Why A Direct Booking Website is the Best Way to Grow Your STR Business

Written By: [email protected]
Last Updated: February 13, 2024

How can property hosts and managers get more bookings? Here’s the short answer: A direct booking website.

Ever since Covid, the vacation rental industry has been through some big, important changes. When we were all still in Covid panic mode, STRs sales exploded. And that was great, because everyone was looking for a safe place to stay with their “quaranteam”. It may have even gotten better as a bit of time went by, because we all started going stir crazy and started very cautiously poking our heads out at what might be available within driving distance. STRs provided the perfect solution; get away, but stay safe. STR hosts were raking it in.

But then, as they often do, things changed. Many of the major STR markets become oversaturated. The OTAs were flooded with additional listings and everyone suffered. Some properties went up for sale. Others become long-term or medium-term rentals. Those who stayed as STRs struggled for ways to differentiate themselves in the Airbnb/Vrbo/Booking seas.

The best way to do that then and now is to have your own little piece of the internet. Invest what it takes to have your own domain, your own website, your own direct booking capabilities. It’s the best way to control what happens to your STR business.

Below, we’re going to talk about some of the other most compelling reasons to have your own direct booking website as a STR host or property manager.

Increased Control and Independence
One of the primary advantages of having a direct booking website is the increased control and independence it offers both STR hosts and property managers. When you rely only on OTAs, you have to deal with the policies, fees, and algorithms of those platforms. Having a direct booking website allows you to set their own terms, policies, and pricing, providing greater control over your business, and truly making it yours.

Brand Building and Differentiation
A direct booking website serves as a powerful tool for brand building and differentiation. Particuarly in those saturated markets, establishing a unique brand is crucial. A dedicated website allows you to do just that – showcase your properties, promote your brand identity, and communicate your unique selling points directly to potential guests. This differentiation is definitely a huge factor in attracting guests who are looking for a distinctive and personalized experience.

Reduced Dependency on Third-Party Platforms
While listing your property(ies) on OTAs will undoubtedly get you some bookings, you may find yourself too dependent on these platforms to fill your booking calendar. Any changes in OTA policies, fees, or algorithms can directly impact your business, and they don’t always give you a heads up when those changes are coming. A direct booking website provides a more stable and reliable source of bookings, reducing your vulnerability to them whims of the OTAs.

Cost Savings in the Long Run
Creating and maintaining a direct booking website definitely incurs some upfront fees (though probably not as much as you think!) Even so, it will also result in significant long-term cost savings. Many OTAs charge substantial fees for each booking, which reduces your revenue and annoys your guests. With a direct booking website, hosts can avoid or minimize these fees, ultimately retaining more of their earnings and creating a whole lot of goodwill with guests.

Enhanced Guest Communication and Experience
Direct communication with guests is a critical part of managing vacation rentals. A dedicated website easily enables you to directly communicate before, during, and after a guest’s stay. This makes it effortless to offer detailed information about the property, answer guest questions promptly, and offer personalized recommendations. Timely communication is so important to a positive guest experience and hopefully leads to great reviews, recommendations, and repeat bookings.

Data Ownership and Analytics
Having a direct booking website allows you to easily analyze your data. This includes information about guest preferences, booking patterns, and website traffic. By leveraging these analytics, you can make more informed decisions about how to best optimize your marketing strategies, improve the guest experience, and tailor offerings based on data-driven insights.

Flexibility in Marketing Strategies
A direct booking website offers you the flexibility to implement and experiment with various marketing strategies. From search engine optimization (SEO) to social media campaigns, you can tailor your marketing efforts to target specific audiences and demographics. This flexibility is critical when you’re looking for ways to adapt to changing market trends and reach your audience most effectively.

Customizable Booking Process
Unlike third-party platforms with standardized booking processes, a direct booking website allows you to provide a customized booking experience to your guests. You can choose to include special promotions, discount codes, and loyalty programs to incentivize direct bookings. This level of customization contributes to an easier, user-friendly booking process for your guests.

Adaptability to Market Changes
The vacation rental market is super dynamic, with trends and consumer preferences evolving over time. Having a direct booking website enables hosts to adapt quickly to respond to these changes. Whether it’s updating property information, adjusting pricing strategies, or implementing new features, hosts have the agility to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.

A direct booking website offers vacation rental hosts and property managers a myriad of benefits, ranging from increased control and independence to enhanced brand building and cost savings. While third-party platforms absolutely play a role in marketing and visibility, having a dedicated website provides you, the host, with a strategic advantage in a competitive market. By investing in your own online presence, you can create a unique identity, connect directly with guests, and build a sustainable and successful vacation rental business that will take you into the next phase of our industry.

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