Hospitality Titans Tony and Sara Robinson: Talking Direct Bookings

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 497. In this podcast episode we are going to be speaking with Tony and Sara Robinson about direct bookings, including the benefits of having direct bookings, as well as a direct booking website set up.

Looking to build that trust factor with your customers? Check out www.boostly.co.uk/trust

Here's the audio for this episode:

Here's the video for this episode:

 

Timestamps (audio)

00:00 – Introduction
03:49 – Disadvantages of not having a direct booking website
10:33 – Challenges of direct bookings
20:19 – Creating Trust
27:21 – Guest screening for direct bookings
32:12 – Examples of a direct booking website
38:00 – What does Boostly do?
 

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

Instagram 

Facebook 

Linkedin

Transcript from the Episode

[00:00:00] Tony: The wonderful Mr. Boostly uk man, we appreciate you taking time to come and talk to the students at Alpha Host Academy. For those that don't know you, Mark, give us a quick backstory. Who are you, what are you about? Uh, yeah, what,

[00:00:14] Mark: Tell us what's going on. Yeah, no, thank you very much for having me. So, as you can tell, my accent is a little bit different.

[00:00:20] Mark: I'm from, uh, United Kingdom. Uh, I grew up in, in hospitality. I class as hospitality in the age of four. My parents who've got a 200 acre farm day, um, property, um, they transformed a band, knocked it down, put four bedrooms in, and they created one of the first farm safe bed and breakfast in our area.

[00:00:39] Mark: Definitely first mover syndrome. It was amazing. This is like in the nineties. This is before the internet, social media, Airbnb. So they had to really rely on word of mouth and they had to rely on newspaper ads, but it was really popular because it was in the middle of nowhere. Lovely views, ideal for families, and I was just so used to every single day.

[00:00:59] Mark: Growing up and having strangers in my kitchen, like I'd walk downstairs, get cereal, there'd be strangers there and it's like, okay, this is crazy. But you know, growing up 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, I would just be, uh, Helping where I can change beds, make breakfast before going off to school and all that jazz.

[00:01:15] Mark: And in my teenage years, I would work at weekends and earn pocket money. And then in very early two thousands, I wa really wanted to be a soccer player. I'm a big Liverpool fan, but the problem is I'm crapper playing for. So I very quickly didn't work out, so I fell into soccer coaching and then that's where I got an amazing opportunity to travel around the states.

[00:01:35] Mark: So for six years, I would come to America for six months, coach soccer, go back to the UK for six months, and doing that on a loop, Uh, eventually. Ended up settling back into the family business. Me and my wife, uh, we moved back to help my family retire. We wanted to get out the game. They've been doing it for 25 years at this point, and we wanted to help them retire.

[00:01:55] Mark: We, we wanted to get it all online and, um, I was so used to social media by then. I was so used to like the world of the internet and whatnot. So I just put all of that practice into this. And it was, it was, uh, 80% bookings were direct. So it was, it was like really dark, booking heavy, not very much OTA led.

[00:02:12] Mark: Um, and for the sort of five, six years before we, we retired and, uh, we were just so used to doing it. Our Facebook page was popping. We were top free ranked on TripAdvisor. I was like, this is amazing. And what I didn't, I was so stuck in my bubble. I wasn't speaking to other hosts and I didn't really realize in 2016 that what we were doing, no one else was doing.

[00:02:32] Mark: Um, because they didn't really know about social media. They didn't know, know about websites or SEO or anything that jazz. So I started a little Facebook group called The Hospitality Community and it still around to this day. And that group was all about showing up every day, showing hosts how to do social media, how to do email, website design, and all of that jazz.

[00:02:50] Mark: And it got really popular. It started as my little town in the, in the uk and before I knew it we had people from America join people from Germany joining Australia. And it grew and grew and grew to a point where my wife was saying to me, Listen, you're answering questions every day. You should really like think about turning this into a business.

[00:03:08] Mark: And that's where Boosty was bombed. It shot for Boost hospitality. In the last six years, it's, it's grown to be this, this huge Goliath of a, of a, of a, of a business. It's a worldwide brand. We've got 2,400 clients website design, and we do DRE booking training. I wrote a book, which is, which is the book that I playbook and, um, yeah, it's, it's, it's amazing.

[00:03:29] Mark: I love it. I got to speak to people every single day about d bookings and showing people how to not have to rely on Airbnb or VRBO to bring in their, bring in their.

[00:03:39] Tony: So, Mark, can we touch on that a little bit? So you, you, you talk about relying on Airbnb and VRBO for all of your revenue, which before we met you is, was the situation that we're in.

Disadvantages of not having a direct booking website

[00:03:49] Tony: Obviously, we just finished off our, our direct booking website with you. I think we'll share a little bit later, but what, what are some of the. Um, disadvantages or risks that you see with not having a direct booking website built out

[00:04:02] Mark: for your business? Yeah, no, it's, it's, it is a great question and I think the more that I speak to more people in America and Canada, it's the more the conversations.

[00:04:09] Mark: The first questions that we have is, is about, um, OTA reliance in the UK and Europe. There at bookings, I think is, is more well known. But this is why I love to, to do this because we can spread the word worldwide and the reason why it's important. Well, first and foremost, we are very lucky in this industry of hospitality.

[00:04:26] Mark: There's no other industry that I know of where you can start a business, take a couple of pictures. Put it on one or two websites, it'd be pretty much guaranteed to get revenue, which is what we get with hospitality. Cause we're all about Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I, we, we do website design. I can't go onto website design.com, list my services and be pretty much guaranteed to get revenue.

[00:04:46] Sara: Actually only fans, you can do that

[00:04:47] Mark: on only Fans only and

[00:04:50] Sara: Finder. If you sell pictures of your feet, you can make some pretty good money

[00:04:53] Mark: too. So, well Feet Finder only fans, hospitality, there's are the three. There's not many others that we're gonna get into. Uh, but with with that is that it's a blessing and a curse, and I'm sure that anybody on Army fans or feet founders will have the same problem is that it is so easy to get bookings that you become over reliant, you know?

[00:05:15] Mark: And when you become over reliant on it, you just go, Ah, it's all right. It's fine. Airbnb will take care of it. And it's a blessing on that extent, but it's also a curse because then you are literally building your house on someone else's land. You are playing by their rules, and at any point in time they can just click their fingers like Fano and they could just evaporate 50% of your, of your income, which we've all seen the stories, we've all seen the posts, we've all seen the, the, the forums talking about it.

[00:05:40] Mark: And it can be anything. It could be a bad review from a guest, a bad, a guest experience, or it could be the global pandemic, which we all know in March, 2020. Airbnb without telling any host, just sent out a group message to every book in every reservation, every guest saying, Doesn't matter what the policy is at the property, you can cancel your stay right now free of charge.

[00:06:01] Mark: And I know so many people who didn't make it out theEnd about because they just lost, Hes of thousands in in revenue because there was no one in, no prior one. And there was no chance for a host to speak to a guest and say, Can you change this date to another date in the year, et cetera. And, um, because of that, it's really important to have a very strong DRA booking element into your business.

[00:06:23] Mark: My belief is that everybody should have 65% direct, and then you use that 35% to be ota. And when it is OTA I e Airbnb, you spread around a few. So you go multi-channel. So you bring in vrbo. Dot com, Airbnb and whatever else are out there. So it's uh, it's uh, flipping that sort of pivot where at the moment I think the industry is very much 20% direct, 80% ota.

[00:06:48] Mark: Let's see if we can flip it to the other way. So that's why, that's why I do what I do.

[00:06:53] Sara: Yeah, I have a question. So, um, what if someone just has like one or two properties? Do you still see value in having direct booking, or is direct booking specifically for somebody with a larger portfolio?

[00:07:09] Mark: It's, it's a really good question, and the, and the answer is, It depends.

[00:07:13] Mark: It really depends on, It falls to two categories. Number one, you're ever gonna be a hobbyist host. Hobbyist host is somebody that maybe wants to be doing this as not their main income. It could be like a third or four of income or a side income, or it could be just something that you just wanted to do as a hobby.

[00:07:28] Mark: It could be. Whatever that context may be. Or as number two, where this is like your business. This is gonna be your career, this is gonna be driving revenue, uh, for you and your family for years to come, and, and you're looking to sort of start on one on two, but your ambition is to go 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If, if you've fall into category two, it doesn't matter whether you've got one property, two property, or 10 properties, the sooner you start the better because when you can.

[00:07:54] Mark: Even with one property, get a a property management software behind you, a PMs, and you can then get striped going, which is like your payment processor. Then you're gonna be fine tuned on this way before many others who have maybe got five or six properties and are still using the Airbnb Cal to, to link it back and forth, et cetera.

[00:08:14] Mark: Uh, so yeah, sooner the better, but it all really depends on why you're doing this. And I feel like. Those who are watching this right now, I'd like to think that 99% of you are in category two. So yeah, start sooner rather than later. You might as well, You know,

[00:08:27] Sara: something about our journey. Um, I feel like you've always fallen in the category two bucket, right?

[00:08:34] Sara: When we started Mark, like I. Thought of it as more of a hobby or like, you know, a small business. I was like, Oh, this is fun. This is cool. We're making money. I can leave my job that I hate every day and do this. But I never had that full vision. And now that we're, you know, almost 20 properties in, I'm like, Oh shit.

[00:08:53] Sara: We lost probably way more money than we've, you know, like if we had started back then, um, I just think we could. Made way more money if we had direct booking set up.

[00:09:05] Mark: Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, and get

[00:09:07] Sara: better guests, like work set. If you're watching this and you wanna make money, and even if you have one property, like think of the long term vision.

[00:09:15] Sara: Like what do you really wanna do with this Airbnb business that you're looking to start? Is it just a, a side hustle for you? Then it maybe it's not so necessary, but if you really wanna make this a business and really make as much money as you possibly can, that is when you need to start thinking about direct booking.

[00:09:32] Sara: Yeah.

[00:09:33] Mark: Yeah. I think it's like money, but also as well, when you do this and you really figure it out, it's, you can attract the guests. You wanna be attracting, like when you have reservations come through an OTA referred party, they will literally throw anybody at. When you do this, like your way and you create your guest a avatar, your ideal guest, and your marketing is attuned to that, Like your vibe attracts your tribe, right?

[00:09:54] Mark: Massively. So, and when you, when you do it this way, you'll just get the best guest, the best experience, and they'll have an amazing experience. And then they'll go and refer you, recommend you, and you just get more amazing people fr through the door. Um, and it's so, it's like, yes, the profit, but it's also guest experienced that your houses will get looked after better, you'll get better people through the doors, and you just sort.

[00:10:15] Mark: Go down that sort of route as well. So,

[00:10:18] Tony: Mark, I I want to throw out some questions. So first, fantastic job describing the, the benefits of direct booking. Um, I think one of the things to add as well is that it's, it's cheaper for the host and the guests. Like if you have the same exact price, you can actually charge more.

Challenges of direct bookings

[00:10:33] Tony: On your direct booking website, and the guests will still pay less at the end of the day because all of the fees from Airbnb or vrbo, whatever online travel agency you're using are eliminated. Um, so I just wanted to point that out. But, um, I, I wanna talk about some of the potential challenges that I always had in my head when it comes to direct booking that were kind of holding me.

[00:10:55] Tony: The first one for me, like as a traveler and maybe because I'm a millennial and you know, I'm not like a boomer or whatever generation came before millennials, like I would never, if I wanna book a place to stay, I'm almost always just going to go to Airbnb and VR first. Like I would never book, like if I went to come and say in in the uk, I would never go into Google and just type like Vacation rental London.

[00:11:17] Tony: I would just go into Airbnb and vrbo and. London, right? Yeah. So how as a direct booking platform will we find these guests that will eventually make up 65% of our

[00:11:30] Mark: bookings? And, and this is like half of the, the reason why I do this, So the, the main, my main goal, my main mission is to help 1 million hosts cut down on the over reliance on the OTAs, but in turn, I want those 1 million hosts to then start reeducating their guests.

[00:11:44] Mark: So it's like half of the challenge is reeducating hosts, and then year one is reeducating guests, because like you said, So many people don't realize that when they book direct, they will actually save money, but they can also get better incentives as well. And by doing so, what then happens is the guest gets a bit clever and a bit savvy.

[00:12:06] Mark: So yes, they may start their search on Airbnb, although might start their search on VRBO or booking.com or a goer if you're in Asia. But then what you'll do if the host are doing their job right, is that then. They'll find a, a place, they'll find a profile, they'll find a, they'll find a property that they like, and then they'll run a Google search.

[00:12:26] Mark: So it's about making the OTAs work for you and not the other way around. So then you'll captured a guest from an ota. So they'll, they'll land on your listing. They'll go through their, they'll go, Okay, hang on. But because they're being well versed, they'll, they'll actually, if I find this properly, directly, I might be able to save a little bit of money.

[00:12:42] Mark: I'll get some more benefits. Then they'll do the Google search direct and. 2018, Not a chance that would happen 2017. Not a chance. It, the tide has been turning since 2019. Year on year since 2019. Direct bookings are going up and up and. Because the guest is getting a bit more savvy, the guest is starting to like click around, book around.

[00:13:03] Mark: It's why in 2020, um, had the Hilton chain did a full advertising campaign, hired Ana Kendrick to be like their model spoke person for it. And the whole slogan around it was, don't click around. So they know that this is the trend and it's starting to happen. So more and more now, the guests are starting to, to sort of realize they can find a property on Airbnb, do a little search, try and find them.

[00:13:27] Mark: Google search, find 'em directly and they'll see what the benefits are. And I always say, and I do it now, if I on a place to stay, I'll go maybe find via wherever, booking.com, vrbo, Airbnb, I'll find the host direct booking site or whatever they've got. If I go to their website and the price is the same or even worse, cheaper on Airbnb than is on their diet booking site, I will book on the Airbnb and I'll message 'em and.

[00:13:54] Mark: What he is doing. , you gotta, you gotta, you know, you gotta, you've, you've, you've not only you've lost more money in commission. Yeah. All of this does. And, and, uh, the, the guest is gonna get a worse experience. So yeah, it's, it's a massive, it's a massive thing that we have to do. It's a massive thing that I'm trying to do and reeducate the host, but also reeducate the guests because if we can start doing that, then what it means is that Airbnb, booking.com, vrbo, they have to pay attention to us.

[00:14:19] Mark: Um, last year. Brian Chesky was on the podcast, A Sway podcast. It was a fantastic interview. The interviewers said to him directly, What do you think about your hosts who want to maybe generate their own bookings? And he bat it off straightaway, said, Ah, our hosts don't want to get their own bookings. So he, he doesn't think that we can do it.

[00:14:38] Mark: So it's my mission and job to sort of say, Well, we can do it. It's easy to do. I can, I can show you so many ways to do it. There's 101 tips in this book alone on how to do it, and, and most of it doesn't even cost any money to do. Yeah, so big part. Let's

[00:14:51] Tony: get into that because you, you shared some of those in the presentation I saw you gave, which was a, a phenomenal presentation.

[00:14:56] Tony: Um, give us maybe like, I don't know, five of the, the most, you know, easiest ways that a new host can start actually driving people to their direct

[00:15:05] Mark: booking website. Yeah. And, and the first tip I'll give is a belter. Even if you don't have a DRE booking website. So even if you don't have one set up yet, but you wanna generate your own bookings, the the easiest thing you can do, and we did this on stage at Nashville and it generated a DRE booking within seven minutes, is to use your phone.

[00:15:23] Mark: Literally use your phone, use your contacts, use the people who know, like love and trust you. This could be. Family, ex-coworkers. It could be people part of like your sports team, like other parents on the school run, whoever, whoever it may be. Grab your phone, uh, grab a Google sheet document and just write down hundred names, as many names as you can, names, phone numbers, email, social media handle.

[00:15:46] Mark: And all you're going to do is just send them a message with, do you know anyone? These four little words, do you know anyone is gonna transform your business? Because the, the reason why it works is that you're not asking them. To stay with you. You're asking if they know anybody. And the way social media is, it's on, it's a two or three degree separation now.

[00:16:07] Mark: It's not six degrees of separation. And I guarantee that 8% of people in your phone book don't even know what you do for a living. All you have to do is just put the word out, put the message out, put the, spread the word that you've got an accommodation business. You've got properties in wherever, Josh, your tree, wherever.

[00:16:24] Mark: All you're asking is, Hey, do you know anybody needs a place to stay? Do you know anybody that is coming to the area? Do you know anyone who's coming for work or weddings or events, whatever. And by doing so, and if you do a mass scale, I guarantee you we'll be Derek booking revenue in there. And I know so, because, well, we tried it on stage and within seven minutes somebody had a booking.

[00:16:43] Mark: And that is the easiest, quickest way because number one, you don't have to spend any money. You don't have to know social media or the algorithms or hashtags or anything like that. You're just tapping into people who know, like, love and trust you, and these people will love to support your your business.

[00:17:00] Mark: All you've gotta do is, that's the question. That's number.

[00:17:03] Tony: Mark, what a fantastic idea. Like I don't think we've

[00:17:06] Sara: ever, I was thinking that right now. So we just took one of our newest listings live, um, it's a little bit further out in Joshua Tree in the city called Landers. I wasn't obsessed with getting that property because it is deep in the middle of fricking nowhere.

[00:17:19] Sara: So I thought we were gonna struggle and yeah, we took it live and this is the first property that it's ever taken us to get those first three book. For, Yeah. So I feel like we should do this. Yeah. Do you know anyone

[00:17:30] Mark: message, you know, did you know the, the CO wants to try it with as well as the people at stage with you already?

[00:17:35] Mark: So anybody who's already stayed in one of your properties already know the properties, Love the properties, Like the properties, uh, you can send them a message. So we still get, we don't get the email address passed toward from Airbnb, for example, but we get the phone. So it could be that you just literally get all of the report from anybody who stayed with you, and your PMs can pull that report.

[00:17:55] Mark: And it could be just a couple of WhatsApps, just quick voice notes, just saying, Hey, we've got this new property. It's amazing. Check it out on Instagram. Uh, if you wanna stay here or any of your friends wanna stay here, let me know. Or do you know anyone that wants to stay here? We've got a cool early bird discount and add a little bit of fomo, Fear of missing out.

[00:18:12] Mark: Just say for the first five people at book, we'll do a discount of X, but only five people can have that. So let, let me. That fear of missing out because they've already stayed with you because they love the brand, they love the experience. They've left a great review. They're more likely to do it. And if you're thinking.

[00:18:27] Mark: I've got so many reservations. I dunno how I could do this. Well, Cherry Pick, do the 80 20 rule. So what 20% of reservations brought in 80% of your profit. That could be somebody that stayed for a few weeks, whatever it could be, Or just the one that left that amazing review, the one that you know, that had an amazing time and a message you saying, Oh, Sarah, thank you so much.

[00:18:45] Mark: I had such a good time. Thank you dadda da message them. And the best ones to try this on. It doesn't matter where you are in the world. The best ones to try this on are the, are the business guests. Because if they've come for, There's a very high chance that even if they're not going to return, somebody in their organization will be, and all it does is a little phone call, email, LinkedIn message to their PA or accommodation specialist, just to introduce yourself.

[00:19:11] Mark: And there are so many wins in doing this and, and these wins have been highlighted the last couple of years, especially with covid and traveling healthcare workers because all that hosts have had to. Um, they've dropped a message into the, to the trust, to the accommodation specialist, and they just add you to the extranet.

[00:19:26] Mark: And when you're on the extranet, doesn't matter whether it's a film company, uh, hospital Trust or whoever. Once you're on the Extranet, then you're good to go. Then, um, it's the hardest thing to get in there. But once you get in there, you, you're in, because then they're accommodation specialists will go, Right, we need to find 20, uh, people to sleep in wherever for whatever it could be.

[00:19:44] Mark: Film set, whatever this is on the property, let's give 'em a call. Let's see what they. Amazing. And it all starts with a, a question. Do you know anyone? That's okay, Mark.

[00:19:53] Tony: So like, say, say we do this marketing, we find folks the, the next kind of big concern. So that was my first concern, right? Is like, can we find anybody?

[00:20:00] Tony: Right? Yeah. So the second concern of mine is, will people trust a website that's not Airbnb and vrbo? Like even if I'm, like, if I'm doing a Google search and say, I find this amazing website, this amazing proper. I feel like I will be hesitant to book because it's my first time seeing them. Like, how do I know this isn't a scam?

Creating Trust

[00:20:19] Tony: How do I know they're not gonna run away with my credit card? Like how do you combat those fears with direct booking?

[00:20:25] Mark: So number one, if you've come into the website on a recommendation from a friend, it eliminates any sort of doubt because a friend has recommended that social proof is there. And so you've got that no, like love and trust factor from social proof.

[00:20:38] Mark: So that, that's first and foremost. If I'm coming across your website through an Instagram search or whatever, maybe it's like a, not a direct friend recommendation, but of a friend. Of a friend. Of a friend. Then there's some really cool tools that are available to establish that trust. Uh, one is called I hyphen.

[00:20:55] Mark: So I h from p rac.com. And the best way to describe IRA is that it is a global certification, accreditation service for the short term rental industry. It's got the biggest global accreditation, uh, platform with 300,000 listings, I wanna say. Uh, 300,000 listens, definitely a high number. And all it is, is they put a.

[00:21:19] Mark: They give you a, um, a certification that's on the blockchain. So it's, it's not one that you could just duplicate, It's one that's specific to you. Uh, you've gotta go through a couple of checks, but once you've got those checks, you've got that on there. And it's a global recognized brand. Um, the other way to combat that, which doesn't cost any money, you just put your reviews from your platforms on your website.

[00:21:41] Mark: Um, so I think that's one, one of the things that we did for yourselves. Uh, yeah, So I can see that. So I can show that right now. So if I share my screen, uh, do, do, do I put this on? Good way to do it? Yeah. So one of the main reasons why, um, people leave your website and go and look elsewhere is because you don't have reviews on there.

[00:22:07] Mark: 86% of people, sorry, 92% of people will look for a review or some form of social proof before making a reserv. And so many websites don't have real time reviews. Now we use this really cool tool, um, that pulls in just your five star reviews and puts 'em on your website. And so it looks on here, five star, five star, five star, and it's real reviews.

[00:22:31] Mark: And so people will look at that. So it's a really cool tool to have and um, a combination of that and or IRA plus to the fact of it. For the most part, the people that are coming to your. Unless you've been doing some amazing blogs behind the scenes, or you've got some really good seo, which are like a long term play, the most amount of times that people are gonna come to your site is on the base of a recommendation.

[00:22:54] Mark: For example, somebody could be in the in the office and just saying, Hey, so I'm heading out to wherever. Do you recommend a place? Oh yeah, I've stayed with, Stayed with place. Go check it out. Go check out the link, and then they'll come to your site. So again, getting past that trust is, is, is key. That's awesome, Mark.

[00:23:09] Tony: Yeah, I love the idea of bringing in the reviews. Yeah. You know, like. Just seeing someone else's positive experience, I think goes a long way in building, Building that trust.

[00:23:18] Sara: Yeah. I would've questioned like, where are these reviews from? You know? Yeah. I think you don't think that far past that, You know, as long as you, the stars, the words, and you're like, All right, cool.

[00:23:27] Sara: I believe them. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Wait, I had another question. Um, moving back to how to get someone to find the website, do you know if it's allowed to, um, like on VRBO and Airbnb, in somewhere in the description of the listing, put the link.

[00:23:44] Mark: So this is a really good one, so you can't directly put a link because the Air Airbnb system will track that and flag it up.

[00:23:51] Mark: But there's definitely ways to do it. One of the best ways is you've got a personal. On Airbnb, so everybody's got one when you create an account, but so many people don't make full use of that real estate. And one of the first things that you can do in your personal bio, you can optimize it. And so the first line of the sentence, you can introduce yourself to put, Hey, I'm Sarah Tony, we are, um, a company called Hideaway House.

[00:24:19] Mark: We've got fantastic online reviews. Come and check us out. So what that does, Like in the mindset of the guest is that they've instantly got a, a name to Google, a management company name or a company name to Google. They'll go and do a Google search. But also as well, it shows that you are not just somebody who's got one property because everybody still books on Airbnb, assumes that this is somebody's second house, right?

[00:24:43] Mark: Or whatever house. They don't think there's a proper management company or a proper company at all. So by doing that, you already established a trust who goes, Oh, hang on a. These guys have got like a proper, proper thing going on here. Let, let me go check 'em out a little bit more. And by putting that little thing of we've got really good online reviews, come and check us out.

[00:24:59] Mark: It gets past any Airbnb potential flag because you've not put a web link. If you put a web link, Airbnb, a flag in it like that. But by doing it this way, it encourages people to run it, run a search around another really cool thing that I see people do, but it is. Borderline on the Airbnb system is in the pictures that they upload.

[00:25:21] Mark: They brand the images, so in the bottom right hand carnival have the logo on every single image, and I see people get away of it. I see people who don't get aware of it, but it's sneaky. I, I've, I've seen people on their booking.com images. The first image will be a front of the house with like the big logo.

[00:25:39] Mark: Phone number, website imprinted in, into the, into the image. And again, some people get away of it, some people don't. But the, the shelf file one that always works is by putting it in the profile and as well as the description. So a really cool way of the description. The first thing that you should be doing is optimizing your listing with a really good review that you've had.

[00:25:57] Mark: Just copy and paste it on your listing on Airbnb, so it instantly draws that, um, that five star wow factor. And then you can put a little bit. The property and just put, this is xx. Um, owned and managed by insert company name. So again, it's, it's always driving back the brand name, driving back the brand name, and then when they do that Google search, your website will come up.

[00:26:22] Mark: So it's, it's all about driving. You take the

[00:26:24] Sara: seed over and over in your, in your OTA listings.

[00:26:29] Mark: Yeah. You, you, you've hit the nail on the hedge. It's just planting the seeds, planting the seeds, show that you're a proper business. Show that you are, you know, you're. Fly by a night, just trying to figure it out.

[00:26:39] Mark: You know, you show that you're a real business, like a proper recognized business, and when they come onto your website, then that is important of having a website is because once you've got a website, you've got a chance now to really brand yourself and create your own mouse trap. So when they land on you, even if you're not going to book that, that property, if you go, Well, hang on a second, they've got properties all over and they've got properties over.

[00:26:59] Mark: And it's, it's just all about introducing 'em to showing that you're not just one property, you're not just one listing. You've got a, a brand here, whether you've got two, five, or 15 or 20 or whatever, you're going to end up.

[00:27:12] Tony: Mark, The next question I have is more so about the, the guest screening. So for us, we have instant book on re aloud, pretty much anyone to book our property.

Guest screening for direct bookings

[00:27:21] Tony: But even with that, there's still a certain level of trust because we know that, you know, if there's any damages, we have recourse with VRBO through either damage deposit or Airbnb through air cover. Um, but what about guest screening for a direct booking website? Like how can. Go about making sure, like, I don't know, like mass murderers aren't booking our, our property.

[00:27:41] Mark: Well this is, uh, this is the one, this is the one, uh, I wanna show you again. So it's super ho, So super ho, Um, is a guest screening, damage protection. It basically shits all over air cover, like air that is just marketing spiel from Airbnb. Um, I know they've tried to make it better, but what, whenever they make it better, There's other providers out there that can match it and beat it.

[00:28:07] Mark: And this is what, this is what Super Hog does. Now, this is not my company. I wish it was, uh, I, I know them really well and they've worked with so many Boosty people, but they give that confidence and trust to host a predominantly, mostly on Airbnb to go to direct room. Because what it does is it, it links and works in with every PMs.

[00:28:24] Mark: And when a guest does a booking, they get the guest screening to prove of a say are. As soon as a guest verifies who they say they. Then you are covered up to 4 million, uh, dollars. So it's, it's a really cool service. Um, very, very cost effective. Works really well. And Super hog.com would be the place that I'd be recommending everybody to, to, to go and to go and check out.

[00:28:48] Sara: So this is for the hosts to set up with Super Hos. So when, let's say they go with Boost Lee, you set up a website, you have your own direct booking website. Now next step is to get a screening company like Super Hog to tie into your website and help screen guests That way murderers aren't booking your place, right?

[00:29:11] Sara: So, um, like do the guests have to do anything with Super Hog themselves before they book, or how does

[00:29:19] Mark: that work? So, so when the guest wants to make a reservation, that's when Super Hog kicks in and it will send them a, a message just to say, Hey, can you just. Confirm who you say you are, X, Y, and Z. They'll, they'll do a, a guest screening and then you've got that cover.

[00:29:32] Mark: Then, um, I think the first things first, what I recommend everybody to do, even before you go for a direct booking website, even before you get Super ho, is to get a PMs in place. A property management software. Property management software. Uh, there are 1,400 different providers. It's crazy. So you've got hospitable guesty for hosts owner.

[00:29:50] Mark: Those are the ones. That are probably more common for like one to five. And then once you get past five properties, you then may level up to alist in or a Hostfully or whoever that may be. And then you, There's always different levels and, and different providers as you, as you go up. But I would say that's the most important thing to get because once you've got a property management software, boiling it back down to the most important thing that I was talking about is that you're not just so reliant on one platform for your bookings with a property management software, you can have a listing.

[00:30:18] Mark: Airbnb, vrbo, booking.com and whatever other little sites. So it means you're multi-platform. So that means your, your, your one property is spread in many places. And the cool thing about having a PMs is that you'll never get a double booking because it will take care of all of that for you to make sure that if it's a booking on Airbnb, it closes off on vrbo, for example, and vice versa, because you'll get some people that are.

[00:30:39] Mark: Um, reliant on vr, as in they will never book on Airbnb, but we'll book on vrbo and it's the same with booking.com or hotels.com or Wednesday, or the other OTAs that, that are out there. We'll have different people booking on different places, so it's best to be as multiplatform as possible. I always. Liken it to when you do your marketing.

[00:30:58] Mark: When you do your marketing, you're not just gonna be solely on Facebook. You wanna have a little presence on Instagram, maybe a little cheeky presence on Pinterest and LinkedIn. It's the same with your listing insights that you're gonna be on as well. You wanna be as many places as possible, so that's the most important.

[00:31:10] Mark: Once you've got a PMs, go to Super Ho cause it links in directly to there. Then you can come get your Boosty data booking. Whatever else you attach on is attach on as well. There's so many tools that are being made available for small hosts, like one to five properties. The technology that used to be only available to a hundred plus listings is now available to everybody, which is really exciting for me because at the end of the day, it's all about that guest experience.

[00:31:36] Mark: That guest experience is five star. You will have a referral network from time and time and time to. Mark, you, you know,

[00:31:44] Tony: you did a fantastic job, man. Of, of breaking down everything. Direct bookings. We had like a five. I was opposed initially. Not, not, not opposed. I just, I wasn't fully sold on the idea of direct bookings.

[00:31:56] Tony: Um, and then we had like, literally it was like a five minute conversation at that bar in New Orleans, . And I turned around to Sarah, I came back. I was like, We need a direct booking

[00:32:03] Sara: website. And then I had already talked to him. I was like, I

[00:32:05] Mark: know. Yes. .

[00:32:07] Tony: So Mark, before we let you go, man, I know you, you did a fantastic job building.

Examples of a direct booking website

[00:32:12] Tony: Um, our direct booking website. So if you wouldn't mind, uh, maybe just kind of showing folks what it looks like, what the finished product looks like, and that way they can get a sense of the amazing

[00:32:19] Mark: work that you do. No, thank you. No, it's our pleasure. And, and the cool thing about this is that it's, it's gonna be a work in progress, which is the cool thing about websites is that once you get one set up, it doesn't have to be set in stone forever.

[00:32:30] Mark: You can amend it and change it, and I'm, I'm always a massive fan of amending your pictures, amending your website, amending your market, and because. There's going to be different seasonal type of guests. So the guests that book maybe for December to February will be different to the type of guests that's gonna book for say, June to, to August.

[00:32:50] Mark: So the cool thing about any market or any any site that you do, and, and I recommend this for all photo shoots, is you've got two style of photo shoots and this is like sort of next level kind of marketing. But the guest that's gonna book December to say February, that's gonna be. Piggy. So the more of the, the comfy vibe.

[00:33:07] Mark: So it'll be like, um, hot, you know, hot fires, hot stoves, hot chocolate, where in the summer it's going to be, you know, pool shots, et cetera. And said, and this is the cool thing about a website is that you can change up that message and, you know, several times throughout, throughout the year. And what we did is, um, I just took down a couple of.

[00:33:27] Mark: The listings that you have, some, the amazing properties was able to work with the, uh, hospitable, which is what we were using, and was able to basically sink in all of the properties on onto our website. So this is a great way, what I was talking about, of sort of showcasing the, the, the collection. Uh, so if anybody lands on this site and maybe they may have discovered, uh, you because of the banner or, or Sonny Vista or, or wherever, um, they can come onto the site and go, Well, hang on a second.

[00:33:57] Mark: They've got properties, California, Tennessee, you know, they've got properties all over. So even if they don't end up staying one, they might be then, um, more aware of the overall brand, which is the whole reason why, why we do this and our sites. Very, very look the same. But it's all about making sure that you can have a book site that's as easy as one two free, as in they find the website, they run a search, they find a property, and they can drop an inquiry in.

[00:34:27] Mark: And the the new thing that we've discovered, which is really important, is this little, uh, widget is at the bottom, which is a, a WhatsApp or live chat as I like to call it. So even if you don't use WhatsApp, you can have live chat because the new age of guests coming out of 2022. 2023 and beyond. It's like we've gone back 10, 15 years before Instant Book.

[00:34:47] Mark: So while a lot of people don't know, but Airbnb used to be inquiry only. It was only recently that they switched everything to Instant Book because that was the trend at the time. But right now what we're noticing. Is that the guest, the modern guest coming out of Covid guest is asking tons of questions, even at the point of booking.

[00:35:06] Mark: And so this is why it's really important to have some form of live chat on your site. And the reason why this is really cool, Airbnb don't offer live chat. Vrbo don't offer offer live chat. So if you've got this feature where someone can send you a message and one of your assistants, or you can just quickly answer back, then you're much more likely to get the booking than somebody else.

[00:35:24] Mark: This is why we've added it to, to all of our sites now. So it's, yeah, it's, it's, um, it's really cool. So it's a, it's a, this is what we've been doing, This is why we've got 2,400 sites now, and if they follow a very similar vibe. So I'll give everybody the secret sauce very quickly just in case you wanna try and do this yourself.

[00:35:41] Mark: The most important thing for any website, the, the first impression is key. So what we like to call this is the above the. So when somebody lands on your website, whether it's on a, on a desktop or on a mobile, the first thing that's got to hit 'em is a really cool picture that grabs their attention. Then you've got to tell 'em who you are and how to book.

[00:36:03] Mark: So something that grabs the attention who you are and how to book. So that's why instantly when you see with this here you've got the, this amazing property, which I, which I love, Um, little bit of. Um, and again, we put everything you need for an Instagramable Day or stand in homes in California and Tennessee and then how to book.

[00:36:21] Mark: So you start your search here. The next step, once you've hooked them in, you wanna make 'em scroll down. The next thing you wanna do is you wanna showcase your portfolio. So again, get across instantly, but it's not just one property. This is a selection of homes. Then a little bit about you, so about you, the team, the business.

[00:36:39] Mark: Then you wanna highlight your key features, whether that may, whatever that may. Uh, locations at a glance, some social proof. And then finally, and this is something that so many people, uh, don't put in, is the, is the FAQs Frequently asked questions. Uh, and again, if you can have frequently asked questions, it will help avoid many, many questions that you're gonna get.

[00:36:59] Mark: And then my sort of, um, my chef's kiss, so to speak, is the benefits of Booking Direct. So put reeducating the host, but we gotta reeducate the guest. So why should. Direct and we added in your, your Instagram. Cause I, I, I love the Instagramable, I love the pictures, I love the vibe, I love the colors. Uh, so it's good to have it on the website as well.

[00:37:19] Mark: So that's how we basically broke down. And, and the most important thing to map to state is that you gotta have 80% of your website information on that homepage, because not many people will leave the homepage if you wanna give 'em all the information, just like a glossy brochure. By the time they get to the bottom, they're like, Yeah, I'm ready to make this book in.

[00:37:39] Mark: Now how do I. So that's how we, we broke down the site.

[00:37:44] Tony: That's, It's a beautiful website, man. Looks so professional and like why wouldn't anyone book that man? So before we let you go, Mark, I guess any, any question? No, I

[00:37:52] Sara: have a question. Yes. So for someone like me who is in tech Savvy, can you confirm what is needed?

What does Boostly do?

[00:38:00] Sara: So your company, Boostly, if I went, reached out to you and was like, Hey, I wanna direct booking website. Is that what you do? You will create this website for.

[00:38:11] Mark: Yes. That's, that's it. We, all we need is some picture. Which everybody's got professional pictures, which is cool, right? We just need the links to your Airbnb listings and a little tiny bit about us, and we'll do the rest.

[00:38:27] Mark: You make the magic happen. We, we make the magic happen. We we're trying to make it where all that we need in the future is literally, uh, a link to your EMS or just a link to your Airbnb listings, and we, and we can do to rest. Uh, the pictures are the most important one. So as long as you've got pictures on like a Google Drive or a drop.

[00:38:46] Mark: We can do the rests. It, it really is that, that simple. And, uh, the cool thing is as well, when it comes to the words, a lot of people maybe don't have a copywriter to hand or just have like an in-house copywriter. So, um, we have people that we recommend that we work with, that if you really need help with the words, We can put you in touch with them and we work with them directly, and then we'll put all the magic together.

[00:39:06] Mark: It takes about six to 12 weeks to put someone together fully. Um, but it's getting shorter and shorter. The more, the more team members we hire, the more staff that we hire. It's, it's getting even shorter. So, uh, I think we were able to put yours together in about three days. Oh, it was, it was a . Wow. Yeah.

[00:39:21] Sara: Like seriously. Thank you guys so much. Okay. So, and then once you guys set up the website, then that it, let's say I didn't wanna use a copywriter, then you would pass it on to me and then I would go in and plug in words as needed about the, About us and the description of the properties, right?

[00:39:38] Mark: Yeah. Oh, it's so really simple.

[00:39:40] Mark: I. When you get access to it, you've got a full backend, you've got full control, and and I always say it's like getting a turnkey house. So when you buy a turnkey, you can open the door and it's pretty much all of the basics are in place.

[00:39:52] Sara: If you just like creating a listing on Airbnb, you just like plug in the information,

[00:39:56] Mark: plug in the information, and then if you want to go crazy on it, if you wanna go add in all the shiny things you.

[00:40:01] Mark: The crazy SEO and all that stuff you can do is absolutely fine if you wanna stick with this. Brilliant. But you get full control. It's easy to use on the back end. And if you need help, then we've got a, a full support team as well. We've got a Facebook group, uh, a really cool support team that will just help you.

[00:40:15] Mark: So if, if you break it, absolutely mash it up. We can just. Change it and put it back to what it was. So yeah, you got help all away. So it's, we try and keep it as simple to use as possible. Um, but you get full control. Full access, and that's the beauty of a WordPress website is a WordPress website is the most popular cms, which is content management system that is on the web.

[00:40:34] Mark: 62% of all websites in the world are powered by WordPress. So we plug you into that. So you've got all the good Google benefits and all that.

[00:40:42] Sara: Got it. So let's say six months from now, we wanna refresh the photos. If I'm completely lost how to do that, I can reach out through the Facebook group or, or, yeah, somebody, and you guys can assist

[00:40:52] Mark: with that.

[00:40:53] Mark: Somebody, somebody can help. And this is, this is the most important thing, is that a lot of people will get a PMs and they'll just stick with the free website that they get given. Now that's all well and good, but maybe in six months or 12 months time, you wanna change your PMs. Now if you say you've built a.

[00:41:08] Mark: With your free PMs website, and if you wanna change your PMs in the future, say from hospitable to owner re, or to whoever, you lose your website when you leave. So this is why this is even more important. We're getting so many people coming to us now saying that I've lost my website cause I changed my PMs.

[00:41:22] Mark: So by having a WordPress website, you'll never, ever, ever lose the website. You can change your PMs every single week if you want. I don't recommend it, but you'll never lose that core base of a website, which is, which is even more.

[00:41:33] Sara: Got it. Got it. Okay. Cool. Those are my questions.

[00:41:36] Mark: Yeah. . Ah, good questions.

[00:41:38] Mark: Thank you,

[00:41:39] Tony: Mark. So again, we, we truly appreciate everything you've done for us, but obviously even more so the, the knowledge you share with the, with our students here. If folks wanna learn more about you, Mark, they wanna learn about Boley, We, they have links everywhere, but just let us know quickly where they can get in touch with you.

[00:41:52] Tony: So

[00:41:53] Mark: the best place to start would be Boley dot code uk. So b o o sstl y Do co.uk/website. Uh, go there. Um, have a look at what we're doing, how we're working, uh, fill in a form and we can be in touch, um, with the best solution that'll fit you best and your model. Thank you so much for checking out today's podcast episode.

[00:42:14] Mark: Now, before you head and go anywhere else, before you click to the next episode, before you do that, do me one big favor and go check out Boost Lee dot code UK slash trust IRA at a sponsors of all of the booster content. And the reason why I work with them and the reason why we spread the message of IRA is that when a host or a company is looking to get more into DRA bookings, the main question they have is around trust, as in will a.

[00:42:40] Mark: Trust that I am a true and real business. Will IRA take care of all of that And they've got a special offer that is only available to Boosty people. But to do that, you need to go to Boost Lee, which is B O O s TL Y dot code at UK slash trust. You can find out all the information there. You can book in a demo, book in a call, and then you will get your super special offer that is only available to Boley Peoples.

[00:43:05] Mark: Thank you again for tuning in. Do go check out Ira. We'll be back again very shortly with another podcast episode, but until then, we'll see you all very soon. Take care.

 

Podcast sponsor

I-PRAC - The Book Direct Show

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