#BookDirect Day: The Guest Education Movement

Every year, on the first Wednesday of February, vacation rental owners and property managers from around the world come together to promote one key message: #BookDirect.

What is #BookDirect day?

This initiative, organized by Amy Hinote at VRM Intel, is to educate guests about the advantages of bypassing third-party channels to book directly with you (homeowners and/or property management companies) through email and social media.

Not only are vacation rental owners facing the same issues regarding commissions set by listing sites, but also guests themselves frequently end up paying more for the same stay.

The annual campaign kicked off back on February 7th, 2018 with a Twitter movement to get the hashtag #BookDirect trending. Lodgify joined VRM Intel and other websites such as TripsIn.com, Triptease.com and Tripz.com to support the campaign and promote the #BookDirect message to our audience. And we’re

A large percentage of guests who book their vacation rentals on household name sites are unaware that they aren’t booking directly with the owner. The aim of this day is to actively educate guests about the other ways they can find accommodation options – without listing sites. 

The importance of a vacation rental website

At Lodgify, we understand just how important it is for owners and managers to have their own channel – i.e. a professional vacation rental website – to accept direct bookings and online credit card payments. In addition to this, by having your own website, you are 100% in control. You are the only person who gets to decide the rules of how to run your business. For example, you can ensure that you:

  • Establish and manage guest expectations
  • Upsell with add-ons and special amenities or offerings
  • Improve communication with guests before, during, and after the stay
  • Control cancellation policies, refunds, and date adjustments
  • Improve the guest experience
  • Educate first-time vacation rental guests about the differences between private home accommodations and hotels
  • Limit a high dependency on OTAs

How to encourage your guests to #BookDirect

An effective way to promote this movement to your contacts is by sending out an email campaign to any past and prospective guests. Primarily, this email should give prominence to the value of booking direct and booking local.

In VRM Intel’s announcement, they offer numerous ideas for messaging for owners which can help promote direct booking among guests. Communicate some of these key points to travelers:

1. Book direct to save money

Big sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and TripAdvisor add a high percentage of booking fees to the reservation total. Booking directly with the owner or manager cuts out any middle-man or commissions.

2. Book direct for direct contact with the manager or owner

Only when booking directly are guests guaranteed direct contact with the person responsible for the property. This means they can get in touch – without obligation – to inquire about services and amenities before committing.

3. The best price isn’t on the OTAs

Contrary to popular belief, OTAs and aggregator sites (such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia etc.) don’t actually provide the best price for travelers. Guests can save hundreds on commissions by booking direct and booking local. 

4. Lots of the best vacation rentals aren’t listed on the major sites

Due to the high costs associated with using big sites, some of the best homes with the highest demand aren’t even listed. Take popular beach resorts in North Carolina as an example – only 30% of homes available for rent can be found on these websites. Guests shouldn’t limit their search to OTAs and aggregators, or they could be missing out on the best properties. 

5. Managers and owners have in-depth knowledge of the destination

When booking direct, managers and owners can become a kind of free destination guide. They know the best activities, restaurants and service providers. They may even have local partnerships or discount deals which can save travelers more money.

6. If guests have special requirements, a manager or owner can help

Whether the family needs an accessible vacation rental or a pet-friendly option, a manager or owner will work with the guest directly to meet all their needs before they commit to a booking.

7. Owners and managers will have more special offers during non-peak travel times

When travelers communicate directly with the owner or manager, they will be the first to find out about special offers, discounts or exclusive deals.

How will you participate in #BookDirect day?

If you’d like to be a part of this movement, simply send a message to your guest database and use social media with the hashtag #BookDirect to outline the advantages they have when they book directly with you.

Besides email campaigns, we’re sure that you have plenty of other creative ideas to educate guests and attract more direct bookings on this day. From website pop-ups to social media adverts – what will you be doing to mark this important event?

Download the #BookDirect day Instagram Stories templates

We’ve prepared some Instagram story templates for you to use on #BookDirect day. Either tap to expand the image and save directly to your device, or download all nine images using the form below!

How will you encourage guests to #BookDirect this year? We’d love to hear your plans in the comments!

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