Optimizing Marketing for Your Vacation Rental Direct Booking

podcast_Bart Sobies

By The Hospitable Team

In today’s competitive vacation rental industry, maximizing direct bookings is essential for hosts and property managers. What should you do to strengthen your online presence and attract more guests directly?

For this episode of the Hospitable Hosts podcast, we invited Bart Sobies, an expert in vacation rentals, technology, and marketing who knows the answer to this question.

Bart Sobies is the founder of iBooked.Online, a company that specializes in website development and branding for accommodation businesses. He hosts the Accommodation Show podcast, which brings together industry experts to provide you with the latest insights, industry news, actionable tips, and growth strategies. Bart also runs STRive to Thrive, a business conference for Australia’s short-term rental hosts and property managers.

Bart joins Ethan Brown from Hospitable to discuss direct booking marketing strategies for vacation rentals. The conversation covers a wide range of topics, from accommodation owners’ challenges regarding direct bookings to driving traffic to your website and optimizing it for conversions.  

Press play now to discover effective marketing strategies to help you stand out from the competition, get more repeat direct bookings, and thrive in the dynamic world of vacation rentals.

Do you prefer to read the highlights? We’ve got a summary of the key takeaways below.

Why Do You Need a Direct Booking Strategy?

STR hosts are always busy doing many different things, so they might not have enough time to think about their book-direct strategy. But Bart emphasizes that it’s 100% worth doing even if you’re “on a smaller scale” because it will help you get repeat bookings.

“If you have had guests stay with you before, there’s a very high chance you can get them to stay with you again. And generally, if you don’t have a book-direct strategy, you’ll be forced to send them back to the OTAs,” Bart explains.

Getting direct bookings through your website will allow you to save on OTA’s commissions and potentially get more bookings. The OTAs are becoming more competitive, and there are a lot of stunning listings. “It’s hard to have control over standing out over your competitors,” Bart points out. 

“If you keep driving traffic through the OTA, then they will see all the competitors simultaneously and choose, maybe on price, because it all looks the same. Or maybe someone’s got better or more ratings than you. Or you just don’t come up on the algorithm,” Bart explains.

Building a direct booking website will not cost you a lot of money. Hosts who use Hospitable to automate their repetitive tasks can also take advantage of our Direct feature and create their websites using our professional, easy-to-customize templates.

Get a direct booking website within minutes!

Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, your site appears on Google Vacation Rentals, and your guests get the best experience.

Effective Strategies to Drive Traffic to Your Short-Term Rental Website

Bart thinks one of the hosts’ biggest challenges is their limited time and budget. So, he recommends relying on proven tactics that are easy and can bring the highest ROI.

  • Collect email addresses when guests stay with you and communicate with them after they leave to encourage direct repeat bookings.
  • Set up your Google business profile so that Google can recognize you and then drive localized traffic to your website, ranking it higher.
  • Look after your SEO—ensure your titles are correct and up-to-date (use the current year in them).
  • Do your citations—create listings on popular directory sites and business profiles on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Optimize Your Website for Conversions

As you write your descriptions, you must think about your target guests and speak the right language to those visiting your website. “Because otherwise, if you’re not speaking the right language to the person, it won’t make sense,” says Bart. So, you should find your niche and highlight features that make your place unique.

Bart emphasizes that you need to take great photos that convey emotions. So, “getting a good photographer, such as a real estate photographer, is generally not what you want. You need something a bit more artistic. It’s something a bit more creative. Real estate photographers can be tricky because they’re used to taking pictures of the features, not the benefits,” he explains.

Trends You Should Pay Attention To

Bart thinks being ready from a technology point of view is incredibly important. Now, AI is everywhere, and it will change the world. “It means that everything is changing how we interact with our customers. The kind of responses we give them when they’re talking to us on the messenger. There’s just so much opportunity there to improve it and give them highly valuable, highly personalized messaging that really speaks to them and makes them feel fantastic about their trip,” Bart clarifies.

Listen to the full episode of the Hospitable Hosts podcast to get valuable insights and actionable advice on improving your online presence, increasing direct bookings, and setting your business up for success.

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