directly before you commit to booking.
  • The best price isn’t on the OTAs, and OTAs can’t negotiate.
  • Many of the best holiday rentals are not listed on the major sites.
  • During non-peak periods managers and owners can offer special deals for you to consider.

Much of the push for #bookdirect has come for VRM Intel in the US, where the trend to remove interaction between owners and guests has already taken hold; OTAs and third party booking sites have made recent changes to their business models that have been detrimental to both guests and accommodation providers (including managers, owners and hosts). Guests who insist on having a more direct relationship with their accommodation providers are reinforcing an important baseline for the industry – one built on open communication between hosts and guests.

#bookdirect #bookdirectmovement #australianluxurystays #propertymanagers #homeowners #airbnbhosts #savehundredsofdollars #saveonaccommodationbookings #avoidbookingfees

Tina Villis

6 SUGGESTIONS TO INCLUDE IN A HOLIDAY RENTAL WELCOME PACK

Following on from last week’s post and my comments relating to lack of information available to us, when we stayed at a holiday house managed by a real estate company recently. So I decided to list some essential content to include for guests prior to or on arrival.

One thing to bear in mind is to include every point that a guest would require who is brand new to the area and the property. Leaving comprehensive instructions is the best way to avoid panicked phone calls from guests. Sending an electronic copy of the Welcome booklet prior to arrival is a good idea. A Welcome booklet is an attractively presented, well-structured and friendly manual that makes your make guests stay as comfortable as possible.

Here are the 6 top sections to include:

1. WELCOME INFORMATION
Commence with a few words welcoming the guests to the property, a phone number so that you (owner/manager) can be contacted easily, the property address and some numbers for emergency services which can be accessed in a hurry.

2. ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE INFORMATION
Details such as arrival and departure times, meet and greet procedures, access to keys or a key safe, car and street parking, security alarms, intercom procedures etc., will all assist in a smooth transition for both arrivals and departures.

3. ABOUT THE ACCOMMODATION
This section is the perfect place to include instructions for using amenities like Wi-Fi, television, sound system, barbeque, swimming pool, spa, appliances, etc. as well as setting out House Rules clearly. House Rules stipulate instructions on what is expected of the guests during their stay, including noise levels, party restrictions, non-smoking, security, laundry and linen guidelines, rubbish disposal and collection, reporting breakages, pet rules, water and septic systems if applicable, and any bi-laws or community etiquette.

4. PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Details of where to find ATMs, pharmacies, medical and hospital services, super- markets, shopping centres, car rentals. A section needs to be dedicated to the attractions and activities the location has to offer plus a list of local cafés and restaurants, bars, hotels with phone numbers and website links to help guests find them easier and make reservations if needed.

5. INVENTORY
Let your guests know what is provided – anything from a ‘starter pack’, linen supplies, a hair dryer, laundry detergent, dish washer tablets, tea, coffee, paper products, salt & pepper, etc. plus any perishable items they are free to use such as herbs & spices.

6. EMERGENCIES
Instructions in case of emergencies can prevent guests panicking – include what to do in the advent of a fire, location of fire extinguisher, fire blanket, first aid kit and evacuation plan. In case of a power failure the location of the meter and fuse box can be useful, and instructions for specific seasonal weather conditions, for example a pending cyclone, can allay fears.
This is a minimum list of contents – use this information to provide to all your guests making their stay as hassle-free as possible. This will save you many headaches including your precious time, in trying to rectify any issues. With comprehensive instructions these situations may not havae occurred.

#australianluxurystays #welcomebooklet #shorttermrentalaccommodation #holidayaccommodation #southaustralia #fleurieupeninsula #welcomebookcontents #luxuryaccommodation #bookdirect

admin

#BOOKDIRECT

We here at Australian Luxury Stays value the exposure provided by our third-party Online Travel Agency partners, but the seasoned traveller will know the benefit of coming directly to book!

Aside from saving potentially hundreds of dollars, direct booking allows the guest to interact with the team actually familiar with the property and locale – we’re charming people with a vested interest in providing our guests with the best possible experience!

#bookdirect !

#bookdirect

Tina Villis

HOLIDAY RENTALS MANAGED BY REAL ESTATE COMPANIES

MY RECENT EXPERIENCE

I stayed over Christmas and New Year at a property down on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia with my family – luxury accommodation with fabulous sea views. The property was advertised as Holiday Accommodation and managed by a Real Estate company. As the owner of a portfolio of short term and holiday accommodation for over 15 years I believe I have the background to make comment.

This is what I found:

  • There was no BBQ – a must for a holiday at the beach.
  • The house was not clean – on the surface it looked fine but moving some furniture to accommodate guests on Christmas Day revealed some gremlins! Cutlery & glasses needed to be washed prior to use.
  • No hair dryer.
  • Wi-Fi was available but could not be used as the password had obviously been changed.
  • Instructions for the property were hand written on three small white cards.

Some helpful hints for real estate companies managing holiday/short term accommodation – how to remedy a similar situation in the future:

  1. Providing a BBQ is essential – entertaining guests around a BBQ is part of Australian
  2. A hair dryer is a must (you do get one supplied staying in a hotel).
  3. Functioning Wi-fi is mandatory. Guests check access to Wi-Fi before they check to see if there is running water!
  4. Cleanliness is one of the biggest pain points and is one of principal reasons that lead to guest complaints. Lack of cleanliness can ruin a guest’s stay before it begins and for managers it can ruin their business reputation. Working closely with your cleaners to ensure the highest standards goes hand in hand with pleasing your guests and maintaining business credibility.
  5. Provide a Welcome Book of comprehensive instructions is essential, anticipating any problems or issues before they arise. It needs to be tailored to suit the individual property, including arrival and departure information, rubbish disposal, instructions for using amenities like Wi-Fi, television, sound system, BBQ, swimming pool etc., as well house as rules regarding things like smoking, guest behaviour, parties, breakages, parking, security, pets – to name but a few.

I am an advocate for the holiday/short term rental industry and therefore encourage all management companies and owner/operators to provide the ‘best’ for their guest’s stay… and roll out that bbq!