Welcome to Boostly Podcast Episode 440. This is a recap of my Facebook live where I talked about how to build direct bookings for your STR business in 2022.
Here’s the audio for this episode:
Here’s the video for this episode:
03:40 The Hostfully Team
10:20 Mark of Boostly
14:10 Main tip for increasing direct bookings
21:50 How to build trust
27:20 Tips to improve your brand
36:00 Are my marketing campaigns working?
38:00 Tips to improve your brand
42:30 Responsibilities of a host
48:00 Tips for someone with only one property
49:00 Can you still use OTAs?
53:30 The next big thing in the hospitality
55:40 Maintaining relationships with companies
Whilst you’re here
Follow Boostly on the following channels to get more tips, tactics and knowledge on how you can increase your direct bookings
Visual – YouTube
Audio – Boostly Podcast
Transcript from the Episode
Hello, hello, hello one and all I’ve got something very special for you today on the Boostly podcast. I recently joined Hostfully for a very special webinar where we talked about direct bookings and trust. It was about an hour-long, we’ve dug into five key questions around direct bookings and trust and brand building. The team was very great just in sending me the RAW recording so I could put it in the Boostly spear. So please do go and check out more about Hostfully you can find out more about their PMP platform that can find more about their guidebook, just head to boostly.co.uk/hostfully this is a really good episode, you’re going to get so much from it when it comes to direct bookings. I would love you as you are watching this on YouTube or listening to this on the podcast. Leave your feedback and your takeaways. So jump onto the YouTube channel, Boostly on YouTube, in the comment section, leave your main takeaways, your main feedback. But most importantly, tell me what you’re going to put into practice because there’s tons of actionable advice on here. Don’t forget, you can go pick up the book direct playbook on Amazon, it’s literally under $20. And I promise you you will get a return on investment on that. So without more being said, let’s jump on into the video. We have got the great team from Frederico and Frank from Hostfully on the call with me. And there was tons of Team Boostly members in the chat at the same time, which was amazing to have you on there. So thank you very much.
If you want to keep up to date with all of the events webinars that guest spots that I’m doing. Just got a boostly.co.uk/ical. All right, let’s jump over and let’s dig straight in with the show.
The Hostfully Team
Frank: I just wanted to thank you and for you know joining in on today’s webinar. We have the wonderful Mark here from Boostly and my colleague Frederico and I My name is Frank. I’m the director of business development here. So right now, we have Federico, he is our manager of business development. And we’re also graciously joined by the wonderful and fantastic and all knowing Mark Simpson, the founder of Boostly. And I’m Frank and I’m the Director of Business Development here at Hostfully.
So this is going to kind of be a slightly different webinar from others. We’re really going to make it a bit more open-ended, I guess in conversing. So we chatted on some Facebook groups, we posted on some social media and emailed some of our users to ask them if they had any questions for Mark. So kind of a fun, asked me anything webinar, if you will.
We also already had some fun questions that we’ve got received in advance. So we’ll be reviewing those top five questions during the webinar. But again, remember, you have the Questions tab, the chat tab, feel free to just go in there, ask any question that you would like for us to answer. So we’ll try to get through as many as possible.
So before we get started with some kind of mind-blowing insights from Mark, I just wanted to let you know a little bit about Hostfully, for those that aren’t familiar, we’re a vacation rental company. And we really just focus on helping you run your business from tip to tail. So we strive to help vacation rental companies and property managers make more money, increased revenue, streamline the Automate your day to day operations and improve your overall traveler experience.
Hostfully has two platforms. These are both completely standalone platforms, we have the property management platform, and then the digital guidebook, both of them fully integrated, so of course more than welcome to use both of them together. But you also have the option to use just a property management software and just the digital guidebook.
On the property management software side, we have a direct integration with major OTAs, Airbnb, VRBO, booking.com, and a bunch of other channels as well. And really, we work as a channel manager for those OTAs. So Hostfully will be a central place to manage, and will be the hub in managing all of your reservations.
We have great pipeline future, this is unique to the industry as well. And here’s where we can see all of our guests and just really where they are in the process of their booking. And basically manage operations in different ways than other softwares.
We have a really nice out-of-the-box direct booking website available to all those users. And especially in this day and age. And we’ll talk about more about that. We want as many direct bookings as possible and not be so heavily reliant on those other channels. We also included our software that has automated messages, both email and text message reports, analytics payment processors. And then we also have a wonderful new unified inbox where with a whole lot of fun features to help you run your vacation rental business. And then we have the guidebook platform. And this is really unique. And it’s a beautiful platform where we focus on enhancing the guest experience. We make it easy to share information to the guest about their trip, check-in details, directions, house manual, all your favorite recommendations.
Again, this aims in boosting your guest experience, it cuts down on communication and it also has the ability to get you more five-star reviews. Also, it’s a great upselling feature to increase your overall income.
And right over here with the guidebooks we have Erica, she’s a client of ours basically said this, you know the same view as many other of our clients. Here she states that the guidebook totally blew her away, we saved her a ton of time. And also the guidebook, it’s more professional than a Word document or a PDF that you would leave on the living room table.
So if you haven’t tested out our guidebooks yet, we have free trials on all of our subscriptions. And also one free guidebook for everyone who does want to use that kick the tires, test it out, let me know, we’ll be sending out a follow-up email as well. So you’ll have all my contact information there. If you want some more information.
Hostfully has also been winning awards. We’re super excited. And it’s been great. We won that Landhaus VR MB Keystone award, their first year, they had it as the best vacation rental software. And then really again, they just released the Keystone award winners for 2021. And we won that, again, making us back-to-back winners for that. So really excited.
One of our main evaluators Terry White, which a lot of us also know very well said that Hostfullyis one of the best softwares period that I have ever seen.
And then we also have incredible platform beautiful guide books. But we also have great reports and webinars. We have a variety of reports available on our website, which I encourage you all to check out at your leisure. It’s hostffully.com/2021report. And it has a good selection of reports future booking reports, multi-channel distribution reports. Other reports that have great insight can be useful for your business. So again, I encourage you just to check those out directly on our website. And we have ton to offer there, along with blog posts and articles.
If you do want any additional information on any of our products, please feel free to reach out to me directly. We’re always able to coordinate a schedule or you know, a one-on-one demo with you. But that’s really enough about Hostfully I’m going to go ahead and hand this over to to mark with Boostly.
Again, Mark. Were super excited to have you with us today. You’ve been a great partner, great supporter and a friend of ours for a while, and Hostfully has also been a sponsor for the Bruce Lee podcast for quite some time now. We love everything that Mark’s doing and talking about. You know what we’ll talk about more how you can manage your business is increased direct bookings, tips on marketing, the whole nine yards.
So, on that note, Mark, I’d love to hand this over to you. And to see if there is any intro. I guess if you want to share an intro about yourself, you can give a couple of minutes and then we’ll kick it off with the first question, which again, really broad. What’s your main tip for increasing direct bookings?
Mark of Boostly
Mark: First and foremost, thank you very much. I am a massive, massive fan of Hostfully. It’s no secret. It’s no shock you guys winning the awards because you do have not only the guidebook, which I think the guidebook in 2020 really helped a lot of hosts in need. Obviously, having the free guidebook was amazing. We’ve spread it around our community. And when the times in certain countries weren’t allowing for the physical copy these digital guidebooks gave everybody a kick up the bum to sort of get one and obviously you’re not been around longer than 2020 it isn’t given the kickoff demand for everybody to get one and I know I can see so many people now in the chat who’s with us who have utilized it, and able to enter the business and it works. I mean, I have been on the other end of this I was a guest and I stayed in our property in Spain. And they sent me through a digital guidebook I opened it up it was a Hostfully which was lovely collected my email it all the things that you know, I talk and preach about so it really is a nice little matchup and yeah, I’m so happy to work with podcasts and sponsors and all that stuff and to do today is really cool.
And the reason why I love doing these little webinars, whether it’s an hour or whatever how long we’ve got, I like to do things a little bit different. So I want to reward the people that have tuned in live. So every single one of us that’s tuning in live with us now, I want to give you as many opportunities as possible to ask questions when it comes to this topic because this topic is just grown and grown and grown and grown, especially over the last 18 months. And loads of people want to chat now about direct bookings, which is great for me because my mission is to help 1 million hosts increase their direct bookings and cut down on the overlaps on Airbnb booking.com Expedia group, the book and holidays group and Airbnb, because the problem is, is that there are so many people who are still relying on him.
And when I say reliant more than 80% is a very high majority of hosts and property managers that I speak to, but more than 80% of their income comes in from third parties. And everything that I’m going to talk about today. Everything that I’m going to share with you is simple stuff. It’s just a simple case of you don’t know what you don’t know. And I just do these webinars, I do these podcasts, I do all these things to help hosts and all I ask from the people that tune in live, or listening back on the replay. Don’t try and do all of it. I’m going to give you loves today. Just try and pick one thing and put it into action tomorrow. And then just do small little steps like that because you will start to start to do it.
So those of us are live now. What I would love for you to do is to get chatting in the questions box, the chat box isn’t enabled. But the questions tab is put any questions you’ve got let me know anything, I’m going to ask a tons of things. And I want to make sure that I can help you as much as possible. So I do like to reward the people who tune in live.
So we’ve got five things that have the most common questions that have come in. But I will make time for your questions at the end. And who knows, I may answer them in these next five things. But make sure you got a pen and paper ready. Make sure to make this as interactive as possible. And also as well, what I want to do is I want to share with one person in here something very special. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to do a little giveaway during this live video live webinar. So make sure you’re ready for that. And we’ll do that at any point and make sure you’re ready for it. And if we’re good, and we can get started.
Main tip for increasing direct bookings
Mark: My main tip for increasing direct bookings is the same thing that I’ve applied to Boostly. And why you know, Hostfully and Boostly works so well, that the main tip to increase entire bookings, and I talked about it a lot in this book, which we’ll talk about later on, is relationships.
If you try and go this alone, as in you just try and shut yourself off from your local community, from local businesses around you from peers or people in your niche or people in your industry. You try and do all of yourself and you don’t look to create relationships and businesses and partnerships, then you will struggle and suffer. The best way to increase in direct bookings is not to do fancy Facebook ads, Google ads, don’t try and do all of the fancy, amazing things that you’ve got SEO and all that sort of things that are going on, the best thing to do seriously is to start building relationships in your local in your niche.
So simple, simple way to do this is and so I want to throw the question out to you, everybody that’s tuning in and use the questions box, don’t worry, there’s no chat, and I will use the questions box. So again, just give me a yes or no in the questions box. Do you live in the area, the city, the town, the location where you rent your properties out? So yes, or no? Do you live in the area where you rent your properties out? Okay.
So for everybody who says yes, your life is going to be a whole lot easier, but it’s not impossible. If it’s a no because I know in America and I know in Canada, it’s more common to live, say, in Charlotte, Carolina and have your properties down in Florida. Okay, this is very common, but in the UK and Europe, maybe not so much. But this will work either way. So if it’s a yes.
And what’s your main tip to increase in doubt bookings, super simple. Think about your property right now. Think about where you are in the world. Think about the type of people who come to your area and think about your property.
So what do I mean by that? My family business was a farm stay Bed and Breakfast and holiday cottages on a 200-acre farm in the middle of the North Yorkshire countryside. Alright, so which people were coming to our area? It was tourists, families. Okay, those are very common come into our area. All right, we are very close to Scarborough and Whitby which is again, very touristy locations in the United Kingdom.
Then what I did is I looked into our family business model. It was set up for people who enjoyed the countryside, it was set up for families because we had a working farm. Kids loved coming up families love coming up. And then what we did is we go okay, so our customer avatar, our ideal guest is families. Okay, we know that there’s a lot of families that come to because a very touristy location is by the beach. So what I then did is I looked outside of our business, I looked at places to eat, I looked at places to go, family days out, I looked at all of that. And what I did was very simply, I did research, I was very fortunate that our customer avatar matched exactly who we were, it was me my wife and two young boys. And we would go and visit places in the area.
Because at the end of the day, your job as a hospitality owner, or a property owner, is you got to become your local brand ambassador, because you’re going to have guests ask or wonder where places to visit places to go places to check out. And this is why having a digital guidebook is awesome because what you can do is you can really build your guest experience. And you can put it all into a guidebook.
Now what I was when I was doing I wasn’t just going to visit keeping myself hush and not saying anything what I was doing, I was going there. And what I was doing afterwards, I was reaching out on social media, I was reaching out an email or phone call dropping a call and asking to speak to the owner and just introduce myself just saying listen, we came to visit you we had a great time I run a hospitality business we’ve got holiday cottages, we’ve got hundreds if not 1000 People come and visit us every single year. I would love to be able to work with you recommend you to our guests do you is there anything you can do to help the guest out vouchers or something like that.
And again, what we did with this one place this working farm that was like more of an experience place to go. That little cafe and working farm etc. We were able to work out a special discount for our guests. And the really cool thing which is like the byproduct of that is that for every person that came to visit, we had like a little chat going and for every 10 People that visited on the back of those, then we got financial, like a little kickback on the back of it which was which was great.
So and the best bit the best bit we never had to pay when me and my family went there again, which is awesome, which is like a nice little thing to have, you know, all this thing you do. So that’s just not the only one we did. We did it with local cafes and restaurants and all of those cool things. We built up a really nice little relationship and partnership network. And then what that meant was it was a win win win. So it was a win for the local business because they were getting referrals and recommendations all the time. It was a win for our guest because we were recommending a place that we like to go to and when you arrive in a location that you haven’t got a clue you don’t want to be trawling and wasting your time on TripAdvisor and Google looking for places to go you want to you know that’s the whole thing about Airbnb live like The locals get the recommendations. And so they were going to have a great time and it was a win for us. Because what was happening is number one, we were building a nice little partnership relationship, we were getting a bit of a kickback, I guess at a great time. So the guest experience was good.
But the best bit of it was, we started to find that place, the place that didn’t have accommodation, they would start having parties there. Some sometimes even had weddings there. And what would happen is, obviously, when there’s a wedding, the main thing the bride and the groom ask is, do you have any place that you recommend for accommodation? So guess who was top of mind? Guess who was the go to? They didn’t just say, Oh, go find some on booking.com. I said, Hang on a second, we got Mark at the Grainary, 14 bedroom guesthouse close by and we became their recommended place to go.
And that is not doing any Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO, none of that it was literally a case of building relationships in the local network. And, you know, I talk about it a lot. And this book is a step-by-step guide on how to build it out. Because there’s going to be some people in here who are watching this now going well hang on a second. I don’t live in my area, where my properties are. So how do I do that?
I’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to build out using Facebook groups. You know, so my number one tip I maintain For Bookings is building relationships and partnerships. And if you’re thinking, well, it doesn’t really fit my business or my niche, I done the exact same thing with basically just a different way around taking it online. And it’s work massively for Boostly as well for the Grainary. And you can implement in any business, just build partnerships, build relationships become the go to hands down, you will you will you will strive and that’s like my 5-10 minute answer on that one.
How to build trust
Mark: Just to give everybody a little behind the scenes of how you do a webinar, we literally got these questions just before we went live quickly go through this question came up and it went to my mind, because this is literally something I’ve been talking about on a recent episode of the Boostly podcast. And it’s something that I’m doing at the moment with our current sponsor, iPrac.
So it’s a global certification service and system. And what I love about it, and what I love about the trust factor is to do research on the episode that I was doing about I look back at what Airbnb did. So all you got to do is after this webinar, go to Google and type in 2016, Joe Gebbia, who was the other co-founder of Airbnb, and he did a TED talk about designing Airbnb for trust. Because when Airbnb was getting going, properly getting going, they had got a lot of hurdles here because they were the plucky new kid on the street. They were trying to take on booking.com They’re trying to take on VRBO but at the same time, they needed hosts to list their properties on there, but they needed the guests to come on there as well.
Okay, because you got to understand back in 2013 2014 2015, expedient dominated the states booking.com dominated the UK and European Airbnb with the plucky underdog, so they have to build trust, to build their business. Okay, and it’s a really insightful TED talk on how they did this. And they’ve built that trust the last five, six years.
My biggest thing now, the host in 2022, is that we’re the Airbnb of 2016. We’ve got to rebuild that trust in our guest. So how do you build that trust? Number one, having some form of accreditation is massively important. I-Prac is probably one of the most globally recognized ones.
Number two, is you’ve got to be able to build your social proof. Now social proof in the most simplistic layman’s terms is reviews. Okay, you’ve all got reviews in some way, shape, or form, it’s on Airbnb, or if it’s on Facebook or Google wherever you collect them. Now when I say reviews, you’ve got to showcase them now there’s a really cool tool called Revyoos specifically designed for the hospitality world. And what these tools are able to do is they’re able to pull in your latest reviews in Real-Time from all of the channels, and they can present them on your website, your direct booking website. And the reason why this is important is that if you’re able to get people onto your website, if you’re able to generate traffic to your website, one of the main reasons why they don’t stick around and book is because there’s no social proof, there’s no review.
So what they do is they, and this is a major buy-in factor for your guests. There’s some surveys, tons of surveys done on this. And it was 89% of people will look for a review or social proof before making a hospitality reservation, a high number that’s nearly nine out of every 10 people that work with you will look for a social proof review.
So if your website is not showcasing accreditation, and social proof, they’re going to bounce. And when they leave your website, when they bounce, they never come back, because they get sucked in on the mouse trap of Airbnb, TripAdvisor, whatever it may be.
So two simple ways, social proof, and accreditation. And once you get these, shout about these, don’t just meekly put it somewhere hidden on your website, say it loud and proud that you’ve got these things in place. Because that will build the trust factor. And again, we talk about the first thing it ties in, it marries really in with number one with the relationships. If you’ve got somebody that knows likes and loves and trust you saying to a friend, or a co worker, or somebody else that they know, like trust and love saying, Hey, go and visit here, then all of the other things are adequate, because you’ve already got that social proof is my friend who’s recommended here to go here. I’m going to do it. You know what I mean? So again, if you can marry number one, and number two, it just gives you that trust factor by them both above and beyond.
Tips to improve your brand
This is where social media comes in. So this is what I would love everybody who’s in the chat. Again, I’m going to bring it back to everybody. Everybody in the chat who is currently using just give me a yes or no. Let’s see if you can do both. Actually, let’s do the thumbs up reaction emoji. So if you’ve all got the emoji buttons ready, hit the thumbs up button. If you are currently using social media to promote your business, let’s see how many thumbs that we get. Nice.
So for those that are tapping the thumbs up emoji button in the chat now in the questions, what social media channel are you using the most? So are you more on Facebook? Are you more on Instagram? Are you on the Tiktok? You’re on the LinkedIn What are you currently using? Instagram Instagram, yet? We got loads of Instagram. Okay, great.
So social media is one of the best way of building your brand, and building your social media presence.
Now why is it important to document over create, why is important to document to build your brand. And this is really, really important. And if there’s any fans of Gary Vee, you’ll know that he’s spoken about this many, many, many times Gary Vaynerchuk. And when it comes to being online, so many hosts, so many property managers, but so many businesses fall in the trap of using outdated marketing techniques on social media.
So when I mean outdated, I mean newspaper ads, or any TV ads, or radio ads is where it’s all about selling. So every time that they were fed an advert online in the olden days, they will always sell him. And what they’ve done is they’ve brought that old fashioned outdated technique onto social media, the clue is in the name social, nobody opens up Facebook, nobody opens up Instagram, nobody opens up there. Maybe LinkedIn but to buy. It’s not Amazon, so don’t always sell. So what you need to do is you need to document you, your business, your team and your local area.
Because at the end of the day, people aren’t really spending 100% of their time inside your properties. Realistically, you’re only spending 20% of that time your properties and spending 80% exploring and checking things out. So what you need to do is you need to become your local brand ambassador. And you do that with social media. And when you use social media, you document over create the most simplest thing that you can do, if you want to get a big impact on this is show up every single day and be consistent for the next 365 days post a post or a story. So in Instagram stories, that one that disappears after 24 hours, do it every single day consistently. And I guarantee you if you do it, this time by March 7 2023, you will have good things happen to your business. It’s just about consistency.
The problem is not everybody wants to stick it out and do it every single day, it’s just a little post once a day. That’s all it is. That’s all I’m asking one little Post story or post every single day, start to document your area, whether it’s a picture, video, if you want to get fancy, do a live video, or a real and whatever. And what you’re going to do is when you go to the places and you’re documenting, tagging, tagging on social media get their awareness. And this is again marries in nicely to number one is that you start building those relationships. Okay, so all of these little tips that I’m sharing with you, things that you can literally do today, you can literally do it right now to do one of these things. And if you keep being consistent with it, they will help you with the whole goal which is our bookings.
You can have your Facebook business page, and you can link it up to your Instagram. And if you’ve got the business tools, which everybody has access to, you can schedule your posts, one of the things that we we have done an I have created is called Boostly content creator. Because I’m one of those annoying people who say you should be posting every single day on Facebook and social media and Instagram and LinkedIn or Twitter wherever people come back to me. So I ain’t got the time. I don’t know what to post every day. So I said right, well, I’ll go and create it. So what I’ve done is I’ve got an agency here in the UK every single month, they create 30 to 40 pieces of generic content. There’s dated long form short-form content. And I literally give it to you at the start of the month. You log on you’ve got your home of done for you just have to copy paste, personalize it to your business and your brand and post it takes you an hour and you can do it. So there’s never any excuses to not be posting every day on social media. And again, I’m just one of those annoying people that say and then anybody who comes back to me saying I haven’t got the time I say well there you go. It’s literally 5am on five pounds. $7 a month.
2016-2017, me and my wife and two boys we started traveling around the world. We sold our house and you know a hide basically managed to Tim Ferriss outsource my business my day to day out in the family business. So we went traveling and because of that my wife started a travel vlog and I was just doing it for them. And we did it every day pretty much for a while we were traveling for free months, when we came back, I was like, you know, I just got the itch, you know, and I started doing it for Boostly and I just kept on going, I did 1000. And then I thought, rather than 1000 now so like, I stopped, but I still document on Instagram. That’s why I’m on Instagram. I love Instagram. It’s my favorite channel. And I just keep doing it from there. It’s not a full on vlog every day. But yeah, it’s it’s amazing.
Again, because of that, I can’t, there’s no instant I did that. So this was the result of it. But I know for a fact that the awareness of who I am, and what I’m doing is definitely grown because of that. And now because of that there are people who started following me on my journey in 2017, that the boys have grown up, and people have been following since then. And you know, they know and even I’ve never met them in real life. Maybe they know me, and my family is a journey and what we’re doing, because of all the places that we’ve traveled to and whatnot, so yeah, it’s definitely a document 100% the way to go.
Are my marketing campaigns working?
This is just me personally speaking, is that there is no easy trackable version of this. It’s not as it’s not as bread and butter as what it was back in, like the olden days with newspaper ads. And I remember when we started at the Grainary, 2011 was when I first came into the business full time, we could put a newspaper ad out, and we could track the effectiveness on coupons coming back, there was a simple send out traffic coming in. With Facebook ads, and all those things. Yeah, you can get like conversions and all those things where you can track person per spends and whatnot. But to me, that’s too confusing. I just want to keep things as simple as possible. And I just know, if you are doing something 1% extra day, to spread the awareness of what you’re doing building relationships, it will come back, it’s not a short term fix. This is not a quick fix. When and you know, you’re bringing in six, seven figures like that, it’s not that it’s this is a long term game and a medium long term game. And the reason why so many people stop is that 10 years, you got to be consistent with it. It’s just like anything, it’s just like going to the gym, the first day you go, you’re not gonna get ripped and get a six pack, it’s got consistent, consistent behavior every single day doing it consistently. And just showing up, it will have a benefit for you.
There probably are amazing third party tools. You can spend X amount on a subscription or do all these things. But I like to keep things as simple as possible. And also as well, where I’m from in the UK. And if there’s anybody here from the UK and is from Yorkshire, you’ll know that we’re very stereotypically tight, we don’t spend money. So as I always say, you can take the boy out of your auction, but you can’t take the whole shot the boy and the whole way share. I try and make it where you don’t have to have subscription services, all these things while these other tools, just keep it as simple as possible. And you know, you will, you will you will see if it works.
Tips to improve your brand
One thing that you can do is you can definitely utilize the people who know like love and trust you what I mean by utilize as in letting them know that you are a business and a brand. One of the big misconceptions with Airbnb still to this day in 2022 is that everybody just assumes that it’s somebody’s second property, somebody’s spare couch or spare room. They don’t realize that there is businesses and brands behind this. So you have to start again showcasing it.
So when somebody lands on your Airbnb listing, for example, you’ve got a profile, so why not change it? So that the first line on that bio instead of me just saying, hey, come from Scarborough, just say you know we are we are a property management company. You know, here’s our amazing reviews, go check them out. Start to get it into the guest head that you are a business and the brand when they land in your property. So when they arrive, okay, can you have any branded material laying around whether it be a little folded card or something called you know something on the on the fridge etc. Can you start to build up? It all depends on how far you want to go. I know that there’s an amazing company in the UK, and they’ve got their business name plastered on the walls, you know, golf at the high end luxury sort of feel they’ve got different style and theme rooms and their business and the brand name is everywhere on it. So it’s very obvious when people are taking pictures on social media, the proud names behind them in the background of all the shots.
Again, what we did our family business, we wanted to spread the awareness using social media. So we created a hashtag. And this hashtag, even though we’ve now sold our family business, and we’ve moved on hashtag farmi is all over the world. It’s a very prominent hashtag, we create it. So basically, a farmi is a selfie on a farm. We created hashtag farming, and we spread it everywhere. It was on our on our menus when guests came down for breakfast. And when the guests came down for evening meal or tea rooms, we had the hashtag farming name on there, we had on the back of the doors, we said, post your pictures and your videos on your social media with Facebook or Instagram or whatever it was and use hashtag farming to spread the awareness. So we build that brand that way.
And we just encourage our guests to share and post and tag us in. Because when you when guests can take a picture online and they can tag you in and brand you tag you in that’s so powerful because their friend or family member or co worker will see that will click on it and go check you out.
The main time when somebody will use social media is when they’re on vacation or staycation or workstation because you love to show off on social media. You don’t show off and post like your day to day stuff. Most people, they do it when they go on vacation. So you might as well take advantage of that fact. And if any way shape or form you can get them to tag them in. It’s like you’re working with 100 or 1000 Mini influencers on social media by doing that. And that is how you improve your brand.
Responsibilities of a host
This is where you need a PMP. This is where you need Hostfully, because again, my biggest tip, maybe at the start was relationships. But I was just assuming that everybody in here has got a PMP, right. Because if you haven’t yet got a PMP if you haven’t yet got a property management platform or a PMS property management software, then you need to get one if you want to increase your direct bookings because when you do life becomes 10 100 times easier because then you can link it up to stripe and you can link it up to all of these tools and structures.
Again, I save us a lot I must bore people who have seen me talk time and time again now. 2011 When I first came into the family business, the technology was nowhere near what it is now 11 years later. My family was still using pen and paper for their bookings diary, literally pen and paper the amount of double bookings that we got it was crazy we’re having to tip X out. I don’t have to pecs is a thing in America but we have to tip X out if somebody cancelled or you know have to change their stay. That’s how behind the times worse. We had to get it online. And when we brought in the software, it was amazing. Now 11 years later is so so so much better than the tools that I’m getting you got with a Hostfully is phenomenal and in US into things like the guide book and stuff, it just makes life so much easier.
All depends on what you want to get out of this. Yeah. Is this literally your hobby? Is this just a spare room is this just a house that you’ve got in this, you’ve got your main career, you’ve got your main business, your focus is all in here. And this is just on the side. If this is you, if that speaks to you right now. And yeah, go with a property management company. Because it doesn’t make sense you put in the time and effort into it, who I’m speaking to, and who I’m helping, is not used if I am looking to help the people who are hosts and property managers who this is your business, this is your life, this is your full focus, because my goal, my mission is to help 1 million hosts cut down on overlaps on booking.com and Airbnb, okay.
And so, if you if this is you, and I’m speaking to you, and you, and then Steven, if this is you, please like let me know if this is your full-time business. Obviously, what you want to do, because at the end of the day, when you rely on evolve, or when you rely on Airbnb, and booking.com for 90 plus percent of your income coming in, you are building your house on someone else’s land, you’re playing someone else’s sandpit. And all it takes is that, and it could, and it suave, and it could really mess you up.
Alright, so what you need to do as a business owner, and again, if I’m teaching you to suck eggs, I apologize. But when you are a business owner, you’ve got to do everything in your power to build up your own database, your own list your own customers, your own guests. Because when you do that, all becomes easier your own payment structures, role systems or structures if you go well, that sounds like a lot of work. That’s just life as a business owner, it’s not easy.
We are very lucky in hospitality. We are so lucky. Because you can start today I can go right now it’s Monday, by Friday, I could go get a property, I could go to a landlord and get a property of him, I can rent it off him and I can put it on Airbnb booking.com, I can get a couple of pictures on my iPhone over the weekend. By Monday, I could have bookings, I could have revenue, guaranteed revenue to come in. That’s that is a blessing. Right? I do website design. Hostfully that is obviously a PMP and a guidebook, there’s no website and be guaranteed to get in revenue, because the hospitality industry is so in demand. Okay, and that’s a blessing because it’s so easy to get revenue.
It’s a curse. Because when you are so easy to get something to get revenue from, you become overloaded, you become lazy, disguised as alright, I’ll get on Airbnb, don’t worry about it. I’ll just do it that way. And if you keep going down that route, and you are 80%-90% reliant on Airbnb, let’s just say, and what happens, say your password gets hacked. So you get three or four crappy reviews in a row. And you just drop off the face of the algorithm, save and close your account, which does happen. You are literally betting everything on one platform. And so this is why what I’m talking about here is so important. Because what it does, it means your business will be here in five years, 10 years, 15 years, however long you want it for whatever your goals are, this is why it’s super important to do.
Tips for someone with only one property
You want to build a business and a brand, even if it’s just one property, what you want to get out of that, that properties, this is going to be something that you want to do and you want to send somebody to what you want to be able to do with a website. And so I had this conversation with a host in Liverpool just two weeks ago, you want to get to a point where you could be in a supermarket and you can see somebody that’s maybe a contractor or a traveling worker healthcare work or whatever. And they they get chatting to them and they say, Oh, I’m I’m just traveling through town. I come here often data data, you want to be able to competent people to give them a business card or just say hey, check out my website, it’s what we do. And you’ll be able to send somebody to there. And then to make a booking you want to be that confident and you can do so you got to be able to answer right now. Are you confident enough to mention go check out my website and it’ll get booked. You confident, if you’re not confident then you need to do something about it. That is why it’s important even with one or two or three or whatever you want to do, however you want to play it know if this is your hobby. Just something you do on the side. You’re literally tuning in on a Monday afternoon or a Monday evening just for fun and giggles. That’s cool, that’s fine. But if you’re doing this because you want to take our business to the next level, you want to increase our bookings, then everything that we’re talking about you should be focusing on doing tomorrow.
Can you still use OTAs?
Definitely. And Yes. And I save us a lot. The big misconception of me, or the big thing about direct bookings is that people wrongly assume that I’m saying go cold turkey, on Airbnb on the OTAs. Literally turn off your listings. I’m not saying that at all.
Our family business was in the middle of nowhere, literally 200-acre farm middle of nowhere. Yes, it was close to Scarborough and Whitby but we weren’t coming up on any of the search results, we needed booking.com because we needed their cloud. Because booking.com has got the awareness of international guests X, Y, and Zed, we needed them. So we would never have grown the business to the level we did without them. What we did, is that we didn’t rely on them. We went on booking.com and Expedia. We went on Airbnb, when it came to the UK, we were on TripAdvisor we were listed on so many of these niche sites were everywhere. And what we did is we spread it around, and we never relied on one channel. So we needed and just this is why I say and this is sometimes controversial depending on who I’m speaking to. I say you never go 100% direct bookings.
Because what happens, your referral, stop talking about your weapons, if your guests talking about you, then you’re screwed. You need to have a healthy balance on each. Just moderation. It’s just like anything. It’s like when people say about losing weight and diet and stuff, you say you never just cut out cold turkey, you’ve got to do it all in moderation. It’s the same with this.
And yes, so this is something that I love that what the PMP is are able to do now, again, we never had this before in the past, you can opt mark the price, but what you send to the OTAs, I love this, and I put it to a test. So for the last two years, I’ve lived in Spain, very lucky to be able to do so. And in my little town of Javier, I got to know a Dutch couple really well, that had got property. So they were doing a management model, they had a couple of properties. And I chatted to him in our favorite little coffee shop. And I was talking about the upsell. And I just said this is becoming May June and need a bit of availability in June because it’s that little in-between stage before we get super busy. I just said just try this as mark it up by 40 50%. Let’s see what happens because again, context we’re coming out of lockdown, we’re coming out of COVID. And all those things were happening. And you know, the people were just wanting to get away and we’re in a popular tourist destination. We marked it by 40 50%.
And then what we did is the closer it got to the date, and that booking wasn’t there, we started to utilize the booking.com. You’ve got opportunities and vouchers and codes and stuff. So what we did is we marked it by 40%. And then we put in a coupon code of 20%. Okay, so on booking.com, we ticked all of our algorithms massively because we had availability, we’re offering a big discount, and it was just shot straight to the top of the ranking. Okay. And again, so we had a 50% upmark, we put a discount of 20%. So we’re still up marking it by 30%. Even when you’ve taken off the Commission, which is 15%, we’re still making an extra 15%. And you know what the cool thing is, is that we could still say, on our website on their direct booking website, best rates when you book direct. And we could do that, because with the power of the PMP and the power of the channel manager, you can then up Mark yourself by that match. And it just covers the cost of it. And then you can still come back on it and go best rates when you book direct. And this is another little psychological price hacking tactic that you can use and you can put into play. And again, I’ve got a full, you know, that’s a very quick answer. So I know we’re coming out of time, I’ve got a full video on this on the Boostly YouTube channel.
The next big thing in the hospitality
I wish I could see into the future. If so I’d be a very rich man because I’d be betting on the lottery and winning it. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen who would have known at the start of 2019. What was going to happen a year after? If I was to guesstimate and this is just my opinion, just guesstimating direct bookings is the future of marketing. Everything that I talk about in here is going to be is what has been popular, what is popular and what is going to be popular in the future.
If you can start to build relationships and if you can turn your guests not just guests but superfans is only going to result in good things for you and your business, your brand and your local area. So start by building those those relationships.
You know what you want, you want a really good tip that you can do tomorrow you can do right now that nobody’s going to do but those who do you will get a massive kick and a guest experience will go through the roof. Next time a booking comes in When you get the ping from Hostfully to say, Listen, a guest has just booked. Call them. Trust me pick up the phone, do something that nobody does anymore. Pick up the phone and have a conversation. Don’t chicken out by sending an email, Don’t chicken out by sending a text, pick up a column and have a human one on one conversation with them.
Say, Hey Federico, what? Why are you coming to the area? Is there a special occasion? What what are you doing? What are you looking to do? How can I make your stay extra special? There’s a story behind every booking, it’s up to you to find out what that is. And if you do and if you can. And if you can put something behind it, then your guest experience goes through the roof, the more your guest experience goes through the roof, the better your referrals are, the better the social proof will be. And all that stuff.
Maintaining relationships with companies
When you’ve got a guest, and you know that they are associated to travel and agencies, travel businesses, this is so much easier, pick them up and have a call. So a good way to test and look out and spot these bookings. If the booking is more than a week, what can is more than a week, two weeks, or if it’s got a business domain. Good tip that it could be a business and again, Airbnb and booking.com will tell you if it’s a business guest pick up the phone, have a call. Hey, Federico, I see you’ve come in for two weeks. Why you come to the area? Is it for work? And they’ll tell you just listen, sit up straight, and say Right, I’m calling for what do you come to the area? Often? How come you booked those? Why did you book us all those open ended questions? Did you make the book in order to make the booking for you on your behalf? This is the Golden One, traveling nursing company traveling business traveling professionals, if somebody booked on their behalf, and your next next question is Who was that? Do you ever contact name, contact number, get that name, get that number, drop a call into the head office. And you can get past the gatekeeper when you’ve got a name.
Trust me, I did cold calling for years. If I had a name, my life was so much easier. Okay, so if I call Hostfully had towers and I get the receptionist, and she’s like, Oh, who are you speaking to? Can I speak to Federico, please? It’s about accommodation, boom, straight through. Just want to introduce yourself. And again, because bear in mind, even if they’re booked with you via an OTA, they haven’t got a clue who you are. They’re just booking it for booking sake. It’s a PA or someone in the office who doesn’t know anybody in the area that is booking for booking, say, you can introduce yourself and say hey, by the way, I’ve just got one property got 10 properties in this area.
I’ve got a big network of over accommodation. How many? You know, there’s so many questions you can ask to go down this route, like how many? How many rooms? Do you need, how much accommodation to need? How much do you put into the area, you could get a really big contract on the back of that.
And, and I’ll leave you with a story. And this story will give everybody the confidence to start and train us tomorrow. And this story is in the book. Okay. So if you’ve read the book, you will know the story. And this brings it back to the most niche sort of thing you can imagine.
Well, there’s a guy that I know. And he had two properties, and He’s based in Scotland. And he was in a small little town on the outskirts of the big cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, a small little town, small little ear to properties and he had tenants full-time tenants who were coming to the end of it and he was kicking them out and he was didn’t know whether to sell them or whether to put him as a as a rental. He was a a sports training, football training, soccer training. We’re talking about this before we came online soccer training, okay. And his teenage son was playing in the youth team of this soccer club. This soccer club wasn’t a Premier Division. It was like Ligue one. So the drop down from the big leagues, right.
And at that training, he got chatting to a scout. And they’ve got chatting to the scout talking about what they were doing X, Y, and Zed and he just and he just Oh, yeah, I’ve got these two properties. I don’t know whether to sell or do whatever we need. I said, Oh, well. We need some place for a couple of other scouts to stay. And he goes, Okay, can you put them up? Yeah, sure. So he basically put them up, right? And the reason why he asked that question is because they normally go into a hotel, but that hotel was full with a wedding. So he housed the scouts up and had a great time, all that jazz. And then what happened from the back of that is the club. He was in the goto. So more scouts came in more scouts came in my scouts came in, and then a user’s accommodation.
And then he basically filled his whole annual calendar and made a big profit on basically homing, and scouts, traveling families traveling whatever, for this football club. And it’s just a conversation. So again, this is a great way of doing it a great way of building it. And that’s not just with leisure, this is with business. So look at your local sports team, look at local clubs, how can you just drop a little message in and just introduce yourself because I guarantee you, even your family and your friends, some of them won’t even know what you do for a living and just say, hey, what accommodation? Do you know anybody who’s coming to the area, you know, anyone’s coming to the area? Great way to start.
Before you leave
If you have enjoyed this post and want to feed my caffeine addiction you can “Buy me a coffee” ️