Promo Codes. Vouchers. Special Offers. Coupons. Giveaways. Loyalty programmes. Whatever you want to call them, the idea of offering a special deal to encourage customers to make a purchase is nothing new. But when it comes to vacation rentals, using special offers and promotions can be the key to securing those all important Direct Bookings. This article will explain why and how to use Promo Codes to increase your Direct Bookings.

What are Direct Bookings?

A quick refresher first of all. A huge number of vacation rental bookings are made via Online Travel Agencies and Sales Channels such as Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com. We call these “Channel Bookings”. These sites get millions of visitors every day, so it’s important to advertise your properties on as many different sites as possible in order to reach the widest possible audience.

Of course, not all bookings are made through sales channels. Many bookings are still made directly with the property manager or host, through their own website, social media or over the phone. One major advantage of Direct Bookings for property managers is that they don’t have to pay sales channel commission, so they can keep a greater share of the revenue.
However, since OTAs have become more powerful and well-known, it can be harder to persuade guests to book directly, especially if they’ve never stayed with you before. Guests trust the brand power of the major channels, so property managers may need to offer something extra in order to persuade them to book directly.

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How to use Special Offers to Increase your Direct Bookings

Creating Promo Codes and Special Offers is a great way to encourage guests to make Direct Bookings with you instead of through a sales channel. For example, you could offer a discount or a free extra to help seal the deal. By giving your guests codes to use, you can ensure that the offer only applies to bookings they make directly with you. Here are a few tips on how to use Promo Codes to increase your Direct Bookings.

Create Promo Codes that convert

Maybe it goes without saying, but it’s important that your Promo Codes provide value. One obvious example is to create a special offer for money off direct bookings, so that you can compete with major sales channels on price. Everyone loves a bargain, so offering a discount is always highly appreciated. However, Free Extras such as a welcome basket or airport transfers can also help encourage guests to book directly with you rather than via a sales channel or with a competitor.

Promote your Promos!

A Promo Code is only good if guests actually know about it! Utilise email marketing, social media or your website to let guests know what offers you have available.

If you use a system like Your.Rentals to manage your Direct Bookings, you can create as many Promo Codes as you like, and distribute them however you choose. A great way to attract bookings is to email your previous happy guests with special offers. One suggestion could be to send people on your mailing list a discount Promo Code on their birthdays.

You could also put a banner on your website with your Promo Code. This can be a great way to encourage guests to make a booking with you instead of going through a Sales Channel. For example, you could offer Free Breakfast to everyone who books directly with you. Just make sure you get that message out there!

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Create urgency with time sensitive offers

Humans hate missing out on cool stuff. Create a Promo Code with a limited validity period to increase the urgency. If you tell people that they’ve got a month to use a code, they’ll probably forget. But if it’s only valid for 48 hours, they’re much more likely to jump on their computer and act fast so they don’t miss out!
In Your.Rentals you can decide whether or not to set a time limit on your special offers. You might be happy to let an offer run forever, or create urgency by making it time sensitive.

Reward your best customers

Reward loyalty in your best customers by creating Promos just for them. Maybe you decide to offer an especially generous discount for guests who have made several bookings in the past. Maybe you choose to thank guests who gave you a great review with a special offer for their next booking. Or even the other way around – if you’ve had an unhappy guest you could offer them a little something as an apology.
By creating a unique code and distributing it only to selected guests, you’re able to really personalise the service you offer. Remember, the personal touch can really help differentiate you from the major sales channels when it comes to guest experience.

Offer something different

Property Managers want repeat bookings but guests often want variety. One way to secure repeat bookings from guests is to create Promo Codes for properties they’ve not visited yet. If you’ve got multiple properties, why not encourage previous guests to try a different one with a special offer?
In Your.Rentals you can choose to apply your Promo Codes to all your properties, or to specific listings if you prefer. That way, you have more control over your occupancy distribution across your portfolio.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with advertising your properties on multiple major sales channels – in fact, it’s still the number one way to increase your audience and grow your booking potential. But more and more vacation rental managers are realising the benefits of balancing channel bookings with direct bookings in order to increase revenue share and provide a more personal touch to their guests. By creating unique special offers, you can encourage guests to book directly with you and increase your revenue with Direct Bookings.