Direct bookings, building a website

10 Replies

In an effort to gain a bit more independence from the large platforms, do any of you build your own direct booking websites?  I'm looking at Lodgify right now and I'm wondering if its just paying another platform fee in the effort for more "direct bookings".  Plus, when the platform handles the payments, seems like they handle the problems too.  Thoughts?

If you’re looking for 30-40% less bookings but getting to keep more of the money you do get that’s pry the way to go. If the big guys charge less than 30-40% you’ll make less money but have less work/turnover I can’t see any site outside of the top 2-3 claiming to get more than 1 or 2% of the bookings. 

Hey @Ashley Wolfe . I don't see Lodgify as independent. It really is just another way to list but you are still beholden to them. Especially for the website. I haven't looked into it much, but I am guessing that the website is owned by them so if you decide to move it, it stays there and you have to start over.

If you want an independent site, build your own. Wordpress is the way to go. I am working on one now hosted over at Bluehost. There are tons of widgets and add-ons that feature calendars that link back to other platforms, take payments, schedule cleanings and such. Most of them are free or low cost.

Then you own the site, build the rep, grow SER (search engine results) and all that. You can have a blog covering your area, forums if you want and custom email addresses linked to your site.

If you don't feel up to building it yourself (it is pretty easy really) you can hire out on Fiverr.com or Freelancer.com. Depending on the complexity, it shouldn't be too expensive.

Your own web site may save you in fees but how will you market yourself to compete against the big sites? That may have worked pretty well 10 years ago but now there are paid advertisers. You can type in a search for Zillow and get a paid advertisement for Zumper because they paid more for the position. I just don't see how you can compete or how it would be worth the savings.

I agree that it can be difficult. I am not saying to walk away from Verbo and AirBNB. What I am saying is get it rolling and start to work on search engine optimization. There are many ways to do it that don't cost anything.

You will have to do it all. Bookings will possibly start to move over, over time.

Search engine optimization, in the vacation rental space, is a gigantic waste of time. The listing sites dominate the first page and you will never get on.

you should be on booking.com, FlipKey, Airbnb, and VRBO. Is insane not to be there. If you want to just put a higher booking fee on each.

@Lucas Carl @Ken Latchers @Michael Baum @Bill Brandt @Nathan G.
Thank you all for weighing in. I truly appreciate your perspectives. I agree that the big sites dominate and trying to build a successful direct booking website is not the best use of my time. I was just wondering if there is a movement among STR owners toward the direct booking strategy. I keep hearing on podcasts that this is becoming more popular with hosts "again" like it was 20+ years ago when there was no online platform presence like there is today.

Our cabin is on Airbnb, Vrbo, and GlampingHub.  BDC was way too convoluted and caused me more headache over the last year with not enough reservations to validate continuing on with their platform.

I'm taking on management, as an agent, for a second property and have started hiring cleaning staff since it's well over three hours away but in an area I used to live in the TX Hill Country. As for owning a second property for STR, I need to get creative and I need about 5 more hours in the day, every day, and 10 more hours added to the weekend to take on owning another property.

Have any of you acquired properties for STR with no money down? That would have to be my route so I could use available capital for getting the property outfitted and ready for listing.

Thanks again!

Excepting for local regulations, acquiring a property is pretty much the same whether short-term or long-term.

you might want to look outside the short term rental forum for people who did no money or no money down purchases.

Are there alternative sites to post your STR on? Like Purple Roof for gay owners. What about other niche marketing? This would be in addition to the regular platforms. Why not?

Ashely, don't sweat making a pristine website. Throw a nice looking one up, using Upwork or other online hire. I do know people who get repeat bookings, or otherwise funnel potential guests to their website as a 'flyer' for their property. They, then, book directly.

airbnb, booking.com, vrbo, flipkey will bring your traffic. How much depends on where you're located. I get about 7 booking.com groups for every 1 Airbnb group.

if you are very clear in your listings, research indicates that perhaps about 7% of potential Bookers will go off the listing site to your direct website to book. Trying to save commissions, Etc.

by and large the other specialty sites will bring you very little but it will increase your complexity.

the more sites you're on, the more complex it gets. You increase the risk of things like double bookings and tracking where everyone came from and other things.



Originally posted by @Julie Groth :

Are there alternative sites to post your STR on? Like Purple Roof for gay owners. What about other niche marketing? This would be in addition to the regular platforms. Why not?

Ashely, don't sweat making a pristine website. Throw a nice looking one up, using Upwork or other online hire. I do know people who get repeat bookings, or otherwise funnel potential guests to their website as a 'flyer' for their property. They, then, book directly.

 

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