For many holiday rental owners and short term accommodation managers their main source of booking generation is through listing sites and online travel agencies. The short term accommodation industry is becoming more lucrative than ever and competition is aggressive.
In light of the recent changes in booking sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway, many owners are looking to provide direct bookings via their own websites. There has been a shift in the way guests search by finding properties on the booking sites, and then searching on Google for the same accommodation at a better price.
SO HOW DO WE AS OWNERS AND SHORT TERM RENTAL ACCOMMODATION MANAGERS CONVERT GUEST SEARCHES INTO BOOKINGS?
- MENTION YOUR BRAND ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE
You need a strong brand that is identifiable and easy to find – include it in your listing copy, watermark your photos with your brand, making it obvious to your audience who you really are.
- OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE
Although guests are leaving booking through listing sites in favour of #bookingdirect they still expect their experience to be of a high-quality standard. When guests land on your website you will need to make sure it is perfectly optimised for booking conversion; this means a seamless experience, quick loading time, mobile-friendly, professional photography and most importantly a booking system that allows online payments.
- GATHER GUEST INFORMATION
Capture guest contact information from guests who have booked via third party booking sites – you can attract repeat guests before the first booking is even over. This will allow remarketing to them via email campaigns and social media marketing.
- OFFER GREAT BENEFITS TO BOOK DIRECT
Offer price match guarantees, discounts for booking direct, freebies on arrival, for example, bottle of wine, breakfast or picnic hamper, restaurant voucher, an early check-in or late check-out. This makes direct bookings much more worth it!
- CREATE MEMORABLE GUEST EXPERIENCES
Guest who have a seamless experience when they visit your website are much more likely to convert. So, answer enquiries quickly and in a professional and friendly manner. Respond by email and if you really want to impress them and increase the conversion rate pick up the phone and speak to them directly.
Build a lasting relationship by personalising the guests holiday experience. This will encourage them to come back and book directly for their next booking or recommend your accommodation to their friends.
- STAY IN TOUCH AFTER DEPARTURE
Promote special deals to gain repeat bookings by email campaigns. Another suggestion is to stay in touch via other means such as Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram and Facebook building closer relationship.
- KEEP YOUR BRAND CONSISTENT
Ensure your brand is consistent across all sites, including third party booking sites, on your own website and on social media. This will help establish your brand, create trust and credibility. Just remember that guests will go to a competitor if you have a poor listing especially on the major listing sites.
- ASK GUESTS TO BOOK DIRECT
Savvy guests are constantly comparing the market to find the most suitable and affordable offer. Every time you speak, email a guest or make contact on social media, mention your website and let them know that they can book direct to avoid fees. As the saying goes “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”
BY FOLLOWING THESE 8 STEPS WILL GIVE YOU THE BEST CHANCE TO CONVERT GUEST SEARCHES INTO DIRECT BOOKINGS.