People keep telling me I should book direct.
What the heck does that even mean?
The term “book direct” has been around for quite a while, and unless you’re in the accommodation industry, or are an experienced traveler, you probably have never heard of or paid attention to marketing campaigns promoting you to “book direct”. As the vacation rental industry grows, our ability to join forces with like-minded business operators evolves. And it’s our mission to educate travelers like you on what it means to “book direct”.
And now, to let the cat out of the bag…. drumroll, please… “book direct” simply means: to book your travel directly with the service supplier. BOOM! That’s it! Yes, it really is that simple. Now where this all gets tricky is when you have Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) who act as a middle man to get these services directly in front of you, the consumer. HomeAway, Airbnb, Booking.com, etc. – these guys are OTA’s. They don’t own, nor do they actually operate, the services they are selling (9 out of 10 times). They act as a middle-man to get our products (or vacation rentals in this case) in front of your eyes. Now don’t get us wrong – they have trustworthy sites, but they charge hefty fees to both you and us for using their sites. To book direct means to skip the middle man (the OTA) and go straight to the service provider.
Okay, I'm following you now.
Can you tell me the advantages of booking direct?
Absolutely! There are many, but we’ll just list a few:
- You get to communicate with the operator themselves. You can ask them anything. It’s their product, and they know the answer. If you call the OTA, the only help they can provide is reading through the same website description you can find. Go ahead, ask us what kind of coffee maker is in the unit, or how many towels are provided. Breathe Easy Rentals knows that answer, and we’re the only ones who know that answer!
- Don’t limit your search. There are so many service providers who don’t list on the OTA’s because they strip us of our ability to operate with our own policies. You may be missing out on the most gorgeous beachfront home, or possibly even the coziest cottage.
- You’re going to pay extra for your vacation if you don’t book direct. Yep, that’s right! Either a service fee is added onto our price, or we have to raise our rates in order to pay the astronomical commission rates to list on certain OTA’s. When you book direct, it’s not that you’re getting a discount, it’s that you’re paying for the product itself, without the extra charges.
- Strip away the confusion, and get to the basics. With no middle-man in sight, you know who your contact point is, and more often than not, they’re local. If your schedule changes, or you have a special request, it’s not getting lost in a sea of apps and emails where you get so frustrated you don’t even know who you’re talking to anymore.
- And last but not least, customization and better customer service. We can’t tell you how many times people have inquired on different dates, or even a different property, and we cannot send them the correct details because of a closed communication system with an OTA. We can’t send you our email. We can’t send you our phone number. You can’t send us either. So, we’re left in this awkward communication where prices don’t match (because we don’t account for an OTA’s service fee that we never even see), and we have other properties you’d love…but no way of showing them to you. It’s frustrating for both you and us.
WOW! I've been doing this whole vacation thing wrong.
So, fill me in...how exactly do I book direct?
It takes a little organization and time invested on your part, but we believe in you. You’ve got this. Especially if it’s going to save you 20% extra that you’ll be paying if you don’t book direct.
- Define your travel location and dates.
- Research the area. Most travel destinations have “Visit [insert city name]” pages. If you’re coming to the Emerald Coast, check out www.ecbyo.com. They are an old-school OTA that doesn’t charge you any extra service fees when you find a property to rent on their site. They connect you directly with the owner or manager of the property.
- If you find a rental on a site that has service fees, look for clues with a property name, the Owner’s name, or even the property manager’s name. For example, here at Breathe Easy Rentals we manage Beachin’ It, a lovely 3 bedroom | 2 bathroom condo in Miramar Beach, Florida. See what we did there?
- Email, call, or text the owner or manager. Let them know you want to book direct. Remember, this isn’t about asking for a discount, this is about not paying extra for your vacation!