Migrating Guests to Direct Bookings, Part 2: Website & Marketing

In the first part of this tutorial, we discussed the benefits of migrating your Airbnb and VRBO guests to direct sales and how to prepare your property for this transition. Now, let’s dive into the essential steps of creating and marketing your own short-term rental booking website.

Building Your Own Booking Website

Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting

Your website’s domain name is its online address, and it’s crucial to choose a memorable, relevant, and easy-to-spell domain name that represents your property or brand. Once you’ve settled on a domain name, you’ll need to find reliable hosting for your website. Some popular hosting providers include Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostGator.  For more in-depth reviews of hosting providers, read our post on the topic. Consider factors like server speed, security, customer support, the overall feature set and, of course, cost when selecting a hosting provider.

Designing an Attractive and User-Friendly Website

Your website’s design plays a significant role in attracting and retaining potential guests. Here are some tips for creating an appealing and user-friendly website:

  • Mobile Responsiveness: Ensure your website looks and functions well on mobile devices since many travelers research and book accommodations through their smartphones.
  • High-Quality Visuals: Use professional photos and videos of your property to showcase its features.
  • Clear Navigation: Make it easy for visitors to find essential information such as rates, availability, and contact details.
  • Booking System: Implement an easy-to-use booking system that allows guests to check availability and make reservations securely.
  • Engaging Content: Write compelling and informative content that highlights the unique aspects of your property and the local area.
  • Contact Information: Display your contact information prominently so potential guests can reach out with questions or booking inquiries.

    We will delve more on how you attract customers to your website in Part 3 of this series. 

Integrating Online Booking and Payment Systems

To facilitate direct bookings, you’ll need to integrate an online booking and payment system into your website. Several booking and reservation management platforms are available, such as:

  • Booking.com: Offers a booking engine that can be integrated into your website.
  • Wix: Provides built-in booking and payment features for website creation.
  • WordPress with Plugins: If you use WordPress, there are various booking plugins available, such as WooCommerce Bookings or WP Simple Booking Calendar.
  • Webflow is another content management solution with a variety of plugins for managing bookings and payments.

Make sure your chosen system supports secure payments and provides confirmation emails to guests after they make a booking. Security is essential to gain the trust of potential guests, as they’ll be sharing their payment details with your website.

Marketing Your Direct Sales

Now that you have your booking website up and running, it’s time to market your direct sales to attract guests. Effective marketing will be key to the success of your transition from third-party platforms to direct bookings.

Utilizing Social Media and Email Marketing

  • Social Media Presence: Create profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with potential guests. Share stunning photos of your property, local attractions, and special promotions. Use relevant hashtags to increase your visibility.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list by offering a newsletter or special discounts to website visitors. Send regular updates, including property highlights, local events, and exclusive offers, to keep your audience engaged and informed.
  • Online Advertising: Invest in paid advertising on platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads. Target specific demographics and geographic areas to reach potential guests who are more likely to be interested in your property.

Leveraging Online Advertising

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for search engines by using relevant keywords in your content. This will help your site rank higher in search results, increasing its visibility.
  • Content Marketing: Create blog posts or articles related to your property’s location, travel tips, and local attractions. Share these on your website and social media to attract organic traffic and establish your expertise in the area.
  • Online Travel Agencies (OTAs): While the goal is to migrate guests to direct sales, it’s worth considering maintaining a presence on OTAs to attract new guests. However, set your rates slightly higher on these platforms to encourage guests to book directly.

Collaborating with Local Businesses

Forge partnerships with local businesses to enhance the guest experience and attract more visitors:

  • Restaurants and Cafes: Partner with nearby eateries to offer exclusive discounts to your guests, promoting local dining experiences.
  • Tour Operators: Collaborate with local tour companies to provide your guests with exciting tours and activities.
  • Events and Attractions: Promote local events and attractions on your website and offer packages that include tickets or discounts for these activities.

By collaborating with local businesses, you can create a unique and enticing experience for your guests, making them more likely to book directly through your website.

Conclusion

In this part of our guide on migrating Airbnb and VRBO guests to direct sales, we’ve explored the crucial steps involved in creating your own short-term rental booking website and effectively marketing your direct sales. With a well-designed website and strategic marketing efforts, you can attract more guests, reduce commission fees, and ultimately increase your profitability.

In part 3, we’ll delve into the intricacies of managing guest communication and bookings, as well as handling legal and tax considerations when transitioning to direct sales. Stay tuned for valuable insights to help you navigate this transition successfully.

 

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