Do you want to boost your earnings and expand your business as a host? Are you searching for a way to achieve substantial growth and generate more revenue? Look no further! Today, our guest, Adams Taranda, is here to reveal the ultimate solution that will help you attain these desired outcomes. Get ready to discover how to maximize your direct bookings and gain more control over your business’s success.
I quickly realized that there’s something more I can do, something more I can build. With direct bookings, I gained control over my business, my cash flow, and ultimately, more bookings. – Adams Taranda
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Boost your revenue by increasing direct bookings with these simple strategies.
- Uncover the power of visuals and learn how to build a strong brand for your vacation rental.
- Make the shift from relying on online travel agencies to taking control of your bookings and increasing your profits.
- Discover the importance of high-quality photography and how it can attract more guests to your property.
- Streamline your booking process with an easy-to-use platform that will save you time and effort.
My special guest this week is Adams Taranda.
Adams Taranda, the CEO and co-founder of Booklee, brings a fresh perspective to the world of direct bookings. With a background in the financial sector and a deep curiosity about the hospitality industry, Adams was drawn to the potential of Airbnb and created his own rental experience. As he delved into the world of hosting, he discovered the limitations of relying solely on OTAs for bookings. Determined to have more control over his business, Adams turned to social media marketing and brand building to attract guests directly. Through trial and error, he uncovered the secrets of direct booking success and realized the power of connecting with guests on a personal level. This journey led him to co-found Booklee, a user-friendly tool that empowers hosts to maximize their revenue and grow their business. With Adams’ unique blend of financial expertise and passion for hospitality, he offers invaluable insights to hosts looking to take control of their bookings and achieve direct booking success.
Use the code “DBS” for 15% off
The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:08 – Introduction
00:01:00 – Adams’ Background
00:03:03 – Discovering Direct Bookings
00:06:30 – Thinking of Airbnb as a Marketing Channel
00:09:36 – Booklee’s Direct Booking Feature
00:15:54 – The Importance of Photography and Copy
00:16:42 – Booklee’s Approach to Building an Online Presence
00:17:43 – Challenges with Personalizing PMS Websites
00:19:01 – Booklee as a First Step into Direct Bookings
00:21:20 – What Direct Booking Success Means to Adams
Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/
Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess
Join the Marketing Hub Free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketinghubforholidayrentals
Sign up for the free masterclass – The 4-step framework for a profitable direct booking sales engine: https://directbookingsuccess.com/masterclasswaitlist
00:00:31 - Jenn Boyles
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Direct Booking Success. I'm Jennn Boyles, your host, and today I have Adams Taranda with me. He is the CEO and co-founder of Booklee. Welcome, Adams.
00:00:47 - Adams Taranda
Thank you, Jenn, for having me. Really excited for this.
00:00:50 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, me too. This is going to be great. Can we start with you sharing a bit about who you are and what you do?
00:00:57 - Adams Taranda
Sure, sure. So a quick intro on my side. Yes, I am the CEO and copper of Booklee. At Booklee, what we do, we have created a simple builder tool for hosts wanting to start their own direct booking journey. So Booklee is a super easy tool to kind of create your own booking landing page. That's for Booklee.
00:01:22 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah. And what about you? Where did you come from this? Because you're in, right? Yeah, yeah. So tell us your background. How did this sort of come about?
00:01:34 - Adams Taranda
Sure. So, yes, I am from Latvia. It's a small Baltic state here over the pond, if you will. The whole team is also Latvian. And as for the background on my side, I come from the financial sector, actually. I've been working in the finances, really focusing on real estate financing here in the Baltic states, Latvia, that was kind of my first entry into real estate investing, if you. Yeah. But about the hosting and hospitality industry overall, Airbnb was kind of on my radar all the time. I was just really curious about Airbnb, how that business goes. And just my mind was always kind of rumbling about the idea of kind of creating your own small experience, small rental, if you will, and kind of putting out that to market and then welcoming guests and then showing them your area and essentially building a business. Right that way. And, yeah, how I got my first grounds into Airbnb was actually to my girlfriend. She had two properties that she managed. And I said, yeah, I mean, I like Airbnb. Was that thing Airbnb? I want to try it. And she kind of gave that management side of those Airbnbs to myself.
00:02:50 - Jenn Boyles
00:02:51 - Adams Taranda
Yeah, I started doing that and I quickly realized that the whole world of hospitality and vacation rentals are much larger than the Airbnb Ota as we know it.
00:03:03 - Adams Taranda
00:03:04 - Jenn Boyles
How did that come about? Because a lot of people, I think you start with Airbnb. It's such a good, easy entrance point into hospitality. But how did that come about, that you realized the larger world of.
00:03:22 - Adams Taranda
I mean, it kind of goes back to the issue of trying to do more, grow faster, more occupancy, more bookings. And I kind of quickly realized that I quickly hit a roadblock of my growth on Airbnb. And I understood that there's actually not a lot of things that I can control on Airbnb. I mean, I can take beautiful pictures, write a nice description and kind of put up that listing and then cross my arms and kind of sit back in my chair and wait for bookings to come in. And I just didn't like that. I always felt that there's something more I can do, something more. I can build my business, my cash flow, and essentially get more bookings. And I just started brainstorming, what is it that I can do extra? I joined Bunch of Facebook groups, watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and, yeah, then I understood that the world is much bigger. And what I found is this little thing called Direct Booking Success.
00:04:20 - Jenn Boyles
That little thing?
00:04:21 - Adams Taranda
Yeah, that little thing. Exactly. And I got really curious about that. So I essentially started to brainstorm away how I can jump into that little thing, Direct Booking Success. And I found social media to be kind of the first small, easy entryway into that. And that's what I did. I started creating content for my property on Facebook, on Instagram, doing reels, videos and photos, kind of trying to create this brand, trying to go a bit viral, showing what guests can do in our local area, what they can expect and all that stuff. And, yeah, that was my entryway into that. And then I also started kind of doing guidebooks in parallel to that. And with guidebooks, I understood that that's a way how I can elevate the guest experience, really narrow down on that brand building aspect of business and things from there kind of snowballed to Booklee. And that's another story, how I met with my co-founder.
00:05:30 - Jenn Boyles
No, but that's really wonderful because that's what it is with Airbnb. You've got your listing, you set it all up, and then you just sort of wait, and it's like you've got your business with your fingers crossed, like, okay, I just hope some bookings come in. And with Direct Bookings and taking control of your own business, you can really be proactive. Exactly.
00:05:58 - Adams Taranda
What kind of clicked in my mind is that we as hosts, naturally think of OTAs such as Airbnb as our revenue channel. But once you start thinking of Airbnb as your marketing channel, it's a whole different ball game for your business. You understand that you can retarget your past guests, collect their information, emails, phone numbers. You can build a brand, you can redirect them to your booking, direct booking option that you suddenly realize that you can make more money with that.
00:06:30 - Adams Taranda
00:06:30 - Adams Taranda
You have a bunch of these business levers under your control.
00:06:35 - Adams Taranda
00:06:35 - Adams Taranda
Once you kind of flip that mindset there and, yeah, that's kind of my entryway into the industry. That's kind of my little spark of interest, curiosity, if you will. That kind of led me to build Booklee.
00:06:50 - Adams Taranda
00:06:51 - Jenn Boyles
So I guess I'm going to assume here that you're doing these posts on Facebook and Instagram and you're building that. Then, you know, people are wanting to book and where are they booking with you from the start? At the start.
00:07:07 - Adams Taranda
Right. So that's actually a story about how I met with Rainies and how we built. We started. Once I started doing Instagram and Facebook for my property, kind of hit this roadblock. Okay, I'm getting traffic for my socials. There's engagement. There are actually people trying to book my prOperty. And I was just, okay, wow, I had this traffic. I need to kind of bridge that traffic into actual bookings. And what I kind of find out is that a lot of hosts were trying to use Linktree for that purpose and what they did with their Linktree, they kind of put a simple landing page with links to their existing OTAs. And then above the OTAs, they would kind of put up their contact details like WhatsApp, messenger, email or their phone number, whatever, for them to kind of convert that traffic from socials into actual bookings. But I started using Linktree, but I understood that Linktree is not really a good solution for that. I mean, we miss out on showing our reviews. That builds trust for our guest pictures. Guests buy with their eyes.
00:08:23 - Jenn Boyles
I love that. Guests buy with their eyes.
00:08:26 - Adams Taranda
Exactly. So we kind of miss out on all of these beautiful opportunities to increase our conversion, increase our bookings. And that was kind of our light bulb moment to build Booklee to make this transition from socials into bookings more seamless, more powerful and essentially more better. And along the way, I met with.
00:08:48 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, because if you have a sort of link in bio, a link tree page or a bunch of links and you're putting your OTAs but in your contact details, most people will just go to those OTAs right. So here you are doing all the work to build this brand and then they're still booking on the OTA, which you're then paying commission.
00:09:08 - Adams Taranda
00:09:09 - Adams Taranda
And here's a little trick. What we did on Booklee to kind of avoid that, we made it sure, really sure and concrete that the guest who clicks on your Booklee linked bio booking page and clicks book, the first thing that pops out is a text saying book us direct save on platform fees. And the book direct option would be bulb and the very first option that pops out to your guests.
00:09:36 - Adams Taranda
00:09:36 - Jenn Boyles
And then it has to be easy, doesn't it? Like, I'm not going to book if I have to email somebody, if I have to wait or text them and I don't know who these people are, I'm just going to go to the OTAs. Even though I know I'm a direct booking advocate, I just put that guest hat on and I'm like, I want it to be easy.
00:09:56 - Adams Taranda
00:09:57 - Adams Taranda
Yeah. So at this stage, we're still a startup. We are growing fast and we have a bunch of things in our pipeline. The actual direct booking feature, the whole process we are still yet to build out. But how Booklee works right now is that if you have, say, I don't know, a PMS and hospitable per se, and you have this direct booking widget, then you can just link it under the Booklee website and have it as your direct booking checkout. Have this seamless checkout for your potential guests.
00:10:29 - Jenn Boyles
00:10:30 - Adams Taranda
But yeah, I mean, there are markets that still kind of conduct their business and bookings over WhatsApp. It's just the specificity of the market. I mean, here in Latvia and in Greece, we still see hosts that use simple WhatsApp to do bookings. Yeah, avoid the block of OTS, if you will.
00:10:51 - Jenn Boyles
You met your co-founder, Reynas. And how did this idea come out? Because I can understand that you're posting on social media, building that brand, but there is a disconnect because you need to get people to actually make that booking.
00:11:07 - Adams Taranda
00:11:08 - Adams Taranda
So how Reynas and I met was that. It's a funny story. So we are actually alumni of the same university here in Latvia, and we met through the similar idea of trying to build this direct booking feature for hosts. He's a host himself. I mean, I think it was one email on a Saturday evening or something. I just kind of brought him an email. Hey, I see that you're doing this and that in the industry. We are from the same school. I'm doing something similar. I don't know, I just want to chat and see where we land. And we kind of went for a quick coffee and right away there was a click.
00:11:53 - Jenn Boyles
We understood each other well.
00:11:54 - Adams Taranda
These guys speak the same language as I am. And it was just a no brainer for us not to partner up on the same journey and put our forces together to bring this tool to the market, essentially. So, yeah, in a way it was luck, but the partnership and working together kind of felt supernatural for us since we have been struggling with the same pain. That's how we met.
00:12:20 - Jenn Boyles
So you've created it has started as a link in bio, which exactly. If anybody listening is going, what are you talking about on Instagram now, they've changed it so you can have multiple links now, but there used to be only one link, so everything had to go through that link in your bio on Instagram. And so you created this Booklee as a tool that would be like a booking landing page. A beautiful looking, beautiful booking landing page. I have to add that because they look fantastic as a link in bio. That was sort of the starting point, wasn't it?
00:13:02 - Adams Taranda
Exactly. And kind of the rationale behind the link in bio and focus on social media, Instagram, Facebook is from the, say, business thinking that we as a host, we want to build an experience. We are selling an experience, a package of emotions to our guests. Right. And it's natural that on social media, social media is the free tool for us vacation rental hosts to do that, to sell an experience, to market an experience out there to the market and try and achieve this organic growth for our properties.
00:13:37 - Adams Taranda
Right. And it felt natural for us to kind of focus first and really narrow down on this niche market of selling the experience and having this experience bridge into bookings. So social media and LinkedIn bio was this kind of natural starting point for us. But yeah, I mean, Booklee landing page can be easily found on Google. It can be Googled, you can have it on your email exchange, you can send it to guests as a link. It is not confined, just be on social media. You can have it as a standalone website as well. That's actually what we are kind of trying to transition into being a standalone website and. Yeah, simply from the growth aspect of the traction we are getting.
00:14:23 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, no, it's fabulous because I can see such a great future for this because I get people to come to me and they're on Airbnb, I want to try Direct Booking Success. I need a website and I'm like, okay, well, you need some money to invest in a really good website. Oh, I don't have that kind of money. And so then I have to say, okay, well, let's start with something that is free out there. So maybe you're the website builder of a PMS. Nothing wrong with it. Some of them are really good. Fine. But then that person has to go build it without any technical knowledge. And I know they've tried to make it really easy, but I have somebody right now, one of my clients, who just said, I don't tell anybody about it because I hate it. I hate the way it looks. It looks so horrible. I don't want anyone to see it. And she goes, I can't do it any better. I don't know what to do.
00:15:21 - Adams Taranda
00:15:21 - Jenn Boyles
So I love how easy Booklee is. It takes your information from your Airbnb listing.
00:15:30 - Adams Taranda
00:15:31 - Jenn Boyles
So you've already got that information. It pulls it in, it looks the. You still need some good copy and you still need some really good images because there is a saying, and I don't even know if I can swear on, I'll say, I'll say poo instead. Poo in, poo out. That's it. You need to invest in some really good photography because as Adams said, guests buy with their eyes. They're trying to picture themselves at your property and having that experience and copy, too. We need to have some good copy that people that are focusing on the benefits rather than the features of your property, or your short term rental.
00:16:26 - Adams Taranda
That's spot on. Be this super friendly, super easy tool to kind of build your own online presence out there.
00:16:43 - Jenn Boyles
One you can be proud of.
00:16:45 - Adams Taranda
Exactly. Yeah. Build a really nice, beautiful landing page that essentially looks nice and beautiful.
00:16:55 - Adams Taranda
And it's super easy to kind of drag and drop the content onto that. You don't need any technical skill to essentially build a Booklee page. You can do it in 25 minutes and you're done with your page.
00:17:06 - Adams Taranda
00:17:07 - Adams Taranda
And yeah, that's what we here at Bookley are doing. You're spot on. Also with the PMS for our property, we also have Lodgify and we actually tried to build a Lodgify website for ourselves and we arrived at the same conclusions that you get some nice template that you can work with, but you are still kind of working with a template that is not fully personalized to your property. It feels a bit clunky. There was this learning curve for us to kind of understand where everything is and then all that stuff. And yeah, it's not all the way there.
00:17:47 - Jenn Boyles
And every PMS, every program is different. So it's not the most user-friendly way of doing it.
00:17:56 - Adams Taranda
00:17:56 - Jenn Boyles
But I just love that you're allowing hosts who have one property, two properties and aren't. It was actually, just as a side note, a question I asked those who came to the direct Booking success Summit this year was, are you looking to grow your portfolio? Because in this business, people are always talking about scaling and growth and wow. And I'll tell you, the answer was 50-50. Yes and no. So there are people out there that are fine with it. I'm one of them, I have one property, I am fine with it. That's all I want right now. In the future, things might be different, but right now I just have the one and I'm not looking to scale and so I don't have that mass of capital to invest in things. And what I love about this is that you're allowing people with smaller portfolios to just start to just get their foot in the door and get their own Direct Booking Success. Get the bug. I think once you get that direct booking bug, that's it. You're going. You're off.
00:19:06 - Adams Taranda
Exactly. Yeah. It is a commitment of large capital to kind of build out a full fledged direct booking website. It is scary. I mean, it totally makes sense. Yeah, it's scary essentially, right? And for hosts that just want to get their foot in the door, as you said, it's not an option, essentially.
When you grow, when you have a proper cash flow, when you expand your portfolio, and then it makes a lot of sense for you to invest in a full blown, proper direct booking websiTe.
And Booklee is kind of trying to be this first step, if you will.
First step to jump into Direct Bookings, feel what it is like, build your own online presence, build your own experience out there, selling experience.
That's where Booklee is. That's what we are trying to help us with.
00:19:59 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, that's it. And there's no shade on anyone who is happy with being on the OTAs and just, it's working. And they're, that is, that's, now, I was really happy on Airbnb as well until it stopped working for. And then, and it's the same with you, you know, hit that wall and you're like, okay, I need to be able to do something to increase my occupancy, my bookings, that kind of you know, I'm not throwing any shade at anyone who is doing that, and that is fine. But if you are looking at the point where, okay, I'm ready to jump into Direct Booking Success, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. I need somewhere for people to book. The two things you need for Direct Booking Success are somewhere for them to book easy and telling people about it. The marketing part, it's very simplified, but those are the two things that you need to look at. And Booklee fills that gap in creating something that is easy and beautiful for people to book on. Okay, so, Adamss, one question I need to ask you before we say goodbye today is what does direct booking success mean to you?
00:21:15 - Adams Taranda
In a nutshell, it means control and building a brand. That's what I love about it. Once you kind of have your foot into Direct Booking Success, having access to all of these business levers that you previously didn't have access to, a whole new world kind of pops up. You access data about your guests, you understand fully what your guests want, what they need, what they expect. You can tailor to those needs. You can implement various additional services on your properties, such as, I don't know, renting, kayaks, massages, whatever. The possibilities are endless there. It's just this kind of, this switch that you're a brand, you control everything now. You have all these business Levers under your control. I mean, yeah, it suddenly becomes a large, super exciting, creative world to kind of function within. And that's what I love about Direct Booking Success. Direct Booking Success is like the true translation for me into that small, little creative, exciting world. And, yeah, that's how I would put it.
00:22:24 - Jenn Boyles
Brilliant. Well, thank you so much, Adamss, for coming on today, sharing your story and talking to us about Booklee, because it is exciting. It is a great entry point for those who are wanting to get into Direct Booking Success. But for a small one, it doesn't cost very much at all. It's about $9 a month or something like that. Talk about if you had one booking off of that. Goodness gracious, you're laughing. And speaking of that, anybody who's listening to this can use the code DBS for direct booking success for 15% off. And that is. So I thank you, Adamss, for that offer and your links that I'll put into the show notes. Where's the best place that people can connect with you?
00:23:15 - Adams Taranda
Our website, certainly it's Bookl.ee Or simply just Booklee on Google. You're going to find our website there.
00:23:24 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah. And that's B-O-O-K-L-E-E.
00:23:27 - Adams Taranda
00:23:28 - Jenn Boyles
So that's great. Well, thank you again, Adamss. Thank you for coming on today.
00:23:32 - Adams Taranda
Thank you, Jim. It was a blast. Thank you.