So you want to get more direct bookings for your vacation rental. You want to pay less online travel agency commissions. You also want to be able to answer any questions direct.
You only need to do two things:
1 Delight your guests – so they want to come back, and also tell their friends
2 Have a website where they can easily find you direct when they search for your VR name
It sounds so simple, and it is, but some shocking research that I’ve done (below) shows very few owners are doing it!
Delighting your guests is hard work, but you can do it. If you do it well, they will want to come back.
But you need to make it easy for them to contact you directly, so your name should be simple and memorable. When they search for you on the internet they need to be able to find you easily.
A free web presence for you – Google Local Business
The best way to be easily found on the internet is to have a listing on Google Local Business. It is not quite your own website, but almost as good. It also gives you a listing on Google Maps.
Guests can always easily find you on Google local Business, just by searching for your VR name. It is easy to set up, and takes about 15 minutes and it’s free! You don’t have to have your own website, you can just have your telephone number, and guests will find you.
You can also create your own simple website with your contact details. There are lots of simple ways to get a website, like WordPress.com, or pay a developer. Google Local Business will also link to your website for free.
Are your competitors listing on Google Local Business?
Surprisingly, in many locations, very few owners can be found because they are not yet listing on Google Local Business, or their own website.
I decided to check this for a big holiday destination near me – the township of Lorne Victoria that has many hundreds of vacation rentals and a huge summer visitor population of around 20,000 people.
How many owners are listed on google Local Business, and how many had their own website?
I searched on Airbnb for a weekend four months ahead, and chose the top 5 VRs listed and 5 from further down (those ranked 16-20). A mixed sample of 10 vacation rentals. I then searched on Google to see how many of those I could find on Local Business and how many I could find with their own website.
Very few could be found.
Only 30% (3 of 10) were on local business, and most of these had no telephone number
Only 10% (1 of 10) had their own website
This means almost none would get their own direct bookings.
Now I could have taken a much bigger sample, but I expect the results would be similar. You could do the same exercise for your own local area.
The bad news is that few VR owners can be found directly on the internet by their delighted guests.
The good news is, if you make that small effort, then you will be found on Google maps, and you will get more direct bookings than your competitors.
What else can you do to get direct bookings?
You can send a newsletter to past guests. Another topic for another day.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already listed on Google Local business, I suggest you do so today. Here is my previous article explaining how.