#BookDirect Day: The Guest Education Movement

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

What is #BookDirect day?

This initiative, organized by VRM Intel founder Amy Hinote, educates guests about the advantages of bypassing third-party channels to book directly with you—homeowners and property managers—through email and social media.

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

Direct bookings are crucial to vacation rental companies as they often result in higher stay values, longer booking windows, and longer lengths of stay than bookings received through online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Airbnb or Vrbo. Moreover, both vacation rental owners and guests pay commissions set by listing sites, meaning both are left out of pocket when a booking is made.

Many guests who book their vacation rentals on global OTAs are unaware that they aren’t booking directly with the owner, as Lodgify customer Nick of Crosby Lofts explains:

I cannot tell you how many times a guest who has booked via an OTA calls us directly to make a change and is surprised to find that they didn’t book directly with us and disappointed that we cannot make changes to their booking. Those guests usually book directly the next time.

With this in mind, this day aims to actively educate guests about the other ways they can find accommodation options—without listing sites.

host website

When is Book Direct Day?

Book Direct Day falls on the first Wednesday of February each year. Book Direct Day 2024 is on February 7.

Of course, you needn’t limit yourself to sharing Book Direct Day’s message on this day alone. Once you understand the many benefits of direct bookings, you’ll want to promote them year-round!

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 websiteto accept valuable direct bookings and online credit card payments. 

In addition, having your own website gives you more control over pricing and availability while being empowered 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 their 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 highlight the value of booking directly and locally.

There are numerous messaging ideas for owners, which can help promote direct bookings among potential guests. Keep reading for the 10 reasons your guests should book directly.

1. Get a better deal by saving on third-party commissions

Most OTAs like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com take a percentage of the reservation’s total cost as a booking fee. Booking directly with the owner or property manager means guests get a better deal and save money by avoiding paying this fee.

Optimized website payment methods

2. Better communication between host and guest

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. Furthermore, many OTAs restrict access to the property’s contact details, meaning guests can only communicate with their host through the platform’s own messaging service.

3. More flexibility on booking policies

When hosts and property managers sign up for OTAs, they are often obligated to abide by the third party’s terms and conditions. For example, hosts are generally willing to help if a guest needs to change their dates or cancel. Equally, they may wish to compensate the guest should there be any issues. However, some OTAs require property owners to adhere to policies agreed upon during the sign-up process, reducing the scope for flexibility.

4. Some properties aren’t listed on OTAs

Due to the high costs associated with using major OTAs, some of the best vacation homes with the highest demand aren’t even listed on third-party websites. These vacation rentals are so popular and regularly booked that they don’t need additional exposure. Therefore, guests shouldn’t limit their search to OTAs and aggregators because they could miss out on some of the best properties. 

5. Hosts can provide offers for local businesses

When booking direct, managers and owners can become a kind of free destination guide. They are more likely to know the best activities, attractions, and events in the local area, as well as the best places to eat and shop. They may even have local partnerships, which can save guests even more money.

local businesses

6. Hosts are more likely to accommodate special requests and requirements

Due to better communication and the absence of third-party limitations, a host can work with the guest directly to meet all their needs before committing to a booking. Whether the family needs an accessible vacation rental or a pet-friendly option, it will be easier to arrange than through an OTA.

7. There are more opportunities for special offers and discounts

When guests communicate directly with the owner or manager, they will be the first to find out about special offers, discounts, or promotions. Additionally, the host may be able to propose an exclusive, personalized deal to help seal the booking.

8. Increased trust between host and guest

When there is direct and consistent communication between the host and guest, there is an increased sense of trust between the two. Guests can be reassured knowing their host is expecting them and having all of their doubts and questions addressed. On the other hand, property managers can get to know their guests in advance, allaying any concerns about enforcing house rules or hosting unauthorized parties.

9. Increased guest satisfaction due to personalized experience

Hosts and property managers may find it easier to organize a more personalized guest experience when they receive a direct booking. For example, the property’s own website may include further options of services that can be applied to the reservation. 

guest satisfaction

10. Hosts will prioritize direct bookings

As direct bookings bring in extra income, it’s highly likely that hosts will prioritize these guests over those who come from OTAs. That’s not to say that these guests are treated differently, but in the case of a double booking, for example, hosts will probably accept the direct booking first. 

Additionally, the host may set aside certain rooms or units for direct bookings only.

How can you participate in #BookDirect day?

Book Direct Day 2024 is on February 7. If you’d like to be a part of this movement, simply send a message to your guest database and use your social media channels with the hashtag #BookDirect to outline the advantages of booking directly with you.

Besides email campaigns, we’re sure that you have plenty of other creative ideas to inform guests and attract more direct bookings on this day. From website pop-ups to social media promos, there are endless ways to participate!

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 the images using the form below!

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

What do you think about this article?

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Show Comments (5)
  1. Hallelujah!

    Thank you for your initiative and leadership in supporting and building the growing community of independent vacation rental owners. Love it!

    Rodney Love
    San Diego, CA

    1. Hi book direct is very relevant. Even more so after Airbnb covid disaster hitting hosts with an ax.

      The only way, I believe is independence. And the only way I can think of getting this done is viral loops.

      Instead of paying these third party saviours why not incentivise your new guests and previous guests to work on your behalf to promote your business?

      I am working non stop on getting it done scientifically. As it’s not based on luck but integrated tools to share and measure.

  2. Great article and we are participating in the movement, but I feel it is a bit lopsided and not talking about how the guests can be sure that they will find the holiday accommodation they paid for and they will get the service they promised. We have to make sure that they get a satisfying answer to these fears, only then this campaign can be successful! Best regards from Paros island, Greece

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