Within the vacation rental market, there are some popular, well-known OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies), like Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO, TripAdvisor, HomeAway, Expedia, and FlipKey. The chances are that you use one or more of these platforms to list your holiday home or other vacation rentals. As you’re probably aware, these platforms have an enormous influence on the vacation rental market. This has its positive sides, but certainly its negative sides as well, especially for you as a rental owner. In this blog, we tell you why it’s important to create your own independent booking channel and how to do it.
The big plus of the rise of these OTA's is that they get more and more popular, which results in more bookings. So, in most cases, listing your rental on these websites is a no-brainer. But there are also some big downsides. The first is the commissions. Online Travel Agencies earn money by taking a commission on every sale. Their rates and pricing vary between platforms, with commissions ranging from 3 to 18%. The second downside is the major influence these platforms have on the booking conditions of your listing. Most of them decide your prices for you and tell you how to deal with your clients, which can result in loss of income, frustration, and an overall negative experience.
Experience teaches us that this process won’t stop. In fact, the influence of these platforms on the whole vacation rental market will become even stronger over time.
It all starts with having your own website or one-pager. Make sure your website is optimized for search engines, and you can manage it yourself. You don’t have to create your own website from scratch: several excellent website builders are available, including systems like Wix, Weebly, Jimdo, and Duda. While creating your own website, make sure you pay attention to clear texts, striking photos, and a fitting design.
It may sound obvious, but a booking system is an indispensable tool for your website. Make sure that your system is flexible and easy to use so that you can set it up to your liking. Do you only want to show your availability and then have personal contact with your potential tenant? Or would you prefer to receive bookings and get immediate (partial) payment? Check that all your preferences are implementable. Also, ensure that your booking system or availability calendar is commission free to avoid unwanted costs.
Most booking systems out there have a sync option allowing you to link your website availability with the OTAs. Ensure you can import and export the availability so the data is immediately updated everywhere.
To receive bookings from your own website, you must create returning clients. Your clients may have booked via an OTA the first time, but if they want to book again later, you can point them to your own website. It’s essential to be loyal to your customers so they become loyal returning clients.
With your own website and booking system, you have all the ingredients to create your own fully independent booking channel. Try Bookingmood as a booking system and see how user-friendly and flexible the Bookingmood system is. You can use it solely as an availability calendar or as a complete booking system. What’s more, Bookingmood is 100% commission-free and will always stay commission free. Bookingmood also works with every website builder and system.
So all is good to start your independent booking channel today! Interested in the possibilities of Bookingmood? Sign up here for your free trial.