I’m going to preface this post by saying something that might surprise my friends in the Vacation Rental industry.
I don’t vacation.
Shocking, I know. Here’s the thing – I was raised by “weekend warriors”. My family’s idea of a vacation was a spur of the moment weekend getaway, planned on little more than a wing and a prayer. When I arrived at TruPlace, I quickly learned that most people (most normal people) actually do plan their vacations. Even after absorbing knowledge and insight imparted to me by some of the best mentors in the Vacation Rental Industry, I still never considered myself part of the equation. Rather, I considered myself simply an observer of the guest experience.
When it came time to plan my honeymoon in Asheville, NC (my first vacation in 10 years!) my time had finally come. Today, in honor of #BookDirect Day, the grassroots movement initiated by Amy Hinote at VRM Intel to educate guests about the advantages of bypassing third-party when booking their vacations, I address you not as a vendor in the vacation rental industry, but alas as a guest. Here’s what I found.
Before I started planning my vacation, I knew I wanted to #BookDirect, but I found myself unconsciously perusing Airbnbs in Asheville. Why? Because of the ease of interaction with the brand. I maintain that the only way to retrain guests to book direct through you is to build a strong brand and be downright obsessive about it. During the booking process, I was inundated with amazing social media targeting, direct marketing, PPC campaigns, and fantastic websites that enabled me to effectively identify what we needed for our vacation.
Invest in Visuals
Your visual marketing is the tie that binds a guest’s trust and expectations. If there’s a disconnect between the two, you will struggle to promote any type of direct booking. Property pages with compelling photography, floor plans tours, and virtual tours arm your guests with information that gives them the confidence to book direct.
Be the Mayor of Your Town
I had never been to Asheville and the layout of the town was unfamiliar to me. We wanted to be within walking proximity to attractions, but also close to the highway so we could get to the various activities we planned. A rental manager was able to help me quickly identify which properties best matched our needs. Being able to discuss this with someone helped me feel confident in where we were staying, strengthened my trust in the brand, and reassured me that it was the right decision to book through their website.
They’ll Remember You After the Vacation
Asheville is amazing. We had a blast, but more importantly, our experience from beginning to end with the property management company we chose was top notch. Throughout our experience, we felt as if someone was in our corner if we needed anything. That personal touch and attention to detail are what we will remember about the brand (read: property manager) we chose, which will make it much more likely that we’ll choose them again the next time we come to town. In a word, we were delighted.
At the end of the day, we’re all just striving for positive interactions. On Book Direct Day, take stock of where you fit into that equation. Let the need for information and ease of use drive your initiatives. If you can create that experience, they’ll remember your brand, your website, your people and your properties.