Why bother with a direct booking website?

Well it's certainly not the right fit for all hosts.  

If you are getting consistent solid bookings all year round with +85% occupancy, then it may not be worth the effort.  I could actually make an argument for hosts that I just described but I will leave that for another blog.  

So if you aren't satisfied with the bookings you are getting is that really enough of a reason to go through and set up your own direct booking website?  

Let's break down the cost in dollars and time.  

For sake of not turning this into a college thesis we are going to be making so assumptions which I will try to note.  The first is that we are not going to factor in credit card processing charges as those are relatively consistent across platforms (even on Airbnb) 

For your main costs of having a direct booking site (outside of a property management software, I'll get to those later) you are going to have your hosting cost, your booking service cost, and your URL cost.  

For your URL I recommend using Namescheap.com and most URLs there are going to cost you $10 to $20 per year.  I don't think it's work spending a lot on a specific URL as most people are only going to access your site by clicking a link.  

For hosting we are going to look at Shopify as that is what we have used in the past and currently use (it's also where you can access the Bookly widget, more services coming soon).  Shopify Basic pricing is $29 / month or $39 / month for their annual or monthly billing respectively, plus tax. Also to start out Shopify offers the first 3 months at $1 per month. 

For Bookly we charge $30 per month for your first listing and pricing goes down if you have multiple listings.  Let's just stick with 1 listing though as that is the highest cost you are going to pay. We are also working on offer an annual plan which would come in at $25 / month. 

So, you are looking at $55 / month or $70 / month is billed annually or monthly respectively (assuming a $12 url).  Again this is the most expensive per listing cost.  If you had 2 listings (using the same URL) you would come down from $70 to $47.50 per listing per month billed monthly.  6 listing? $37 / month / listing.  

Okay so what about the time?  Isn't it hard to create your own website? 

Well it can be.  However, with modern drag and drop web builders (known as what you see is what you get WYSIWYG (pronounced wis - wig)) you can create your own website in a day or two of time for most people.  But that's still a lot of time.  

So we created a website template for you!  With it we also have an import function which allows you to enter your Airbnb and/or VRBO listing URL in and it will automatically import most of the information needed right from there.  So all that is left to do is fill in a few pieces of information and add in your photos (you do have a file on your computer with your photos, hopefully). 

So, most people using our template can get their website up and running in 30 to 60 minutes!

The template is $150 and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.  Along with a 30 day free trial of the Bookly app and you can even get started on Shopify for $1 per month for the first 3 months. 

So, for $1 plus the cost of your URL (again typically $10-$20) and an hour of your time you can go from zero to hero with your very own direct booking website with Bookly!

Okay but what if you are using a property management software that offers a "direct booking" solution?

Well, it maybe be worth exploring.  For our Akaydia properties we spend 2 years trying out a dozen different PMS solutions trying to find a good direct booking solution.  We finally gave up and decided to build Bookly.   

But just for fun let's go over the pros and cons of a PMS "direct booking" website.  The reason that I am using quotes around direct booking what talking about PMS sites is that in our experience all of these solutions use sub domains.  Basically, they route traffic going to your url (if they even allow you to use your own url) to their website.  You lose the ability to track and customizing or editing can be a nightmare.  

Also talk about nickel and diming.  For Guesty they charge $15 to $25 per month just to use a custom URL!  Then if you want their "advanced" website they are charging you $49 per month plus 0.50% on all bookings!  If you get $2000 of bookings that's $10 on top of their base charge, on top of their URL charge, and on top of their website fee. 

Honestly Guesty is one of the better deals that we have found but that is still $84 per month JUST for the website.  A website which you don't have full control over, that's harder to edit, and using subdomains. 

Okay so you decide to create your own website with Bookly and get started for less than the cost of a lunch, but now what? 

Sure, you have a website but long gone are the days of build it and they shale come.  Now comes the marketing and promotion time.  Again this is where Bookly shines with Meta tracking pixels already set up.  Plus remember now that the big red king isn't involved you can decide what to do with that 15.5% that they normally charge the guests.  But more about that in the next one! 

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