I just found out that Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019 is Book Direct Day. This is actually a thing! Use hashtag #bookdirect and educate people about the benefits of booking direct. I found some great info here: https://www.vrmintel.com/bookdirect-guest-education-day-set-for-february-6-let-your-guests-know-it-pays-to-book-direct-book-smart-and-book-local/ and here: https://q4launch.com/book-direct-day/.
@ann-karako - I'm telling my guests that EVERY day is BOOK DIRECT DAY! LOL
I am a staunch advocate of #BookDirect Day, Listing site independence and all of that.
Just for a second, however, I pause to look at the scenario through the eyes of the traveler who is less experienced with vacation rentals, including villas and the like. With so many "horror" stories of people renting even supposedly "high end" locations and their not turning out to be as advertised, or having some fatal flaw they didn't think to ask about - it's no wonder there is a tendency for renters to feel as if they have more protections if they rent from one of the OTA's. In addition, it's a steady up-hill battle to be more organically visible than our own or other listings on the OTA's which means potential guests simply aren't aware of our existence otherwise.
Simply saving several hundred dollars as a benefit in and of itself may not be enough incentive to coax a potential guest who is unfamiliar with us personally as owners to choose to book directly.
People want value for their dollar and of course never want to feel they were "taken" just because they selected our location for their vacation. "Next level" for we independent vacation rental owners is going to have to entail ways to foster not only brand awareness but also brand reliability. SEO and excellent reviews are simply just a good start here.
@darrell-looney112 - very well said. I've spoken with guests that still choose to book through the OTAs the first time, for security purposes. So far, on later visits, they book directly. Perhaps we need to offer guarantees as a start like the ones the OTAs offer?