Tina Villis

IS AIRBNB ALL IT IS CRACKED UP TO BE?

Christmas in July

For those of us in Southern Australia, July is generally the coldest month of winter, leading us to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’. These festivities emulate the atmosphere of the northern hemisphere winter. So that means hearty food like roasts, and warm drinks in front of fireplace. In that spirit we’d like to explore a ‘hot topic’, something that everyone is talking about world-wide, worth as much as $42billion, is captured in one word: AIRBNB.

Diamond Christmas Crackers
Airbnb; all it’s cracked up to be?

As many of you may have booked and stayed in a property advertised through Aribnb as a guest, or are thinking of using Airbnb to rent your property and become a host, I thought it was timely to discuss some of the opportunities and obstacles, as we ponder the question – is Airbnb all it is cracked up to be?

The word Airbnb is on everyone’s lips. Similar to Uber, Airbnb is part of the sharing economy, with the brand operating as a framework for those who actually possess the product. Airbnb simply facilitates contact between hosts and guests, although even this is changing. The undeniable truth however is how from the company’s humble beginnings it has continued to rampage across the holiday rental market, forcing the old hands to reconsider their operational models. It has spread so quickly that “Airbnb” has become a verb; people are saying “let’s Airbnb it!” When I talk to people about Australian Luxury Stays and explain that we provide short term holiday rental accommodation, they respond by saying “oh, you are Airbnb?”

Airbnb is still growing at a jaw-dropping rate at 100% year on year growth in Australia, leaving other major Online Travel Agencies like HomeAway well behind.

So what caveats should a potential AIRBNB HOST be considering?

  • The biggest issue is the limited ability to screen guests or in some cases, to even talk to them before they book. Yes, you can check guest reviews if there are any, or resort to searching social media for their footprint, but this is an unsatisfactory checking mechanism.
  • The massive growth of Airbnb equates to a saturated holiday rental market, which means that competition is rampant and occupancy rates lower.
  • Letting strangers into your home might not mesh with everyone; even if it sounds good on paper, the reality of the experience can be confronting.
  • Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst; a simple search reveals an abundance of Airbnb horror stories, however, these extremes aside, hosts must prepare for the inevitable over-crowding, cleanliness issues, unadvised parties and noise complaints from neighbours.
  • If you are reliant on an OTA such as Airbnb for your visibility, you are tied to their fate; you will want to keep an eye on relevant legislation and remain prepared for the wind to change.

 In turn what should an AIRBNB GUEST be considering?

  • There is always a danger online that what you see you might not get on arrival. A mild example might be a photo of a barbecue pictured in the listing not being present in reality. It doesn’t hurt to confirm with host.
  • Learn about your host before booking, and engage with them once you have. Courteous, effective communication should be your host’s first step to welcoming you for your stay.
  • Refund policies vary from listing to listing; for cancelling at short notice, you may be out of pocket even with extenuating circumstances.
  • There may be issues with an inexperienced host who has not considered safety precautions, for example, potential trips and slips, or the property lacking a fire extinguisher or fire blanket… or enough toilet paper for a full house.

The big thing to remember for both hosts and guests are the commissions charged by OTAs – as much as
5% to the host and 13% to the guest. 

The long term goal is the growth and encouragement of the #bookdirect movement, but of course not everyone has the facility and must rely on third-party listing sites. This will save you money whether a host or guest. As a host, your own website may be seriously worth considering. Guests of course are encouraged to do the research! Booking direct can make for significant savings, but also potentially a better accommodation experience as you interact with your prospective host.

At Australian Luxury Stays screening guests is one of our most important tasks; we encourage phone communication so there is the smoothest possible experience for both the guest and the owner, but we like to ensure that our guests are as comfortable as possible as well!

Meanwhile, the Airbnb band wagon is certainly trundling along despite the pitfalls. With over 100 million stays in 2017, it may be worth further investigating to decide if Airbnb is really all it is cracked up to be – for you.

If you are a property owner considering an Airbnb listing for potential income, we are happy to discuss this opportunity with you. Contact Australian Luxury Stays today!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas in July.

Warm Regards

AUSTRALIAN LUXURY STAYS TEAM

Tina Villis

WHY PET OWNERS MAKE GOOD TENANTS

I am still amazed at the number of property owners who do not allow pets in their rentals and it is a challenge for property managers to convince them otherwise.

No Pets!
No Pets, Smoking, or Rolling Skating Allowed

It is interesting that many landlords and managing agents have a blanket rule, a ‘no pets policy’. Being a pet friendly landlord reveals many more prospective tenants and the benefits can significantly outweigh the negatives. Property owners, please listen to the pet owners’ plight!

Given that the demand for pet friendly rentals has outstripped supply, should landlords be enticed to rethinking the ‘no pets’ policy? Most landlords fear expensive property damage by cats and dogs such as scratches on polished floors, but so can stiletto heels or footy boots. A well-managed pet rental can consistently have positive economic outcomes.

Allowing tenants to keep pets can be a positive experience for everyone involved.

  • Renters with pets sign longer leases and are less likely to move as it is may be disruptive to the animal. This means landlords can reduce advertising and vacancy costs.
  • It is uncommon for pets to damage a property and the cost of pet damage is reportedly less than tenants with children.
  • Research suggests that responsible pet owners can make excellent tenants, abiding by house rules and enjoying better mental and physical well-being.
  • Would-be tenants with pets are often willing to pay a higher weekly rent for the privilege of a having their pet come and live with them.
  • For similar reasons, pet-friendly properties tend to rent more readily, and pet-owning tenants move in as soon as they find a suitable property.

In researching the topic on ‘pet friendly’ I was surprised to see that there are websites in the holiday accommodation space such as Holiday Paws which are specifically designed for pet friendly holiday makers. This is indeed a contrast to the market for pet friendly long term rentals… and obviously a market segment only available to pet friendly properties!

Did you know that there are now pet-friendly businesses creeping into the market in Australia? Boarding kennels have always been a given, we now have pet resorts and even a pet hotel offering climate-controlled suites, day care, grooming and training for dogs and cats. There are dog and cat cafes popping up in cities around Australia with menus for dogs and cats. I had an experience with a ‘cat café’ in Adelaide, the MeowMe Cat Café about twelve months ago

A Taste of MeowMe Café

when I adopted a 6 week old kitten named Gracie.  I walked into the café around 7pm, had a coffee and ate an unusual green layered dessert. Once you have had a refreshment you are then allowed to join the ‘kitten party’ behind an enclosed glass enclosure – only 7 kitten searching bodies are allowed through the door at one time. Not sure how you choose one tiny fluffy bundle over another, however you need to fall in love with one and put your name on it! Adopters need to fill in an application form, you are then vetted as the perfect owner or not before being given the friendly acceptance call several days later.

The point of this story is that one day I myself may be looking for a rental property and I hope by then that property owners have come to the realisation that owners with pets make excellent tenants. I am an excellent tenant! It would be shame to be excluded from consideration, and the thought of having to give away a precious family pet is most distressing. I would be interested in communicating with anyone who has had to give up a pet to secure a lease as a tenant; leave a comment below or feel free to get in touch.

Tina Villis

PET-FRIENDLY – TO BE OR NOT TO BE

to bunny or not to bunny
That is the question!

Over the last few months I have had enquiries from potential guests and tenants looking for pet friendly accommodation. I recently had a call requesting pet friendly short-term accommodation while waiting for a property settlement and at the time I had nothing to offer.  We have only three explicitly pet-friendly properties in our portfolio, and even they were not in the right location. Holidaying With Dogs to the rescue!

 

In another instance a prospective tenant enquired about a seaside property we have listed looking for a 6 month leaseMilk, or honey?, however she has a tea cup poodle; I phoned the owners who live interstate and asked if they would agree to accept this tiny pet; unfortunately, they refused. The prospective tenant was willing to provide a pet reference and provide evidence that in the past there has been no problems with having their dog in residence. As a consequence the owner lost a 6 month lease at $1000 per week and more rent was offered per week to allow for a pet. Instances like these has lead me to investigate pet friendly accommodation in Australia more thoroughly.

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, proving that we are a nation of pet lovers.

An article I found on the Holidaying with Dogs website estimates 39% of households own a dog. This equates to 3 million dogs living in homes across the country. The transport industry has recognised the need for pet friendly travel in some locations, allowing dogs to travel on trains, trams and buses.

The pet-friendly short term accommodation market is growing,
however in the residential tenancy market there is significant lack of property being offered as pet friendly.

It is estimated by the Australian Companion Animal Council that of the national rental property listings in Australia only 4% were pet friendly, providing a massive difference between supply and demand.

Local figures from realestate.com.au for the Adelaide metropolitan area appear to agree with this percentage – there appears to be an overlooked opportunity for many landlords to decrease vacancy rates and increase revenue by allowing a pet. It is unfortunate that the majority of landlords and agents have a ‘no pet policy’. Pet friendly properties are in high demand across Adelaide and tenants are struggling to find properties that accept pets.

 

Gracie
Manager of Fuzz Therapy

I am a pet owner myself and thought of giving up my two cats as the only option to be considered as a tenant would cause a great deal of heart-ache.

So I submit the plea to all landlords: that they consider a pet friendly option for their properties and I offer a personal conversation with anyone considering the pros and cons of allowing pets in their investment property.  Let’s work together to address this housing shortage and the untapped pet-friendly accommodation market!

Tina Villis

HOW TO HIRE THE BEST PROPERTY MANAGER

Property managers is not the easiest role in the world; how often do we hear, ‘the property manager did not communicate with me, tenant selection was poor, my property was just a number and the managers kept changing’?

Keep in sync with your management!The waters of property management can be treacherous; you’ll want a sound navigator.

I agree that there are property managers out there who fit this scenario, however there are professional managers who have years of experience and are passionate about what they do. They have exceptional customer service, have outstanding communication, negotiation and organisational skills. The best property managers know how to apply a broad skill set to the unique situations they encounter including the ability to manage the more tangible related concerns such as maintenance and repairs. This skill set is acquired with years of experience, the support of mentors and the personality trait of being a “people person” and having an eye for detail.

This skill set is a prerequisite for any property management role for the following properties:

  • Long term unfurnished
  • Long term furnished
  • Short term furnished rentals

The easiest mistake to make is to  choose a management company purely based on price alone.

It is an important factor, however the old adage “you get what you pay for” is never a truer word. You may end up with a bad experience in hiring an unprofessional property manner who can’t perform their duties and you could end up losing money.

So, what should you go on when you hire a property manager?

  1. Look deeper than price
    This bears repeating! You may think that all property managers or management companies are essentially the same, so the lowest commission must be the best. When it comes to the care and management of your property, it behoves you to base your decision on factors outside the scope of a simple percentage. A typical management fee for rental properties is between 8 – 12% of the weekly rent and it is at the higher end for the management of fully furnished properties. Be sure to check what the percentage is based on.
  2. Ask for references
    Be sure to ask for references from other property owners, ideally owning properties similar in size and scope to your own. If the property manager cannot provide suitable referees, this in itself is a warning sign that they may be inexperienced or may not have any positive reviews.
  3. Is the property manager qualified?
    Requiring a qualification to be a property manager has not been enforced until recently. In the majority of states in Australia there has been legislation passed to have all property managers qualified. A trained and qualified property manager gives you confidence that they will provide a professional level of service and have a good understanding of legislation relating to the role of landlords and tenants.
  4. The need for strong communication
    You will be hearing from the property manager often enough so you need to feel comfortable that you will be able to get along with them on a personal level and you like their style of communication. It is important to recognise that you will be working through large and small issues with the manager. You need to feel that you are on the same page from the start and have confidence that they will choose the right tenant for your property. Ask how they would communicate, by what method and how often. Suss out whether they are interested in building a trusting relationship with you and do they ask questions to get to know your ‘needs & wants’. They must understand your persona.
  5. Managers need to be exceptionally organised
    Property management requires a high level of organisation relating to all aspects: routine inspections, maintenance and repairs, open inspections, assessing tenant applications. It is a good idea to ask the property manager to describe a ‘day in the work place’ to you, ask specific questions around daily routine and any management software used to keep things on track.
  6. Understanding the basics of marketing
    Most property managers are skilled at property maintenance and related tasks but may lack the skill of basic marketing.  It is important to know how to write the content when listing a property both on and offline. Writing a great property description requires knowledge about the amenities of a property and the surrounding location and therefore identifying the type of tenant the property would attract. Ask for an example of how they gather the content about a property and their involvement in advertising the property.
  7. How many properties do they manage?
    The number of properties managed by a property manager, too few and too many can be problematic. Too few can be due to inexperience and or poor service, too many can mean that the property manager has too much to do leaving not enough time to manage your property effectively. Be mindful of extremes.
  8. Do they own any rental properties themselves?
    This in an interesting question to explore – if the property manager has owned a rental property they would possibly have more understanding as an investor. This knowledge is invaluable!

Property Managers deal directly with prospects and tenants, saving you time, money and worry over marketing your rental properties, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repairs, responding to tenant complaints and tenant breaches. They also must have exceptional customer service skills backed by effective property management systems. There needs to be a personality match between you and the property manager and you should feel this synergy between you in the first 5 minutes of meeting. It doesn’t need to be a difficult process, and ideally these tips will help guide you in finding the correct property manager for you.

Tina Villis

PROPERTY OWNER POP QUIZ – WHAT MAKES YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH A PROPERTY MANAGER?

Photo credit: Stephen Bowler

 

Working with a Property Manager is not something all owners will consider. Many are happy to deal with all the aspects of property management themselves, from responding to enquiries from guests or tenants, organising change-overs, meet and greets, inspections, even to doing the cleaning and laundry on departure.

For others, particularly new investors and those who value their non-working time, it makes huge economic sense to engage a professional property management company to carry out all the administrative and marketing responsibilities.

Deciding whether to hire a Property Manager is a ‘given’ if the answers to the following points are YES;

  • You don’t live near your rental property, as it is in a different city, another state or even overseas

  • You own many rental properties

  • You are not familiar with the aspects of managing rental properties or you just don’t like undertaking the role

  • You need professional advice regarding legislative requirements and the market value of nightly and weekly rates in the location

  • You have a full-time job and simply do not have the time

Engaging the services of a Property Manager can really save you time and stress when it comes to taking care of your property, liaising with guests or tenants, managing income and expenditure, maintenance and repairs – the list is always growing.

Australian Luxury Stays had a scenario recently where a property owner, who had retired from a long-term government job. His expertise are still highly sought after and a result of ongoing contract work offerings, he is even busier than before. Part of his retirement hobby was to manage his recently renovated Art Deco 1930s villa. A great idea, in hindsight however he is too time poor! So he searched on Google to find a professional “high end property management company” and found Australian Luxury Stays.

Most property owners prefer the services of a Property Management company as they will earn a good income hassle free, and they don’t want their investment to give them a job.

That being said, some owners like to be more hands-on and do want to manage their own properties, however they need to be able to factor in a dollar for the work they do per week otherwise it is not a realistic investment at all.

In my next post I will give you some tips for hiring the best Property Managers – don’t go on price alone! It is often the first question a property owner will ask, what is your management fee and how much rent can I expect per week. Do these words sound familiar to you?

Tina Villis

Why Fully Furnished?

Why are Property Owners renting their properties Fully Furnished?

 

For many property owners, renting furnished properties just makes good sense and provides flexible options. The property is ready to go for short term accommodation, that is from 3 nights, 3 weeks to 3 months, or can be offered for longer term leases say for 6 -12 months. An additional plus is that the property can be offered for sale, as it is already ‘dressed’ for sale.

These days furnished properties offer much more than a studio in a loft, in fact furnished properties can be amongst the most luxurious rentals available and can significantly increase return on investment.

Fully furnished apartments or homes are move-in ready which makes them the perfect solution for:

  • ex-patriats working overseas on contracts
  • the executive relocation market
  • holiday makers
  • homeowners needing to vacate a property for building repairs covered by insurance
  • buyers needing accommodation between settlement of properties

One of the main reasons for renting a property fully furnished is the financial gain; upfront costs may be higher however this is balanced by achieving higher rental rates. The financial benefits continue at tax time as furnishings depreciate over time and this depreciation can often be written off quickly. This allows for immediately reaping the benefits of the investment which can continue over the life of the apartment with redecorating and upgrades.

The other Pros for renting a property fully furnished include:

  • a ready-made flow of potential clients
  • the property can be upgraded or updated at any time
  • attracting high-quality tenants who want to avoid long stays in a hotel room
  • less damage to doors, walls and carpets from moving heavy furniture in and out of the property

Having considered all the pros, there are inevitability a few cons to renting a fully furnished property as there will still be maintenance to attend to and the additional cost of utilities, Wi-Fi, insurance and cleaning. However, management companies like australianluxurystays.com.au can make the entire process easier for you. We have a simple step-by-step process that can get you started and help prepare properties with proper staging. With our help you can be ready to move into the market faster than you imagined.

 

For the tenant, renting a fully furnished property is the smoother way to make a move – with no furniture to move, potentially all you need are your clothes in a suitcase, grab your laptop,  into the car and you’re on your way.

Tina Villis

WEIGHING UP THE PROS AND CONS OF SHORT TERM/HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION – THE CONS

Just a re-cap, a SHORT TERM / HOLIDAY RENTAL refers to renting a furnished property on a short term basis, considered to be for a period of less than 3 months. In the previous post I explained The Pros in detail. Now it is time to turn to The Cons.

.

THE CONS

  1. MORE MAINTENANCE AND UPGRADES
    When your business is managing short term/holiday rentals you will need to maintain the upkeep of the property to a high standard or you could receive negative guest reviews. Not only does this include things such as regular cleaning, maintenance such as running taps, blocked drains and paint fixes, it also takes into account changing technologies, such as Smart televisions, Foxtel, Netflix, Wi-Fi access and the like. Rental amenities will need to be updated every so often to include all the essentials and more for a pleasant stay – this can come with a hefty price tag.

    You may need to refurbish every few years or so as the guests who seek this type of accommodation from the higher socioeconomic bracket expect the highest quality fit-outs and all mod cons.  They are also prepared to pay at the higher end.

  2. INCOME NOT GUARANTEED
    This option may not suit you if you need a consistent rental income. Short term accommodation can mean an increase in vacancy periods, particularly where occupancy is seasonal.  This can be overcome if your accommodation agency has a good relationship with relocation companies, government agencies or global corporations needing furnished properties for their clients or employees all year round.

    While peak seasons are fully booked, off-peak bookings are scarce which will cause a drop in income. While rates can be adjusted to compensate for seasonality – raised for periods of higher demand and lowered for quiet periods – regular bookings and income are not always guaranteed.

  3. COMPETITION FROM SURROUNDING PROPERTIES
    Unlike the residential housing market where properties are swamped with interest from prospective tenants, the holiday rental or short term market sees many more homes listed than travellers/guests searching. Depending on location and availability there may be fierce competition between properties in the area.

  4. FINANCIAL OUTLAY
    If property management is outsourced, management fees will be higher to account for the additional hours associated with resolving more frequent bookings, scheduling housekeeping services, servicing and maintenance of equipment, management of supplies and so forth.

    There will be establishment costs depending on the owner’s requirements, including a full inventory, professional photography, refurbishing and redecorating advice and assistance.

  5. TOO MANY THINGS TO MANAGE

For some owners, short term/holiday rentals are a retirement-hobby vocation, for others it is a full time role. There are plenty of tasks to occupy time involved in every guest stay, from ensuring accurate calendar availability, facilitating a seamless booking process including ‘meet and greets’ and departures, not to mention arranging cleaners, gardeners and the rest – short term holiday rental accommodation can be hard work if you don’t have the right tools to do the job.

 

Finally, it is important to say that owners need to be aware of both the Pros and Cons to choose the option that best suits them.

Tina Villis

WEIGHING UP THE PROS AND CONS OF SHORT TERM HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION – THE PROS

In my previous post, I explained the difference between short term holiday rentals and long term rentals. Just a re-cap, a SHORT TERM / HOLIDAY RENTAL refers to renting a furnished property on a short term basis, considered as a period of less than 3 months.

THE PROS

  1. MORE FLEXIBILTY
    For owners who rent their properties short term there is a lot more flexibility as you can specifically block off calendar dates that you want to keep free for your family and friends without inconveniencing anyone. This option works if you own a holiday home and is also great for investors who live interstate or overseas and use their property for recreation or for business.
  2. LESS WEAR AND TEAR
    In general, short term rentals range in length from a few nights to a few weeks maximum so your property is always maintained in pristine condition.  As guests are staying for short periods, there is less chance they will be thinking about redecorating or re-arranging furniture. With regular housekeeping services, your property is monitored frequently, and any maintenance issues can be attended to immediately.
     
  3. HIGHER RENTAL RETURN
    There is superior rental return for the right property in the right location with a property management company specialising in accommodation. Fluctuating rates can be set over high and low seasons with set minimum stays. Peak periods ensure that you will receive maximum profits. In addition, seaside holiday homes can be subsidised with holiday rental income if the investor is seeking both a lifestyle and an investment.
  4. TAX BREAKS AND DEDUCTIONS
    Many short term/holiday rental owners are entitled to certain tax breaks or even deductible expenses because the property is not being leased long term. There are tax advantages associated with depreciation on furniture packages, for example, however be sure to check with your accountant regarding the rules and regulations on this option.
  5. ADDITIONAL INCOME, SAVINGS AND CAPITAL VALUE BENEFITS
    If you are away for a length of time such as on an overseas trip, you can receive extra income by offering your home as a short-term rental and having your property managed and maintained will provide you with peace of mind.
    Refurbishment of your property can also mean that the presentation is contemporary and inviting, with the additional bonus of increasing the property’s capital value.
    If moving overseas for a period of time, renting your property furnished will save on storage costs.
    If you have purchased a new property and are unable to sell your current home, the option of receiving income from a short term rental can be appealing, while you wait for the property to be sold.
  6. CONTRIBUTION TO THE SHARING
    This style of accommodation is becoming increasingly popular as it offers an alternative to a hotel or serviced apartments and it can be cost saving, accommodating more than one group of people.
    You will attract different clientele by aiming at the executive relocation market and overseas visitors.
    You will be contributing to the sharing economy which has an all-round benefit for the wider society by bolstering tourism and local cultural exchange as guests share in your community’s modern way of living and thinking. 

#australianluxurystays #shorttermrentalpros #prosandcons #shorttermholidayrentalpros #holidayrentals #vacationrentals #luxuryrentals #flexibilty #lesswearandtear #highrentalreturn #taxbreak #sharingeconomy

Tina Villis

LONG TERM Vs SHORT TERM RENTALS – PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE

With over 15 years in the short term and long term accommodation industry and as part of our approach to owners, we explain the difference between both options. This sometimes leads to confusion when they start to consider the best option for the property and their circumstances.

Let me explain the difference between the two options. The following definitions are related to fully-furnished and self-contained properties – an area where Australian Luxury Stays specialises.

A SHORT TERM RENTAL (often referred to as a holiday rental) is renting out a furnished property on a short term basis, considered for a period of less than 3 months. We refer to the occupiers of short term rentals as ‘guests’. These properties are rented by the night or by the week, however this depends on the owners’ circumstances at the time and the property location.

Owners may offer their property for short term rentals for the whole year if it is purely an investment, or for the majority of the year when they are not using it themselves.

Short term rentals have become a popular alternative to hotels particularly in recent years with the surge of the sharing economy websites such as Airbnb, Stayz and HomeAway. Guests like the privacy, a larger place to work and play, and the option to soak up the ambience of the locality.

 

A LONG TERM RENTAL, unlike short term rentals, typically refers to a lease for 6 – 12 months and the occupiers are referred to as a ‘tenant’.  The tenants sign a Residential Tenancy Agreement, pay a bond and take responsibility for all utilities, such as electricity, gas and Wi-Fi if required. Rent is normally paid on a fortnightly basis and the owner is paid at the end of each month.

When owners decide to invest in a property for rental purposes, they need to understand their options in deciding what to do with their new property.

There are many options for owners and managers to consider when opting for short term or long term rentals. Often this decision can be made quite easily when the property itself is contemplated, including the location and the outcome the owner wishes to achieve.

However, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to these two rental strategies. Hold tight for the next two posts while the pros and cons of both types of rental strategies are outlined in detail.

 

#australianluxurystays #propertymanagers #homeowners #propertyinvestors #shortterm #fivestar  #longterm #luxuryaccommodation #highendproperties #allrealty

Tina Villis

HOW TO CONVERT GUEST SEARCHES INTO DIRECT BOOKINGS

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.