In the next 6 weeks I plan to put three new units into service as STR's. I will be using HomeAway and Air BnB as my channels. I already have other properties up on Air BnB. Does anyone else out there use a channel manager? If so, would it be worth it for just two 'channels' or am I better off going direct to the sites?
I am also considering investing in having a website created for direct bookings. I am curious to know if the fees saved are worth the investment and infrastructure cost (web site creation, credit card processing fees) to set up the website.
We have looked into our own web site for direct bookings and we found it not necccessary. Our concerns were if Air BnB decided to drop us for some unknown reason. We know of a host with 40 properties who got dropped for no apparent reason. Now, there are always two sides of the story and I’m sure there were several warning signs.
I would go direct to Air BnB at first to gauge your pricing, target guests, and overall effectiveness. You and only you will have the ability to conduct an honest assessment of your properties. Lastly, we found the building of a web site, maintenance, and ongoing monitoring didn’t make sense cost wise. Even the best SEO directing traffic to you is expensive. Very expensive! Plus, people trust the Air BnB platform much more then a personal web site by you. It’s unfortunately reality. Take care.
I am new to this but am already finding it tedious updating prices on two sites (AirBNB & VRBO). I am confident that my micro-management of daily rates based on demand and competition will make me substantially more than just setting prices once in a while. But the caveat is I'm changing them in multiple places, which takes too much time. I am desperate for a channel manager if for no other reason than setting prices in one place. Looking forward to hearing what people use! (And yes, I know about Guesty and all those high-end ones but I'm not about to pay anyone a percentage of gross income...)
It really comes down to what features you are looking to streamline. Is it guest communication? Pricing? Calendar syncing? Listing duplication? Channel Management software and programs can offer many tools and resources that can simplify listing management.
If you are just looking to just simplify pricing, you could use a revenue management program like Beyond Pricing, Pricelabs, or Wheelhouse.
There are several completely package deals like HostAway, Guesty, and Lodgify where you can have all the features you need, you can connect them to a credit card processor like Stripe, and have a website all wrapped up into the same price.
Hi @Karen Chenaille , I have been using Evolve Vacation for about 3 years now and can say that depending on your business model, they provide a pretty clean experience to manage your listings, bookings and pre-stay communications to your guests for the 13% (this includes payment processing) that they charge.
They have recently updated their owner portal as well which allows for some pretty robust reporting and a nice all-in-one place to view your multiple listings. Once again though, this really depends on if this falls into your cash flow model and the amount of 'touch' you want to have with each guest.
In the end, for your own website, don't burn too much energy on it unless you plan to accompany it with a solid SEO strategy...99% of your bookings are most likely going to come thru Airbnb/VRBO anyway.
Hi @Karen Chenaille and congratulations on your new STRs.
I can't really speak to your question about using a channel manager since I've not taken that step. But I did want to chime in on the question about having your own website. It really does not cost much to create a website and with all of the website builders out there it is not difficult. We have one for our properties that we use to advertise outside of the big listing sites.
I do no SEO work on the site; I know that my website is not going to be organically found in an online search. That is not the purpose. The purpose is to create a "brand" for your STR business.
You'd be surprised at how often we find ourselves talking to other people about our properties. We have business cards with our website & contact information printed on them and give them out any time the opportunity presents itself.
Having our own website allows us to send the URL for the property the guest is interested in instead of sending them our VRBO listing. Our repeat guests can go to our website and book their next visit so they can save having to pay the service fee to VRBO.
One tip is to "name" your property; create that brand. If someone happens to view your property on one of the listing sites they may be savvy enough to google the name of your property and find your website so that they can contact you directly. (Note, any time someone contacts me through one of the listing sites, if they want to rent my property they must rent it through the site they used to contact me. I will not take their booking outside of that site.)
At the very least you should create a Facebook page for your property to give it an online presence outside of the listing sites.
Best of luck!
Hi Tim. About a year ago I looked at Orbirental because I wanted to sync prices between HA and Abnb. They advertised it as something they could do after joining they said “it’s coming in a few months”. I only wanted them for the price syncing. I found the channel management features overwhelming. So I bailed.
Since then I have learned from another app developer the HA unlike Air BnB does not share all parts of their API. This means that no third party channel manager or app will ever be able to sync prices between Air BnB and HA.
HA has a proprietary tool called market manager that requires you to go into the app and manage prices. It’s very powerful but your prices will never perfectly match Air BnB.
Thanks for your detailed response. I think I will get someone from Upwork to create a basic website that allow direct bookings and see how it goes. I hand out biz cards too and have found them very handy for promoting our places.
Best of luck to you!
@Karen Chenaille Hey Karen. Orbirental has significantly upgraded since a year ago. The software is much more user-friendly and they integrate directly with HA now and yes you can sync prices for both HA and Airbnb. Note I'm not a rep..just someone who had extremely long conversations with Stephan(CEO) as they merged with another company last month. I was highly impressed.
@Valerie Rogers Having your own website is always good. I would utilize it during a checkout email offering a discount to book direct next time. That way you are promoting your personal website/brand and will not be subject to service fees. It'll also be cheaper for the guests as well. Also great to share to personal friends, family and social media. You don't need to give marketing channels free business - you already pay for that :)
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