How to Get Direct Bookings for Your Vacation Rental

If you're thinking about taking direct bookings for your vacation rental, here's how to get started and how to successfully drive more bookings — and avoid any headaches.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

Taking direct bookings is one of the best ways to take your vacation rental business to the next level. Having a direct booking website will help you supplement your Airbnb or Vrbo bookings, reduce fees, and encourage more repeat bookings.

Why Take Direct Bookings?

Setting up direct bookings takes a little bit of extra work. So why bother? There are several benefits to direct bookings vs Airbnb or other listing sites.

While listing on sites like Airbnb and VRBO is a great way to get exposure and bookings, being completely dependent on these sites for bookings has its drawbacks as well. You are at the mercy of their fee structure (like Airbnb’s 13% guest fee), and they determine your ranking in their search results.

Also, any traffic you send to your listing, through your own marketing efforts, will be shown a list of recommended alternatives to your property, which appear at the bottom of your Airbnb or VRBO listing.

With your own direct booking website, you can eliminate your dependency on online booking platforms. This means you can remove booking fees (and offer a discounted price for direct booking) or keep the fees for yourself.

With repeat guests, friends and family, and guests you find through your own marketing, you may be surprised how many direct bookings you can start to get. And this number will increase over time as you continue to market your property, provide a positive experience for your guests, and benefit from even more repeat guests and word-of-mouth marketing.

What You Need to Know Before Taking Direct Bookings

Before you start taking direct bookings, there are a few things you’ll want to have in place first.

Insurance. If you are renting your property outside of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, then you will need to make sure you have your own insurance coverage. In fact, it is a good idea to have your own insurance either way. Check out our list of vacation rental insurance companies.

Contracts. You should have a legal contract or Terms & Conditions that your guests must agree to when booking. In some areas this is legally required, but either way, it’s a good idea to protect yourself and your property. Make sure the vacation rental booking software you choose has this option. Most do.

Taxes. Online booking platforms usually collect the required taxes. Taking direct bookings mean you will be responsible for collecting and submitting taxes. You can find a list of taxes collected by Airbnb to get an idea of what taxes you should be collecting and reporting on your own.

How to Get More Direct Bookings

Getting started taking direct bookings very easy these days. There are lots of vacation rental management software options that allow you to import your Airbnb or Vrbo listings, and start taking direct bookings immediately.

To get started, you just need to pick a software platform. Here’s our most recommended channel managers. Using a channel manager allows you easily create a direct booking website, while also syncing your direct bookings with your Airbnb, Vrbo, or other calendars — so you avoid double bookings.

Once you have your direct booking website setup (read our guide), you’re ready to start taking direct bookings. But unless you have a great marketing strategy in place already, don’t expect the direct bookings to start pouring in.

To get more direct bookings, here are a few great places to start:

Repeat Guests. Keeping direct contact (whether through email or social media) with your past guests is a great way to encourage repeat bookings. This is also one of the main benefits of direct bookings — you’ll no longer be paying booking fees on guests who were going to book with you anyway.

Social Media. If you have an Instagram following or an active Facebook page, you’ll want to promote the link to your direct booking website. Check out our guide on social media marketing for vacation rentals.

Email Marketing. Email marketing is one of the best ways to market to past guests. If you have an email list of past guests, it’s easy to market to them. We recommend starting an email list (you can use software like StayFi Vacation Rental WiFi). Check out our post on vacation rental email marketing to get started.

Your Website & Blog. There are lots of ways to drive traffic to your website through search engines like Google. Check out our vacation rental content ideas, as well as our guide on SEO for vacation rentals to turn your website into an effective marketing and direct booking tool.

We hope this helps you get a better sense of what you need for direct bookings! For more ideas on how to get more direct bookings, check out our Vacation Rental Marketing Guide.