Welcome to Boostly Podcast Season 10 Episode 2. This is a recap of my Facebook live video where I talked about how to make sure a guest will never rebook with an OTA again.
Here’s the audio for this episode:
Here’s the video for this episode:
01:10 What this episode will be about
02:10 A bit of an update
05:20 What does this mean?
06:10 Focus in the systems
08:10 What you can do
10:10 What you can do after check-out
15:00 Make the OTAs work for you
Whilst you’re here
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Audio – Boostly Podcast
Transcript from the Episode
In this episode of the Boostly podcast, what I wanted to do was to break down why now more than ever, we have to be super realistic in how we are going to increase our direct bookings. And it all brings me back to the booking process.
Now, if you haven’t already watched my five-step video on the booking process, the stages that every guest will go through before making a decision to book with you, I do recommend that you go and check it out. If you had to www.boostly.co.uk/YouTube, you’ll be able to check out the video that I created on that I show you step by step guide. I even create a podcast series on his series.
A bit of an update about the guest booking process
But we’ve got a bit of an update. And it’s like an updated version of the guest booking process. And it’s where we’re at right now. And the reason why it needs to be updated is some of the latest stats that are coming out from all in rooms from price labs for beyond pricing.
And what we’re noticing right now, because of the way that policies and government policies are changing pretty much on a daily basis at present all over the world is the lead time. So from the point of making a booking, to arriving at your front door is getting shorter and shorter and shorter, and it’s only going to get shorter.
What that means is that you’re going to be witnessing and if you haven’t already, you’re going to be noticing a lot of really short booking spans pretty much maybe one or two days out. And what that is doing to the direct booking movement is that, for example, if you have got a guest who has never been to your area before and through whatever the motives may be, whether they are going to go on a staycation, maybe they’re just gonna pop 45 minutes of the road, maybe they’re just like I really want to break and they just want to just go somewhere, what you’ll find is that they may start their booking process 72 hours out, or four days out, or five days out, which is really, really rare.
If it wasn’t for the whole COVID and everything going on, this probably won’t be the case, but it’s happening. Some people are even doing this 24 hours out of 48 hours out because they are so worried about the cancellation policy. And, you know, I know that you may have a really flexible cancellation policy right now I know that you may be really going down that worry-free route, and people are still thinking, well, if I book it, I have to pretty much guarantee that I’m going otherwise, I might lose money because it’s what’s being presented in the media and social media etc.
So what this means is that if you’re going to somewhere that you’ve never been before, and you’ve only got a short span, then what you’re really looking to do is the Amazon Prime approach, which is search it find it book it just like that.
And where in the past, people may have gone down the whole route. Okay, well, I’m going to go to Google. I’m going to do a couple of searches. I might type in accommodation near here or, you know, I might type in x y Zed, what you’re noticing is that they’re just going straight on their phone straight on their app. And the apps that are there, booking.com and Airbnb are going straight in.
So unfortunately what you’re finding is that people are going in, find it, book it and particular On on apps such as you know, Hotel Tonight, which is owned by Airbnb or Airbnb itself, you know, booking.com have struggled here, Airbnb have definitely put profited. And you can see with their latest surveys and their stats, and their findings that they are releasing is that they are not struggling coming out of severe lockdown.
What does this mean?
So what this means is that somebody’s potential guests that would normally maybe book direct is going straight into the app and making the booking. So as far as getting the guest at the first time, that booking process is getting harder and harder unless you have got a really good pay per click campaign where you are actively on Facebook doing retargeting ads, you’re spending a lot of money in the original longtail keywords on Google ads, if you’ve got a very active email campaign, going to entice new guests there anybody who signs up to a lead generation on your website, etc. Unless you’re doing all of those things consistently and spending a lot of money at the process, then we’re just going to have to get realistic here. And to assume that the majority of people that are going to be booking with you, they are going to be coming through the otas.
Focus in the systems
But that doesn’t mean that this is where you just got to concede defeat. If anything, what we should be doing is really focus in on our systems and our structure to make sure that you then become that point of call.
Now, what can you do number one, a guest books via say, Airbnb, booked via booking.com. Yes, they received all their email address. But what they do give you is they give you their mobile telephone number. So what I would be doing to every single guest that’s booked in between now and definitely, you know, the next couple of months, would be sending them a WhatsApp or inviting them into telegram, whatever your preferred messenger platform of choice is, I’d be looking to do about straightaway, getting them on a WhatsApp message straightaway and start that communication.
Now what you’re doing as you’re taking them off-platform, you’re taking them off Airbnb, you’re taking them off booking.com and you’re getting them on your one on one communication now whether you know you do this yourself, or if you’re lucky enough, or you’ve got a team that you can maybe outsource this to I’d be looking to do this as soon as possible.
Because what’s going to happen is maybe five out of 10 of your guests, they’re just going to come and stay one time. But you never know who the other five may be, they may be coming for work. You know, with certain lockdown specifically in the UK, the only people that can really travel is business people at the moment. So it could be coming for work and they may be coming more regular. So yeah, you may have lost that original booking to an OTA.
But if they need to come back, or even more important, if they’ve got anybody else in their office or their team that is going to need to come in to your area for work appointment and they need a place to stay, then you’ve got that point of contact. So the WhatsApp or messenger communication is going to be really key moving forward.
What you can do to your guests
So what would I recommend you do so number one before stay quickly send a WhatsApp and introduce yourself if you want to have a pre filled in template on your phone in the note section, whether you’ve got an Android or if you’ve got an Apple phone totally up to you to make your life easier.
If you want to go Uber personalized, a little voice note or even a video message really does give a face behind the business. And then what you’ll do is just before they arrived maybe for 24 hours before they arrive again, this is all manual, this is an automated send a quick message just to say hey, just to make sure you know you can get into the property, okay. Whatever you do for that extra guest experience, then you can tell them you know, whatever it is that you’ve got, you’ve got all the gear in your apartment and you’ve able to turn on the heating before they arrive you’ve got music going or whatever. Say just to let you know we’ve got some for the arrival if you have a welcome pack, let you know that we’ve got a welcome pack.
If you stock up teas and coffees and you know that nobody else in the area does say hey, just let you know, we’ve prefilled your tea and coffee for you. We’ve got a couple of bottles of water for you x, y and Zed just let them know give them already that sort of five-star guest experience. And then when they get in so you know, whatever time they tell you that they’re going to check-in. Just make a note on the day and just say Hey, did you get in Okay, have you found anything all right? If you if you’ve got a digital guidebook, which you should all have by now.
And so just say here’s your digital guidebook it will show you how to turn on the Wi Fi we’ll show you how to turn on the cooker, whatever TV, air con, whatever you’ve got, send it to them and just let them know. This is how we Do all the bits, and then just say I’m really looking forward for your stay, please, please don’t forget to honestly review us, or you know, leave us a lovely review at the end of it. So put that into their mind.
What you can do after check-out
This is a really important one, it’s going to be over a voice no video message, text message, whatever it’s going to be and just say, Good luck on your own journey or safe trip back. We really enjoyed having you the team have let me know that you’ve left a place in a fantastic state. So thank you very much for that. Please do remember to leave us a review on whatever platform you booked us on, you know, mention Airbnb, booking.com, or whatever to say, you know really helps us.
But what’s really important is that next time you come back and stay with us, please book with us directly, we put a higher rate on the OTAs. Because we have to pay them a high commission cost to be on their platform. So if you book with us next time, you’ll get a better rate. And we’ve also got some better incentives. So just tell him if you’ve got early, check in late, check out, if you’ve got free parking or whatever, when you book direct, then let them know at that point because it starts to plant it in the brain. And then just say, again, if you want to keep in touch with us, here’s a link to our email list. So we can send you special offers or tell you about latest availability, Facebook, Instagram, whatever, you can drop it all in here.
But the most important thing to leave it with and to do this 24 hours later. So again, make a note. And this is the important one, just put a name. And again, it can be text, video, video message voice note and just say, just wanted to find out why you came to stay with us if you haven’t done this already. So just say if they have come to stay with you for business, send them a message and just say hey, so we were just thinking I was thinking and I just want to send you a quick message. Are you planning on going back anytime soon? If so, send me a message. And I’ll be more than happy to arrange the dates of view? Or are you coming back? Or do you know anybody in your office is planning on coming here?
Now again, because it’s business, maybe the key workers, for the NHS, maybe they’re truck drivers, maybe they’re doing shift work, maybe they’re stuck for whatever reason, they’re coming back, or they know someone is going to be going back in plant that into their mind and just say hey, so just to let you know, if for whatever reason anybody from your team, friends, coworkers, family comes and books with us and mentions your name, then as a thank you for me, we’ll send you some in the post, or we’ll send you Amazon vouchers.
Again, think about the time of the year. But it is right now it’s coming up to Black Friday sales, it’s coming up to Christmas, it’s coming up to all of the things. So if you can give them a little incentive just to say hey they mentioned, you, then we’ll send you x or 40-50 pound gift voucher, or whatever free to post would be a really nice incentive to them to go and recommend you.
And this is everything that you can do on the back of an OTA booking. And so you’ve done nothing to try and change him from being an OTA to direct booking, which is one of my big tactics that I share with you just go onto YouTube and type in how to turn an OTA book into a direct one. So it’s not even doing any of that. It’s literally striking up the conversation or getting them off their platform. And onto this, which is super important getting them onto your platform, onto your service into your world.
And you know, it doesn’t have to be done on a mobile phone. The beauty of WhatsApp and telegram and all of these other devices and software now is that it can be done on your desktop, on an app on your tablet, your team, you can all have access to the same device, you can have all I have access to the same login, it can be easily done.
Yes, it may take a little bit of extra time. But once you start sending the messages and you start having the same ones, but you can just save the template in your phone. And it’s just a case of copy and paste if it’s going to be a voice note you can do it while walking. You can do it while you know driving. If you’ve got hands free, you can literally do it. And it’s so so simple to do.
So, bear this in mind that with the lead time from point of booking to arrival getting shorter and shorter and shorter. You have to maybe concede to the fact that if you haven’t got all these systems in place and you’re spending a lot of money on PPC Pay Per Click ads, then you will have to concede the fact that that first booking may have to go via an OTA. nobody should have any excuses once they book you via an OTA but the second and third and fourth time that they come back to you or any referral should never be through an OTA.
Make the OTAs work for you
I talk about this a lot in the Boostly Academy, you’ve got to make the OTAs work for you and not the other way around. And this is a point in time right now where you need to be listed everywhere. You need to have a PMS in place a channel manager in place that’s firing off everywhere, every single website that you could possibly be listed on, be there, because you never know what people are going to be looking at once they booked you got to do everything in your power and this is a free simple way of ensuring that when they come back is to you directly.