How to Achieve 85% Book Direct Rates – Hear From 2 Hosts in the USA & UK

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 510. In this podcast episode I will be taking part in a direct booking masterclass webinar with touch stay and others.

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Timestamps (audio)

 
00:00 Introductions
06:07 Percentage of direct bookings
06:35 How did they do that
13:35 Different kinds of USP
19:42 Started at zero
23:42 Text (Do you know anyone)
29:10 A little Hack
34:33 Pricing
40:02 Retargeting people
45:58 Google adds
50:35 Things in your control
56:09 Quickfire question
59:30 Outro

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Transcript from the Episode

[00:00:00] Mark: Okay. Good morning, Good afternoon, good evening, and welcome to a very special episode of the Boostly Podcast. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited onto a direct booking masterclass webinar with touch stay. Uh, so, and the town of touch stay invited me on alongside arthur from Stayfi. We had Katherine, who was a host, which was really cool Farm day property in, in little Quam cottages.

[00:00:25] And then we also had the American flavor with Monica from Mo. Manna who has a bed and breakfast in, um, in the Carolinas, in Durham, which is amazing. Me and Alpha were, were wanted to give sort of like an overview. It was really Kathryn and Monica who were the stars because they were able to give real life examples of what they're currently doing when it comes to, to direct bookings.

[00:00:45] I was really happy to be a part of it. I was really happy to be able to lend some insight and some knowledge and some trends to it and, uh, yeah. Thank you so much. So what I did is I asked Andy afterwards, because it was such a good session, I said, Can I please have the raw. I will put it out on the [00:01:00] Boot Lee Podcast so they're very enough to very kind enough to do so.

[00:01:04] So here we are. Um, it's about 30 to 45 minutes long. It is really actionable. There's some really good tips in there and like I say, the stars of the show are Monica and Catherine. So please do show some love in the comments below, but we about further do let me pass. To, uh, touch Day handover to Andy as he introduces the book Direct Masterclass with Touch Day

[00:01:25] Andy: that we are here today to talk about book direct and the different tactics you can utilize to try and get more of your bookings directly to you as opposed to coming through the OTAs like Airbnb, booking.com, et cetera.

[00:01:41] Um, we are lucky enough here to have, uh, a bunch of panelists who are really clued up in this kind of discussion. Um, but without stealing their thunder, we'll ask them to introduce themselves. So, Tay, do you wanna, do you wanna take it away? Absolutely.

[00:01:56] Tyann: Thanks Andy. Hey everybody. I'm Tayan Marsy and I'm the queen of [00:02:00] guest experience here at Touch Day.

[00:02:01] But I am also a property manager who started out 15 years ago as a vacation rental owner with one property. So I do give. Different viewpoint of large houses here in the Midwest as our Branson properties are between four and 10 bedrooms, and we focus on three, four generation families. And then our wine country places are historical and as small as a tiny house.

[00:02:23] So I get to, um, see all kinds of the run of the gamut, including people making a road trip across the United States and wanting to. Single, um, night stay. Uh, and I'd like to introduce my panelists and if each of you could please just kind of give a little bit of your background of where you're coming from, because we all know how much location and type of property makes a huge difference on your perspective and what you're bringing.

[00:02:47] And each of you have a very different one, and that's why we have you with us. So, Katherine, if you could start.

[00:02:52] Katherine: Hi, I'm, uh, Katherine Daniel. Um, I'm the joint owner with my husband of little corn cottages and weddings. Uh, we [00:03:00] have six cottages. We sleep up to 22 people. Um, so we rent the cottages to indivi to individual, um, groups.

[00:03:08] But we also rent the whole site, um, to groups and we do quite a lot of sort of multi-generational groups, family get togethers, and we also market for weddings as well, uh, when they can actually come and get married here or a licensed wedding venue. Um, pose, put up a marque and they have a whole weekend here to celebrate a wedding, um, to.

[00:03:28] My background is actually in tour operating. So whilst this was a new venture for us five years ago, um, I have worked in travel and tourism pretty much all my working life. So a big change, but not wildly different.

[00:03:42] Tyann: Wonderful. Thank you Monica.

[00:03:44] Monica: So I'm Monica Edwards from Morehead Man or Bed and Breakfast, located in Durham, North Carolina.

[00:03:49] Um, Queen of the South, I guess you would say. Uh, my husband Daniel and I own a five guest room bed and breakfast in over 9,000 square feet of a 1910 Colonial [00:04:00] Bible style home. We can accommodate up to 12 people overnight. We also do events as well, including weddings, uh, birthday parties. So we have lots of good, fun things that go on here at the end.

[00:04:12] And we just celebrate our 25th year in this wonderful industry. Awesome. That's

[00:04:18] Tyann: wonderful. And congratulations. Thank you. All right, the guys, Mark,

[00:04:24] Mark: thank you very much. So, uh, my name's Mark Simpson and it is so interesting to be on this panel with Catherine and Monica because my background is from a, a farms stay business, very similar to Catherine.

[00:04:34] Uh, but also as well, we had a bed and breakfast element, which, which obviously Monica has. I've been involved in hospitality since the age of four, which, uh, believe it or not, is like 34 years now, and, uh, I, I grew up. I was just so used to having strangers in my house every single day. I just grew up thinking it was the norm to have a stranger in my kitchen when I came down in the morning for some cocoa pops.

[00:04:55] And ever since then, growing up in it, developed it help build our family [00:05:00] business using book direct. And now, uh, since 2016, I started a little company called Bruce. Um, which is to help hosts get the tools, the tactics, but most importantly, the confidence to increase their dire bookings. And it's cool to see some team boosting members in the chat, in the audience saying, Hi Hunter.

[00:05:17] And we had har jump in quickly. And, uh, yeah, I'm excited to, to hear Katherine and Monica's stories and, and provide any sort of little nuggets of advice on top of it if possible. Thank you. Great.

[00:05:27] Tyann: Thank you, Mark and

[00:05:28] Arthur: Arthur. Hey guys. My name's Arthur Colker and I'm the founder and CEO of stayfi. Um, I have a little bit less experience in the hospitality industry than the rest of my colleagues here, but super excited to be here.

[00:05:41] So my background's in digital marketing and branding, uh, which I consulted for a bunch of short term rental companies before starting a wifi marketing and management business called Stayi, which was founded in 2018. And super excited to hear what everyone has to stay on this panel cuz it's a fantastic group of [00:06:00] people.

[00:06:01] Andy: Thank you. Amazing. Back over to you. Yeah. Thank you. So let's get into it. Uh, I think the first question everyone wants to know is how much direct bookings do you get? So, Catherine, percentage of direct bookings that you get.

[00:06:14] Katherine: Right. So direct bookings percentage in 2021 was 88% direct,

[00:06:20] Andy: the Noal. That's great.

[00:06:22] Um, Monica,

[00:06:24] Monica: I'm at about running about 95%.

[00:06:26] Andy: Okay. So we've established. People who are driving virtually all of their bookings direct to their website.

[00:06:33] So thumbs up. Um, the question really is how on earth did you do that? And that's not an answer that we're gonna get in two minutes and that's why we're here on the webinar.

[00:06:43] So let's have some more direct kind of questions. So, Catherine talk. Talk to me about your 85% or 88% direct. I mean, that didn't come overnight, so what are the sort of things that you did to get there? How long did it take?

[00:06:55] Katherine: Absolutely. Well, we bought the business five and a half years ago, and the percentages were [00:07:00] much lower than to the point where our predecessors were struggling for business and they'd actually signed up with a number of OTAs just to try and build the business, um, to.

[00:07:09] Volume so they could actually sell the business. So my estimate is it was probably about 50 50 back in the day, five years ago. Um, I think what we've done is fundamentally just improve the quality of what we offer. Uh, we're on site, we have time for our guests. Um, so the actual guest experience while they're here, um, is professional.

[00:07:31] It's not overly friendly. We don't make, we're not friends with our guests, but we're professional with our guests. Um, we try. Preempt exactly what they want and we provide them with everything they need. And we try to be the experts on the local area, which was one of the reasons we signed up with Touch Stay a few years ago because it just epitomizes sort of the whole expertise, um, angle, which is what we are trying to do.

[00:07:56] Andy: And are you, because you are, you are taking that approach with your guest, Are you [00:08:00] finding that your repeat business is strong? So out of that direct booking, is it a lot about people coming

[00:08:04] Katherine: back again? Absolutely. Our direct booking, uh, our repeat booking percentage so far in 2022 is running at 59%. Um, some guests even come back while we have one set of guests who come back four times a year.

[00:08:16] But it's not unusual for guests to come twice a year, um, for a week or so each time. Um, we have, we are situated in the most wonderful countryside. Uh, we have the most stunning views, um, and guests can't get this anywhere else. They come here just to be able to walk out of their cottage door and drink in the view, um, and walk their dogs in beautiful countryside.

[00:08:43] Andy: So your, your, your direct booking success is in a fairly significant way influenced by the ability to which you can get your guests to come back again. And that is in turn, a factor of not just your service, but the [00:09:00] type of place you have and where you are located. It gets them to come back.

[00:09:03] Katherine: Absolutely.

[00:09:04] And the other thing I think we very much try and do is value our guests. Um, so we actually offer loyalty discounts to guests who come back, um, once, twice. And the, the loyalty improves until once you come back three times, then that's as good as it gets. Um, but we do offer, we offer monetary discounts to, um, repeat guests and.

[00:09:25] We dreamt that up really when we first started here because we were putting our prices up by so much because they were so cheap. Um, we felt we had to keep our loyal guests on site. And having done it now we know that they really appreciate it. Um, and it's something, I won't say they expect it because many of them actually write and thank us for it.

[00:09:48] Um, It's percentage discounts, but we also come up with, you know, little gifts like a bottle of wine, that kind of thing. Um, which just makes 'em feel special and valued.

[00:09:59] Mark: Can I just ask a [00:10:00] quick question? Ka, this is amazing and I love that you do that. How are you admin, how do you run it behind the scenes?

[00:10:05] Is it all on pen and paper or do you have like a Google sheet going? How, how are you admining that? Um,

[00:10:10] Katherine: I basically, yeah, well, pen and paper. No, we, we, I run it through, actually our account system is how I do it. Um, so the account system is actually the automated bit of it. I mean, we, we obviously have an availability on our website.

[00:10:23] What we don't have is live booking, but we do have availability and then I run all the customer data through the account system.

[00:10:31] Mark: Yeah, I, I love that. Great work

[00:10:34] Andy: Monica. In terms of your repeat business, that's a lot smaller, 2020 5%. So you are succeeding with Book Direct Less. Because of your repeat bookings and more because of something else.

[00:10:52] What is this mysterious something else that you managed to see? Well, I,

[00:10:55] Monica: I think the other thing that helps us is that when people come and they have a great time, we, with the [00:11:00] 20 to 25% that are repeat guests, when they come back, they bring other people with them or they tell their friends and bring, bring, and have their.

[00:11:09] Bring other people with them. So we do that and since we are a small property, it's not very hard for us to fill up very easily. So if we have a couple or two that come in, we'll basically say, Hey guys, you know, have you thought about doing a couples weekend with some of your best friends? And especially during opening up during, since C people are more comfortable with their bringing their bubble.

[00:11:32] With them versus being in a, in a, in the house with people or in a space with people that they don't know. Um, we've had, we foster the relationships. We always sit down with our guests at breakfast time and, and act as ambassadors to the city to find out what is, what it is that you're coming to the city, what are some of the things you like, what do you not like?

[00:11:51] And we try to direct them to do those things while they're here in the.

[00:11:56] Mark: I think one thing about Monica's, um, business is, [00:12:00] which is really cool, is that if you were to look at it like the, you look at the repeat guest number just on a singularity basis at 20, 25%, you'd be like, Ooh, what's that? But you look at the direct booking number, which is so high.

[00:12:10] So what does that tell you? Is that maybe that the guests aren't coming back? What one thing you can't track and you can't monitor is that social proof. That social word of mouth. So they're gonna go home and say, Hey, I had an amazing time in North Carolina and that stayed with Monica Guest House.

[00:12:25] Fantastic. She really looked after us. And you can't track that. You can't put that on a thing. So for me to say, yeah, maybe the, the repeat guest, 20, 25%, but the direct booking number being so high, it tells me one thing and one thing. Fantastic business, fantastic stay, and people are going home and raving about the business and the model, so yeah.

[00:12:43] Amazing stuff.

[00:12:45] Tyann: I think Monica, you also have a very, a niche way to get your word out as, and it's part of social too, uh, with the radio. Can you tell everybody more about that?

[00:12:53] Monica: Yeah. Um, Radio One, which is a large radio con, uh, black radio conglomerate in the United States, [00:13:00] basically has a campaign to push black on businesses.

[00:13:03] And for each one of their radio stations in the major Mar, Well, all the markets, not just the major markets. What they do every Tuesday, they pick five black owned businesses and they do all this for free and give you air time. So they talk about the businesses that they're promoting for the week, at least twice in an hour.

[00:13:22] And then every Tuesday that changes. But then if you go directly to their website, they have a directory that includes all of those people who have signed up to be included in these A.

[00:13:35] Andy: Yeah, it's amazing. I, I really like the fact that, um, your USP is not about the amenities you have or the location you have, it's about the culture.

[00:13:44] And I think that it's so hard sometimes when businesses think about USPS to make their, their properties sound different. Like if you've got an apartment in a city, how is that different from another apartment in the city? , whereas you've shown a light on this idea of [00:14:00] thinking about your differences being cultural and actually talking about that and making it, um, an important part of, uh, attracting the kind of guests that, that want to be with a culture that they've chosen as opposed to something unknown.

[00:14:13] So I think that's really interesting to think about USPS in that way. Catherine, you, you, you spoke about USP being, um, important in your business as well, the, the US P for you. Is what? The farm stay, the views,

[00:14:25] Katherine: the it, it's the views in the countryside. It's the fact that people can, we have gardens around, Each cottage has its own gardens, so that's very important for dogs.

[00:14:34] So it, it's thinking through some of the little things that it's taken us a little while to think through what we, Each cross had a garden, but they weren't fully enclosed so the dogs could escape. So, Irritated guests. So each cottage now has a fully enclosed garden, but we have wider gardens so they can wander and people find it very quiet.

[00:14:52] They love that they get away from the noise of the cities. Um, but then they can walk away, walk from here with their dogs. [00:15:00] Um, and one of the things that we've done sort of touching back on their whole thing about experts and trying to. Help guests have the best experience while they're here. Many of them who've been coming for many years didn't realize that you could actually walk from the door and all the variety of walks that you can actually do from here.

[00:15:16] So we've put together a whole group of, of walks that you can actually do from the door. You don't have to get in your car, Doesn't cost us anything. Um, and they're exploring the countryside around here, so there's more and more they, we are trying to encourage them with more and more things to do that they didn't know about, even though they may have been here 10 times before.

[00:15:36] So it's trying to help people get more out of a place as well. So giving them reasons to come back. Um,

[00:15:44] Andy: uh, Arthur, I'm quite intrigued in, in Cuz you, you have this digital marketing background. So this idea of communicating what, like what you stand for or what's different about you that's important. Why and how do you kind of do that?

[00:15:56] How do you get that message out to people? Yeah, I

[00:15:59] Arthur: mean, I think, [00:16:00] you know, the discussion of unique selling point is super important and you can approach it from attention of different angles. Um, but you know, the core of the brand is. How you articulate yourself and your business to your guests. And I think understanding who your guests are and what platforms are relevant to reach them on would be the most important thing I would look at first.

[00:16:20] Um, so I think, you know, whether that's you're appealing to maybe a younger audience where. TikTok or Instagram or having, you know, a robust social media presence is super important. Where you know your content will be engaged with and you can encourage people. I know one brand in particular I think of in the United States, Avante, you know, they have so much user generated content because all of their guests are tagging them constantly in Avante and they have so much collateral in their home about them.

[00:16:46] And you see them all over social media. But if maybe you're appealing to an slightly older demographic who's doing weekend stays, where maybe Facebook is more relevant. Email marketing, really understanding who your audience [00:17:00] is, where they're spending your time, those are the platforms that I would invest in to generate content and engage those guests to drive repeat stays.

[00:17:07] And I think one really important thing that was just spoken, Was giving people a reason to return, um, especially if you operate in like a seasonal market, like a ski destination where maybe people aren't aware of the type of activities that people are working on there, like biking or other reasons to return to that destination.

[00:17:25] So understanding other ways you can drive people to your destination during lower seasons when they may typically only come there for one reason during one time of the year. I think that's

[00:17:37] Monica: really important. Yep. Go ahead Monica. Um, one of the other things that we have going for us too is that we are in a very walkable location too.

[00:17:45] We have like a performing arts center within two blocks. The Durables baseball park in the center of the city is less than a 15 minute walk. And especially a lot of times when we are marketing, we're marketing the people that can get here in a four hours drive. [00:18:00] And if you've been in the car for four more hours, the last thing that you wanna do once you get here is to have to get in the car to go find dinner.

[00:18:06] Especially if you want to have a glass of wine or a glass of beer or something like that. So that's one of our other selling points is that we, we tell everybody that we are, we are walkable to downtown dining, shopping, and entertainment. And even if you don't wanna walk, you can catch an Uber. But, um, that's one of the other selling points for where we are, where our location.

[00:18:25] Tyann: and what I wanted to add, um, with the whole communication thing, especially as Arthur had mentioned, uh, keep in mind that people don't always return every year. or every other year, or every five years, it could be every decade. And with, you know, I've been around for a very long, I say very long time, uh, 15 years.

[00:18:45] But what's happening is now that my first guest in those first five years are coming back and it's very important to take stay, you know, in InTouch cuz I'll get an email that says, Hey Diane, we've been on your email list for 12 [00:19:00] years. We celebrated. You know, mom's, uh, or dad's 80th birthday, we're coming back for mom's 90th birthday and you know, our family has grown.

[00:19:10] So, so we're so glad that you would now have even larger homes. So keeping in touch is super important. Um, and I do personally use Stay ffi as well, Um, Arthur's business and what is really important is you're getting more than just your booker's email. You're getting your entire party's email. So I really wanna.

[00:19:29] Staying in touch, um, send those emails even though it feels like, Oh my gosh, I've been sending them a decade and I'm getting nothing. Well, you gotta be patient and you have to stay in touch no matter what.

[00:19:42] Andy: Um, I think that we should shift a bit from repeat cuz the questions come in from Debbie, which is, it sounds a bit like this is all a repeat business and the reality is that you didn't go from zero to 85, 90 5% overnight.

[00:19:54] You started at zero. Just like probably Debbie's thinking, and I know Monica, you've got some, some, [00:20:00] um, some tactics you deploy when you get people coming to you from an ota. You tell us a bit about that.

[00:20:05] Monica: Well, one of the, um, one of the things of course, you don't want to tell people to book directly with you once they've come through ota when, cuz you don't know , I don't know if it's a plan or not.

[00:20:15] So when, when a person comes and they're with an ota, one of the things I talk to them about is just to let them know the whole commission part. And how they would get a better deal if they book directly through my website. My cancellation policy is more flexible. They can add on packages and different things like that that they can't do through an ota.

[00:20:35] But um, as life goes on, you know, when they come to me, Through the OTAs. Um, I also employ try Whistle and in using Try Whistle, um, I get, I send messages directly to them to ask them too if they have any questions, if they want to add on things like that. And that's more of a direct contact versus going through a, um, [00:21:00] going through the, the channel with the ota.

[00:21:04] Andy: Okay, So that, that talks about the tricky line that you walk between a lead coming in from an OTA and then you converting them into a, into a book direct. And you, you use some, some, um, some tactics there to do that. But what about those who come to an ota? Um, and poking around and they see your reviews.

[00:21:24] There's, there's some interesting thoughts you had about what you

[00:21:27] Monica: do to review. Oh, one of the things that I do with my reviews through both, um, Google and TripAdvisor, which tend to be the majority of places that I receive reviews, when I respond to a review, I basically tell a person that, um, we enjoyed having their stay.

[00:21:42] I always make something personal. Someone's knocking at my door. I have to go. Real

[00:21:48] Mark: i'll. I'll jump in. I'll jump in here. Thank, I wanna, I wanna share, so, to, to answer Deb Debbie's question and it, it's, it's a really, really good one. Now, if somebody is coming to Durham, Durham, North Carolina, and that's my English [00:22:00] accent coming through there, but someone's coming to Durham, North Carolina for the first time, okay?

[00:22:03] They don't know any friends in the area. They've never been personally then. More often than not, they are going to go to the brand that they trust. And whether we like it or not, that's going to be Airbnb. Um, Booking or vrbo. Okay, So sometimes you're just gonna have to suck up that the booking is gonna come from the OTAs, but that's where we talk about making the OTAs work for you and not the other way around.

[00:22:24] You need them for these instances. This is why it's as dangerous being a hundred percent book director as it is being a hundred percent OTA reliant. But the trick is here is that once you've got that guest to come to you for the first time, Then after they've left, just like in, in Monica's situation is that when people leave, she's got such an amazing product that she's got people talking about you online.

[00:22:47] That social proof now when you're first getting started, like it sounds like Debbie is, is just getting started then. This is obviously gonna be a bit tricky than somebody that is established like Monica and Catherine because they've got amazing businesses and they've got the power of having that [00:23:00] social proof, word of mouth recommendation behind them.

[00:23:02] But it doesn't mean that it is outta question to be. The main thing is, is that number one, like Ty said, you've gotta stay in touch. If you go quiet, people will forget about you. And it's so lucky that there's a, a chap to my bottom right who's got a tool that is very handy in keeping you in touch with guests through email marketing and through text message marketing.

[00:23:20] And it's nothing that is so complicated that you can't get self. Everybody can do it. The thing that you have to start doing as soon as possible is you've got to get your guests. To start talking about you and referring you and recommending you if, if I've had amazing stay. And there's four little words that everybody can do that nobody's doing, but everybody should start doing and it's, do you know anyone?

[00:23:42] So a really simple little text that you can send, a real simple little email that you can send out starts with, Do you know anyone? So for Monica's example, do you know anyone who is coming to Durham North Canada? Do you know anyone that needs accommodation? Start by sending that message out and you'll be amazed at how many replies and [00:24:00] nods and referrals that you'll get on, on the back of it.

[00:24:02] So that's something that I'd recommend for you, Debbie, to, to give a go. I'm

[00:24:06] Katherine: Lauren Echo. The, the whole sort of online presence. If our we view are the commission payments that we make as our marketing budget, um, we only actually actively pay to go on a couple of other websites. Um, but we view any commission that we pay as our marketing budget, so we absolutely aim to showcase.

[00:24:30] Uh, little qu on, in our case, it's Airbnb. Um, and I don't know what percentage of the people who see us on Airbnb actually book direct with us, but my aim is that they, at least half of them will book with us direct simply by then coming to our website, seeing our very large flag at the top of the website that says, if you book direct, you will get the cheapest prices.

[00:24:56] Um, and then they can check out our social media presence [00:25:00] via TripAdvisor. They can see the reviews. They can see reviews on Airbnb. They can see reviews on Google, They can see UpToDate, Facebook posts, They can see testimonials there. So it's all going to show that we are a bonafide business that you shouldn't be scared spending your money with, which is would be people's reluctance, and that would be one of their major reasons for booking with an ota.

[00:25:21] Uh, Mark said is because that's where they're comfortable and that's where they feel their money's safe. I can

[00:25:28] Tyann: I add one more strategy?

[00:25:30] Arthur: Nancy, do you wanna talk about bill boarding or.

[00:25:33] Tyann: Um, Billboards One. Yeah, the other one is and, and Bill by billboard. What Arthur, and I mean, is your, your property is available, available on your, on the OTAs, but you've blocked your calendar.

[00:25:46] So you only release a. Some dates to that ota. So that's one, uh, strategy. Another one strategy that I use, um, and I can, am able to do this. So keep this in mind. One of, I don't have a lot of [00:26:00] competition in the one area, so that is why this strategy works so well for me. I actually raise the rates on the OTAs dramatically, so it on Airbnb, I don't want a lot of Airbnb bookings, so my rate and fees are 50%.

[00:26:16] That's five zero. 50% higher compared to booking direct. So with my branding, you know, coupled with higher rate, um, people are searching me out direct or they're searching me out on vrbo and on vrbo. Um, my rates are higher. It's, I've got a 7% upcharge there, but then they're also paying the Airbnb fee, or I'm on the VRBO fee.

[00:26:40] So Airbnb, I cover that fee. VRBO with my properties, they are paying additional 500 to $900 a stay a lot of times because of my larger properties and the price that it is. So knowing that they're gonna save a thousand or more, um, if they've, if they're smart and they'll come find me [00:27:00]

[00:27:00] Andy: author. Is that what Bill building is, Is that where you, uh, Yeah,

[00:27:03] Arthur: and I would just say, you know, core to all of this is starting with obviously a trustworthy website, uh, that looks reputable, uh, which is something I know Mark can talk a lot about.

[00:27:12] Um, and you know, to be honest, a lot of the PMs built websites that they roll out with, whether, depending on your industry, maybe aren't meeting that standard. Um, so I'd say, you know, that's really the core. Brand presence is always gonna be your website. And as I'm sure people know realistically, especially starting out, breaking into a Google search result organically or being in that first or second page is gonna be really hard, especially if you're in a competitive market.

[00:27:42] Um, so I found for most of our customers, um, the way they drive discovery is through something. It's very easy to discover the brand after looking at the OTA listing, and you need to make sure they're that connection. Because some clients, I look at their OTA listings, uh, [00:28:00] there's no way for me to find their website because the information is not there in a way where it's easily searchable.

[00:28:07] Katherine: Yeah. I mean, for example, um, Our website is Little Corn Cottages and weddings. So on Airbnb, all of our cottages have their individual names, but it is, for example, Dun Cottage at Little Corn Cottages. So it makes it very easy and in our text in Airbnb it all talks about is one of six cottages at Little Qum, blah, blah.

[00:28:29] So it's very easy for people to go off and actually find us direct. We

[00:28:35] Monica: do the same as well. But one of the things you, um, I know some people may be concerned about parity, and we do, I guess what's called bill boarding as well, is that when you go through the ota, our prices are significantly higher, which if you it, but they're the same as our standard rates on our website.

[00:28:53] And you'll see, uh, another listing, uh, on our website. When you look for availability, it will say Book [00:29:00] direct discounted pricing, which is significantly less than our standard pricing, just so that we will remain, Im pardy with our, the agreements that we have with our OTAs.

[00:29:09] Mark: So I've got a little hack on this that I can share with everybody.

[00:29:12] And rape parity is becoming to be less and less of a thing thanks to our neighbors in, in Europe and Australia. It's becoming less of a thing and being less of an objective because when I was really in the family business 2013, we were always so wary. The fact that we signed these agreements with booking.com.

[00:29:28] Mm-hmm. , that our price on our website had to price match the price on, on the OTAs. We got around that with discount codes, but now it's becoming less of a thing, which is amazing. And here's something that the OTAs, sorry, the PMs providers, so property management software providers are doing, which is so cool.

[00:29:43] So insert any property management software, you go onto the D. And there's now a little function on the good ones where you can mark up your prices on booking.com, vrbo and and Airbnb. Last summer, I tested this with one of our clients in Spain and we marked up [00:30:00] the price 40% on from the website to booking.com.

[00:30:05] But then what you then do is you then take advantage of the OTAs, again, make the OTAs work for you and not the other way around. So we'd marked the prices at 40% on booking.com in their. And obviously if anybody's gone onto your extranet on booking.com, you know they hit you with opportunities all day long.

[00:30:24] Try this, try that. Try that. One of them is give us a discount. So you go on there and you say, Yeah, okay, let's take advantage of the discount. Now, when you take advantage of the opportunities, you get the SEO boost on booking.com. So the SEO boost means that you have more visible to more people. So let's just say you go put a 20% discount on your rates on booking dot.

[00:30:45] Now some people will go, Well, hang on a second, 20%. But let's not forget, we've already marked the prices up 40%. So now even with a 20% discount, there's still 20% more from what our book direct is. But what you are doing is you are getting [00:31:00] advantage of the algorithms and the SEO of booking.com, so they're getting your name and your brand everywhere on the search to a lot more people.

[00:31:06] But like Catherine and like Monica is doing, It's even when somebody lands on your listing on an ota, you're branding your business. You're making it sure and obvious that you are not doing this as a part-time hobby. This is your business, and they can find you online if they've got a question to ask you.

[00:31:23] So then it drives you from the OTAs back to Google search, which then drives you to your website, which is then how you're gonna pocket that data booking. So give that. Great

[00:31:33] Andy: hack. Yeah, it's a great hack. It takes, takes bit, Takes a bit of confidence though, doesn't it, Mark? To say, you know, probably price myself out.

[00:31:39] If only

[00:31:40] Mark: there was a book that like literally labeled everything on how to do this and a step by step guide, which costs less than $20 on Amazon and you can. Pretty much get it on Audible, Kindle or print, but I don't know where that book would be

[00:31:55] Andy: Um, fantastic. Um, I wanna talk, uh, a little [00:32:00] bit about, um, um, pricing there. We did talk, we, we spoke about the hacks, but. Dynamic pricing is everywhere at the moment. I'm quite intrigued as to what, cuz I think somebody mentioned, I think it was Catherine, you actually, you actually do the reverse of what most people would think when you've got um, a product is where you generally gradually increase your prices.

[00:32:20] Given that you've got 90% coming back to you, you're actually reducing your prices cuz you're giving them discounts.

[00:32:26] Katherine: Yeah. Um, we may be, I mean, you could accuse us of being naive and, you know, maybe our regulars would pay full price. But I think that's part, for us, it's part of making our regular guests feel valued and it seems to work because they keep coming back and they keep coming back for more.

[00:32:42] Um, so we have put our prices up probably by 50% since we took over five years ago. Um, we have put them. Like everybody, I imagine by a large amount for next year. Um, and so far people are rebooking for next year. If we then took off the loyalty discount. [00:33:00] I think that probably most of them would, but it's enabled us to give people that kind of loyalty and that kind of warm, cuddly feeling.

[00:33:09] And it's worked for us. So I think, well, we will carry on doing it. And I do accept it's very hard to take it away. Now we've started doing it. Um, and that's one of its flaws. I, I do.

[00:33:21] Andy: But I think you're not in a short term business. I mean, you're, you are, you are in, you're in the business. You're not here for one season or two seasons.

[00:33:27] You, you're here for years. And I think the, the, the good will that, that fosters is worth way more. Um, you can make a bit of money extra. I'm sure you could, but the fact that you're driving a lower cost, repeat booking back to you and net, you're probably still increasing your prices because what you're doing is just saying, Unfortunately we've had to increase this year 10%, but you're coming back to us, so we're gonna give you 5% off that, you know, you're still net hub.

[00:33:48] Um, so Monica, what do you do with your pricing?

[00:33:52] Monica: Um, currently, well, one of the things I did coming outta Covid was I, uh, put a surcharge on a one night stay. So cuz [00:34:00] it, it, it ca it's more labor for, for us to have a one night stay. We we're turning over more room. So you pay us, you pay an anywhere between 20, 20 and $50 per night if you're staying a one night stay.

[00:34:11] But if you're staying. One night you do get a discount. But what I, One of the other things that I've done is employed yield management with think reservations. It's occupancy driven. And sometime it amazes me that even my, my smallest room in times of high occupancy is going to go more than my largest guest room, and people don't mind paying it.

[00:34:31] Hm.

[00:34:33] Andy: Interesting, um, pricing, Mark. Good of view on that. Other than the hacking,

[00:34:38] Mark: I think with, with everything, it's all dependent on the current state of demand and what's the market like and, and all that jazz. Depending on the time of the year, I absolutely love. Dynamic price and software tools. Cause what it will do is it gives you not just like what you think, what you assume, it gives you the data that that is behind it.

[00:34:59] And there's [00:35:00] some really cool tools that are available now to host. Doesn't matter whether you've got one property or a hundred plus. It was the biggest mistake that we made 10 years ago. Literally when it came to pricing, we just put our finger in the air and go, Okay, what, what are we doing? Let's just put it by, by a dollar or a pound every year.

[00:35:14] It was ridiculous. But now you've gotta take advantage of the software and the tools that are available. Price Labs wheelhouse beyond. There's loads and there's more and more common, which is so cool. My, my one advice with price and software tools is set it up by all means, but don't. A hundred percent rely on it.

[00:35:31] You've got to still have your little instinct. Like Catherine's instinct is, is is obviously looking after the regulars and it, and I, and that is not naive in any way, shape, or form. That is absolutely genius because if there's one thing that I know about this industry, we live and we die on our reviews and our super fans that we create.

[00:35:48] There's an absolutely no wonder to me that you've got such a high return rate of people coming to you. It's because how you look after your loyal guests and it's, it's my mission, it's my job to [00:36:00] try. Now what I'm trying to create is a tool that will, will bring in loyalty programs that we can have it for everybody and we can try and automate it where it's not just pen and paper done on account, and I'm trying to bring it to the mass levels because it's something that is missing from the short term rental bed and breakfast industry, like the hotels have access to all this cool technology.

[00:36:17] I'm trying to bring this in now to, to, to short term rental hosts. So it's, it's something that is so powerful. You've definitely gotta take advantage of it. Bed and breakfast owners can take advantage of it. Small hosts can take advantage of it, but definitely do use it, but also keep you smarts about you as well.

[00:36:33] Andy: Very good. T ty, you, you've, um, I know that you've, you've spoken about the pricing where you've said you've put it up 50% for bill boarding effects, but I know you also do, um, manage your pricing and you have got some very big places that attract big, big ticket sums of money. Mm-hmm. , um, and. I think there's a lot of people out there that would be thinking, you know, let's make hay while the sun's shining.

[00:36:58] And, you know, everybody's interested in our sector and [00:37:00] let's, you know, jack up the prices. But, um, how, because you've been through the last two years where that's been a thing. Have you seen now coming out of the pandemic where people now can travel again and they have more choice, that there's a pressure downwards on your.

[00:37:14] Tyann: Um, no, not, not here in the Midwest. Um, with the, with the pandemic, we opened up right away. I mean, we were only down for maybe six weeks and then everybody surged. Uh, cuz we're rural area. You can come, you stay in your own place type thing. But on the other hand, um, I am in an area that has dramatically had hundreds of homes built in the last couple years.

[00:37:40] So, you know, yeah. Two years ago I had one of a handful of 10 bedroom houses. Now it's, we're looking, I got, I haven't done a latest search, but there might be 50, 40, or 50 of 'em. Uh, and. I'm expecting another 200 homes being built in the next two years, so increase dramatically of, um, [00:38:00] competition. And I only started dynamic pricing within the last year, and part of that is the whole data point.

[00:38:06] Um, I attempted to do it previously, but there was not enough data. Now that there's more competition and more people are hooked up to software, there is more data available and yeah. Still definitely keep an eye on things because like, um, os you know, Catherine and Monica, um, you mentioned you, you know your area, you know your area best, you know what's going on.

[00:38:28] So I do have a bottom floor and a top floor. And that top floor I let stretch, you know, and then I have to say, Hey, wait a second, the top floor's still too high for this season. No one's booking. Um, it's soft. But the dynamic pricing is thinking, Oh, well, yeah, covid. Really high. It's like, no, it's not doing that now.

[00:38:48] So you do have to keep your finger on things. Mm-hmm. , I am, I'm, I'm seeing dramatic, um, pricing. Um, I just booked some of my wine country stuff, uh, for 1700 a night [00:39:00] and October weekends. When October weekends are a high season here with Octoberfest. Uh, last year I got half. So it's incredible, um, to let the dynamic pricing do its work and giving it a little bit of space to do that work.

[00:39:15] Um, and then also being aware of your booking windows. I think booking windows are extremely important. Um, and being paying attention because like my big houses, yeah, people have to book farther ahead. I'm talking to people who are looking at two years from now because it takes coordination to get that many people together.

[00:39:31] Whereas my tiny house and my little houses, I. You know, they might call up that day because they're biking the Katy Trail and they know they're gonna stop in Martha's Villa for the night and it's gonna rain and they wanna see if there's something available. So being extremely aware of what your booking window is, what kind of pricing your target guest is able to do and willing to do, um, is really important when you put all those factors.

[00:39:56] Andy: Cool. Okay. Thank you for sharing that. Um, [00:40:00] let's, let's move away a bit from pricing. Um, I, I want to get into a little bit of maybe some kind of advanced stuff here. Um, and it may be the sort of thing that doesn't work. I'm one of those, that's kind of a bit. You know, Arthur, I'm looking at you here. I'm thinking more of, you know, dropping a Facebook pics or on your website or uh, uh, retargeting people with AdWords and stuff.

[00:40:22] For me, I have a strong sense that that is a way to burn cash very quickly. Um, but tell me, do you have a different view? Do you think it can work?

[00:40:31] Arthur: Uh, yeah, I definitely, I would say, um, You know, success in digital marketing is all about efficiency. Um, and I, where I see failure is people doing it in an unfocused way where their audiences are too large.

[00:40:46] And I'd say the one thing to remember when you're setting up a, perhaps a Google AdWords campaign or a Facebook. Instagram advertising campaign is that the recommendations that the Facebook [00:41:00] or Google are giving you are maybe not in your best interest, and you have to keep that in mind because they're optimizing for you to spend more money and maybe they're willing or they're fine with, you know, maybe you're gonna hit your conversion metrics you want, but there's green space for you to move in a more efficient direction that it's not gonna push you towards because you'll spend less money on the platform.

[00:41:22] So that's kind of my high level view of kind of the tension between your objectives and the objections of the ad tool. And you have to remember it just like when you use Airbnb, your objectives are not totally the same, right? They're not completely aligned. So you have to keep that in mind. Um, I would say when it comes to Facebook or Instagram advertising, um, the first thing people have to keep in mind is how you can measure the success of those campaigns and those.

[00:41:48] Basically those companies provide tools like pixels, which if you have a well book, well built direct booking website can report back to the ad tool conversions or sales from [00:42:00] ads or content that you're placing through those platforms. So that's number one thing is without the measurement, there's no way to determine if you're being successful or not.

[00:42:09] And the second thing is understanding how to. Facebook pixels to advertise to the most likely audience that will transact on your website. And those are people that have visited your website or stay with you in the past. And it's very easy through Facebook to create an audience where you target people that have visited your website.

[00:42:27] Or have stayed with your, in your email marketing list. And that's always where I would start because when you're doing advertising on those platforms, people are more likely to engage with the brand that they already know about. Um, so you can very efficiently and cheaply target very small lists of people through Facebook or Instagram.

[00:42:45] And that's typically where I would recommend people starting if they do want to play with those ad tools and grow their social media follow. From people that have previously stayed with them or have visited their website.

[00:42:58] Andy: Yeah. Mark, what? What do you [00:43:00] think? Cuz cuz to me it still feels like a very dangerous game to start getting into.

[00:43:02] I think I like gars bit about, it's the people that have engaged with your brand. Those are the ones you want to try and get hold of. But trying to go out and win business from. These platforms to me. Sounds like you're shooting in the dark. You, you burn a lot of cash, right or wrong?

[00:43:15] Mark: I mean, yeah. I mean, you can do it if you, if you do it right, it's like printing money.

[00:43:19] If you do it wrong, you might as well just give me the money, burn it, because it's, it can, and it's such a fine line. And the problem is, is that Facebook. Google and the big O, the big channels and whatever you wanna call 'em, they're always changing the rules. And you know, I know so many people in my community and I see it on a weekly basis where they said, Oh, I just got banned from Facebook ads.

[00:43:42] And it's not because they're, they're trying to promote a scammy, scummy thing. It's just literally cuz Facebook changed the rules and just like that. And because it's bots and automations running it behind the scenes, there's no human to talk to. It just happens. I lost my Facebook account for that exact same thing and.

[00:43:56] It can be tricky, and this is the daunting thing when you talk about direct [00:44:00] bookings, because when you talk about direct bookings, people think about direct marketing and they instantly get overwhelmed with all the things that they think they have to do. But the most important thing to state is that the people on this call today, whether you are on the the attendees or if you're on the panel, is that it can be done.

[00:44:17] And this is the cool thing. It's like it's first and foremost, you've got to reeducate your. And there's been so many little bits of nuggets that I've picked up on this, on this call from, from Monica and Catherine of what they're doing. So the best place to start on your website, you actually state a benefit of booking direct.

[00:44:35] Like how are you going to increase your diet bookings if you're not clearly talking about it to when people are on your website? Just say, Hey, when you book with us, this is what you get. And you don't always have to go down the money. I feel like so many people, they go, Well, you'll just save more money.

[00:44:49] But not everybody's looking to save money. Give them the incentives of booking direct. So maybe you could offer a slightly earlier checking time. Maybe you can offer a welcome hamper, just like a bottle of wine like [00:45:00] Katherine was saying, for like the regulars and whatnot. And all you got to do to look at real world examples of this.

[00:45:05] Go look at what the Hilton go, look at what the Marriott, go, look at what they're doing. And they have a section for when people book direct, whether it's free wifi and all those other cool things that they're, that they're doing. So it is definitely doable. You don't have to get down the rabbit hole of pixels and Facebook ads, and, and all that cool thing.

[00:45:23] Retargeting. I mean, it can be done and it is so powerful. A and myself and Ty, we obviously, we know how it works and we've do, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt being burnt, but it has worked as, as well. And, you know, for my sins now, I, I try and show guests and host how to do it as well in the Booley Academy.

[00:45:40] So, you know, it's, it is, do. If you are going to do it, don't just go in YouTube. How do I do Facebook ads? Because you'll get every, you know, you'll get everything around it. Make sure that you find somebody that has done it in this industry, They know what they're doing and it can clearly ex explainin it, but it can be done.

[00:45:57] Andy: But Monica, you've done it, haven't you? You were [00:46:00] speaking about your Google ads for your hotel.

[00:46:02] Monica: Yes. Um, I've done Google ads and like I said, cuz a lot of people, when they go, when they Google. You come up and most, most of the time it's, it's going to show booking.com or Expedia. But the mere fact that I've engaged with Google ads, through Think reservations, I have the little hotel at, um, the little green bed there where it gives you the official site and people can click on there and go directly to book a room.

[00:46:28] Yeah.

[00:46:28] Tyann: Yeah. Okay. Right. Well, we have a question, Andy. Hmm. Um, but I, before we get to the question, I do wanna bring up, um, just a reminder of everything that something Monica said earlier that I think is super important, I do not want this to get lost, is that she treats the OTA commission as part of her marketing budget.

[00:46:46] Yeah. So don't look at these ladies and think, Oh my gosh, I can't get to that high of a direct booking. Well, you know what? Whether it's direct booking or ota, you have to spend money. So what, It could be a commission with the [00:47:00] ota. It could be Google paper clicks, it could be Facebook marketing, it could be, and it has to be your website.

[00:47:05] Um, but there's all these different things that are part of the. Budget to get people to your property. So think of it that way as a budget, not just as this is the golden thing to do.

[00:47:18] Monica: Um, but I think that was, that was Catherine that said that time. Oh,

[00:47:22] Tyann: I'm sorry,

[00:47:22] Katherine: Catherine. Yes. I was gonna just say with my sort of tour operating background, um, I worked for BA Holidays for 15 years and a number of other tour operator.

[00:47:33] Every booking, whether it, and our, We were always charged with trying to get as many direct bookings as possible, but in the end, the cost of sale was always at least 10%. Whether you put it into your book direct, um, marketing or into your travel agency commissions, it was pretty much no different. So you, you do as you're absolutely right, you do have to spend to.

[00:47:56] Your customers, but the, the, the [00:48:00] repeat bookings then is when you save your, your budgets. But you are absolutely right. You do have to spend it. Yeah. But I think looking at sort of Facebook ads, Google ads and all of those kinds of things, for somebody who doesn't know their way around it, the. Safer way of doing it is to go to the OTAs and use some of the tricks and tips that we've talked about today.

[00:48:22] Um, and also look at some of the advertising sites. You know, they'll be different in the US to here, but there are actually some very good sites where you can pay a relatively small amount of money. Um, to have an add on there for a year, you just need to make sure that your text is correct and you keep it up to date with new pictures.

[00:48:40] Um, you know, we virtually all of our guests bring dogs, so we do advertise on a doggy website, for example, and there are specialist websites out there which will do some of the SEO for you. And you don't have to worry about it yourself cuz it is complicated and you need to know what you're. Well, I

[00:48:59] Monica: [00:49:00] think one of the things that we've not talked about yet is e-commerce tracking.

[00:49:03] Make sure you have e-commerce tracking tied to your property management software, as well as being able to not only, um, access your Google Analytics, but have it properly coded so that you can understand your Google Analytics and be able to see where your bookings are. How. What the return on investment is when you're paying for something.

[00:49:23] I know that that saved me, uh, once I started doing, uh, understanding Google Analytics, when I was paying for being listed on different BNB websites and things like that. My, our, uh, naivety is basically saying if I pay $139 to be listed on a website, if I get at least two room night bookings, that would equate to that, That would justify me being able to continue my membership with that particular site.

[00:49:50] As, as most people know, anytime you come into a business, you, you get, I get emails all the time. List here, list there, list there, but you always wanna make sure before you know [00:50:00] it, you, you might build that into your budget, but if it's not having a return on investment, you ne might need to drop.

[00:50:07] Mark: Yeah, I think it's a really good I of them are, most

[00:50:09] Katherine: of them are a waste of time.

[00:50:10] Let's be clear about it. Mm-hmm. , certainly in the uk, most of the sites are a waste of time. You know, they approach you, well just Google their site and if it doesn't come up on the first page, you Google, you're wasting your time. And most of them don't.

[00:50:22] Mark: No,

[00:50:23] Andy: I, I agree. I mean, I think we started talking about some of the more, um, sort of advanced stuff in terms of analytics and Facebook ads, social ads, banner ads, all this kind of stuff.

[00:50:32] But I think bringing it back to the, the things that you really in your control now, as we're coming towards the end of the, the, the hour here, I think the, the last comment there from Debbie Mark, which I said you'd answer, I think that's probably a good recap because that's talking about going back to the basics of using the channels to get people into your world.

[00:50:50] Mark: Well, the, the, the, the first question, uh, which, which Debbie put, which is really cool and it's something we can, we need to focus on cause we haven't yet touched upon it, and I'll just read out what she put. So, are [00:51:00] any of you premium priced question mark? I'm wary of doing Facebook, Google, Instagram ads marketing because I don't want to deal with the trolls who will bulk at my half.

[00:51:09] Price or high prices, faults. And this is really important because every business in this room, whether it's on the panel or in the attendees, has got a different customer avatar. Now, a customer avatar is your ideal guest. It's the people that you wanna walk through the doors. And this is a problem that every newbie makes in this industry.

[00:51:28] So Debbie, do not worry if you are sat there thinking, Oh my gosh, how am I going to deal with this? Because everybody goes through it. But what I encourage you to do, and I what I encourage everybody to. Is really figure out who you want to be staying at your property. Now, we are very lucky in the hospitality industry because we've only got a limited amounts of beds.

[00:51:48] We've got a limited amount of heads to fit on those beds. We are not Amazon. We can't just keep churning it out. So you've only got a limited amount of supply, so you don't have to fee our home. The billions of people that are on this. [00:52:00] Okay, so try and focus on a core few demographic of who you wanna feature and focus on.

[00:52:05] Now, for you, it's gonna be the premium priced guest, so don't worry if you're going to eliminate people who are looking for a, a travel lodge. And for anybody who's in the US, you will not have a clue what I've just said. Basically, Travel Lodge is your Motel eight. You know, you want to be appealing to the people who are gonna pay premium price, so don't worry about dismissing them because when you try and appeal to everybody, you appeal to nobody and that's really important.

[00:52:30] So for example, Catherine Farm, Stay fantastic views. I assume that the majority of the people that come and stay with her, cause it's such a high repeat rate, it's maybe a free or four hour drive max away. So there's like a circumference that you can draw around. It was exactly the same for us. We had fantastic views, Shire, mos, cottages, bed, and breakfast, the whole shebang.

[00:52:49] We, we created a hashtag, which is hashtag farming. We just knew that people loved to come and stay on our farms. All right. We had our customer avatar to a T. The people that will stay with Katherine are [00:53:00] not going to. The, This is Essex crowd who are looking to go on a party down in Colchester. Again, if you're in the usa, you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about, but yeah, just say where it says this Essex.

[00:53:10] It's the Jersey Shore. So it's a different demographic. There's nothing wrong

[00:53:13] Andy: with the, there's nothing wrong with the Jersey Shore. Mark. I lived in Jersey. It's not all snooky and bad,

[00:53:19] Mark: you know, Well, I'm gonna say we're not gonna be looking to come and stay at a farm state property, but that's, that's by the by.

[00:53:24] But this is what I'm saying. You've got to nail down who your, your guest avatar is. And as soon as you do that, Debbie, and as soon as you do about Hunter. Your life just becomes so much easier because the copy that you put on your website, the post that you put out on social media, the guests that you come into your doors, the guests that you actually talk to about leaving a review and telling their friends, it becomes so much easier because you've got such a narrow focus on who you're looking to support and achieve.

[00:53:48] Now, obviously, you're not going to turn away somebody if they're literally on their door wanting to book, but if you do it over time, the referrals that you. The guests that you get to arrive will be more in tune. Catherine's been doing this [00:54:00] for a while. Monica's been doing it for a while. That's why the return rate is so high for Catherine now because she's got people that come back four times a year, three times year, come back for weeks at a time.

[00:54:07] It's, it's so much easier. So my advice to you, Debbie, figure out who your ideal guest is and then life will become so much easier. And don't worry about the trolls because they're not right to stay. And, And

[00:54:18] Monica: can I also say something as well? I mean, what, I've been doing this for 25 years. When we first started, we were the fourth bed and breakfast to open and we were operating.

[00:54:26] And then shortly after we opened, there was another bed and breakfast that operated as well. The other two, I'm sorry, the other three had been in business for at least 10 years and we didn't see them as competitors. We saw them as companions. And so one of the things that we did, because we were all smaller properties, we.

[00:54:44] Pulled together and formed what we call the ends of Durham, which was a five bedroom, uh, a five bedroom breakfast in, um, cooperative, which allowed us to do marketing that we could not do individually on our own. And so in getting to know the other innkeepers, what would [00:55:00] happen is in, since they were in business, much longer, well, longer than we were, and they're, we, like you said, we only had a finite number of.

[00:55:07] Our competitors were the hotels in the area. So if someone called, say the Arrowhead Inn, which was the, the oldest Inn in the, in the area, and they didn't have any rooms available. The thing that, because we had developed a relationship with them, they said, Well, you might wanna call the people at Moorhead Manor.

[00:55:22] They may have a room available. So it does not, um, it, it made do, uh, good. For you to reach out to some of the bed and breakfasts that are around you and let and get to know them and let them know that you're there because they're not really your competitors. They're your compan.

[00:55:38] Andy: Diane, you do this, don't you?

[00:55:41] Tyann: Yeah. Well, granted, my competitors are my family, so we have holiday dinners all the time discussing occupancy and guest problems and things like that. Um, but yeah, direct competitors and we, we refer back all the time, so I highly encourage everyone. Fine, your. Family, your [00:56:00] collaborators in your area. Um, and there's always so many benefits, uh, to collaborate together.

[00:56:05] For sure.

[00:56:07] Andy: Okay, let's wrap it up. Uh, quick fire. The one thing that you would do today if you didn't have a book direct business to get started,

[00:56:18] Katherine: Uh, what would I do? I'd build my social media presence. I wa No, I, I'd build my, I'd have a fantastic website. Good call.

[00:56:25] Andy: Um,

[00:56:27] Monica: Monica. I would say make sure everything is on your website is really tight.

[00:56:31] I don't get a lot of people from social media. Um, so I would say make sure your website is, is very tight. Okay. And I think previously when we, when we had our pre-session, one of the things that Mark talked about was making sure that people can contact you even if you have live reservations. Sometimes people do need to reach out to you in the process of making a reservation, they.

[00:56:54] Question. So either have a chat available or have a telephone number there on your reservation page where they can [00:57:00] call you while they're up and trying to make the reservation.

[00:57:02] Andy: Nice. Good call. I like that Arthur.

[00:57:07] Arthur: Website is always number one. Um, but number two, I would definitely recommend, um, email marketing would be my first go-to channel to drive repeat bookings.

[00:57:18] Yeah. Um, from your previous guests. Okay.

[00:57:20] Andy: And Mark, you're the website guys, so you can't say website .

[00:57:23] Mark: That's fine. That's fine. Number one. Pick up this, This is your phone. I, I guarantee in your phone you've got friends, you've got ex-coworkers, you've got family people that know, like, trust and love you. I guarantee 85% of them don't even know what you do.

[00:57:37] So pick up your phone call, get a text message, text them and say, Do you know anyone that needs accommodation in, Insert your town, or do you know anyone that needs a place to stay this, this summer and send them, Send that message to 10 people today. Do it right now. Debbie, perfect example. Someone's just starting.

[00:57:52] Go and send it to 10 people right now. And then after those 10 people message another 10 people, if they reply back to you saying, Sorry, I don't [00:58:00] just say, Hey, no worries. Bear me in mind just in the future. Number two, if they reply back saying, Yeah, I do say fantastic. Do you mind setting up a group chat or sending me their details or sending them my details?

[00:58:11] If they book on your recommendation, I'll send you X bottle of wine and a post Amazon vouchers. It is so powerful. And number two, come to brucely for a diet booking website. .

[00:58:21] Tyann: Okay, so I got something different. Yes, go. Um, processes, folks, you have to know how you're going to take that direct booking. What are your processes?

[00:58:31] How are you going to do all this? Um, and also when do you start? You start now. You start yesterday. Um, me, I list the house as soon as I've bought my dirt. So Friday I closed on buying some dirt. This week it will be listed and available and I will be. Story and then people can start thinking and dreaming and then booking.

[00:58:54] Uh, so there are some few things ahead of time that I think we sometimes we forget

[00:58:57] Andy: about. Nice. And I will [00:59:00] say the one from me, I was always told, Don't forget the value of repeating yourself. Do not be afraid to repeat yourself. So if you've got something. Put it on your website. If you got something to say about your direct bookings, do it in your reviews like we were talking about, mentioned it on the reviews.

[00:59:15] If you've got some social presence, do that. If you've got friends, like Mark said, they don't all know that you have this holiday business, so tell them that would, that would be what I'd say. Repeat yourself. Thank you everyone. Um, I've enjoyed the conversation. Think we had some really, really interesting.

[00:59:29] Points. Um, I hope everyone who attended did too. And uh, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.

[00:59:34] Mark: Having a blast. Gonna get out on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce

[00:59:37] Lee led Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tees loose leaf, making up those rhymes. Don't write it,

[00:59:43] just do it loosely.

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