Have you given your property a name?
Well, as listing sites or OTAs (online travel agencies), like HomeAway, Expedia, Vrbo, and Airbnb, take more and more from the customers and from the owners, direct bookings are becoming more important.
Named your property? Your Next Steps...
If you have a name for your property, you can buy that domain name. I recommend Namecheap. They are not a sleazy company with continual, sneaky updates. You can usually buy it for about $10 and you could just hold it if you wanted to and make sure that nobody else gets it.
Then, you can start a Facebook page and you can actually book on Facebook. Last time I checked the policy was as long as they used a debit card, they could make a booking on Facebook. If not, you can communicate with them and send them an invoice from PayPal.
You want to be able to set yourself up right now so that people can start finding you. Maybe you're not building a website this month, but definitely have it in your six months to 12 months plan. Remember, this is a business and you've probably put a couple of hundred thousand dollars in it, if not more, and you really need to just bite the bullet and spend some money on a website.
This is one of things, like photography, where people try to save money and do it themselves and it really doesn't work out well. It becomes super stressful and you get stopped for hours on something that you could just easily hire somebody who knows what they're doing and can do it quickly.
So, don't try to be your own doctor. Hire somebody or you can use platforms, like OwnerRez, MyVR, that have drag and drop vacation rental website software with an online booking form right there and they'll sync your calendars too.
Right now start with the name and then go on Namecheap. They have a bulk option. So go ahead and brainstorm a bunch of ideas. Then put them into the system. You can put in up to 50 and it will tell you which ones are available.
By the way: I don’t get any money from them, I’m just passing on something that’s in my little black book.
What happens if the domain for your properties name is taken?
Let's say you have a name and it's taken. Then, try something like this: [NAME]-VR.com. You want to try to get the .com unless you have a very specific reason because if not, people will remember the name and they'll go to the .com. So -VR, -Destin, -England, whatever.
Make sure you get this name and then start slowly. You can make a Facebook account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account…but don't overwhelm yourself. Start slow. Just start with Facebook. You'll be really happy you did a few years from now because this can really change your business when you can take direct bookings.