This luxury villa rental boasts a 90% direct booking rate thanks to Lodgify.
Based in Old Skala, Kefalonia, in the idyllic Ionian Islands of Greece, Katie Jones and her husband manage a stunning one-bedroom luxury villa—Villa Eros. They rent out to couples looking for a memorable getaway. Originally from California, Katie began renting her property in 2010 through a local developer.
Feeling disillusioned with how her property was previously looked after and marketed, she decided to switch to marketing the property herself, thereby allowing her to manage her vacation rental business the way she and her husband wanted to— with the aim of providing their guests with the best possible experience.
However, Katie’s journey into the vacation rental business was unintentional, and she only became a property manager out of necessity rather than choice.
“My husband and I were looking to build a property in Kefalonia. The developer who built our house for us did such a lovely job that we decided that we wanted to build another one, a smaller one, and have him rent it for us through his property rental business. It then transpired that that was an unsuccessful partnership and, rather than by choice, but by accident, we ended up in the villa rental business.”
It wasn’t just the local management issues and guest problems that inspired Katie to take the reins. After first going to another PMS to initially build the Villa Eros website, technical issues synching her website with third-party OTA listings of her property, as well as issues with collecting payment, prompted Katie’s quest to find a solution that would tend to all her business needs.
“I actually went to a competitor’s platform to initially build our website. I was reasonably satisfied with the integration that I was getting with the channel partners that we were using, but then the calendar stopped working. It stopped integrating with the website, and I couldn’t get it to work no matter what I tried. And so, it was a matter of trying to source an alternative solution.”
For Katie and her husband to protect their investment, she knew they needed to find a robust all-in-one PMS that would enable them to generate bookings and promote their business. Lodgify was the answer.
“I had to build a website and had to put together social media marketing. We weren’t getting the type of customers that we wanted, and the level of service that was being provided was not what we wanted it to be. So, it was something that was based upon just trying to make sure that we were giving guests the best possible experience when they came to stay at Villa Eros.”
Katie found Lodgify’s website builder to be a real game-changer, and she was particularly pleased with the level of customization on offer.
It was very easy to build my website. I was even able to tweak the colours so that they looked like the colour palette that I was using before. From the very beginning, it was incredibly easy to set up both the website and then set up the different pricing and adding reviews.”
Furthermore, Katie was grateful for the technical support that Lodgify provided, helping her to maximize the exposure of her website by appearing on the first page of an organic Google search. Now at least 90% of Villa Eros’ bookings are direct. Katie believes Lodgify has been a wonderful, valued partner in terms of providing what she needed to get more direct exposure with prospective customers.
“Being able to actually appear on Google has meant that we’re on the first page for any searches related to luxury villas and Kefalonia. Lodgify has been able to provide us with a seamless website that loads so quickly. And they’d been so helpful behind the scenes with helping me with SEO. It’s as if you had an IT department that was doing all of your technical work for you”
Katie has made the most out of all Lodgify’s features, including the integrations, empowering her to grow her business and share her property with the world. As an experienced marketer, Katie knew what she was looking for, which ultimately led her to Lodgify, and the results have been remarkable.
I realized what I’d been missing. The whole financial experience of using Lodgify, through their third-party financial partners, has made me look more professional on the outside, which gives customers a greater degree of confidence when booking directly.”
What other channels do you use to generate traffic and bookings?
“My social media presence is quite strong. At this point, we have about 1400 followers on Instagram. I make sure that I post regularly with professional feature photos of the villa, trying to highlight different aspects of both the amenities and the views. We’re now generating direct bookings through social media, which is fantastic.
When somebody says, “I found you on Instagram, and I think your villa looks really cool. Then I went to your website, and I was just so blown away,” you can tell how all of it is starting to kick in.”
Having to start and manage her business from scratch without any prior rental experience and now generating 90% direct bookings, Katie’s experience in the short-term rental industry could be invaluable to prospective hosts. The challenges Katie faced and how she used Lodgify to create the online presence she was looking for, she believes, have made all the difference in putting Villa Eros where it is today.
For those just getting started, Katie says:
Well, I think it’s really important to identify what your market is going to be. For us, we are a luxury one-bedroom villa rental that is all about a couple’s experience. I would just say go with your strong suit and find what works for you.”