Nearly 70 percent of all reservations are driven by online channels, an incredible statistic from Phocuswright. From what we’ve seen, this change in user behavior provides endless opportunities for vacation rental managers, particularly with OTAs. To take advantage of the changing landscape, you’ll need a comprehensive distribution strategy. Here are a few quick tips to help grow sales, increase repeat business, and protect your margins:
Understand Your Cost of Acquisition
Identify the costs required to acquire new guests from distribution channels and how this compares to other marketing initiatives such as SEO, email, digital advertising, and social media. Once recognized, you’ll have a solid foundation to make further strategy decisions, including which channels to use and how to adjust your rates accordingly.
Get to Know Your Market and Which Channels Are Most Prevalent
It’s easy to make assumptions about the industry and which OTAs are the most popular. However, time and again we notice how different every market truly is. Understanding which channels with similar inventory are common in your area, as well as where your competitors are appearing, is critical. Investigating which channels aren’t as prevalent in your market can also be useful for your strategy. These channels yield low supply, which is where you can fill the demand.
Learn the Costs, Engage Market Managers, and Understand Terms and Conditions
Before starting on any distribution channel, understand the costs and how they will affect your overall booking strategy. Then engage with market managers. For each platform, there are strategists assigned to your region; get to know these market managers. They will share insights that are invaluable to growing your distribution strategy, and they will also save you time and energy navigating nuances of your region. Additionally, investigate the terms and conditions of each channel to avoid any complications down the road.
Understand Dynamic Pricing and Opportunities to Optimize
You may discover benefits to your business by adjusting rates from your standard published numbers. Dynamic pricing tools are excellent for adjusting your pricing based on real-time industry supply and demand. For channels that allow it, you may wish to consider channel-specific pricing. For example, if you’re just starting on a new platform, you may want to set your rates low to stay competitive, generate traction, and thereby drive positive reviews. Once your reputation is established, you can increase pricing, even above your previous rack rates. It’s important to note that if your prices are too high, you risk making your inventory uncompetitive.
Communicate with Your Owners about New Opportunities
We understand the importance of owner relationships and that communication is key to creating a thriving environment. That said, it is vital to communicate consistently the benefits of diverse distribution, insurance policies, factual guest data, potential revenue, and quality-assurance plans to protect owner assets. Owners may push back on commission fees, so be prepared to justify them with an understanding of your cost of acquisition and use tools to help you offset those commissions.
Optimize Content for Each Channel
High-quality content is essential to success for every OTA. Understand which content you can control and update, including the recommended length of property titles and descriptions, featured amenities, host landing pages, and the ideal file size for photography, videography, and floor plans.
Update Your Website Assets
If you’re distributing across multiple channels with different rates, you’ll want to have a nimble online strategy. Examples of updates include eliminating seasonal pricing (as you’ve hopefully adopted a dynamic pricing strategy), creating a landing page that communicates the value of direct booking, and running specials for repeat guests or direct reservations.
Fill Last-Minute Availability and Shoulder Seasons
OTAs provide excellent chances to fill specific periods of the year that historically produced lower occupancy. By using diverse distribution partners, you can increase reservations during the offseason, refill cancellations, or appeal to last-minute travelers.
Create a Seamless Strategy to Stay in Front of Your Guests
You have the local experience, on-site or nearby support staff, concierge services, and the innate ability to turn one-time vacationers into lifelong guests. To stay in front of guests throughout every stage of their lifecycles, develop a thoughtful strategy with automated email, social media messaging, and personalized communications both online and in-person.
The industry is constantly in flux. This dynamic environment yields opportunities for vacation rental managers, but the key is to adapt your business strategy to shifts in the industry. A diverse distribution strategy will provide the resources and processes to handle the fluctuations.
It may seem daunting to administer a robust distribution strategy; that is why our team is here to help. Bluetent’s implementation specialists have developed Rezfusion Boost, a distribution solution that automatically integrates professional vacation rental managers’ data with Airbnb and Booking.com. Our team provides free access to optimization experts, unparalleled support, flexible pricing, content automation tools, and full API connection with leading property management software, as well as accurate rates, rules, and tax collections. If you would like help with your distribution strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org | 970.704.3240 | www.bluetent.com/rezfusion-boost.