Discover how a retired couple turned their 14-property business into a direct booking powerhouse, defying the odds in their golden years. But the unexpected twist in their journey will leave you on the edge of your seat. Stay tuned to find out how they overcame a shocking setback and harnessed the power of technology to boost their business value. It’s a story of resilience, innovation, and the surprising secret to unlocking direct booking success that you won’t want to miss.

The best business you’ve ever owned is the one you just sold for seven figures. And direct bookings, that data list increases the value of your business. That gives your business something to actually sell. – Michael Guildford

In this episode, you will be able to:

My special guest is Michael Guildford

Michael Guildford, an established figure in property management hailing from Brisbane, Australia, has delved into the realm of direct bookings with a unique approach. Managing a portfolio of 14 apartments in Brisbane’s CBD, his journey reflects a quest for passive income in retirement. Michael’s expertise lies in leveraging innovative strategies, such as QR codes and email collection, to drive direct bookings and augment the value of customer databases. His firsthand experiences and practical insights offer a valuable blueprint for property managers aiming to optimize their direct booking capabilities and elevate their business prospects.

Utilizing QR codes in hospitality, such as EmailCollect, enhances the guest experience by providing easy access to Wi-Fi in exchange for contact details. QR codes streamline the guest data collection process, improving efficiency and enhancing guest satisfaction. By incorporating QR code technology, property managers can create a seamless guest experience and foster stronger guest relationships.

Learn more about EmailCollect – https://emailcollect.com/

The key moments in this episode are:

00:00:00 – Introduction to Email Collect

00:03:53 – The Importance of Direct Bookings

00:07:55 – Introducing Email Collect

00:11:37 – Leveraging Guest Data for Marketing

00:13:57 – The Entrepreneurial Spirit and Global Accessibility

00:14:35 – Building a Strong Business with Direct Bookings

00:15:20 – Impact of Negative Reviews

00:15:49 – Value of Direct Bookings Data

00:16:29 – Business Independence and Value

00:16:54 – Conclusion and Gratitude 

FREE GUIDE: 10 Ways to Drive Guests to your Website instead of Airbnb: https://directbookingsuccess.com/10-ways-to-drive-guests-to-your-website-instead-of-airbnb/

Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/

Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess

Join Jenn’s free Facebook group – the Marketing Hub: https://www.facebook.com/groups/strmarketinghub


00:00:00 - Jenn Boyles

Hello and welcome to another episode of the direct booking success podcast. I'm Jenn Boyles, your host. I'm super excited to be here with you today. Today I have Michael Guildford with me all the way from Downunder, and he has launched an exciting new product called email Collect. Hi, Michael.

00:00:20 - Michael Guildford

Hi, Jenn.

00:00:21 - Jenn Boyles

Great to have you here. Now let's get started about talking about your background and how you got into this. I believe you started in 2018, didn't you, in your property management business?

00:00:33 - Michael Guildford

Yes, that's Craigton and Brisbane, Australia.

00:00:36 - Jenn Boyles

Okay. Can you tell me a bit about the apartments and how. Why did you start going into this?

00:00:41 - Michael Guildford

Well, you know, as you can see, we were coming up for retirement and our superannuation wasn't really great. And so we sort of always have been sort of looking around for something that we could supplement our retirement with and, you know, a little bit of a passive income out of it. So we've always been fiddled around with real estate, bought and sold and rented and stuff like that throughout our married life. And Karen came across this idea through a friend and we looked at it and decided that this could work. And so we bought a little training package and, yeah, we just basically went out and did it.

00:01:22 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, it's great. And you've got 14 apartments right now.

00:01:27 - Michael Guildford

Yeah, yeah. 14 departments in the CBD of Brisbane. Yes.

00:01:31 - Jenn Boyles

Great. Oh, great. And what about. Are you hands on or. Cause you used to work passively. So we know that anyone that is doing the business full time, it's not passive. Right. So you must have some. You must have some help. Right.

00:01:46 - Michael Guildford

Well, we basically run, my wife runs the day to day, the phone interaction, computer side of it. And we have cleaners and me. And so, you know, I go and mop up the messes and the cleaners do the cleaning.

00:02:01 - Michael Guildford


00:02:01 - Michael Guildford

So we have two cleaning companies just to sort of COVID our bets a little bit, but that's it. Yeah, we have a tech stack, of course, which allows us to run quite a bit of the business passively.

00:02:13 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah. Oh, great. So talk to me about direct bookings. How did you do it? Or just bookings in general, how did you start with your bookings? Did you start on the OTAs? Online travel agents?

00:02:25 - Michael Guildford


00:02:25 - Michael Guildford

Yeah, we've been on. On the otas, yes. That's where we start, you know, and they've been solid and given us, you know, a solid business over the years. But as it happens, you know, you think, well, gee, one of these guys disappeared, you know, what happens to our business. So we started developing the direct booking side of the business, the checkbooking is not huge, you know, around 15, 20%. But that's going to improve more with the idea that I've come up with, because the problem is that your data is blocked by the atas, and so it's difficult to build a direct booking guest list. So that's always the stumbling block you have when you start out and you're dependent on the OTAs to get yourself rolling.

00:03:15 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, yeah. You've hit the nail on the head there. It's not your guest, it's their guest, isn't it?

00:03:21 - Michael Guildford

Yes. Yeah.

00:03:22 - Michael Guildford

And that doesn't change. You know, there's all sorts of methods people use to get that data, but it's difficult and it's a lot of to and fro with your guests trying to give them rental agreements or things like this to try and get that.

00:03:36 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah. And I love that this idea has come out of a real need for your own business. You realize the impact the otas are having on your business and you've been wanting to get more direct bookings, and that's where this idea came from. I like that. I think that's really great.

00:03:54 - Michael Guildford

Yes. Yeah.

00:03:55 - Michael Guildford

No, no, that's right. I think, you know, 60% to 70% direct booking business, you're really at the mercy of the eight OTA's destroying your business at any moment in time.

00:04:09 - Jenn Boyles

That's it. And we sit there and we, you know, our properties are on the online travel agents and we've just got our fingers crossed, hoping a booking will come in. When direct bookings, we can be assertive in it and proactive and go after them ourselves.

00:04:25 - Michael Guildford

Yes. Yeah, well, that's right. You know, you can be proactive, as you said. That's really the key, is that you can actually, you know, go out and actually create your own guests by doing marketing or whatever type of marketing that you want to do. At least it's available for you to do.

00:04:45 - Jenn Boyles

That's right. So tell us about EmailCollect. How did this happen? What is it and how did it come to you, this idea?

00:04:53 - Michael Guildford

Well, it's just a software where people have a QR code in their property. People scan it, contact form, and they get access to the Wi Fi. So it's like a Wi-Fi gate there with the contact form. That contact form goes to a CSV file and the host or the property owner downloaded that and he's got all the guest details. Not only the guest who came, who did the booking, but any guest that basically wants to use the Wi Fi will end up filling out the contact form themselves. It's not something that you won't hand it around the room. It's like, go get it yourself, you know?So the idea for it came from the fact that we're forced into using QR codes in restaurants, I'm sure, where you live. We had much the same experience. There was COVID. QR code sort of took over our life, you know, even when to hand out physical menus and all this sort of stuff once cut down their labor force and. Yeah, so QR codes sort of been around for a long time, but they came quite important there for a period through COVID. And so I've still got dozens, maybe hundreds of these things in restaurants. And I just was thinking one day that, gee, you know, why can't we actually use this man, that is our own business? And so silly me, thought these things were, you know, cooked up in the. In the kitchen the restaurant owner made them up themselves. And I knew it was all pretty simple, but when I actually looked into it, I realized that these systems were owned by big multinationals and they were renting them to these restaurants. And so I thought, hmm, it's obviously a little bit more complicated to create something like this. I have a niece who has a university degree in computing, so we sort of sat down and talked about it and said, well, you know, we'll actually sit down and create this.

00:06:56 - Jenn Boyles

Well, that's great. So she was able to give you the direction and give you the information that you needed on how you could create this?

00:07:03 - Michael Guildford

Well, yeah, she. Well, she did the sort of the back end, you know, that coding and stuff like that. And that's surprisingly, at the same time, GPT turned up, and that was a major benefit in that it sped the process up. We paid for the pro version, and that even sped it up even more just to be able to ask questions. They gave you little snippets as well, quite surprisingly. And, yeah, so that chat was actually a major benefit and moving forward to figuring out ways through this, I think.

00:07:38 - Jenn Boyles

That's happening with a lot of companies right now. Introducing a bit of that. AI tech is helping them a lot, but it has to be the humans that come up with the idea and the humans that market it. So it's called EmailCollect, and it's software. There's no hardware involved, is there?

00:07:58 - Michael Guildford

No, no, it's just you pay an annual subscription and then we send you a PDF of the QR code. And that's basically all the interaction upfront that needs to be done. You can take that PDF and dress it up with your company logos, whatever, welcome things on it, and you just place it in the apartment.

00:08:21 - Jenn Boyles

And I liked how you explained it. It's like I described it as a Wi Fi gate. So as people want to get onto the Wi Fi, they have to put in their details. Their phone or another phone. Is it their phone or is it just what details do people actually have to put in to get a name, email.

00:08:39 - Michael Guildford

Phone, and where do they sort of live? You know, where they live is sort of like Arizona or Texas or Australia. Just sort of just another thing that people can just sort, look at the data and sort of discern whether, you know, if they want to cater out a little bit more and segment the data a little bit and what are you doing?

00:09:02 - Jenn Boyles

So once you get these email addresses, because you've got 14 apartments. So when we think about it, at any given night, you could have 14 sets of guests in your apartments. They're all going on the Wi Fi. So then their data goes into a spreadsheet, and then you get this and you upload it to your CRM, your email program. And then what are people supposed to do with it?

00:09:26 - Michael Guildford

Well, that's where life gets a little bit more complicated, because as time goes on, your data builds, you might start off with ten or 20, and then suddenly you got 100,000, and then you have to be a little bit more official, like using these marketing companies. And there's a variety of ways you can go. I know I went to the conference and Nashville just recently, and I was surprised at the number of new companies that had started to provide this service. Some of them provided a full suite so that you didn't have to do anything, you just basically had to hand over your data to them. And that's great to stuff up your website and reviews and stuff like that, and that market to your customers. And so it's obviously a paid service and others were providing templates and a guide. Yeah, so, yeah, so there's a number of companies which have recently appeared to help people with that, using that data, because, I mean, you can collect it and you can sit on it, and I think a lot of people may find that's what they do, but that's not the, that's not the purpose, you know, sitting on the data. You gotta take that data and make it work for you. And I, I would look into those personally, I would look into those companies to actually provide that service for you. Where do you want the full sort of white gloves sort of story, or were you interested in doing part of the work yourself.

00:11:04 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah. And that's the whole thing about it, isn't it, that you upload the data to your email program and that's where the hard work starts. It's when you upload their data into your email program and you have to start emailing out to your guests, your pabst guests, not just the ones that have booked, but anyone that has logged into the Wi Fi and then start emailing them, telling them how amazing, you know, reminding them how amazing their trip was, telling them about things that are coming up and encouraging them to come back. Isn't that the overall sort of strategy?

00:11:41 - Michael Guildford

Yeah, yeah, that's it in a nutshell, you know. And that has to be done. And that people got to remember that that's a part of the chain of collecting data from your guests. And so you actually get out and make that data work for you.

00:11:56 - Jenn Boyles


00:11:57 - Michael Guildford

Without that, you know, the whole thing is fairly pointless.

00:12:00 - Jenn Boyles

Yes, exactly. And I love talking to people and I say, so you've got an email list. Yes, I've got an email list. Okay, great. How many are on it? 200. Great. How often do you email? That's where it gets tricky. And I think people get afraid that they don't want to bother people. But the thing is, if those gangsters have had an amazing time, they want to hear from you. They want to hear about how they can come back and stay again.

00:12:30 - Michael Guildford

Yep, yep. And they're happy to do that, too. They're more than happy to come back and stay.So there's no need to be afraid to market to you past guests. And the thing is that they've opted in to the marketing as well from on that QR code who are not on the contact form, they've actually consented for you to contact them. So that's a big part of getting that consent. So you're not just spraying whoever, this group, people that have been staying with you, have actually considered for you to contact them.

00:13:08 - Jenn Boyles

Yeah, it's there. It complies with the international data laws, doesn't it? So you're not spamming. People have opted in to hear from you and they can unsubscribe anytime they want, so.

00:13:20 - Michael Guildford

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That's a big part of your marketing, is that that next step that you've got to give them that option to unsubscribe until they wish.

00:13:31 - Jenn Boyles

Well, I really, I applaud your entrepreneurial spirit because you would think that I'm not going to give away your age by any means, but at this stage of life, you'd be like, I just want to put my feet up now. But I think coming up with a new tech solution is amazing.

00:13:49 - Michael Guildford

Yes. Hopefully I've got a long run in front of me, so I got to do something.

00:13:56 - Jenn Boyles

That's true. That's true. Well, I want to thank you, Michael, so much for coming on to talk about email collect, because it is an exciting program and I love that software. So anyone around the world can use it, can't they?

00:14:12 - Michael Guildford

Yes. Yeah, yeah.

00:14:13 - Michael Guildford

We've got about 190 odd countries around the world, and if there's Internet there, you're in business.

00:14:19 - Jenn Boyles

Right. Great. So I do want to ask you, because we're talking about direct bookings, and this is a tool that can help people increase their direct bookings, which is what we're all in favor of. So what does direct booking success mean to you, Colonel?

00:14:35 - Michael Guildford

Tell you a couple of little short stories. We've collected something like 1605 star reviews over the years. One reason we didn't start with 14 properties, and we built up to that over time. Yeah. And we run it, you know, 4.9 on the otas. So we were right up there and just, this is the first time this has ever happened to us just recently. And it did put the wind up us a little bit. We got a one star review and it was quite spurious. The review didn't show us any proof or show us any photos of all the accusations, and they were completely refunded their money and we were blocked. That particular apartment was blocked for a week from taking bookings. That sort of can put a bit of a scare into you real quick. And I've heard stories of people's whole site's being blocked and even to the point where they're shut down completely, not just given a weak slap on the wrist. And so, yeah, direct bookings take that out of your life. You have no dependency on an outside force coming in and messing with your business. Direct bookings does that for you. And the other thing it does for you is that I always joke around talking about business and stuff, but we sort of say that the best business you've ever owned is the one you just sold for seven figures. And direct bookings, that data list increases the value of your business. That gives your business something to actually sell. If you got an OTA dependent business, you don't really have a lot to sell. But if you got 10,000 or 20,000 addresses, which are people that have stayed in your properties that you build up over a number of years, you actually have something to sell, and that puts value on your business. And so, and that's what trick booking means to me.

00:16:33 - Jenn Boyles

Great. Great. Yes. Though that's a really good point, isn't it? It's putting that value on your business, because if you're wholly reliant on another business, you're just a contractor, really. You're not even, you don't even really have a full fledged business. So that's wonderful. Well, thank you. So the website is emailcollette.com. I'll put the links in the show notes where people can come and have a look at it. It's really a great idea. And Michael, I thank you so much for coming and sharing your story.

00:17:05 - Michael Guildford

Thanks for having me on your podcast, Jenn. That's very nice.

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