Welcome to the show notes of the Boostly Podcast Season 8 Episode 8. This is a recap of my live Facebook video, where I talked about how you should remove your listing on the OTAs.
Here’s the audio for this episode:
Here’s the video for this episode:
02:50 The last 24-48 hours in the hospitality world
06:00 Re-assess your partnership with OTAs
07:00 What we have been doing
11:00 Be proactive not reactive
11:40 Focus on your past guests
12:50 Offer your skills online
14:00 Sell something online
15:00 Sell local products online
17:00 Gift vouchers
18:00 Offer your place as a distribution or packing place
19:00 Don’t be afraid to do new things and pivot
Transcript from the Episode
Let’s just talk about the last sort of 24 to 48 hours in the world of hospitality, what has been happening, what has been going on. Booking.com sent out an email to every one of its hosts, every one of its property managers and what they have said, doesn’t matter what your cancellation policy, doesn’t matter what is going on, you have got to refund any guests that put in a cancellation within five days or we’re going to refund it for you and bill you. Now this follows on from what Airbnb just recently did. And they are literally throwing all of its hosts, all of its partners underneath the bush. Now if you had this email and if you’ve been affected, then let me know in the comments. Let us know in the chat if you’ve had this email. If you’ve had to make this enforcement then let us know in in the comments.
Now, the reason why I’m not a fan of what this OTA did is that they sent out an email very recently saying we’re here for our partners, we’re here to look after you. We even got a call on Friday from a booking.com rep just to check-in. That shows that they’re being proactive and this was after all of the bad PR that the Airbnb had done where they just cancelled again all of our bookings. I can totally understand why a guest would want to cancel and we’ve had cancellations and you’ve got to suck that up and deal with it and you can go to cancellation policies. But when they literally just throw you under the bus and to say doesn’t matter what your cancellation policy, you’ve got to refund them and if you don’t, we will refund them for you and then we will bill you then that just doesn’t sit right with me.
The reason why OTAs do this is marketing on their end. They send it to you, because they want you to put this up on your wall, they want you to show it off. They want you to have this because it says at the top booking.com. It makes you feel good because you get that decent award, that decent number that decent things you can show it off.
And again, I’m going to take an example that I saw a friend of mine, Steve Kopandy from the Book Direct Symposium, he did this at the event when I was there in Greece in Athens with him and it was really powerful. And I think today more than ever, if you’ve got one of these on your wall, if you’ve got one of these in your property, if you’ve got this on your website, if you show off about this then here’s what I want you to do. Rip it up and throw it away because if these OTAs going to treat us like that, why should we actively promote them in our properties.
Re-assess your partnership with OTAs
Now there’s going to be a lot of people that are really going to reassess partnership with booking.com, with the OTAs, and these third parties. Now I’m not advocating leaving them. I’m not advocating getting rid of these OTAs off your platform because, at the end of the day, they spent so much money when all of this is over and the upturn is that they are going to spend and heavily invest so much money in ads and ad spends to getting people back onto their platform. You need to have a listing on there. You need to have a presence and an eye on these OTAs because if not, then you will literally believe in money on the table. I am going to be massively stepping up how we can convert OTA bookings into direct bookings moving forward. I am going to have no qualms or nothing at all is going to prevent me from taking a booking from OTAs and doing our very best to convert it into a direct booking because how they and AirBnB have treated hosts, property managers as partners over the course of the last week are shocking.
What we have been doing with cancellations with OTAs
This is how we have been converting potential cancellations from OTAs into a direct booking and it was something that Jessica Lorimer said on last Friday’s interview. For those of you who haven’t watched it, I’m just going to go and have a look at the date it was Friday the 20th of March. Friday live was with Jessica Lorimer who is a sales leadership expert. She has got a fantastic group and a fantastic podcast. She has helped me massively. It was a drop in phase that she mentioned in the podcast but it stuck with me and it was a change these bookings from OTAs, not cancel. These are important words and if you’re watching this now on zoom or if you’re watching this on Facebook or if you’re watching this back on the replay, just do me one thing just put in the comments section CHANGE NOT CANCEL.
Change the bookings with OTAs; not cancel
When you get a potential cancellation comment from OTAs, but there’s very little you can do, especially if this is dealing with an OTA. But you get a bit more power of it is with a direct booking. What I like to do, if an email comes in or a potential cancellations from OTAs come in, or even if you get a little notification to say booking.com guest has canceled, we have got their details. So we’ve got their phone number, the first thing that I’m doing is I’m picking the phone, and I’m giving them a call. The conversation is going along the lines of “Hey, insert name, just got your email with the confirmation or the request to cancel. I totally understand that with these uncertain times. Who would want to travel right now, we are literally in a lockdown. We can’t unless it’s a key worker. So I totally get it. However, what I would really appreciate, you obviously want it to come to stay with us for a reason. What I would love is that we could just change your booking. So instead of it being saved next week, let’s just change it to a date in the future. October November, whatever. I don’t care any date in the future, we’ll just move it to an unspecified day. As a gesture of our appreciation is that we will give you a 10% reduction. And what we’ll do is we’ll book it directly with us so you’ve got no fees to pay and we don’t have to pay the commission to Airbnb, That would be a massive appreciation for it will help us because we will then be able to have money in the bank so we can then afford to continue in 6-12 months time and you as well you can be guaranteed to come and stay with us. All we need to do are two things. Number one, just confirm for me your email address. And also as well, we just need to take down your card details. So we can put just a little payment inside and you can mention what that is you can take the full payment or whatever.”
We’ve had that conversation out of every 10 calls, we are sort of getting, at the moment, the average is about 40%. So instead of booking via OTAs, the booking was direct. Sometimes we’ll get in maybe 20, 30, 40 pounds, just a little bit of money upfront. One or two of the calls actually getting the full payment. And we’re getting it direct, we’re getting it on our system, and we’re getting the email address. They are then obviously cancelled on booking.com. So it’s no longer their guests, no longer their client, their customer is our data. This is something that you can be doing. For those of you that have had all the cancellations and you’ve not tried this tactic then, why not give it a go?
Be proactive not reactive on your cancellations with OTAs
What everybody needs to start realizing is that if you’re just going to sit there and wait for government bailouts and wait for funds and stuff to come, then you’re going to be waiting a while you’re in the reactive mode. My goal with this series eight, and for doing these live videos every single night is to get you to be proactive, doing things like that, that you wouldn’t normally do. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to list off a load of things that you could potentially be doing right now. So you’ve got a lot of guests that have stayed with you in the past who already know, like, and trust you, you’ve got an email list. Hopefully, if you’ve been paying enough attention to the words that I’ve been saying over the last four years by now you have an email list, you will have Facebook followers, you’ve got people that you can reach out and talk to.
Focus on your past guests
What I would love for you to do. Number one, go back and everybody that stayed with you in the past and you’ve got an email that you can send which basically goes along the lines of “Hey customer, I hope you’re doing well. ” If you know him personally, you can add a bit of personalization into it. You could say “If you know anybody that is needing an accommodation, a key worker, NHS staff whatever you want to want to call it, who needs accommodation please let us know.”
This is for those obviously who can take accommodation now. “We have got properties available, as you know we are based here if you please know anybody send me a message straight away with their contact details, I’ll give them a call if they book on the back of your referral, then we will look after you by giving you x.”
This x could be Amazon vouchers, it could be whatever. Right now, as much as those people spending money there are also people who do need the money and if you can just give them a referral just for saying something.
That would go a long way and that will give you a lot of good karma moving forward into the future when things do go back to normal and people do start booking
Offer your skills online
There are so many people in the Boostly Academy. There are so many people in the hospitality world. I’ve got careers that are so different than hospitality. I speak to so many people, I do mock interviews and I asked him to give me a story. Tell me what they were doing before and so many of you have got so many different types of careers and so many different things that you are skilled in, why not offer them out?
I know this couple of people who are teachers and well check out nicetalk.com, a website that I discovered, a one on one teaching website. So those of you that are skilled teachers, whether you’re a language teacher, whether you’ve done your TEFL in the past or anything like that, you can go on there you can register your services. There are loads of different websites like that one, just go and just go and check them out. You may be really skilled or you may not even be really skilled, you could just have discovered a really good talent for Canva.
Sell something online
How many of you have got that Christmas presents that you’ve been looking to shift and but you just haven’t had the time? Well, guess what? Now you’ve got the time, get your products listed. Get things that are spare around your house, things that you don’t need, minimize, Put down minimalization, whatever you want to call it. If you’ve got stuff that you don’t need any more, then eBay because somebody else will buy it and now is the perfect time. Post offices are still open. People are still buying online.
Prime example, and I’m speaking personally here let me tell you a story. So obviously at the farm I’m in Scarborough. My house is in Javier my co-working office is in Javier. All of my podcasting equipment, all of the things that I do to record everything is in the desk in the co-working space. So this week, I have tried looking for a webcam. Logitech webcam, really good one, it shoots in 1080. It is fantastic. I can’t find them. Why can’t you find them because everybody is now having to work from home. I found one on eBay and it’s arriving next week. People are putting the stuff that they don’t need online and you can buy it.
There may be some places in the world where post offices aren’t allowed to open. You know, I’m just speaking from where I am right now. So please check with your local government laws or whatever where that may be, don’t get in trouble because I said that.
Sell local products online
Package local products and sell them online now more than ever, your local shops, your local producers, your local breweries or whatever, they need your help more than ever. So how cool would it be? If you could go to those shops, build the networks and go right. What I’m going to do is I’m going to sell local hampers online. I’m going to email my 1000 guests right here. And there’s going to be people that were looking to come into our local area so they can come and visit you. There’s loads of places of the UK and of the world got their own little uniqueness.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to put out an offer online to package it all up, and then post it off, and people can buy these little hampers. So what you’ll do is you’ll offer to buy a cost rate, whether you’re going to work with locally, you’ll make your profit on there. And then you can put it online obviously working postage, and you can post it off. Something like this, something that is unique is a really good idea. And it’s super simple. All it involves is a phone call to your local produce makers, whoever it is brewery, coffee, whatever you want to call it, you can name it something and then you can organize it and tell you what you’ve got guests customers already that may want to buy it because again, where are people stuck, they’re stuck inside. They’re looking for things to do looking for different things to try out. And again, they could be bored with the same old pasta, they’re gonna be because everybody’s bought the fucking bread. So again, think about different things that you can do. All it is is just a quick phone call to people in and around your area and you’ll be amazed.
When this does end, and there is the upturn, you’ve got another revenue stream, something that you never would have thought. So again, all it is is just giving it a go, this is something that you can do as well.
And it’s going back to the cancellation story from OTAs that I told you earlier. So any guest that has canceled, you can contact them. And if they say, “Listen, I don’t want to change, I’m good just going to keep it cancelled, then there are two ways to go, you could do the change and the second one would be where you sell them a gift voucher, but you give them it for a crazy deal to pre-book in the future. The way I would approach this would be the 80-20 rule. So if you’ve had a guest, that has a stay for, say, two weeks, that’s a large chunk of your revenue gone.
So what I would be tempted to do here would be contact them and say, listen, you’ve cancelled I totally get it. What we’re willing to do for you. We’re willing to buy a gift voucher or a credit right now, then what I’m going to be able to do if you come and stay for two weeks in the future, we will give you a big discount.
Offer your place as a distribution or packing place
Those of you that have got apartments, this is another idea that I saw in another group and I just wanted to share it with you. You could offer up your apartments as distribution or packing place. There’s going to be a lot of people right now that are going to be getting a ton of online orders but they just haven’t got the space to be able to fulfil or to pack it up. And they may be looking for offices or places to do this. You could offer up on local Facebook groups or something like that, not as a place to stay, but as a distribution place a packing place or something where they can come in all the boxes and fulfil their orders. And again, you would have to check with the laws on this for essential work and whatnot. But again, this is another option that you could do is you could work out a rate so you can at least cover what your bills are going to be for that month. If you can’t get key workers to stay in there look at alternative ways and means and what you can do for that.
Don’t be afraid to do new things and pivot
Let me show you one more. And this is something that I’ve noticed so it was going to be a lot of people now are going to say, I’ve never done this before. I’m not confident. I’ve never done this before. Well, guess what, like I said, we’ve never had Coronavirus before you’re gonna have to whether you like it or not do new things you’re going to have to pivot you’re going to have to experiment if you want to survive. This is something that I’ve seen so much in the hospitality community service accommodation groups and just over Facebook groups that when I do come online, it’s been about six days since a government shutdown hold us in a headline deal that 80% of employers and they get their pay packet.
For those who are on for a long period. It’s been eight days since the government told us about zero per cent loans, insurances and grants of all that we’re still on the rise, the wiser the details, the actual specifics to it, let’s just call it 10 days. And at the same time in these 10 days, what I’ve noticed is that every day somebody is coming online and going, does anybody have any information on the grants? Does anybody have any information on which insurance company they’re paying out? Does anybody have any information on here or I’ve been on hold for hours, trying to find out more information. You’re just wasting your time. In the same time, I’ve seen people that have gone out pivot and make money.
Friday is when I’m going to bring in a financial expert, my financial adviser, he is going to be sharing practical tips on how you can cut costs in your business and in your personal life. And I’ve been doing this week and I’ve managed to trim back about 4000 pounds that I was spending over over a yearly basis.
So what I’ve asked him to do is if he’s free, He said he’ll turn up as long as he can drink. So I said, Listen, Friday night drinks, we did it last Friday. Let’s do it this Friday, turn up with a drink. It’s going to be about 8pm. UK time. H’s going to share practical advice on how you can cut costs.
These tactics, these tips, these things I’m doing not all of them are going to stick some of them you can and some of them you can do. Everybody can contact previous guests. Everybody can potentially sell gift vouchers, gift coupons, credit or whatever, everybody can do one thing so I want you to put a plan together and let me know on Friday what you’re going to do.