Welcome Lodgify, to talk about the benefits of increasing your direct bookings, and the best strategies for success with your direct operation when shifting OTA bookings into direct bookings.
In the vacation rental industry, owners and experts talk about direct bookings as the holy grail of reservations. Many novices are tempted to believe that all bookings are created equally when, in reality, a strong component of direct bookings is desirabledirect booking is the true pinnacle. OTAs come with their own perks, such as visibility and credibility, but transitioning guests off OTAs and onto your own website will score you valuable, direct bookings. With that said, some customers are hesitant to branch out from the listing sites that they’re already familiar with.
Transitioning your guests from OTAs and onto your website isn’t always easy, but by following a few simple steps, you’ll be able to rack up these direct reservations quickly.
Why are direct bookings beneficial for your business?
Many owners wince at the thought of more work for their vacation rental business. After all, you’ve put in enough work building a website, marketing your business, and managing clients! Rest assured, converting your OTA bookings into direct reservations is a smart move for your business, with minimal effort needed.
Save money on fees and commissions
The biggest reason for getting guests to switch is the money you’ll both be saving! Most listing sites tack on extra fees for the guest and host. Even if it’s just a small administrative fee, it can add up to a huge chunk of money taken out of your overall earnings.
Not to mention the commissions. Many OTA commissions are percentage-based, meaning that the more you charge for your property, the more they take. You work hard to increase your property’s value; why should you have to share that progress with a listing site?
In total, the percentage taken by most OTAs is around 13%, which is not only a problem for you: Some sites ask guests to pay certain fees as well, which might be enough of a deterrent to cause them not to book your property. Hidden fees and extra expenses can hurt your booking rate even if the matter is out of your hands.
Full control over your bookings
It’s your property, so why shouldn’t you be able to have full control over your bookings? When your reservations come through a third-party site, forms of payments, rules, and the ability to communicate with your guests are limited. If you’d prefer to have full flexibility over your reservation management, then you’re going to need to convince guests to book directly with you.
A higher-quality booking
We all have the idyllic reservation: a minimum week stay, no additional requests, and purchase of all your extras and add-ons. Some bookings are more valuable than others, so why wouldn’t you want to host those worth more? Data shows that throughout 2019 and 2020, the average length of stay for direct bookings was 12 days; 3x times as long as an OTA booking (4 days). Furthermore, the increase in ADR has been greater for direct bookings.
How to turn your OTA bookings into direct bookings
If you’re ready to get your guests to make the jump from OTAs to direct bookings, then we have some great news: it’s not only possible, it’s all too easy. There are some simple tricks and tips that you can follow to get your guests to book on your site directly. They’ve already fallen in love with your property, so all that’s left to do is convince them of where to make the reservation.
Offer a better deal
The easiest way to entice guests is to offer a better deal. If all things are equal in terms of the property, the price might be the last deciding factor on what platform to make the reservation. You can offer a deal without losing money too. Market data can give you the visibility over pricing across OTAs, areas, and property types, allowing you to benchmark your own rates and ensure you are competitive. Simply benchmark and market a percentage off that is slightly less than the sum of the fees. You’ll still be able to give your customers the best value for their money while turning a higher profit than you would on a third-party site.
Shine on social media
You can spark your guests’ desire to travel on many different platforms, not just those intended for travel. Social media is a great way to show off your property while also encouraging guests to book directly through your site. Most listing sites don’t allow you to link your own website, but many social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, allow you the option of adding a “book now” button directly to your page.
Hold your vacation rental website to the same standard as OTAs
Guests feel safe when they book on through OTAs because they know that they can expect a certain level of quality and security. By holding your vacation rental website to the same standards, you show guests that your site is one worth booking through.
Secure payment gateway
With the fear of scams and hoaxes surrounding vacation rental bookings, it’s no wonder that guests opt for a payment system that they know of. Let guests know that your website maintains a secure payment gateway that equally rivals that of OTAs. Guests need to know their money is safe with you, and a secure payment system is the best way to demonstrate that.
Using a website builder, like Lodgify, that integrates with notable payment gateways such as Stripe, Paypal, and Apple Pay shows guests that they can trust your site to properly process their hard-earned money.
Clearly visible reviews
Reviews get bookings; it’s a known fact. One thing that makes OTAs so popular is the visible reviews. When you organize your website in a way that highlights guest reviews, customers are more likely to book through your website versus a third-party page.
Stunning web design
Last but not least, your website needs to be attractive! You are selling your property, so why not do that on a page that’s just as breathtaking as your vacation rentalhome? Creating visuals that appeal to your guests is what is going to turn OTA bookings into direct ones.
OTA bookings into direct bookings: In summary
Direct bookings are more beneficial for both the host and the guest, but first, you’ll need to convince your potential customers of this truth. Offering better deals, marketing on social media, and opting for a professional vacation rental website will all help to turn your OTA bookings into direct reservations straight from your site.
The important element of ensuring that your direct booking options are competitive is that much easier with visibility over your OTA competition. Check out Transparent’s various data dashboards, including our free dashboard to start:
Lodgify is an all-in-one solution for vacation rental businesses. We provide the tools needed to build a beautiful website, accept online bookings with credit card payments and manage all your reservations from one place. Our software also features a channel manager that allows instant synchronization of property data with Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, Expedia and others.