Use the big booking platforms to direct renters to your own site
8 October 2021 - 8 mins
8 October 2021 - 8 mins
You want to be able to talk to your guests and get to know them before they make a booking; at the very least you want them to have as much information about your property as possible, so it makes sense that they can find the direct booking site that you’ve worked hard on.
Once they’ve asked all the questions they need to, and you’ve passed on all the necessary information so that they are ready to make a booking, you can redirect them back to the OTA they found you on so as not to violate their terms. But up until that point, you want to make as much information accessible to your future guests as possible, so here’s how to help them find your site.
An obvious first step if you want people to find your direct booking site; make sure you have one.
This could be an all-singing, all-dancing website that you’ve had designed for you; it could be a Wix or Wordpress site that you’ve put together yourself; it could simply be a Facebook page or it could be a one-page property site from a company like Rentalsystems.
Whichever you choose, you need to have somewhere that a renter can find details about your property and get in touch with you.
There’ll be lots of villas called Javea Villa, so if this is what you call your holiday home, you’re making it harder for a renter to find your direct site. If they Google that, they’ll be overwhelmed with choices (and the first few pages of search results will be dominated by generic results on the big rental platforms anyway).
So go ahead and give your property a real name, if it doesn’t already have one. Call it something unique, like “Casa Buena Vida” or “The Harrison Family Hideaway” and you’ll be much easier to find. Anyone searching for that on Google is likely to be able to identify your property.
It’s worth including the location (example: “Casa Buena Vida Javea”) when you reference the property, as that helps the search engines narrow down the results and be more likely to find your site.
Some rental platforms allow you to enter a property name in a specific field (usually either “property name” or “title”) or a headline statement about your rental. In whatever case, you want to get your property name up there – so again, use the same name that your direct booking site uses and if necessary, add a location to make this specific.
Therefore on the booking platform your property should clearly be called “Casa Buena Vida Javea”.
Want to see a real-life example? Search for Heather Cottage Bakewell. You’ll easily be able to find this lovely property listed on a couple of the big booking platforms, but just as easily you should see Richard and Carolyn’s own direct booking website.
Don’t just rely on the one reference to the property name though! Include it more than once in the text if you can. How about “You’ll have a completely relaxing break at Casa Buena Vida Javea” or “You’ll find Casa Buena Vida Javea is fantastic for your family”.
And obvious as it may sound, do be sure to reference your property name within your own website too!
This is especially important when it comes to the lead photo – whichever is the most prominent photo on your own website should be the lead photo on all your booking platforms. That makes it easy for a renter to identify that it’s the same property they are looking at when they find your direct booking site.
It helps if all the other photos are the same too, just in terms of reassuring people that this is the same property.
Many people also use Google image search to find out more details about things online – so if you use the same photos, you might get traffic to your direct booking site this way too.
Don’t forget about your own profile picture. You might be camera-shy but it’s really worth having a good-quality, clear photo of you on the booking platforms (typically under “owner profile”, “host profile” or “owner story”). People will also cross-check this image with information they can find on your own website or on your social media profiles, in order to get in touch with you directly.
Okay, so this one doesn’t apply to everyone. Specifically, we mean add a photo of your front door or gate if it has a name plate on it or next to it.
It provides yet another way for renters to establish the name of your holiday home, which should in turn enable them to easily find you through a search engine.
Don’t have a door sign? How about including a shot of those personalised towels you had made with Casa Buena Vida Javea embroidered on… or a photo of the review in your guest book that says “We had such an amazing time at Casa Buena Vida”..?
If you have social media pages for your property, as with the photos comments above, keep the same main photo as your header photo on your social media accounts, and include the same photos on there in general. If the social media descriptions and photos are consistent with your booking platform information and your own direct booking site, it helps build confidence in the potential guest that your direct booking site is genuine and accountable.
Spend time keeping your social media accounts updated, and answer questions and comments as soon as you can. This will not only help to demonstrate that you are really the owner of your property, but that you are available to contact and that you respond quickly to interested parties. All this helps build trust and signals your willingness to talk directly with guests.
(Think of this the other way – would you buy something from a company whose social media account was last updated a year ago?)
Did you link to your Airbnb listing from your Instagram account a few years ago, and have never got round to updating it? This would explain why you get so few direct bookings even with all the work you do on your social media accounts! Be sure to update these links – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc – to direct renters to your direct booking site.
It’s all very well making it easy for renters to find you on your social media accounts from the big booking platforms – but not so good if you simply redirect them back to the big booking platforms!
And again, if you don’t have a direct booking site, you can always create a Rentalsystems page for your property, which costs nothing and allows you to accept direct bookings and secure online payments for just a 3% payment fee.
Most people are aware that they will get the best deal if they book with an owner direct; most people search for properties they’ve found on the big booking sites to compare prices and it stands to reason that most will book the cheapest.
Since you won’t have commissions to pay on bookings that come to you directly, your direct booking site should of course be the cheapest but do make sure that you check your prices that you’ve set up on other platforms – pay attention to any discounts that you might have added a while ago that are still relevant, and also discounts that the platform might have imposed on your account.
Want to learn more? The Rentalsystems Facebook group is where owners share tips and strategies to increase bookings. It's a great place to talk about direct bookings; the pros and cons, and how to get more.