Should I Create a Direct Booking Site for my Short Term Rental?
Is it worth creating my own direct booking site?
Yes and No. First question you should ask yourself: Why am I a short term rental host? If it's simply to rent a space here and there for extra income, then you are best served with ONLY using the large OTA's (Online Travel Agency) such as Airbnb and/or VRBO.
If on the other hand, your vacation rental has become more of a business venture, then by all means you should have your own direct booking site.
Another important consideration. Is your property a commodity or a "one of a kind"? For example if you own a condo in a building with other listings and it's a passive investment, stick with OTA's, in fact you may want to consider a property manager.
As well, if you are managing or plan to manage more than 1 short term rental property then YES. You should certainly have a direct booking site.
"Your own booking site will require more of a commitment."
What does creating a direct booking site involve?
First and foremost it puts you in the driver’s seat; you will be more in control of who gets to stay and how much you will earn.
However, you will need to enjoy working online. You will also need up to date computer equipment, software and reliable wifi. And most importantly, an openness to learning.
Basic business management skills, in particular marketing and customer relations aka CRM are also important. Nothing you can't tackle, you just need to allocate the time.
What are the STEPS to creating your own direct booking site?
1 - Name your property
2 - Secure a domain using your property name. Try Godaddy
3 - Shop for a suitable platform. We use Owner Rez for our property. But there are quite a few to choose from. Go to Capterra and search for "vacation rental software"
4 - Set up a Stripe or similar credit card processing account
5 - Download all previous guest emails from the OTA's you are using
I have a direct booking site. Now what?
1 - Set up a Google Business page; this helps legitimize your domain, since the big OTA's discourage travellers from booking direct
2 - Learn all you can about SEO
3- Write a few short blogs about the area
4- DO NOT remove your OTA listings. Review them carefully, for example make sure going direct is a better value
5 - Get a Mailchimp or similar account and launch your first email campaign
6 - Encourage repeats and referrals