Guest Booking Process – Step One Of The 5-Step Series

There are 5 steps to the guest booking process. I'm going to walk you through each one, starting with Step 1: PLAN.

When you fully understand all five steps of the guest booking process, it will, in turn, help you understand how to increase the bookings through the design and marketing of your direct booking vacation website. The OTAs understand these five steps and are using them to take bookings AWAY FROM YOU. Let me tell you about the first step in detail so you can start learning how to get those bookings back!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does a guest book a room at your property?
  • What physiological stages do they go through?
  • What makes them hit the “BOOK NOW” button, and what makes them leave your website?

Learn how to boost your bookings!


This is where the guest booking journey begins. Where do you go when you want to find anything in this world? Nine out of ten times, the answer is Google! It’s no different for someone searching to book a stay in a hotel, guesthouse, or holiday cottage. A potential customer will start their search by:

A) Looking for options

B) Knowing exactly what they want

Guests who know what they want

Let's look at the latter first. If potential guests know they want to stay at your place, they go to your website. Who is this customer? Well, it could be someone who has a friend or family member that has stayed at your place in the past. This could be someone who has seen an influencer’s post on your property and wants to experience it themselves. It could be someone who has seen an advert for your business in a magazine, newspaper, or online.

Converting these people to booking is easy, or it should be. That is where I come in. I will help you master all 5 stages of this process. A lot of properties fail between stages 2 and 4. (We'll cover them in greater detail in future posts.)

In the past, I myself have failed to follow my own instructions. That is why testing has helped me so much. I'm at a point in my career where I’ve learned exactly what works and what doesn’t, so I can confidently share these five steps with you. Hopefully, you can see their value and implement them into your business.

Guests looking at their options

The majority of new business bookings fall under the first category of bookings; in other words, they belong to the potential customer who is looking for options. People here usually belong to two groups.

  1. They are looking for something very vague (i.e., hotel in {insert town}
  2. They know what they want, but don't know exactly where (i.e., pet-friendly accommodation with great views in {insert town}

How do you get seen when your customer is using such vague search terms?  It's simple: get your property listed on the Online Travel Agents. The OTAs spend lots of money, millions upon millions, to make sure that their websites come up on top of the Google search for these “short tail keyword searches.” You can't compete with the big boys for these potential customers, so instead, you need to get your business on there and win the booking. I have written about this in more detail here:

If you want to appear in the “long tail keyword searches” (i.e., pet-friendly accommodation in the centre of {insert town}), then you need to make sure that whatever vacation rental website builder you use for your vacation rental contains said keywords.

You do this by:

• Having a blog on your website where you write about your key selling points

• Tagging all photos and images on your website with the key info (run a Google search if you're not familiar with the concept of “tagging.”)

Guest Booking Process - Step One Of The 5-Step Series

You can also invite travel bloggers or influencers to come and stay at your property for free in exchange for a write-up or video about your business. Then, their content will appear on the search, too.

Planning is just the start of the 5-step guest booking process, and if you do your marketing job right from the get-go, you will get your property seen and increase your bookings.

For more marketing-related videos, click here.

Learn how to boost your bookings!

Now, Let's Jump over to Session Two of our five-step guide to Optimising your Guest Booking Process.

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