This Tool will grow your direct bookings

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In this podcast, Liam Carolan interviews Chris Walker, CEO of Direct Booking Tools, focusing on their tool that enhances direct bookings for vacation rentals. The tool, developed over 18-24 months, emphasizes price transparency, displaying real-time pricing on property managers' websites. Chris highlights the significant impact on conversion rates, reducing the need for website traffic to secure bookings. 

The conversation covers challenges in expanding the product, success stories, and the tool's compatibility with various websites and booking engines. Looking ahead, Direct Booking Tools plans to enhance features, introduce API connectivity for deeper analytics, and has exciting undisclosed developments.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome back everyone to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives you the listener, the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourself more direct bookends. Today, we've got the spotlight series, and this is where we focus on people, services, and products that can help you as a host.

[00:00:17] My name is Liam Carolan and we're talking all about direct bookings today with our very special guest. We've got Chris Walker, he's the CEO of direct booking tools. You can go and see direct booking if you want to see their website. And it's, it's a tool which is aimed to help your guests make the right decision and come and book directly with you.

[00:00:38] So I'm not gonna give more away than that. Let's dive into it. Welcome along, Chris.

[00:00:42] Chris: Thank you, Liam. Pleasure being here. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:44] Liam: Whereabouts in the world are you at the moment? And, uh, where's the business based? We're

[00:00:48] Chris: located in a rough place called Hilton Head, South Carolina. It's, uh, it's actually a beautiful resort community and in the States, uh, actually just became, uh, renamed number one, uh, the resort island of the U.

[00:01:00] S. Uh, so it's not a bad spot to be.

What is Direct Booking Tools?

[00:01:03] Liam: What is, uh, direct booking tools?

[00:01:06] Chris: It's quite simple. Actually. Uh, it's something that's been done in the, uh, in the hotel industry for about 10, 12 years now. And when they came out with the price comparisons for room nights, Uh, no one's been able to do this for the vacation rental industry.

[00:01:19] So we spent about 18, 24 months, uh, in development and came up with a way to where we could show the public, uh, the, the, the price differentials between booking directly versus the OTAs. Uh, so as you can see behind me, that's a direct pricing that was generated on the product. It shows up on the property manager's website.

[00:01:38] The, uh, traveller, when they look to book any particular property for any given, uh, date range, this product goes out, gets that direct total price, out the door pricing for the, uh, For the property and shows it to the public. It's just the price. Transparency is what it's all about.

[00:01:55] Liam: Can you give us a history of the business?

[00:01:57] Why? Why does this matter to you? Why do direct bookings matter to you as an individual?

[00:02:01] Chris: Well, direct bookings are very valuable in them themselves. You know, you get you get direct communication. You get to set proper expectations. You get to review the guests before they book or make sure that they're the proper guests that you're looking for.

[00:02:16] Uh, you know, we have our restrictions in our own company that, you know, we don't like particular events and things happening at our properties and we have some very large properties where that's very advantageous to do. However, we have to turn those people away because that's not the type of clientele that we cater to.

[00:02:30] So that type of control is very important and you don't have that control with O. T. A. Bookings a lot of times. Uh, and sometimes you have to cancel those. And of course, everybody knows we get deemed for that even more so with some of the new rules that are just rolling out with one of the platforms that have failed to mention at this time.

[00:02:47] But we'll get, uh, monetary, uh, you know, Uh, deemed on that from cancelling those reservations. So it's important to have control of your business so that you can control your destiny. You're not beholding to one source of income. We're proponents to some degree of the O. T. A. S. We think that they certainly have done a lot of good for the economy or the market of the vacation rental industry.

[00:03:12] It has exploded due to their cash investments into marketing and things that they've done. But, you know, and they're good partners to have, but they also, you know, should you should control your destiny. And so that's really what it's about being able to control how you run your business and not be holding to someone else's the way they would like for you to run your business.

Biggest challenge so far

[00:03:33] Liam: What's been the biggest challenge so far in regards to. Growing this product,

[00:03:38] Chris: you know, actually getting in touch, getting in front of the decision-makers, you know, the companies as they grow, they get larger, they get gatekeepers in front of you. You can't get past the front desk people and that kind of thing.

[00:03:49] I mean, but that's with any business. I think you've got to get with the decision maker and those people are typically higher up the food chain and they're harder to get a hold of. But interesting enough, we've got a little twist to that is for vacation for reservationists. They can show this product to their, their clients who are calling in or emailing in and they can send this product to those people and convince them that they have the best price in the market.

[00:04:13] It also prevents them from having to offer a future for discounting because perception is reality. It looks like you're already discounting your rate, to the guests. So we're helping them convert more sales. And by doing that, They get excited. So they move us up the food chain. So it, uh, it works out pretty well.

Biggest success

[00:04:31] Liam: What's been the biggest success then? Like you say, it's only been nine months. What's been the biggest success so far? And what are you excited about?

[00:04:39] Chris: You know, the great thing about this is the impact that it's having on the property managers' websites. It's the conversion rate. The industry average, believe it or not, is 0.

[00:04:50] 52 percent conversion rate. That means you need about 200 people to come to your website to get one booking. And I don't think I think if you interviewed 100 property managers, uh, 90 per cent of them probably wouldn't have a clue what their conversion website conversion rates are because, you know, as a, as a property manager and a past student beverage guy, we're all hospitality people.

[00:05:10] We just love to deliver a great experience. A lot of us don't delve into those, those nuances and those facts that are impactful to what's happening with your business. And when we can take the industry average of 0. 52 per cent and move it up to 1. 2%. We've, we've cut your need, for several people to come to your website to 80.

[00:05:30] And so now, do you reduce your marketing and, and, and take that as a, as, you know, as a saving or do you keep your marketing going and end up with more bookings because you're converting more clients that are coming to your site? Uh, the other group beautiful thing is, you know, my own company, we went from 23 per cent direct bookings to 65 per cent direct bookings.

[00:05:49] I mean, just a massive change and I didn't change anything intentionally on my website because I wanted to see what this was all about. Because, you know, we think it's a great product, but we need the numbers to be able to tell us that it is a great product. And, uh, we've got about 65 companies on the platform, never lost a single client, and everybody who's on it is very, very happy with the product.

[00:06:08] Um, seeing amazing returns from, from having this installed on there, on their platform. So, that's just exciting in and of itself. I mean, that's why we built this because we knew it would be impactful. And, you know, that's, that's what, that's what gets us out of bed every morning. It's because we just love what we're doing.

[00:06:24] Liam: With the website side of things, I'm thinking WordPress, but will it work for things like Wix, Squarespace, and stuff like that? Or is it got to be a WordPress website?

[00:06:33] Chris: No, sir. Any website that you come up with, any, uh, booking engine that derives, a total price quote on that booking engine. So, you know, as long as you're, as long as you have a booking engine that shows you, you know, ABC street for these dates is the total price, then we can work with it for the most part.

[00:06:49] Uh, there's, uh, It's a very big centre of the market we can't work with, but it doesn't have to do with the website itself. It has to do with the PMS on the back end. I don't want to throw anybody off the bus, but, uh, so we can work with 97 per cent of websites

[00:07:04] Liam: That's cool that's cool so just talking about PMSs, if I've got a PMS, it's still something which could, could work with your product. Is that right? Does it depend on the PMS, I guess?

[00:07:15] Chris: No. Well, the idea is it's the website. So as long as the website is generating a total price, we can typically be able to work with the product. Okay, so no matter which PMS you're working with, it will develop and work with the product.

Plans for the company

[00:07:31] Liam: What's the plan for this company in the future?

[00:07:33] Are there other things coming along? Is there, is there, you mentioned as part of a parent company and things like that. What does the future look like for DirectBookendTools?

[00:07:42] Chris: Right. So we, you know, every day we're further developing the product. Uh, you know, you know, I can show people a demo of the product.

[00:07:49] Even just two weeks ago, we came out with the, uh, the checkout page slide-in. So when the checkout page, once a person goes to book a property, there's gonna be a slide and it says you saved so many dollars for booking direct. So again, we're trying to prevent card abandonment in that in that scenario. Um, we have the data dashboards in the back end that we're constantly updating.

[00:08:11] We're about to go to. We're not A. P. I. Connected now. We intentionally went script-connected because we could work with anybody instantly. We're gonna start to go A. P. I. Connected. That way we can further delve into our data dashboards and be able to report even more information back to the property manager about their actual bookings and the conversion rates and things.

[00:08:30] I mean, the website conversion we've got, but, uh, uh, but, uh, you know, there are things that we can't get a hold of until we are API connected. And we didn't need that. We still don't need it. The product still works. We're just trying to develop our back-end data analytics to a further extent to give them greater insights into their, into their, uh, their business.

[00:08:49] Uh, we do have some other things that are in the pipe, but I, I can't quite, uh, open up the can of worms on those yet because, uh, they, they, they are, they're pretty cool, they're pretty neat, uh, and, but I just don't want to, uh, to, to open that, that box just yet, so. Having a blast, gonna get it on the Boostly podcast.

[00:09:07] Bruce Lee like Bruce Lee, cause it's so hard and the T is loose leaf. Making up those rhymes, don't write it, just do it loosely.