Ready for the 3rd annual #bookdirect day?

The first Wednesday in February is #BookDirect Guest Education Day, a worldwide campaign of solidarity for owners and managers of holiday rentals to work together towards a better balance between direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies in their business. Everybody is invited to participate this year on February 5th, 2020 and at inthevendee.com we're ready to support and help you!

Big online booking websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway (Expedia), Booking and TripAdvisor add a high percentage of booking fees to the reservation total and as a third party they act as a wall between you and your (potential) guests. Booking directly with the owner or manager 'deletes' any 3rd party commissions. Dealing with the customer directly creates not only trust but also a positive (human) relationship with future contact at its beating heart. The long-term result is a better balance of direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies.

What started in 2018 as a non-branded and no-budget initiative by Amy Hinote, founder of VRM Intel, an online resource for the professionally managed vacation rental industry, has become a growing online movement to promote awareness among travellers that direct booking is the better alternative for themselves and for the hospitality business owner or manager.

The #bookdirect "Book Direct Education Day" campaign presents
people shopping for their next destination holiday
across all social media -and email channels, on the same day
with reasons to book their vacations direct with the owner or property manager.

How to participate in #bookdirect day

The campaign trended on Twitter in the last two years. Last year’s #bookdirect initiative reportedly reached over seven million travellers via email (source VRMs) and created over sixty million impressions on Twitter and Instagram (source Keyhole.co) In the spirit of the first no-budget campaign in 2018, you are encouraged to use your own imagery and customer lists to direct potential guests to your gite/camping/B&B/hotel website and/or social media platforms, where everything they need to know and your contact information is right at their fingertips for a direct booking.

Gaining direct bookings is multifaceted and merits a separate article. But the "Book Direct Education Day" is definitely a part of that equation. Use creative social media posts such as simple ads (see below samples), videos, promotions and/ or an email campaign (a newsletter) that:

  • use the hashtag #bookdirect in your media and post 
  • showcase your area (Vendee)
  • and/ or showcase your hospitality business
  • evoke a positive emotion (create that instant on-vacation feeling)
  • tell a story (history, architecture, food, landscape, life event)
  • fit snugly into the space of the social media platforms where they are posted

Dealing with the customer directly creates not only trust but also a positive (human)
relationship with future contact at its beating heart. The long-term result for your hospitality business is a better balance of direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies. 

How to encourage your guests to #BOOKDIRECT

Create a text with any of the good reasons to book directly with YOU. Here are some key phrases you can use to write that text. Keep scrolling to find a few sample texts you can use as a template.

  • Book direct to save or stretch the travel budget
  • Direct contact with the holiday rental property manager or owner
  • The best price is local, not with the online travel agencies
  • The best locations are often not participating on the booking sites
  • The locals know the area best
  • Special requests are easier to make directly
  • The owners are more likely to have special offers during off-season
Samples and examples

Next are neutral samples you can use in posts on February 5th (only). We made them for YOU and you are absolutely welcome to them, but don't use the images in the first column as they are simply ideas for what you can do with images of YOUR place.

  1. Right click any of the images in THIS article. They are license free (no copyright) and you are welcome to use them in your social media campaign on February 5th 2020. 
  2. Or you can make your own.
  3. So right click
  4. Copy image
  5. Go to your social media platforms
  6. Right click in a new post
  7. Past the image
  8. Write your text (this is important!) 
  9. ADD THE hashtag #bookdirect (important)
  10. Post 

Examples in Column 1
represent #bookdirect images of the holiday accommodation itself. They are accurate representations of B&B's. When choosing to shine a light on your actual business with this campaign, do it with beautiful images. In the third example below, the owners added basic contact info. A telephone number for a quick reference, and their web address for browsing.

Examples in Column 2
The images used here for the #bookdirect campaign are a little bit more indirect. The top image targets young families and proximity to the beach. The second suggests a place to relax with a book, in the countryside. The third shows a retired couple taking in the beautiful view while relaxing together. The images represent the hospitality rental in an indirect, emotive way by creating an instant on-vacation feeling.

Examples in Column 3
Here we have a series of samples we can categorize as "niche" #bookdirect reminders. The first suggests beach and recreational cycling. The second could be used to drill down into the more competitive side of sports and could be used for sporting events in your area. The third is a playful image a campground could use as a playful reminder for caravaners to book direct with the owner. Niche is where it's at!

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Example #1:  “Booking directly with the owners of your holiday rental ensures a positive experience from booking, to arrival and throughout your stay. We work closely with our guests to provide a wonderful rental experience in beautiful Vendée." #bookdirect

Example #2: 'Why will you save? Because these websites add additional service fees on top of the normal rental charges from the property manager or owner. In addition, you could be missing out on special offers or payment arrangements being offered." #bookdirect

Example #3: "These extra fees can add up to be anywhere from 4-15% higher than booking a vacation rental directly! Skip the middleman and avoid unnecessary third party fees by booking direct.” #bookdirect

Example #1:  Most online booking sites charge a large fee when you book with them.  That’s why booking your vacation rental home directly with (insert name) saves you a considerable amount of money, not to mention time. We know more about the Vendée than online agencies. Come stay with us!" #bookdirect

Example #2: 'Did you know that many of the big online travel agencies charge additional fees or inflate existing fees? We know your vacation is a special time for you and your family. We want to be sure you get the most out of your vacation budget so, we make planning that stay as easy as possible!" #bookdirect

Example #3: "We often offer specials on our website that aren’t available anywhere else. When booking through a 3rd party, you’re paying extra fees and missing out on special rates… Not only do we include a healthy helping of hospitality, but we know this area better than online travel agents.#bookdirect

You get the idea. The idea behind this collective social media effort is not to alienate booking sites or scrap them out of existence. It is to educate the traveller that you're there for them and booking direct with the owner or management company is always an (the better) option. To reiterate: the first Wednesday in February is #BookDirect Guest Education Day, a worldwide campaign of solidarity for owners and managers of holiday rentals to work together towards a better balance between direct bookings and reservations through online travel agencies in their business.