Hello hosting friends. I’m happy you’re here to talk all things direct bookings with me. When I began hosting I knew taking direct bookings was my top priority and number one goal. It was a learning curve getting to the point of directly booking so I’m here to share with you the knowledge I gained along the way. Choosing to direct book has a lot of benefits to both hosts and guests. So let’s get started on some of those frequently asked questions.
First the basics…To create a directing booking website you’re going to need property management software.
There’s loads of different options out there. After lots of meetings and researching I landed on Hostfully’s property management platform (PMP) for a multitude of reasons we will dig into here. With Hostfully you can not only create your own direct booking cite but also connect to online travel agency (OTA’s) such as Airbnb, VRBO etc. They will sync cohesively into one calendar and all of your listings setting will be managed from Hostfully. This mean you will be both direct booking and booking on site like Airbnb; however, you could do one or the other if you wanted. Hostfully uses what’s called integrations to connect your PMP too entities that allow you to have a multitude of features. For example there’s integrations for email collection, checking guests identity, insurance, smart lock code automation and scheduling cleaners the list goes on and on. These integrations are largely how you can run a direct booking cite with the necessary features. So now that we’ve got the basics out of the way the FAQ’s…
- What about insurance? Aren’t you scared not to have additional insurance.
The answer to this is simple no. I’m fully insured both on direct bookings and for bookings made on OTA’s. I actually have MORE insurance via booking direct than I do on Airbnb or other platforms. First and foremost call your insurance agent and fully disclose the purpose of your property as a short term rental. Make sure you have good homeowners insurance and liability insurance for your designed purpose don’t depend on Airbnb and other booking cites to provide you with necessary coverages, that is not wise. Secondly, use integrations in your direct booking PMP. There’s multiple options but I use an insurer integration called Superhog on my Hostfully software. Superhog provides millions in coverages for approved bookings this is a lot more than Airbnb provides!
- What about guest identification/verification?
This is also done via Superhog here’s how it works my guests follow a link sent in their booking message and input their government issued ID. Superhog looks into the guest and confirms there’s no red flags. Upon approving the guest you’re good to go. Remember this isn’t Airbnb, VRBO or another OTA so should the guest not fill out the required guest verification process I can cancel the reservation without penalty. Say in an extreme case Superhog doesn’t approve the guest because the guest shows up with a record of burning down houses or something. Then I have the ability to cancel that reservation. Unlike Airbnb I can view the guests ID if I needed to and see their contact information. This is also a significantly more thorough process in ensuring a guest isn’t a risk per say than on OTA’s. Some sites don’t even require confirming a guests ID. Airbnb doesn’t require it unless you change your listing setting to say so. This means they literally only have to make up a name and have an email address to book your place on some OTA’s thats very little protections for property owners. So no I’m not worried about guest verification because I have an integration in place that confirms and checks guests ID’s plus this information isn’t held secret from me.
- What about taxes?
I have our transient occupancy tax (TOT) set as a fee that’s collected upon booking. I then set this money aside and pay it when I pay my TOT taxes. So yes this requires a little work, for people in some locations Airbnb does all the tax paying leg work for them. However, I think diversifying your streams of income is important and managing paying your own taxes is part of that.
- Can you collect deposits?
Yes, absolutely you can.
- Are you worried about not having a review system in place?
Not really, I have good insurance and good guest verification process. Most of my guests I’m gaining myself through online marketing so its more personable to begin with. I don’t think the risk is much greater than it is booking on OTA’s in fact it might be less risky since these guests have gotten to know me and didn’t come from a random search engine for booking rentals.
- Is it something a non tech person can do?
Yes! I’m far from a website coder and I was able to do it. The complexity varies per each hosts circumstances and desired features but I definitely think its attainable for anyone. I particularly love Hostfully’s software because unlike other softwares they have one on one meetings to get you started. They also have a 30 day onboarding period under which they are readily available to help you get everything up and running. Once that period ends there’s a help chatbox where you can ask questions when anything comes up so your aren’t stuck with problems. Their customer service is unmatched.
That was all the highly asked questions! If you have more questions feel free to let me know. Hostfully also gave me a discount code for interested individuals it’s shown below….
Discount Code: “JOIEWU309”
Get’s you 100$ off your PMP subscription with Hostfully and a 2 month free trial of their additional guidebook feature. (I didn’t get into discussing the guidebook in this blog, that’s a topic for another day.) Use the link below to explore Hostfully’s PMP. Please keep in mind I’m not sponsored to talk about this I just genuinely like Hostfully and asked them for a discount code for you guys!