By The Hospitable Team
Maximizing direct booking profits and building stronger relationships with guests — that’s a goal for many vacation rental hosts. To make it happen, you need to create a consistent brand.
Just like the aroma of freshly baked croissants attracts foot traffic to a bakery, a well-established vacation rental brand can draw more guests to your properties. With a unique brand and personalized guest experience, you’ll differentiate yourself from competitors, create lasting memories and encourage repeat bookings.
To help you shape your direct booking vacation rental brand, our Hospitable Masterclass invited Arthur Colker, founder and CEO of StayFi, to share his experience, including his company’s unique Wi-Fi marketing approach. We held an interactive, fun and informative session that left our hosts with actionable insights, pro-tips and best practices for building a brand and increasing direct bookings.
Missed the stream and want to learn more about creating a direct booking vacation rental brand? Watch the recording of our Hospitable Masterclass right here, and read on for the key takeaways.
Brand Image Is Essential
Creating a brand image for your direct booking business leads consumers to attribute a set of values to your listings. As Arthur points out, hosts who’ve created fantastic hospitality experiences are often left in the shadows as guests associate the brand value with the booking platform instead of with the actual provider of those unique services.
“A very large property management company obviously can’t offer the same personalized experiences. We see small-scale hosts leading with consistency, high quality and extra services that guests can’t really find or book that easily through Airbnb. So it’s really about finding your unique angle of approach.”
Shaping your brand image is at the core of Arthur’s advice. Hosts can shift the mindset of their guests — your brand is the one contributing to their great memories, and they should come to you directly when they want to enjoy that same experience again.
“Lean into your strengths. What’s your strength versus a big megabrand? The most successful brands tie themselves close to a local market, present themselves as experts and know how to put a face to the business. So it’s you as the host that guests should be associating with all the great experiences they’re having… not just the area, the platform or the property.”
Branding 101: Tips & Tricks
Arthur shared some quick first steps to get anyone started with direct bookings, keeping a branding strategy in mind from step one.
Develop a brand identity
Leverage services like Fiverr or Upwork to commission a logo and other branding materials, such as business cards, branded coasters or fridge magnets, that guests can constantly see during their stay. This will reinforce your brand identity in their minds.
“You want to think, ‘How can I put my brand in front of my guests in as many different places as possible?’ You can get everything you need for just a few hundred bucks, using all sorts of creative ways, so that guests are seeing it multiple times during the day.”
Create a direct booking website
Your website will give your guests a place to make bookings or submit inquiries. Use your website as a platform to talk about your business more personally — why you love the area you’re operating in and other things that make you stand out from other Airbnb listings.
“I know Hospitable.com has a great direct booking website tool, and that’s where we see most people go first,” says Arthur. “You can use the direct bookings tool and their property management software to develop and manage that website with all the branding that you’ve hopefully acquired, which is going to differentiate you from a generic Airbnb.”
Drive direct (re)bookings through incentives
Once you’ve established your identity and website, you need to start driving people to book directly with you. The direct booking model can make it more challenging to advertise to new prospects and convert them to bookings — targeting previous guests often proves more effective.
“We think that StayFi is the obvious solution for driving return bookings. Those people who stayed with you are the most likely to book with you again if you secure a certain level of trust,” Arthur explains. “It’s also a lot easier to have guests come and rebook if you offer additional incentives and save money on OTA fees.”
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Increasing Direct Bookings with StayFi: Wi-Fi and Email Marketing
Arthur underlines that the first step to increasing direct bookings is to introduce your brand to every guest in the property. With StayFi’s custom-branded features, guests will see a welcome message from you when they log into the Wi-Fi network, which creates a strong first impression and sets the tone for the entire stay.
Once guests have entered their name and email to gain Wi-Fi access, StayFi captures their information and enables you to start marketing to them with email campaigns. StayFi’s tools offer several automation options, such as triggering an email chain whenever a guest logs into the Wi-Fi, making it easy to get important information in front of your guests.
“Through Airbnb automation, you’re talking with the booker. But when you have the whole party and they all log into the Wi-Fi, you now have access to other guests who also have a great potential to stay with you again. So, in that first email, you can share some more information about the property, or a digital guidebook. We see that such emails get more than 60% open rates because they are very timely, which is great from a marketing perspective.”
Get an In-Depth Look Into Wi-Fi Marketing
Hungry for more insights into how email marketing can boost direct bookings and the right targets to set when building a direct booking brand? You’ll find all the best tips from industry expert Arthur Colker in our Hospitable Masterclass!
But what if you’ve already got your branding sorted out and want to get those direct bookings and repeat guests flowing with even more automated solutions around you?
Hospitable is here to support a world where direct booking is just as carefree as simple property investment. Get your 14-day free trial now!
We’ve been inviting the best industry experts to our Hospitable Hosts podcast. Our guests shared their valuable insights and expertise on how to navigate the short-term rental industry and gave valuable tips that can make your life as a host just that little bit easier.
We know that being a short-term rental host can be like a game of Tetris… guests, bookings, and cleaning schedules are constantly falling from the sky and you have to fit them all together perfectly. To help our hosts slot everything into place, we organize Hospitable Masterclasses that are jam-packed with inspiration and insight.