Blood, sweat, tears and bookings!
The bread and butter of Your.Rentals’ Property Management Software (PMS) has always been the Channel Manager. The number one reason Property Managers sign up is to publish their vacation rental properties on multiple websites or sales channels from one single account.
It is, quite simply, the best way to maximise your audience and your potential bookings.
However, Your.Rentals also offers a feature known as Direct Booking. This allows Property Managers to receive bookings directly from their guests, without the need for a sales channel. By eliminating sales channels from the booking process, Property Managers can eliminate sales channel commissions, meaning they keep a greater proportion of the booking fee.
We’ve already explained how and why Direct Booking can be used to help Property Managers save money and increase their booking conversion. In this blog article we’re going to dive a little deeper into the behind-the-scenes work that helped make Direct Booking a reality.
- Why we created Direct Booking in the first place
- How we worked closely with Property Managers to design a feature that meets their needs
- How Property Managers can use Direct Bookings to improve their business and increase their revenue
- What else you can expect in the near future
Why is Direct Booking important?
Allowing Property Managers to receive bookings directly from their guests has been a goal of Your.Rentals for a long time. Of course sales channels such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Booking.com remain a vital part of most Property Managers’ business strategies, but adding the ability to receive bookings directly from guests adds another potential revenue stream.
Previously if a Property Manager wanted to receive a booking directly from their guests it required complex manual processes for recording the booking and collecting cash payments, or advanced technical expertise to do this online.
Property Managers use Your.Rentals because they want a simple solution for all their vacation rental needs. We aim for simplicity in everything we do – that’s why unlike other Channel Managers you don’t need to create an account on every website in order to be able to publish your property listing. So it made sense for us that adding Direct Booking capabilities to the Your.Rentals PMS platform would help simplify the day-to-day work of Property Managers by letting them process all their bookings in one place.
Property Managers also want to feel in control of their business and keep as much revenue as possible. As our Product Manager Evert Huiskamp puts it:
Sales Channels and OTAs have become more important than ever, but over the past few years commissions have also increased and can be as high as 30% in some cases! As a result, property owners have become more dependent on these channels but have seen their revenue per booking decline.
In order to give property managers more control over their bookings and to keep a bigger share of their booking’s revenue, we wanted to offer them the ability to control their bookings directly via Your.Rentals. This also opens the opportunity for users to build their customer relationship as each booking is an opportunity to build their brand and generate repeat business with guests. That’s why we also developed the Inbox alongside Direct Bookings. Property Managers wanted an easy way to communicate with guests before check-in, and we wanted to be able to offer that within Your.Rentals.
Creating Property Management Software that works for Property Managers
Understanding the current Pain Points and workarounds of Property Managers meant that we could focus on building a solution that solved these issues in a way that really works for our customers. We needed to ensure that we kept our PMS simple and easy to use, even whilst adding more advanced features.
We conducted extensive research on the needs and requirements of our customers for over a year before we started designing anything. Even once the design process started, our Product Team were regularly in touch with Property Managers to make sure they were on the right track. Our Account Managers and support team shared feedback from customers to help guide the process and make sure we were designing something really valuable.
A Property Management firm based in Copenhagen explained an issue they’d been experiencing.
- They had a good website, that ranked well in Google searches
- They received regular requests and enquiries from guests hoping to book their properties
- They had no way of collecting payment from guests.
- They needed to ask guests to make bank transfers or to pay in cash on arrival
- They had to process all of these bookings manually and upload them to their digital calendars
Your.Rentals visited the company in person to find out more about the challenges they faced and how we could develop our product to help address them. We worked alongside them to help create a Direct Booking tool that is easy to learn, simple to use and able to address all of their previous pain points, and which works alongside our existing PMS.
Raffaela Fiorini, one of our Key Account Managers, explains more:
Sitting down with the people who use our software every day was really cool. It helped me to understand exactly what our customers want to achieve and how we can help them get there. It’s my job to make sure our customers are successful and feel the benefit of using Your.Rentals. I definitely learned a lot. And, by building our product hand-in-hand with real users we not only make better software, but make a better experience for the people using it!
Since the launch of Direct Booking, Property Managers are able to convert enquiries into confirmed bookings much more easily. When a guest enquires about a property, they can now book online and pay securely without needing to use cash. The Property Manager has less work to do because they don’t need to manually process the booking or update their calendars – it’s all taken care of directly in Your.Rentals.
As a bonus, the related Inbox feature allows Property Managers to talk directly to these guests to organise check-in, negotiate extras and discuss anything else that helps them provide the guest with a better stay.
What’s next for Direct Booking?
Direct Bookings 1.0 was released in June 2019 but our product team are already hard at work making it even better. Based on feedback from users we’ve already started tweaking and improving to make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be. There are also some bigger changes planned for Direct Booking still to be announced. Whilst the specifics can’t be revealed just yet, Direct Bookings 2.0 will make it even easier for guests to book online, and the Inbox will be becoming more powerful too!
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