Vacation Rental Desk Blog

The Importance of Direct Booking for Vacation Rental Owners and Managers

The Importance of Taking Online Bookings Directly from Your Website

The vacation rental landscape is always changing, often for the better but sometimes for the worse. Recently, companies like HomeAway/VRBO and AirBnB are imposing higher and higher fees on guests, masquerading them as Guest Service Fees. These fees make a guest's stay significantly more expensive, upwards of 12% of the reservation total, resulting in shrinking profit margins for managers due to fewer reservations and having to slash nightly rates to maintain equivalent occupancy rates.

In addition to the guest service fees, HomeAway/VRBO is also now requiring at the time of annual listing renewal that all listings go through their built-in booking platform. Managers will no longer have the option to opt-out of online booking and will have at most 24 hours to screen and approve reservations.

So, with all the recent changes it can start to feel like VRBO and other listing sites are running your business instead of you! So what can you do?

The Choice Your Guests Have to Make

Taking the AirBnB example above, let's say you're a vacationer who is presented with two options: 

1) Book a 6-day stay in a vacation rental condo in Kona for $894


2) Book a nearby resort for $1,199 

At first the condo seems like a bargain, since you can save over $200 with the vacation rental, but once the $109 Guest Service Fee is imposed by booking through VRBO and the reservation jumps to just over $1,000 (without taxes), now the choice isn't so easy! There are a lot of amenities that a resort can provide for that extra $199 that guests will find value in to offset the extra cost. As you can imagine the hotel industry is benefiting significantly from the recent hike in guest service fees imposed by listing websites.

Bypass Guest Service Fees Completely

With, guests book online directly through your vacation rental website without paying any service fees. Guests that you can refer directly will continue receiving bargain prices so you can keep occupancy rates where they were without having to lower your nightly rates. As a manager, you make your own rules with regard to booking policies and guest screening, and bookings remain commission-free.

Establish Your Independent Web Presence

Your vacation rental business is by it's very nature an online business, and every online business needs to have its own independent website presence. Think of it as a home base where guests can be directed by any number of means to browse & book direct: search engines, pay-per-click advertising, social media, email, flyers, print, and word-of-mouth.

Stay in Control

What happens if listings sites like HomeAway and AirBnB decide to hike the Guest Service Fee again in the future, or impose new fees and restrictive policies?

Unlike listing sites that require you to take particular forms of payment or be down-ranked, advertise competing rentals on your listing page, and hide guest contact information, lets you stay in the driver's seat. You retain complete control over your own booking and payment policies, reservation screening standards and time frames, and guest contact information for future marketing and repeat-booking campaigns.

The Importance of Having a Website

Relying on a third-party listing site to run one's online business is a risk. Now is a better time than ever to revise this unpredictable business model in favor of one with more autonomy, opportunity, and security. Learn more about why having your own website is a necessity.

Vacation Rental Desk's all-in-one website builder and booking management software allows you to take control of your business and secure the bookings your rental is worthy of.

With its industry-leading software, Vacation Rental Desk can help you transform your business into its most profitable version yet. Read more about our easy-to-use tools on our website, and sign up and get a free trial today to create your own website and build your business model around your vacation rental.

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Helping Managers and Owners is a user-friendly online booking and reservation management solution for do it yourself vacation rental owners and managers.

Our vacation rental website builder will get you up and running with an availability calendar and secure online booking in just minutes.

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