Accommodation and Holiday Let Managed Booking Sites
Unless you are fully established; have a large range of properties and have the time and resource to invest in creating continual engagement with your target audience, then we would always recommend that you advertise your Holiday Let on one of the many premium holiday let booking sites. Yes, you will likely be charged commission, but your marketing reach will far outweigh what you will be able to achieve on your own; plus, most of these sites manage payments and cancellations on your behalf meaning that you just need to worry about taking care of your guests.
How People Search and Buy
Research tells us that most people (think about your own purchasing habits) seek both legitimacy before parting with their hard-earned cash AND they want to know they are getting the best value for money. And, unless you have decided your target market are at the budget end of the market, it is very hard to show your true value on a booking site. You are given a template to follow, which allows for a maximum number of words and limited flexibility for any additional value adds or packages you might want to offer. As a result, regardless of any reviews that might be on the site, most purchasers will search the internet for an individual property website so that they can receive added confirmation that yours is the property for them.
The Case for Your Own Booking App
And once they are on your website…. we do not want to give them any excuse to click off again, because if they do – the chances are they are unlikely to come back because they can’t then re-find you. You’ve wowed them with your site, now ‘seal the deal’ and the only way to do this is by making it easy to book, pay and get confirmation on your website. It is a simple fact – you will lose business if you do not make it easy for people to check availability and book instantly – online. And the beauty is, with a Channel Manager, you can integrate your booking system with any number of Booking Platforms meaning each site has up to date and accurate availability.
The Case for a Chat Bot on Your Website
We agree, there are websites where chatbots or pop-up boxes become very intrusive, popping up every second and sometimes even obscuring what you are trying to read – BUT this is poor management by the business rather than poor effectiveness of the chat bot.
You see, a chat bot gives people reason to stay on the site making it easy for them to have their questions answered. And depending on the complexity of your offer, you can pre-programme answers to common questions and/or enable questions to come straight through to your mobile phone, allowing you to answer questions personally (between hours that you agree are acceptable to you). And, once the questions are satisfactorily answered
– with a little nudge you can convert your web visitor to a purchaser. It is a simple fact, most people in 2021 would prefer to chat through a computer than over the phone – AND the computer is a 24/7 application…unlike your availability.
Some chat bots for you to consider:
On-Line Booking Apps
There are lots of Apps on the market, but they are not equal and likewise your needs will be different depending on the number of properties you service; the market you serve and the degree of flexibility you need. Here is what to look out for:
Cost – make sure you qualify the following before signing up: -
- Is there a setup fee?
- Is there a one-off payment for the software and hardware and/or is there a monthly or annual subscription and/or is there a commission to pay per booking?
- Are you able to add/remove features or is it an ‘all or nothing’ package?
- Are updates included for the lifetime of your rental?
- Is there a free trial period?
- Check the length of your contract, is it annual or a monthly rolling contract?
- Sustainability, has the software/company been around for a while? If it’s extremely cheap, there’s probably a reason for that.
- If you did decide to move to another system how easy is it for your data to be migrated and in what format is the data transferred?
Technical Support – even the most technologically savvy users find that problems can and do occur from time to time. Make sure you check: -
- Whether technical support is included in the price and is this unlimited?
- During what hours are you able to contact someone for help?
- How is support provided? Can you speak with someone if you need to or is help via a chat or email function?
- Is there a manual that you can download or access online?
- How is your business covered if the software is down for any length of time or your hardware malfunctions affecting your bookings?
Site Links – if your holiday lets are being advertised and booked elsewhere you will need to ensure instant live updates: -
- Does the system have what is known as a Channel Manager that allows your sites to communicate with each other?
- Does the Channel Manager allow you to update rates automatically as well as availability?
- Are you able to manually adjust room availability (for example manual room upgrades) with automatic integration?
Ease of Payment – how flexible is the payment system: -
- Does it link with secure payment systems that allow your guests to pay by all major credit and debit cards?
- Does it accommodate other payment systems such as PayPal?
- Are you able to take stage payments – for example, a deposit and final balance?
Flexibility – how much flexibility does the site have: -
- Are you able to have multiple rates to accommodate different room types, rates by number of occupants and different seasons?
- Are you able to programme in minimum night stays?
- Are you able to programme in different packages?
- Are you able to programme in discounts and/or special offers for example for frequent travellers?
Administration – does the system just manage your inventory or can you integrate a communications programme: -
- Can the system help you to automate tasks such as emailing booking confirmation and payment reminders to your guests?
- Are you able to pre-programme arrival and departure instructions and post stay surveys?
- How will it notify you of cancellations or late payments?
- Can you run reports?
Appearance – although left to last, this is equally as important as the other factors if you do not want to lose potential customers: -
- Does it look appealing and is it easy to use?
- Does it work equally well on mobile devices and i-pads as it does on laptops?
- Can you tailor the booking form or are you restricted to a pre-designed template that may not capture information you would like and may not match your style?
There are a variety of software providers on the market with more joining each month. A sample selection is shown below:-
Tourism exchange GB
Holiday booking online
It may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but this could be a false economy if it is not an easy or pleasant experience for your customers as they may book elsewhere; or if you have not aligned your availability with other booking systems and you end up double booked; or if you still must manually send email or text reminders and communications.
One last note of caution. Some on-line booking apps offer a web builder service. Whilst this can sound tempting, do think carefully before following this route as you could find it more difficult to access and take your data with you if you decide in the future to migrate to another web platform and if there are ever any server issues – your website and your booking system will be affected.