Have you ever had a guest reach out to book directly with you, completely out of the blue? That’s exactly what happened to Jenn Boyles, the host of the Direct Booking Success Podcast. Little did she know, this unexpected encounter would change the course of her vacation rental business forever. In a saturated market, Jenn discovered the key to increasing direct bookings and building trust with guests. But how did she do it? Stay tuned to find out the surprising twist that led Jenn to achieve an incredible 80% direct bookings, and learn the actionable steps you can take to do the same.
Prove you can be trusted. Be upfront about what you offer and answer any questions before they are even asked. – Jenn Boyles
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Unlock the secrets to direct booking success with insider tips from industry experts.
- Increase your direct bookings and boost your revenue with proven strategies.
- Build trust with your guests and create a memorable vacation experience.
- Learn how proactive communication can enhance guest trust and satisfaction.
- Discover the power of authenticity and transparency in attracting and retaining guests.
The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:08 – Introduction
00:01:02 – The Importance of Trust
00:03:26 – Don’t Panic
00:07:13 – Show Your Face
00:08:41 – Prove That You Can Be Trusted
Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/
Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess
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Sign up for the free masterclass – The 4-step framework for a profitable direct booking sales engine: https://directbookingsuccess.com/masterclasswaitlist
Welcome to Direct Booking Success.
As ever, I'm your host, Jenn Boyles. A question for you. Have you ever wondered how you can get guests booked with you Direct instead of on Airbnb? This is a question I'm often asked, and today I'm sharing my presentation from the 2023 Direct Booking Success Summit. To help answer that question, go grab a pen and some paper and get ready to take some notes.
Here we go. Okay, let's get right into it. Do you ever feel like this? Another guest has booked on an Ota, an online travel agent. Instead of booking Direct, you just don't get it.
You feel like you're banging your head against the wall. You have a good direct booking website. You're all over social media. You have an email list and are actually sending out emails. So why are the guests not booking with you Direct, but going back again and again to the OTAs?
It all comes down to one thing, a five letter word: trust. The definition of trust is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. As human beings, we have an internal need to feel secure. We must feel like we can trust who we are buying from. In fact, all relationships, personal or professional, require trust.
And who do guests trust? Airbnb. They trust Airbnb and the other online travel agents. Think back to the pandemic. What did Airbnb do in the spring of 2020?
They made a decision to cancel all bookings and give their guests their money back. Who benefited from this decision? The guests. Now, what about their air cover? Who does this benefit?
The guests. Airbnb has made it their mission in life as a huge company to look after the guests. And that's fine. It's their prerogative. They know hosts will be driven to use their platform no matter how they treat them.
The guests are where their business is. The guest is where our business is. These are the people that they need to keep happy in order for them to be successful. And it's worked, hasn't it? They are very successful.
We now use airbnb as a verb and a noun for good or bad. It is part of our everyday language. Now, Airbnb and the other OTAs are not the enemy. Okay? That's not what I'm saying here.
What I'm saying is the guests will always be number one for them. So who's looking out for you? All right, next. So what can you do? Okay, the first thing is don't panic.
Okay? That's the number one thing right now. Don't panic. All hope is not lost. You can develop the trust needed for guests to book direct with you.
And today, I'm going to give you some actionable steps to take to make this happen. But first, who am I to be talking to you about increasing your direct bookings? Well, I've been there, okay? I'm just like you. Okay, so let's flash back to 2015.
Myself and my then husband bought a chalet in Austria and wanted to give the whole short term rental thing a real go. We had already had success with an apartment in France and one in the Netherlands using Airbnb. Okay. But buying the chalet was a huge chance to make a proper business out of what had been our hobby so far. Despite the fact that I had no experience in short term rentals other than using the Airbnb platform, I didn't know the area or speak the language.
And I lived a thousand kilometers away. We jumped in anyway. We bought the chalet and put it on Airbnb. We thought we knew everything there was to know. Our first two apartments had done so well on Airbnb.
This whole thing was easy peasy. Sure, of course some bookings started to come, but there weren't enough. I needed that money to come in to pay the mortgage. I needed this business to work. And remember, I was living 1000 km away from this property.
When friends and family saw what I was doing, they didn't get it. They didn't understand why I was stressing so much on a hobby. But they didn't have that full picture of success that I had in my mind. I wanted guests to really want to come to our corner of Austria and stay with us. But I couldn't get the bookings I needed through Airbnb.
And I didn't know what to do until I had a call from a previous guest who wanted to come back and book direct. Book direct? Is that even allowed? Oh, I didn't know. A flash went off in my mind.
Not just a light bulb, but an entire flashbulb went off in my mind. I knew how I was going to stand out in all of the accommodation to rent in this town. The penny had dropped. I put on my marketing and design hat that I used for my day job and I got to work. I started to focus on previous guests and building a brand for the chalet.
I was focusing on direct bookings before I even knew that this was a thing. I was just trying to pay the mortgage and build a business. And throughout it all, I was building trust with potential guests because I had to. The market was saturated with every kind of accommodation business there was. Most importantly, what this allowed me to do was to stop worrying about the mortgage payments, and have more confidence to succeed.
When those direct bookings started to come in and I was able to grow the Chalet rental business which we were then able to sell. I then went on to start a completely different type of vacation rental business from scratch in a new country, without any audience, without doing any ads. And I had 80% direct bookings that first year using what I had learned from running the chalet. All because I learned how to get guests to trust to book direct with me. So let's get into it.
Okay? Get your pen and paper. Number one is to show your face. Literally show your face on your website and on social media. Have a compelling About US page that speaks to your ideal guest.
Tell them a bit about you and why you're running this business. Create that connection with potential guests. Have photos of you at the property. Speak about what you like best. Talk about your local area.
Show that you are the expert if you have more than one property or manage dozens for other people, the same rules apply. You need to show yourself in order to create that connection and trust that guest needs to book. Don't fall into the trap of hiding behind your company image or brand. This is the opposite of what you should be doing. Be a human.
Show that you have value in that relationship with your guests. Stop shouting about all your rules and start showing the hospitality that guests need and deserve. Number two, prove that you can be trusted. Think about why so many guests like booking on airbnb. Their air cover has a lot to do about knowing this.
They're saying that if you have any problem with the place you've booked, we've got your back and we'll fix it for you. Very nice of them, isn't it? So why can't you do the same? Create your own version of airbnb's air cover. Have a page on your website that is dedicated to trust.
Don't shy away from telling guests why they can trust you. Use language that is helpful. Spell it out for them by saying you can trust us and here is why. Tell them about your insurance, your guest verification programs, your cancellation policy. Don't hide it.
Don't hide it down at the foot of your website. Get it up there and create a page. Showcase the best reviews that build trust. It's important to have the most up to date ones on your site, of course, but having the best ones on your trust page with many photos, maybe from the guests themselves, will be a huge bump in your trustability. The bottom line is that guests don't want any nasty surprises.
So do everything you can to get the fact that you've got their backs. If something goes wrong, and I mean it too. Don't just make up things in your marketing. Make sure everything you say on your website is true. You can't build trust on lies.
Number three: Communicate effectively. I'm sure you have heard of a fax or an FAQ page. It stands for Frequently Asked Questions. This is a great way to help create some trust and is something you could add to your website trust page. Do through your entire booking process.
Go through and make a list of all the questions and concerns that guests have had in the past or you can see that they might have in the future. Then address them, even the hard ones. And don't stop at addressing them just on your website. Start answering those questions before the guests have even asked. Do this in your email newsletter, in your social posts.
Communicate often with those who are on your email list. Don't just build up that list and sit on it, okay? You want to create that connection with them and build on it as well as staying top of mind for when they are ready to book. Treat them with respect. Again, be human and don't hide behind your company's facade.
Sign your name to that email. Be personal. Use I instead of we and keep your branding consistent across everything. The last thing you need is to confuse people and lose potential guests because they don't think your website is the right one. After viewing your social posts, after all the work you've done, you don't want to lose any bookings because of confusion.
So let's run through it again. How to build the trust you need for guests to book direct with you. Show your face. People buy from people. I should get a billboard and shout that from the rooftops.
People buy from people, okay? This is what airbnb cannot do. Create that connection with guests and they will book direct. Okay? Create.
It's an emotional thing to have a connection and we as human beings are geared towards it, okay? That's what we need to feel secure and to book. Now prove you can be trusted, okay? Don't be sleazy and promise what you can't deliver. Be upfront with what you offer, okay?
If you have a huge tower block or something right beside your building, your property, tell people about it. Be upfront about it, okay? People will trust you when you're honest. And there's going to be people that do not bother. And the people that bothers, they won't book.
And that is good because if they're not booking, then they're not going to give you crappy reviews or treat the place badly or anything like that. All we want to do is create trust for people to book, but we want the right people booking. So be honest. So be upfront with what you offer and answer any questions before they are even asked. Communicate effectively.
Keep it simple. Communicate often and personally. Those are real people that are opening your emails. They're real people that are reading your social posts. They're real people that are going onto your website.
Show them the respect that they deserve. Treat them how you'd like to be treated. If you take one thing away from today. There are small tweaks that you can make to your already amazing business. I know you can do it.
I know you can show yourself more or answer more questions in order to create the trust that guests need. And it might be uncomfortable at the beginning, it might be, but work through it. The more you do something, the less crazy it feels. Well, there you have it. The answer to the question of how to get more guests to book with you direct instead of on airbnb.
It all comes down to trust. Building that trust with your guests is exactly how you compete with Airbnb. I hope you've taken lots of notes and are already thinking about what you can do for your own accommodation business.