Sometimes, vacation rental owners have to know the really important question to ask your guests.
This came to me when I was speaking to a switched on audience at Yarra Valley tourism in late August 2019. I was correctly challenged when I said Tripadvisor seemed like a waste of time – owners in the area were all using it but getting almost no bookings from it. The challenge to me was – “Maybe prospective guests researched on Tripadvisor, but booked direct!” My response was that owners should KNOW whether or not prospective guests actually researched Tripadvisor and booked direct, because owners should ASK.
The critical question of guests who book direct
You need to be asking guests this critical question: “How did you find us?”
Maybe they responded to your newsletter.
Maybe they found you on Google Maps.
Maybe they clicked your Google Ad.
Maybe they were referred by a friend and found you via your website.
Maybe they found you at the top of Google.
Maybe they were looking for something specific like Pet Friendly.
Maybe they researched Tripadvisor, found you and then went off and found your website. (If that is the case, you need to keep your Tripadvisor listing, but I’d be surprised if that was the case)
Maybe they found you on other OTAs like Airbnb, then went to your website.
Maybe it was random.
Maybe, maybe, maybe. Lots of maybes. But they shouldn’t be unknowns. You MUST be asking guests how they found you, when they book direct. Then you can exploit that and do it some more and grow your direct bookings.
Are YOU asking that question?
The other big question
You should also ask – “Why did you choose us?”
It could be because of your photo, your name, your location, your price, a specific service you provide (like Pet Friendly), your reviews or some other reason.
Once you know the answer, you know your strength, and you can build on it. You also know the other attributes that are less attractive, and you can make them better. For example if folks usually choose you because of your reviews, but are silent on your photo, perhaps you should be getting better photos. You can always improve.
Keep asking those questions!