Takeaways from Two Book Direct Conferences I attended

Welcome to the show notes of the Boostly Podcast. This is a recap of my podcast about my takeaways from two Book Direct conferences I attended.

I thought the best way to finish this season before we kick out Season 8  is to do a little takeaway. In Season 6, I did a takeaway of the full season. But this time, I want to do a takeaway on two specific conferences that I’ve recently attended.

One was in Athens, which is called the Book Direct symposium, and the other one was in London Works, the More Bookings Direct. The reason why I want to talk about this is that it was very clear around one topic, which was book direct.

mark simpson

Book Direct Symposium

The Book Direct Symposium wasn’t there before. This has been around for quite a few years. It has been created from a gentleman that was in the tourism activities. Over the last couple of years, he’s noticed that the pains and problems of business owners in cycle tours are the same as what’s happening in hospitality. So this year he organized the event in Athens. It’s based over a couple of days on the 18th of February to 21st of February.

What he wanted to do was he wanted to combine the tours and activities with the hospitality. He reached out to me. I was recommended to him by somebody that he knew because I talk about direct bookings. We organized for me to come down to Athens on the 19th and it was really an eye-opener.

Now obviously I’ve heard of companies which are owned by TripAdvisor, but I didn’t really understand the extent of how much commission they take and how much they push the boundaries with their tour operators. It’s really hard for them to try and even start to get their own direct booking. So it was really good for me to go down. My five-minute talk was about the booking process. There is a full season on the Boostly podcast around the five steps to the booking process. If you want to find out more about that season of the podcast go to boostly.co.uk/podcast. It’s season two. I go through everything from the plan, the research, the deciding factor, the booking and even buyer’s remorse. Go and check that out if you’re interested in finding out about it.

We spoke about that in detail in my talk. We also did a Q&A session, a chat about social media and, and it was really good to be able to speak to people that had never heard me before. People that were really disillusioned with these third parties and resellers and to be able to sort of share and give them some really effective tactics and tips that a lot of them could do during the event and straight after. I’m looking forward to hopefully going back again and speaking another symposium next year, wherever it is in future years and chatting to the same people and finding out what they’ve done since our talk.

My key takeaway from that was that there are so many other industries out there not just hospitality, not just hotels, guest houses, and serviced accommodation and website owners that struggle when it comes to resellers or online travel agents as we call them. The tours industry is known for exactly the same. But what I like about what Steve is doing on the Book Direct symposium is that it’s trying to build a network of tours and activities over here, a network of hospitality owners over here and then reach out to other industries and get them all in a room.

We can all share tactics and advice and how we’re going to just educate business owners on how they can actually use social media to their advantage, how we can create a website that will not put off people that can entice them to stick around and make a booking via their website instead of having a poor user experience.

Going back to the resellers that have got the money to invest in seamless user experience. That’s really the key takeaway from me. It’s fantastic to get to meet Steve and get to know him better and all of the people that attended and it was a great time. Outside of the conference, Laura came with me with the three boys Alfie, Charlie, and Frankie. We had a great couple of days checking out after. We hired a lady who did a really cool little idea. She did a little treasure hunt around Athens for the kids. She took us around and did a tour and she spoke about the history and she was able to to get that across while keeping it interesting for the boys. We went to some local foods. We had lunch, it was fantastic.

More Bookings Direct Conference


book direct

We got back after a late flight on the 21st on the weekend to recover. Then on Monday, the 24th I jumped on a plane in Alicante headed into London, and I went straight down to the embankment area for the More Bookings direct conference.

The reason why I agree to come to speak at this event is that it was around direct bookings. It’s really important to me to be on events like this. Normally when you go to events or conferences or expos, what I really liked about this was it was just one room, 8 to 14 speakers that were top quality speakers all around different industries. So we had some talking about branding, technology, websites, social media, corporate bookings, Google business,  and luxury market. There were people from all segments of the hospitality world and they were talking about specific subjects organized by a guy called David.

It was just packed full of so many good bits of advice. For me personally to be in that room was intimidating. I’m a couple of years into my journey doing this and I do a lot of videos, podcasts and I’m starting to speak a little bit more which is great. But to be in a room with the peers of the industry that have been doing this for a long time, people that I look up to, people whose blogs and social media I read and I learned from was nerve-wracking.

I spoke about email marketing and GDPR and why it shouldn’t scare hospitality owners off from engaging in email marketing. I even gave them one of our email templates from the Boostly Academy that is designed to get more direct bookings which have been designed by an expert copywriter in the industry.

The talk went well. I’m glad I went first to get out of the way because I can sit at the back have a coffee, and then listen to the other speakers.

Big takeaway was branding. Make sure that you’ve got your brand and make sure that your message and your tagline has to be spot on. You’ve got to entice people in and you’ve got to, obviously, make sure that the website that this brand is all on is built for mobile first. So many people don’t do reverse engineering a little bit more.

When somebody is on Google, your Google business listing and Google Maps. Google business listing is all important. So you’ve got to be making sure we’ve got the right things in place to make sure you’re taking advantage of thousands of people that are looking in your general area.

I would just say that the key thing that I’m taking away from all of this is that at the moment, I think, as business owners as hospitality owners, I think we’re all stuck in the reactive mode.

So Season 8 of the Boostly Podcast is going to be about getting everybody to be more productive. I’m going to be passing you on more proactive ways that you can increase your direct bookings. I want to banish the reactiveness. I want to get away from people just waiting for the phone to ping or the email to spark up to say that you’ve got a booking coming in.

I want to be able to show you little tactics and advice and things that you can do. With the experts that we bring in to show you how you can be more proactive, actual tips and advice.

This has been the Boostly podcast. This is Season 7, the final episode, Episode 22.

No guest today, just me.

Listen to the full podcast on iTunes or Anchor or visit Boostly Hospitality Podcast for the full list of episodes!


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