As more guests than ever book their trips online and vacation rental industry predictions forecast a higher number of direct bookings this year, professionals in this sphere not only need to be conscious of their online reputation, they also need to know how to manage it.
Sometimes, the big vacation rental listing sites can dissuade guests from booking any other way – stating it’s unsafe, unreliable or even a scam. However, as an increasing percentage of owners aim to multiply the number of bookings they take directly, they are working hard to create and maintain high levels of guest trust and a solid online image.
Nevertheless, building guest trust doesn’t happen overnight. Some more hesitant travelers require an extra push to feel confident they are booking in the right place.
In this article, we dive into the five things you can to do effectively build trust among your potential guests. When done right, they can even boost your direct bookings as a result!
1. Have a secure, bookable website
Having a professional website which showcases your property, outlines all important details in depth and allows travelers to book your accommodation is one way to get guests on board. Especially those who are window shopping for the best deal between OTAs and owners’ private websites.
But, that’s not where the list of requirements ends. Since 2017, Google has been penalizing all websites that don’t have SSL encryption for the transfer of information. This secure connection – demonstrated by a green bar and padlock in the URL field of a browser – immediately adds another level of protection to any guests wanting to book with you.
It shows travelers that they can be certain their sensitive data, such as credit card details and personal information, are safe from fraud when booking on your site. As a result, this extra security layer on your website will instantly improve its trust levels from a guest perspective.
2. Spend time on social proof
Social proof is a wide category that encompasses many different facets. Investing time into working on your social proof is a powerful way to drive bookings in the long term.
Everything from social media engagement to guest reviews, credibility badges and media mentions can count as social proof.
To begin, having a strong presence on social media sites will send a clear signal to interested guests that you are taking your business seriously and are up-to-date with how people communicate online.
In the same way, ensuring each and every guest leaves a review of their stay at your home can aid other travelers when it comes to their own decision making. Experts predict that 95% of leisure travelers now read reviews before booking! Some of these testimonials may even appear on your social media sites, thanks to tools like Facebook Reviews.
3. Get listed by your local tourism bureau
No matter where your vacation rental is situated, there will be a local tourism bureau who can help advertise your home as one of their recommended places to stay.
Traditionally, tourism boards have tended to promote hotels and hostels as their main accommodation offerings. That said, these days, more and more vacation rentals are seeing success through listing with the local association.
This in itself will be a powerful signifier to any future guests that your business is reputable and endorsed by the local community. The outcome? It will help to increase trust and reservations! Plus, another advantage is you’ll be able to use their badge on your website as, you guessed it – social proof.
4. Get certified by your country’s chamber of commerce
Yet another sure sign to renters that your business is credible, authentic and trustworthy is by being listed on your country’s chamber of commerce directory. Whether on a national or regional level, these organizations lend validity to your vacation rental business. In addition to this, a backlink from the relevant chamber of commerce website can also hugely improve your website’s SEO.
5. Start a blog for your destination
When you can go beyond just providing accommodation for your guests, you’ll create many more opportunities to connect with travelers and build your business’ authority online. Writing a vacation rental blog is a fantastic way to achieve this.
If you can attract guests to your blog while they are still in the research phase, you have a much higher chance of converting them into bookings later on.
Your blog has the potential to become the top online resource for everything from eating and drinking to activities and day trips in your area – so use it to your advantage! Reach out to other well-known voices in your location for guest posts to build an even bigger following and boost credibility for your website.
Ensuring guests trust your vacation rental business – even before they book with you – is essential for nurturing inquiries and converting them into direct reservations. Following the steps above is a sure-fire way to effectively build relationships with prospective guests and increase the likelihood of converting them into bookings!