Boost Your Direct Booking Credibility with Chris Maughan


By The Hospitable Team

Have you ever had a potential guest who seemed genuinely interested in your property, but decided to book elsewhere at the last moment? It’s not uncommon to lose potential bookings due to your direct booking website simply lacking credibility.

Our Director of Product Andrew Schorr was joined by the one and only Chris Maughan, a prominent thought leader, trust strategist and owner of the International Property Rental Approval Certification (I-PRAC), to share insights on trust marketing, the role of property certifications, and the first steps towards building credibility with your guests on your direct booking website.

During our Hospitable Masterclass on “Direct Booking Websites 101: Building Credibility” Chris and Andrew went all in to help our hosts to take their direct booking website to the next level. They emphasized why trust is so important in short-term rentals, compiled tips and tricks for your direct booking websites, and offered actionable items for hosts to apply on a daily basis.

Missed the show live? Jump to the bottom of this blog to watch the full recording or buckle up as we bring you the best inspirational highlights below. 

Who vets the hosts?

As short-term rental hosts, we all understand the importance of vetting our guests for safety and security reasons. But have you ever stopped to think, does anybody vet the hosts?

For Chris, every transaction is based on mutual trust. He points out that the goal of every host or property owner should be creating a “bridge of credibility” between the two parties. Thus, building trust with your guests is crucial for consistent bookings at 3rd party platforms and for the success of your direct booking website.

Often, creating a credible brand is easier said than done. As there are many companies out there that focus on guest verification and not so many offer in-depth host verification. This is why at I-PRAC, Chris is focused on creating a thorough certification process that provides hosts objective credibility in the eyes of their potential customers. 

“Nobody just trusts anybody just because. You have to build that reputation and let your guests see that you as a host or your property manager have gone through robust certification. In short-term rentals, the base of everything is trust and you can build that space, that bridge of confidence, between a guest and a host, where a lot more bookings take place.”

Guest Journey with Direct Booking Websites

Trust is crucial in particular when it comes to a guest’s journey on a direct booking website. Chris shared that guest needs to feel confident that they are in the right place to find solutions to their short-term rental needs and they need to feel that confidence within seconds of landing on your website. 

Chris warned our hosts: spending money on marketing before establishing credibility is a waste of money. Without trust, the acquired leads and earned inquiries will not convert, bouncing away to the 3rd party platforms instead. This is exactly why many direct booking website launch attempts have a high bounce rate percentage. 

“People arrive on your home page and within seven seconds they just don’t feel the confidence. They don’t feel your brand reputation. Automatically, from a subconscious point of view, they’re leaving. Because they just don’t feel safe enough to go to the next page or navigate through your website. It’s just not going to work if nobody finds that reputable and trustworthy enough for them to say, ‘Well, I’m going to give you all my hard-earned money!’ Instead, nine times out of ten they’ll jump back off and go to an OTA or somebody else they trust”

To avoid this, you need to build a website starting with credibility. That is why Andy and Chris continued the Masterclass comparing the product and trust marketing efforts: “It is no longer enough to just throw together a few pages with a couple of properties and an ‘about us’ page and expect it to work.”

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Trust Marketing vs Product Marketing 

When promoting your short-term rental, it’s essential to differentiate between product marketing and trust marketing. Product marketing focuses on the features and benefits of your property, such as location, amenities, and price. Trust marketing, on the other hand, focuses on building a credible brand and establishing a connection with your guests based on shared values.

Chris stressed that, while product marketing is important, it won’t be effective without first establishing trust with your potential guests. Consumers want to feel confident that they are booking with a reputable and trustworthy host, and this is where trust marketing comes in. By highlighting your company values and focusing on creating a positive guest experience, hosts can build a strong reputation and foster long-term relationships with your guests.

“You’ve got to look at building trust content into your website and at the same time you’ve got to do your product marketing. But don’t just deny the fact that trust marketing is to build your long-term direct booking business reputation and guest’s confidence. So, trust marketing and product marketing come in seemingly at the same time, but separately.”

Fraud is Advancing

Unfortunately, fraudulent activity is a growing concern in the short-term rental industry, and Chris pointed out that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent operators. This is why it’s important for guests to have the opportunity of verifying the authenticity of your brand and ensure that both hosts and property are meeting the highest standards for safety and security.

“10 years ago, fraud was really basic: the websites had a lot of mistakes and you could tell the pictures were fake. But, today, some of the fraudulent websites are probably just as good if not better than some of the professional operators. Which is frightening. That is, once again, why I-PRAC plays a role. You can build good websites. You can make fake reviews. You can put fake accreditation logos. I-PRAC is completely different because you can’t duplicate the logo. If you haven’t gone through the processes, there is no way to show you’re approved.”

So, while developing your short-term rental business, remember to prioritize trust marketing alongside product marketing. By building a strong reputation and establishing trust with your guests, you can differentiate yourself from fraudulent operators and foster long-term success for your business.

More trust marketing tips for your website

Curious to watch the full Masterclass, as Chris Maughan provides more in-depth insights on how can hosts use trust marketing to attract guests?

Then rush to get the best tips from this renowned industry expert in our Hospitable Masterclass!

Already learned all of Chris’s tips and tricks and want to land those direct bookings with even more automated solutions around you? 

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