Introduction: Ensuring Your Direct Booking Site is Ready for Guests
There’s no way around it. If you’re stepping into the world of direct bookings and want to turn lookers into bookers then your vacation rental site needs to be ready to convert incoming traffic. A well-designed and optimized direct booking site allows you to instantly build trust and establish an emotional connection with guests. Think about it, your site needs to convince guests that booking directly with you is just as safe and seamless as booking through Airbnb. Your direct booking site is the heart of your online presence. It's not just a platform to showcase your vacation rental business—it's a powerful tool to convert visitors into direct bookings.
Even though we make it easy to create a vacation rental site using Dtravel Direct, it’s up to you, the operator, to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. In order to drive bookings and conversions, you need to focus on telling your brand story and optimizing your site. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the key elements to getting the most out of your Dtravel Direct booking site, from design and content to marketing and analytics. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to boosting direct bookings and increasing vacation rental profitability.
Are You Ready to Get the Most Out of Your Dtravel Direct Booking Site?
By now you should have a:
- Brand name
- Logo (wordmark / icon)
- Self-hosted domain
- Branded email
Each of these components will help attract guests and immediately establish trust and credibility.
A few things to consider before we get started:
- Is your logo sized appropriately for your direct booking site?
- Is your brand name the same as your domain name?
- Have you configured your self-hosted domain and added it to your site?
- Have you added your branded email to your contact information?
Creating a Guest Friendly Homepage
Your homepage is like a welcome message. It should invite guests to learn more and explore your properties. Regardless if you have 1, 2 or 20+ properties, there are a number of things to consider before you have a guest-friendly homepage:
- A high-resolution hero image immediately captures attention and establishes an emotional connection
- A headline and subheadline can speak directly to your ideal guest
- An about or bio helps tell more of your story and reinforces your brand
- Guest testimonials and reviews build trust and credibility
All of these elements can be easily customized within the Settings of your Dtravel Direct dashboard.
Direct Booking Site Design and Display
The look and feel of your site will make the first impression on visitors, so investing time in your visuals and aesthetic are critical. Follow these tips for an aesthetically pleasing and effective site:
Choose a Display Name
Come up with a unique display name for your direct booking site. Oftentimes this will be the brand name you’ve decided on. Make it short, memorable, and representative of your brand. For example, "Beachfront Vacation Rentals" or "Mountain Retreat Bookings".
For more information read our blog post on “coming up with a brand name for your vacation rental business”.
Add a Logo
Having a professionally designed logo adds legitimacy and brand identity to your site. Make sure the logo clearly represents your brand and style of properties. For more information read our blog post on “creating a logo for your vacation rental brand”.
When uploading a logo to your Dtravel Direct booking site keep the dimensions to a minimum of 80 pixels in height and avoid white space as the width will be adapted automatically.
Include a Favicon
A favicon is the tiny icon displayed next to your page title in the browser tab. It aids brand recognition. Use an icon that represents your brand and looks good at 32 x 32 pixel dimensions.
Get a Custom Domain Name
Using a custom domain (e.g. yourbrand.com) instead of a templated site name (e.g. yourcompany.dtravel.com) boosts credibility and makes your site look more professional.
Pick a Color Scheme
Choose a primary color that aligns with your brand identity to use across your site. A cohesive color scheme ties the design together and makes navigation intuitive. Stick to a complementary hue that is visually pleasing.
Create a Connection with Hero Content
The top of your homepage is prime real estate for showcasing your brand and properties. Create an emotional connection with compelling visuals and text:
Add a Hero Image
Include a large, high-quality photograph in the header of your homepage. This should aim to create an emotional connection by showcasing one of your best properties or a beautiful location near where your properties are located. Use a landscape orientation for wide screens.
Craft a Headline
Your headline should summarize what you offer and draw people in. For vacation rentals, effective options include "Surf and Stay Rentals Portugal" or "Orlando Family Vacation Homes". Keep it short and descriptive.
Pro Tip: Keep your Headline to a maximum of 30 characters.
Include a Sub-headline
Briefly explain what makes your properties special under the headline, like "Surf retreat vacation rentals with hot tubs in Peniche." or "Lake Apopka short-term rentals near Disney World Florida." Use keywords guests would search for.
Pro Tip: Keep your Headline to a maximum of 105 characters.
Make Your Guests Feel Comfortable Booking with an About Us Page and FAQ
In case you haven’t noticed, we keep going back to this point. Achieving success in direct bookings is all about creating trust and making your guests feel comfortable completing a booking.
Add an About Us Section
Help guests get to know you and your business. This is your chance to connect with guests and share your background and story of not only how and why you got into vacation rentals, but what makes your rentals worth booking.
Explain what sets your properties apart - be it a certain style, high-end amenities, special locations, or great guest experience.
Keep it succinct at around 600-700 characters. Include a photo for a personal touch.
Don’t Skip FAQs if You Want to Boost Bookings
FAQs are an important element to include in your direct booking site for several reasons:
They provide valuable information to guests and resolve common questions upfront, improving the user experience. By addressing topics like policies, amenities, directions and check-in/check-out details, FAQs reduce the number of individual inquiries you need to handle.
In addition, well-written FAQs help optimize your site for SEO. You can target specific keywords by including them naturally in your FAQ questions and answers. For example:
Question: What is the cancellation policy for your vacation rentals?
Answer: Our flexible cancellation policy allows refunds up to 7 days before check-in. Just send us an email and we’ll cancel your upcoming reservation at least 1 week prior to being issued a full refund.
The keywords "cancellation policy" and "vacation rentals" have been worked into the text to help that page rank for searches on those terms.
Overall, FAQs improve user experience, reduce manual inquiries, and optimize SEO through targeted keywords and schema markup. They are a worthwhile addition to any direct booking site. Be sure to monitor which questions come in frequently from guests and continuously update your FAQ content.
Look at actual questions you receive as a starting point such as policies, amenities, check-in/check-out, directions and more.
Organize questions into categories like Reservations, Property, Location, and Payments.
Answers should be thorough but concise, in 2-3 sentences.
Add Contact Information
Running a successful direct booking business is all about clear communication. You should make it easy for guests to get in touch by providing multiple contact methods:
- Email address - Allow guests to contact you 24/7. Actively monitor and respond promptly.
- Phone number - Include an emergency local phone number for when guests need immediate assistance.
- Instant messaging - WhatsApp, Telegram or Facebook Messenger allow real-time communication. Clearly list your username/handle.
Create Trust Signals by Leveraging External Accounts
- Connect your Google Business profile so guests can view past reviews, photos and verified business information.
- Link to your Airbnb, Vrbo or TripAdvisor profile to showcase your reputation on third party sites.
Optimize Your Listings to Boost Direct Bookings
Maximize bookings for each individual listing with optimized photos, titles, and descriptions:
Use High-Quality Photos
Include at least 10 photos per listing, showing rooms, amenities, views and surrounding areas. Optimize images with keywords in file names and ALT text.
Write Keyword-Rich Titles
Titles help listings stand out in search. Include keywords like location, property type, number of bedrooms, and amenities. For example "Spacious 3 Bedroom Beach House with Private Pool".
Craft Engaging Descriptions
The description is your chance to highlight what makes the property special. Mention amenities, nearby attractions, layout, and atmosphere. Use keywords guests search for like "ocean view" or "mountain cabin”. Aim for 150-500 words.
Setup Analytics and Optimize For Search Engines
Analytics and SEO
Optimizing technical elements behind the scenes helps maximize visibility and monitor site performance:
Use Google Analytics to track visits, sources, conversions and other behavior on your site. Facebook pixel is another option to track conversions from Facebook/Instagram ads.
Meta data gives search engines information about your pages. Find keywords and phrases guests are using to search for properties like yours. Incorporate these organically throughout copy, titles, URLs and metadata. In order to maximize SEO do the following:
Meta Title: Aim for 30-60 characters, include important keywords
Meta Description: Summarize the page in 120-160 compelling characters
Image Metadata: Fill out titles, captions, keywords
Sweeten the Deal with Promo Codes
Offering promo codes encourages direct bookings:
- New subscriber discount: Offer 10-15% off for signing up for email updates
- Return guest discount: Provide a special code to repeat guests booking directly
- Seasonal promos: Discount 5-10% during slower periods or on last minute deals
Send promo codes to previous guests via email or share on social media. Limit usage and set proper expiration dates.
Reduce Fees At Checkout
Have you considered boosting your conversion rate at checkout by absorbing the credit card processing fees? Well, you might want to. There's a reason why travelers are starting to get sick of OTAs and many of the complaints come down to fees. With Dtravel Direct, you can absorb credit card processing fees (2.9% +$0.30 typically) and eliminate this from the total value at checkout to boost conversion rates. Customize the fees displayed in Settings.
Offer Diverse Payment Options
Giving prospective guests multiple payment options improves conversion rates:
Fiat and Credit Card Payment Options
With Dtravel Direct, you can accept credit cards directly through your site by connecting to Stripe. Once connected to Stripe, you can boost your conversion rate for your short-term rentals by turning on digital wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay for one click checkout.
Want to take this a step further? Enable Book-Now-Pay-Later payment options like Klarna, Afterpay, Clear Pay, Affirm and more. Learn about Book-Now-Pay-Later here.
Crypto Payments and Why You Should Consider Offering Crypto as a Payment Option
One of the key differentiators between Dtravel Direct and any other direct booking website builder in the industry is your ability to offer crypto as a payment option.
With Dtravel Direct you can accept cryptocurrency by connecting a wallet like MetaMask. You can choose to accept popular stablecoins like USDT, BUSD, USDC, which help protect against market volatility.
Pro Tip: A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency pegged 1-for-1 with the US dollar.
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider offering crypto payments:
- Lower Fees - Accepting crypto payments allows you to avoid the high credit card processing fees charged by payment processors, which can eat into profits significantly. Most cryptocurrency transactions have very low network fees.
- No Chargebacks - Unlike credit cards, cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible. This means there is no risk of guests disputing charges or issuing chargebacks after the fact, which could cause losses for property owners. Crypto payments provide guaranteed booking revenue.
- Appeal to Crypto Holders - There is a growing number of travelers who hold cryptocurrency and look for places to spend it. Enabling crypto payments allows you to tap into this market.
- Fast Transactions - Cryptocurrency transactions are typically completed faster than credit card purchases or bank transfers, which can improve guest experience. Payments can be accepted immediately without waiting for approvals.
- Global Reach - Crypto allows you to accept payments from anyone worldwide. This expands your audience. There are no cross-border restrictions.
Summary: Get Your Booking Site Ready for Guests
Optimizing your direct booking site across design, content, and technical elements takes time, but is well worth the effort. By following this guide, you can provide a stellar user experience that converts site visitors to direct bookings. Focus on showcasing your unique value, building trust, and making the booking process seamless.
By taking the time to customize your Dtravel Direct booking site, you can take advantage of a beautifully designed, mobile-friendly vacation rental site that ranks high in search results and provides a seamless booking experience to maximize bookings and profit potential. Be sure to continually refine your site based on analytics and customer feedback. Implement A/B testing to optimize conversion over time. With the strategies covered in this guide, you will be on the path to direct booking success.