Do you want some tips to help increase your direct bookings?
In September 2022, I hosted the second Direct Booking Success Summit. It was three days of free online learning from the top experts in our short-term rental field.
Today I'm bringing you a conversation I had with five of them as part of a special live session where they give you their one thing that you should do to increase your direct bookings. This episode features Damian Sheridan, Kelly Odor, Sarah Orchard, Jodi Bourne and Si Ranshaw.
We talk about:
CONNECT WITH Jenn Boyles:
Marketing Hub Free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketinghubforholidayrentals
Damian Sheridan - https://bookdirect.show/
Kelly Odor - https://www.booksterhq.com/
Sarah Orchard - https://get-fully-booked.com/
Jodi Bourne - https://jodibourne.com/
Si Ranshaw - https://www.siranshaw.com/
Jenn: Hello and welcome to the Direct Booking Success Podcast. I'm your host Jenn Boyles, and I'm so glad you're here. A few months ago, I hosted the second direct Booking Success Summit. It was three days of free online learning from the top experts in our short-term rental field. Today I'm bringing you a conversation I had with six of them as part of a special live session.
During that week, So let's go and see who is there and what they said was the one thing to do to get more direct bookings.
Thank you, everyone, for joining us today for our marketing, panel q, and live session for the VIP all-access pass holders. Today we have with us, and I'm going to go across my screen. We've got Damian Sheridan.
We have Kelly Odor. We've got a game show host. We've got Sarah Orchard, and we've got Jodi Bourne. , welcome. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedules to be with us today. If anybody missed a presentation this week, they could go back and watch it over again.
But maybe we can briefly introduce who we are as a recap. Damian, can I start with.
Damian: Of course. Yeah. Thank you very much, Jenn, for inviting me to participate. My name is Damien Sheridan. I'm the founder and director of the book direct Show and Scale Metal Show, and I'm also an SEO strategist for property managers in our unique s STR industry.
Jenn: That's great. And Kelly.
Kelly: Sure. So again, thank you, and I also enjoyed giving the presentation the other day. There were lots of great questions and feedback in there too. So my name's Kelly Odor, and I'm the marketing director of Bookster, a property management software company based in Scotland.
And I'm very passionate about applying what I know about marketing because that's part of my role in the holiday rentals industry. So that's what I've been doing.
Jenn: this. And you came perfectly with your branded t-shirt. I love it. I love it because I know nobody could see you last time we spoke on the podcast.
So yeah, this is great. Sarah, how about you? Hi.
Sarah: Thanks, Jenn. I've enjoyed being part of the conference, so thank you for inviting me to the summit. My name is Sarah Orchard. I'm the creator of Get Fully Booked, an online resource for tourism, hospitality, and holiday businesses.Adrian. We opened in February:
We've got about, we’re typically booked up about 12 months in advance, and we've had a hundred per cent direct booking. I’m also sharing my learnings of marketing my business rather than everyone else's for a change. So it's, it's great to help out fellow hosts.
Jenn: Great. And Jo.
Hi, I'm Jodi. I, I forgot what to say. I'm in Texas, and I have a consulting firm, a consulting company, where I work, typically small property management companies like 10 to 20 and fewer and individual owners I love working with. And I teach marketing strategies. I teach ground up. I say, foundation Up, Airbnb, VBO listings, all the way to book direct because usually when they start, they start with an Airbnb, and, you know, they think it's an Airbnb until they figure out it's an actual business.
And I help them with that. And then I also build elevated book-direct websites. So I build branded websites, non-templated with lots of content and creativity and help elevate their brand with their websites. And I love what I do. I love the people I work with. It's like such a passion for me.
I love it. So, yeah. And you've immersed yourself even further because you always stay at vacation rentals. Don't. All the time. I've visited at; I don't know how many, 70, 75 or 76. I keep saying different numbers because we never count. It just dawned. Heather Bayer is the one that said, how many of you stayed at?
And I was like, I don't know. So we sat down and counted. But yes, I may; I call myself a professional guest. Yeah, well, you could be a secret shopper. You know, that could be a whole new business. Are you there in Texas? Do you do it in Texas? Okay. We need to extend it worldwide so you can travel and get good trips.
Please si. Can you tell us a little about who you are since I've forgotten? Yeah. Thanks again. Jenn is inviting me. It's my second year at the. It has been great fun. I've been busy this week, so I haven't had a chance to be around as much as I usually am. But yeah, I'm Si Ranshaw. I'm an architectural interior photographer based in the UK.
SI: I travel all over the UK shooting holiday properties, which is the area I specialise in. I also recently bought a drone, so I've learned how to fly that. I'm trying to learn how to take photos with it, but I'm getting better and better. Yeah, I worked all over the UK a couple of days ago. I got back from Yorkshire.
I'm in, almost in Scotland, next week. And some set the week after. Mm-hmm.
Jenn: And your presentation, I know, I know I'm not going to put anybody down, but your was visually stunning. Because you had all of this, you know, when we do a presentation, the rest of us, it's our faces. And our slides.
But you had your beautiful photography and drone footage; it was lovely to watch. So I thank you for putting that together for us. Thank you. So let's think maybe we can go around and think of one tip off the top of our heads that would reall the needle for owners and managers.
Something that they're not thinking of, or perhaps you feel is overlooked. When they are, people are marketing their holiday and vacation rental. Who would like to start? I'm going to go back to Damian because I know he's going to have lots of words of wisdom there.
I'm going to throw this one out there because I do not see many PMs using SMS marketing.
Damian: It’s a golden opportunity to collect that data off mobile numbers, cell numbers, wherever you're coming from. But to use that intelligently and explore it because open rates and click-through rates can be phenomenally higher through SMS marketing. And make sure you get people to opt-in correctly.
We’re doing the right things here to abide by the regulation. But honestly, it's such a great way to communicate with your previous guests. I highly recommend SMS marketing; numerous companies out there provide this as a solution. Just check it out and, you know, slowly look at it in implementing this with, in terms of your communication with previous guests; it’s a golden opportunity.
Jenn: And I can already feel a talk for next year's summit coming on. great. Yeah. Tick that box. That's a great, a great tip. Kelly, you're the next on my screen. Okay.
Kelly: My tip is probably a little wider. So what I see are many people who create. Their websites, but then they need to know the next step for getting people to their website.
So I recommend the number one thing, whenever you do communication with your potential guests or the market in general, that you always put a link back to your website. So whether you are doing an email, a newsletter or a social post, you're doing something on your social media or working with local businesses.
Always looking to see how you can get your website address there because it's going to work in two different ways. Firstly, Google will be happier. You've got more links coming into your website, so your rankings should improve; therefore, you'll get more visitors. And secondly, more people are going to be seeing your links on your socials, your campaigns, and your newsletters, and therefore they will be going to your website and looking at your beautiful properties.
I think it's
Jenn: a win. Yeah, gone are the days that they will come if you build it. It would be best if you told people, don't you, Sarah, onto you.
Sarah: I have Many good tips there. It's hard to pick one. I know one of my bud bears, which I always look at, like a website audit, Your email sign-up form is evident to many people, but it's incredible how many websites have the sign-up to our newsletter. It’s like, we don't want another newsletter.
It's like, what am I? What will I get in exchange for giving you my email address? And the other thing is treating your website as, for me, the website's most significant investment, your best marketing investment. I will be complete with Kelly. So it's a case. You're working hard to drive traffic to a website and want direct traffic and direct bookings; you let people look around.
It's like having a shop and letting someone walk around it, ignoring them entirely and then letting them walk out the door. Not saying hello, not making any attempt to find out who they are, what they're after, and then you have no means of contacting them again, which is a significant thing that retailers have all the time.because I'd much rather have:
Jenn: Yes. And that's a perfect point about looking to read online retailers and seeing what they're doing and seeing how we can get inspired from that. I'm going to put my 2 cents in here now because it continues on what Sarah was saying. My tip is to stop collecting email addresses and start emailing.
Okay. Cause that happens to all of us. We think, oh, we've got all this list. I've got, you know, a hundred people; I’ve got 200 people. Yeah, but who cares if you haven't emailed them? It's not doing you any favours. So that would be my big tip is if you're not right now, is if you're, you know, first collect the email address, but then start using them, start emailing them even if you've got five people on your list, you know, start there.
Okay. So, you are next on my screen,
SI: yeah, obviously, for me, it's photography. I hate seeing a website with lousy photography cause that's the first thing people see. Photography is all about creating emotion. So if it's, if you've got flat pictures, that's just not going to interest. Yeah—a potential guest.
So, yeah, it’s got to be photography for me, I'm afraid.
Jenn: Yeah, and you could also go further with that and say, you know, hide everything. Hide everything. That's yucky. You see, I loved your presentation on the toilet brush. You know, hide it, hide the bins. I almost fell off my chair because of one of those screams you made in that presentation.
It got me so badly. So I hope we didn't give anyone else a heart attack. But, yeah, hide those things, you know, we know you're going to have a bin or a garbage can put it away. Jodi is coming over to you. You've, you've heard all of us. You're the last one in the row. Come on. What's your, what's your golden nugget?
I'm working with the client who had the plunger in her photo next to the toilet, so Oh. I was just like, oh, okay, but here's my win, or the number one thing to increase bookings is to stop being generic. And to be more specific, more personalised in your content. And that's all your content, website, and social content.
If you speak directly to your target market, you can have more than one target market, but in each piece of content, you want to talk to them now and call attention. Hey moms, Hey, busy moms. Hey, are you, you know, are you looking for a romantic getaway? Whatever it is to be more specific is, and, even in your imagery when you're, especially on social media, be, you know, really think about whom you're marketing to with each specific piece of content.
That's brilliant. Yeah. They've all been gold, haven't they? All these tips are because we're the best in the business.
I want to thank you all; this has been great. Thank you for taking some time. We'll finish early. And thank you all for coming. Thank you for joining in this week. It has been excellent. I'll also send out some feedback forms for the speakers.
I'll send you some feedback forms to get all the nuggets I can from you to make this even better next year. And I am not precious, so I want the good, the bad, and the ugly. So thank you very much, everyone, and have a good rest of the day. Bye.
Kelly: Thank you, everybody. Bye