The topic of the second virtual coffee and chat session we had with owners was OTA listings. Love them or loathe them, Online Travel Agents (like Booking and Airbnb) have a fantastic reach – and not many can compete with their marketing budget. Plus they’ve become part of a lot of people’s vocabulary – “I’m going to book an Airbnb”. So many savvy owners owners add a listing on the well-known big player sites to grow their own audience too. Here’s a brief summary of their top tips to help your listings stand out on those websites.
1. Get the listing name right
Think of phrases that people will use in searches and try to include that in your listing name. This could be your location, theme, hot tub, beach or sea views. Get it right and it’s the start of your story. It might be a cosy cottage by the Cornish sea or a grand mansion in the Highlands. At this stage, potential visitors won’t be searching by your actual property name, so think like a guest.
2. Use professional photographs
When your accommodation does show up in searches, it will be among a list of lots of others. So ensure your lead photo stands out from the rest. What’s your very best feature? That might not be the actual property itself. It could be the views, proximity to the beach, a swimming pool, your garden or maybe a deluxe dining room or amazing kitchen. Check out reviews from past guests. What is the one thing that is mentioned again and again? The chances are pretty good that this is a favourite feature or factor with your guests.
3. Add captions to your images
Search engines can’t pick up images but they can pic up the captions or image alt text that you attribute to them.
4. Focus on the guest experience
Yes the fixtures and fittings plus what’s supplied is important. But to really drive desire and help guests picture themselves there, you need to tell the story. Do you have a comfy chair to curl up on in front of the wood burner? Are there patio doors you can step through to breathe in the fresh air and take in the views? Is the bedding the finest Egyptian cotton? Have any guests said they enjoyed the most restful sleep ever?
5. Include your actual name in the description
If you have your own website, use the domain name in the copy. So if e.g. your listing is for Rose Cottage, which is part of a collection of holiday cottages at Garden Flower Estate (which is your domain name), make sure you include this information in the listing description. More and more people find their dream accommodation on the big listing sites, then search to find the website to book direct. So make it easy for them to do so.
6. Update your listing regularly
Active listings appear higher in the search results on the OTA websites. So if you haven’t updated yours for a while, it’s time to login and make some changes. Update your photos, add photo captions (if you haven’t already), rewrite a sentence or two of the description. If you welcome dogs, make sure you have ticked that box to show it.
7. Stay in touch with your OTA guests
If you live on site, tell them that you have your own website and if they come back again they should book direct because it’s cheaper (if you uplift your OTA prices) or they’ll get a later check out time (or whatever other incentives you offer to those that do). Ask them to follow you on social media or sign up to your newsletter to stay up-to-date with all your news.
If you don’t live on site, give them a phone call and drop it into conversation. If you’re not comfortable doing so before they arrive, phone them after they’ve left to ask if they enjoyed their holiday.
The next topic …
There’s another virtual coffee and chat scheduled for Wednesday 21st June and this time we’ll be talking about social media. We’ll be joined by Katie from The Holiday Hive who can answer any questions and share some inspiration and ideas. Spaces are limited so email email@example.com to reserve your place.