5 Ways to boost your direct bookings in 2023

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 373. This is a recap of my Facebook live where I talked about how 5 Ways to boost your direct bookings in 2023.

Here's the audio for this episode:

Here's the video for this episode:


00:00 Start
01:50 5 Tips to get more direct bookings
02:50 Why me?
04:00 Reviews
05:35 Create an email list
08:20 The power of referrals
11:40 Build your website
13:30 Social media

Whilst you’re here

Follow Boostly on the following channels to get more tips, tactics and knowledge on how you can increase your direct bookings

Visual – YouTube 

Audio – Boostly Podcast




Transcript from the Episode

As you may have seen in the press or on a Boostly blog, I've recently joined forces with Guesty for our Boostly API website, which is super exciting. And one of the things that we were talking about, and how we can spread the word between Boostly and Guesty a little bit more was to do a blog piece now, believe it or not, so you know, I've got my first book coming out very soon. I much prefer talking and I do writing and they asked me to put a blog together and I said, Listen, I can do a blog, but I'm much better at talking. I can do a video. So how about I put together a little video I put one together without waiting for an answer, because I was so excited. They reply back very nice. Mark, this is good, I'll have a look at it. But to be honest, this isn't what we're asking for. So I thought, well, instead of just been in the video, why not put it to good use. And I thought, well, let's just use it on the daily podcast.

So the next part, the segment that you're going to see is a little video that I put together for Guesty, five tips to get more direct bookings. It's great. It works well. It's about 12 minutes long. So settle in. And please listen. But before you do, listen, please make sure you hit LIKE subscribe, download, but most importantly, share this video, share it with a group, share it on LinkedIn, etc. If you want to tag in a member of Guesty that you know, please do so say hi, I will be doing more blogs and more work and more partnerships and all those cool things with Guesty over the course of the coming weeks, months and years. I'm really looking forward to it. This is just the beginning. I've got to know some really cool people behind the scenes chat to a lot of people. A lot of times over the course of last few weeks.

5 Tips to get more direct bookings

Hello, everybody at team Guesty. My name is Mark Simpson. I'm the founder of a company called Boostly and in 2016, I started to help hosts just like you with the tools, the tactics, the training, but most importantly, the confidence on how you can increase your direct bookings. Guesty came to me and asked me for my five top tips on how you can go and increase your direct bookings today.

So what I want to do in this very short video, which is part of this blog piece, is I want to give you some really actionable pieces of advice that you can do right now. So this is going to not include us Facebook marketing, it's not going to include Google marketing, it's not going to involve you spending any money on any social media platforms in any way, shape, or form. Everything that I'm going to give you is something that you can do right now. But most importantly, it's something it's not going to cost you any money to do so. So let's get started.

Why me?

I was born into this industry, I was born into hospitality. My parents own a 200-acre farmstay property, which is in the UK. I was born into it. And this is when they had the business. This is before the times of Airbnb, this is before the times of booking.com this is before the times of social media or Guesty or anything like that. So the only way to get heads on beds back then was offline tactics, direct bookings, and what they rely on word of mouth, print advertising.

Now very, very fortunate that they wanted to first to have a farm stay property. It is now very common everywhere, but back then they're one of the first or one of the early adopters. And I came into the business in 2011, just when social media was starting to get really popular. This is when a review websites like TripAdvisor, etc. were very popular as well. And I was able to take that offline word of mouth online.


So let's start with reviews. If you want to get more visibility and to build a brand, then you are going to need to get reviews. And I don't mean just get reviews on Airbnb, as in get reviews on Google. Google business listing, which is free is a very effective tool in getting your business visible online and on the search engines. Very soon, Google is going to change Google business listing to Google vacation rental. And you will be able to have access to that as a hospitality owner. So it is part of Guesty and it's free. I would start to get people to review you on Google as soon as possible. As soon as you've got the ability to have access to Google vacation rental Why? If somebody comes into your local area and types in recommended rental company or recommended property management company for example, your reviews will be on the Google business listing so it's not hiding on Airbnb is on the Google business listing on your Google vacation site. And that means that the more you get the more visible you become.

Because in that map pack, so that's when you're first on Google, you're looking at the Google search results, you'll see that map, the more active and more visible you are in there, the better. So reviews are a fantastic way, because five-star reviews go a long way in help building your brand.

Now, once you've got reviews, you're going to want to shout about it. Now when you want to shout about it, what you may use, you may use your social media tool, you may use x, y, or Zed. But as I've said, I don't want you to have to rely on social media just like I don't want you to have to rely on Airbnb.

Create an email list

So what you're going to do is you're going to create an email list. Now there are free softwares out there, such as MailChimp, which you can get started on MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers 2000 email lists on their system. So if you've got nobody to email at the moment, this is a great place to start. So you've got an email list.

Now how do you go and get people on that list? Well, number one, a very simple and effective way is to pop a little sign up in your units popular sign up in the properties or the units, houses, whatever you have, and just say would you like to keep in touch, go to this link, you can have a QR code, you can scan with their phone, or they just put a link on where they need to go to to join an email list of I can keep in touch for the latest news offers vouchers, things that are going on events in the area. Very effective, it's free to do. And again, by putting in your property. I always like to do a laminate, and I would get a fridge magnet, put it on there, put a sign on the back of the front door to where there's a lot of traffic, people come in and out of the door all the time by putting it on the back. They're nosy or on holiday, we'll see that and they're more likely to act.

One of the really cool things I like to do a little hack, so to speak, is that with the copy and the message that we do? The message says would you like access to our top five favourite secret things to do in, say, your town name. If so, scan this QR code, pop in your email, and we'll send it to show away, you can do that automatically through automation on MailChimp. And it cost nothing. And it's so effective into getting email addresses onto your system. So save now you've done this for a couple of months, you've got 100 emails. Now the trick is to email people.

So what are you going to email them? Well, the thing that I love to email is things that have been going on in the local area and I'm building that trust, build that brand relationship with the person more often than not, it's going to be a guest that's already on your email list. So just remind them about how good your area is, if you keep being present, and if you keep being visible. And if you are emailing once a month, it's reminding that person why they stayed with you in the first place, then when it comes round to them revisit in the area or thinking about a vacation again and they're more likely to choose you because you're top of mind. So email only was hands down the best way of building your own list. Getting your own data is key to building a proper business.

Again, the whole point of direct bookings is so you're not reliant on Airbnb, you're not reliant on booking.com you're not reliant on VRBO to bring your bookings, you're spreading it around. So start using it like a marketing channel like Facebook like Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. But the key goal is to start building your list.

The power of referrals

Do you know anyone those four little words are going to transform your business today. Now do you know anyone who can work in a couple of different variables? Let's just assume right now that you are a management company and you are looking to grow your portfolio say that you've got five units and you want to get to 10 how are you going to go from five to 10 one of the best things that you can do is pick up your phone right now. Let's assume that you've got five different landlords that you have five different co-hosting or five different people that these properties rather that they your properties or you hire a random or someone it's totally up to you. But let's just assume right now, through this little story that we're spinning that you are a management company, you've got five different properties with five different landlords, you're going to message the landlord you can call, text, voice note whatever you want to do. And you're going to start off with Do you know anyone? Do you know anyone who is like you and would like someone like me to rent the property from Do you know anyone who wants to look at a co-hosting model?

Do you know anyone? by asking that question, it's getting I'm thinking and if they reply back to you and say send it to five people say three people reply back to you saying yes, sure mark, here's the contact details. Fantastic. You've got three warm leads. And the difference between this lead compared to any other person that you may have contacted is that it's a recommendation. You can go to the said new person and say, john recommended that I get in contact you better. I'm currently looking after his property, we've got people coming to stay. And we've really helped him bring in X amount of revenue or x, y, and Zed, and we're looking to expand our portfolio. We've got lots of people requesting to come and stay with us, but we need more places to stay, would you be interested in having a conversation that's outside, say works on either side of the guests.

So again, with everybody have a booking with you, you get a phone number. So what you can do open up WhatsApp or voxer or, or whatever messaging app you're using, it's free. Send the guest a message. And it can be a voice now a phone call or a text message and just saying, thank you so much for your stay. By the way, do you know anyone that's looking for a vacation? Do you know anyone that's coming to the area? Do you know anyone that needs to stay? That works for leisure business? Do you know anyone else in the company that regularly comes to the area? Do you know anyone else that comes to town for work?

Super simple free asking the question and one of a couple of scenarios will happen number one, they don't open the message number two, they'll open a message and they won't respond or three or open a message they'll respond and they'll give you 123 contacts or even better for put you in touch with people that will be able to open up so many doors.

So again, the power of Do you know anyone and this is something that you can do right now, as you're watching or reading this blog. So pick up your phone right now and send that text message to just one person. And if you're feeling confident two people, and if you're feeling epic, send it to five people and see what happens when you get results. message me.

Build your website

Well, the main thing that what you need to do is you need to have a website and not only any website, a good website, a WordPress website 61% of the world's entire website is done on WordPress. Now you may have a free website or you may have a Wix website you may have a Squarespace website. If you've got a free website, get a WordPress one if you've got a Wix one get a WordPress one if you've got a Squarespace one got a WordPress why WordPress? Well, Google favours it more than any of us website content generating platform out there. And the other reason as well as a WordPress website, you've got more power, more functionality, and you can do more.

This is why with Boostly we've got 700 plus clients. And we've built every single one of our websites on WordPress, we build it to be mobile-first, because we know that your future potential guests aren't searching on a computer, they're searching on a phone or a tablet. But we also want to make sure your websites run super quick. So if you have a website, go to Google page checker, and go and see how quick it takes for your website to load. If it takes more than three seconds to load, it's irrelevant. Your website needs to load quick we're in a generation now of amazon prime of Uber and all the things that are done an instant and if it's your website is not loading instantly, and people aren't sticking around to check it out.

So get a website. Make sure it's WordPress. Make sure it's built mobile phone first and make sure it loads load super quick. Now if you failed on any one of those if you don't know then go to boostly.co.uk/website. Book a call in, we'll have a little chat with you to see if we can help you.

So a website is key. Obviously, you want to connect it up to Guesty, your booking engine and Boostly does that with the power of our websites and the power of the connection that we have with Guesty. So you've got a PMS which is great.

Social media

The final thing is what you need to do is that you need to use social media. Now you need to use social media and I mentioned right the very start that I wasn't gonna get you to pay. This is a free option. You're going to document over create, document over create what do I mean by that.

So you're going to basically use social media to document the day to day of your business, the team, what there is to do in the area, what you enjoy doing what your guests enjoy doing. And every now and again, you're going to sprinkle in a little bit of sales. So this is our property we've got our last-minute offer. This is our properties. This is what we do. This is how you can go and book others.

If your social overselling, and you give people a behind the scenes peek at what it is to run your business, whether that's through videos through written word, whether it's through x, y, Zed, Tik, Tok, dances, reels, you name it, whatever you do, peel the curtain back, be honest, be open, share about your business, tell them why you got into hospitality. If you do that on social media, then you will get more traction, you'll get more visibility, and you'll get more people wanting to come back to your social media and in turn, you will become the go-to so when a friend or a colleague or a family member says I'm going to go and visit insert your town name, where do you recommend I go to stay because you're Top of Mind, then the social media posts they'll go check out them.

Now I'm not saying with these five tips that you need to do every single one of them but what I would recommend is just get started with one. Once you've got one done and you've got really good at one, then go add two and three and four or five but those are the core five key things. If you're stuck you're overwhelmed just do one if you want to do one did a Do you know anyone right now and send me a message let me know how you got on.

Thank you so much for Guesty for inviting me into the blog so I could do this. I hope you've enjoyed this video. And as always, please be productive. Don't be reactive. Be Awesome. Let's go get some direct bookings.

Before you leave

Please go and rate, review and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify Google Play or Anchor or visit Boostly Hospitality Podcast for the full list of episodes!

If you have enjoyed this post and want to feed my caffeine addiction you can “Buy me a coffee” ☕️ 


Share this post