Booking.com – Recovery guidelines and tips

Since this is a rough and uncertain time for tourism caused by Covid-19, one of the biggest online reservation platforms, Booking.com, has created Recovery guidelines and tips which you can read here. 

For its vacation rentals, Direct Booker is creating special offers throughout the year. These exact offers are the most efficient way of boosting up your reservations when you most need them. Through the special offers, you can increase your early bookers, last-minute reservations, as well as encourage guests to make their reservation for a longer period. Booking.com offers different options when it comes to special offers, but depending on the terms which your vacation rental unit has to satisfy for a certain type of promotion. Booking.com promotes those objects which use promo actions in their global campaigns via emails and partner sites. Using this type of strategy, your vacation rental becomes more visible and accessible to potential customers. 

Take a look at the special offers we use in Direct Booker to increase the number of your reservations on the Booking.com platform. 

Early bookers – First-minute offer 

Attract those guests who book their accommodation far ahead of the others. One of the ways how to attract this type of guest is by setting discounted deals for the upcoming period like a next season or a year.

Genius – Loyalty program 

An exclusive loyalty program that brings vacation rental owners closer to Booking.com`s most frequent bookers. As a Genius partner, your property will get a special Genius tag with which you will accomplish better visibility and a ranking boost in search results on the Booking.com website. Your property will be displayed to the type of travelers who travel more often, book further in advance and spend more when booking.

Last-minute bookers – Last-minute Deal

One of the most effective ways how to easily fill up empty rooms and attract bookers searching for properties up to seven days in advance or closer to arrival. Setting up options like no address details or no credit card will make bookings through mobile devices more agile and easier.

Mobile rate – Mobile rate 

Bookings made through Booking.com mobile application continuously exceed those made on the desktop. This is an ideal option for attracting the fastest-growing segment of bookers. All you have to do is offer a discount of at least 10% for all mobile users.

Country rate/GEO rate – Rates for specific countries 

The best way to attract guests from specific countries and tap into new markets. Country rates represent targeted discounts which you can offer to guests from the market of your choice.

Preferred – Preferred partner program

The preferred partner program is an exclusive program that brings greater visibility to the top 30% vacation rental owners. There is a specific set of criteria that must be fulfilled to join. Properties listed within this program get greater visibility in the search results and receive a special “thumbs – up” icon which acts as the Booking.com certificate of approval.

Property Page Score – Page quality ranking 

The content of your property page has to tell a story and persuade a potential guest that you are worth staying with. Showcasing the right information you are setting the real expectations for the guests, which in turn brings satisfied guests, exquisite reviews, and new bookings.

Flexible policy – 5 days 

Choosing this option helps your bookings grow since the cancellation policy is flexible. It is used in times of uncertainty to give a little push to travelers to book since this option enables free cancellation up to five days before the arrival.

#TravelCroatia

We can finally get out of our apartments freely and breathe fresh air, and with that we can travel Croatia and create new memories with our loved ones. That is why we remind you of our #directbooker giveaway in which we award 19 lucky winners with 3 nights for 2 people in 19 selected Croatian cities. Yes, you read that right – we are rewarding you, and there are only 3 more days left for you to participate. Winners will be announced on June 19th.

All you need to do is FOLLOW Direct Booker Facebook page, TAG the person you will take with you and SELECT the desired location. You can see more details here.

Become our next happy traveler and explore Dubrovnik, Konavle, Pelješac, Makarska, Brač, Hvar, Vis, Split, Trogir, Šibenik, Zadar, Pag, Krk, Rab, Umag, Pula, Rijeka, Opatija and Zagreb.

For all those who want to travel to Croatia, we grant a 19% discount on all Direct Booker active online accommodation prices for all travelers until the end of 2020!! Send us your desired location, preferred dates and number of people at covid19@direct-booker.com.

And if you want to know exactly what awaits you, see below what it all has in store for you.

Get to know old and new Dubrovnik with the help of the knight Orlando. “Then we knew how, and we know it now” is the motto of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, which through the animated film “Dubrovnik 2020 – a safe vacation” tells the history of this medieval city.

How to communicate with guests in times of crisis was shown to us by the Opatija Tourist Board, which already in the time of coronavirus called for daydreaming about a vacation in this magical Kvarner city. Watch the video “Dream today, visit Opatija tomorrow“, and the final phase of the campaign is a special video “Dream come true, visit Opatija today!“.

Do you know how Lika got its name according to the legend and who the first owners were? The slogan “Lika je Lik” launched the campaign of the Tourist Board Plitvice Lakes and the Tourist Board Gospić. Explore pure nature, gastronomic offer, try new sports activities, all in one place.

Feel. Tastes. Meet. Slavonia. These are the keywords in the promotion of continental Croatia in the post-corona era. Namely, this is a new web platform slavonia.travel, which represents Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem. Communication with domestic guests is developed in this way and old traditions are brought closer to new generations.

Makarska Riviera, Imotski, Vrgorac and Biokovo could become the next cycling tourist destinations. The “Cro Race” cycling race, which starts on October 1st in Osijek, ends in Biokovo and Makarska, and the county has decided to join forces and focus on the development of outdoor tourism.

We can also boast of sustainable and active tourism on our islands. Supetar, Mali Lošinj and Cres have become new destinations within the SightRun application where users can safely and independently explore the place by running. All tours are for runners, but you determine the pace.

Airbnb guide for hosts

We are aware that this is a difficult time for tourism and that there is great uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic and how the situation will affect us all.

That’s why we bring you, in cooperation with Airbnb, an Airbnb Guide that includes guidelines and tips for updating your settings to encourage guests to book accommodations now.

Read the Airbnb guide here.

Keep up with us as we will regularly update the most important Airbnb alerts and other COVID-19 and business-related alerts.

Why is the Direct Booker franchise department essential to your business?

Direct Booker vacation rental agency manages its technology and accommodation units on leading reservation platforms, such as Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia… The company, based in Dubrovnik, has been successfully conducting business for the tenth year in a row and we expanded to 22 cities ​​in 8 states. Once the established agencies become part of our Direct Booker community, they have insight and ability to use our business model which is proven profitable after one year.

The goal of the franchise is to expand the brand and create a community of satisfied partners. Danijela Kraljević, Manager of the Franchise Department is a person who is in charge of acquisition efficiency and education of Croatian and international franchisees. We bring you her story of business progress and a successful way of doing business.

 Franchise department manager’s job is based primarily on open and honest communication and trust. We are the face of the company when contacting a potential franchise partner. The first meeting with the potential franchisee is conducted through a video conference. It is crucial to know how to present and communicate the company’s mission and vision.

I have the support of my colleagues from whom I have acquired the knowledge and qualifications in various departments within the company. A business day begins with browsing through emails and checking if our franchisees require assistance. The data constantly changes and it is the responsibility of the Franchise department to keep our franchisees informed of the latest reports. It is important for us that franchisees are aware of the business process and that they follow the company standards.

In addition to taking care of the operating processes and success of the existing franchisees, I spend the day selecting new candidates for the franchise and holding interviews with the franchisees. The selection process itself is quite demanding because we have to choose the best candidate to represent the Direct Booker brand.

The benefits of the Direct Booker franchise

There are two groups of renters in the market, and Direct Booker covers both – vacation rental owners who want to work independently, Direct Booker provides the technological solution and those who need full agency assistance. The agency provides complete care of ads and booking. When needed, we also provide care for the facility itself, and with an individualized approach to sales, we bring optimal results.

Direct Booker has received awards from major industry brands such as Booking.com for an agency service and from Airbnb for a technology solution. We decided to expand our brand, allowing franchisees to operate under our name, use know-how and technology in a designated territory. For now, we have 22 franchises in 8 countries, mostly in the region, but even in Peru. Today, the Direct Booker brand manages more than 7,000 properties, generating over 100,000 bookings a year, making it one of the major vacation rental brands in the European and global markets. What sets us apart in the market is that, with quality service, we also developed technology, which is important for dealing with this business. Franchisees have the benefit of engaging in core business and offering agency service, but in the market franchisees cover, they can also offer technology to vacation rental owners who want to run their accommodation units on their own.

The franchise is designed for agencies that want to have the constant support they would have had when entering a business on their own. And for those who have an idea but don’t know where to start and are looking for a solution. The Direct Booker franchise is not only ideal for new agencies and individuals who are just entering the business, but also for existing agencies that are involved in similar businesses and want to grow their business. A franchise reduces the risk of failure, makes fast progress because of a recognised brand and operates business independently according to standards. Direct Booker offers a multi-unit franchise which means we don’t go with the master franchise model. The franchisee can always expand their territory if interested, as we have done so far.

We are currently preparing to enter the Italian and Austrian markets where one of our existing franchisees will expand its territory. After that, we will target Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Macedonia market.

If you are interested and want to start a successful business contact us at franchising@direct-booker.com.

Ivan, Direct Booker IT manager: We’re developing into an IT company!

The leading regional private rental agency, Direct Booker, focuses on technological solutions to make it easier for vacation rental owners.

They are barely thirty years old, all highly educated and enthusiastic, information technology is their daily preoccupation, and presenter Ivan Bogoje, 37, is the eldest in the eight-member team. Regardless of the time of year, the IT department of Direct Booker, the leading regional private accommodation rental agency, is always active.

Direct Booker is a combination of travel agency and IT company.

Locals from Dubrovnik still perceive us only as a travel agency, however, since 2016, company has been more focused on the technology. We have successfully combined the services of a private accommodation agency, with which we have been present on the market since 2010, and the development of high technology, keeping pace with global trends –  says Ivan.

Direct Booker was named the third fastest-growing company in Croatia last year by Lider Magazine, and prominent magazine Rentals United had classified it among the top 10 property management agencies in the world. Direct Booker franchises are present in 8 countries, but the company also has big plans for the future:

The future development of the company is based on four directions of development.

The first is accommodation management on the leading accommodation booking portals.

The second direction is developing service Booker Tools for owners who manage their units independently, and agencies similar to us.

The third direction is to further develop the franchise: our business model can work anywhere in the world where there is supply and demand for private accommodation, and fourth is our booking site for direct reservations, for which we have big plans in the future.

As an IT department they are particularly proud of independently developing  Booker Tools, a technology solution for renters who manage their units by themselves.

We started developing Booker Tools in 2017, and a lot of effort has been put into it. Years of experience and knowledge were applied on the product for those who do the same business as we do – renting private accommodation.

Today it is a complete technological solution, an all-in-one tool for vacation rental owners, as well as other agencies.

This is actually the same technology used by Direct Booker employees and our 22 franchises, just packed into one simple and easy-to-use web / mobile app.

It is very difficult for owners to function today without the right technological support.

There are many advantages of using tools like Booker Tools.

For example, if a reservation is made through Booking.com, the owners must go to 5 or  6 other online channels and close the calendar to prevent overbooking – Booker Tools do this automatically. Also, there are other useful services, such as managing prices from one source, logging in / out of eVisitor, invoicing, “booking engine” for your own website, etc. This ultimately means a big time saver for the owner and a minimal amount of effort, with a reduced chance of error.

The Booker Tools system is currently integrated with booking sites such as: Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, HostelWorld and TripAdvisor, and new channels are coming soon.

Integration with E-domizil and Hotelbeds platforms, as well as modules for enhancing guest communication and direct sales is currently under development. Let’s not forget that Google is growing and becoming a bigger player in the industry. So over the next half year to a year, we will be integrating with Google to provide user as many direct bookings as possible.

Why the vacation rental owners love our Finance department

Reservation payments, cancellation and non-arrival fees, refunding advance payments, VAT obligations… These are all problems that often give a headache to vacation rental owners.

One of the great advantages for the owners who choose to work with Direct Booker is that they can rely on our Finance Department at any time, which greatly facilitates their work and helps with administrative issues. Here are just some examples.

1.Credit card billing

An increasing number of guests prefer card payments instead of cash payments in the accommodation, which is also an option on the websites such as Booking.com. It turned out that the possibility to use a credit card can increase the number of reservations, as well as the average rating, because you can avoid the payment topic at the check-in.

Direct Booker is offering the owners a possibility to make payments through cards, which makes it easier for them, but it’s also one of the safest payment methods for both, the owner and the guest.

On the websites where Direct Booker can charge the guest for stay, such as Booking.com, all non-refundable reservations are charged immediately and Direct Booker makes a weekly payment to owners, regardless of when the guest arrives. Regular bookings are also charged and paid to the owners before the check-in itself.

2. Security of reservation payments

Regardless of whether they are regular bookings with the possibility of free cancellation up to a certain period or non-refundable bookings that do not have the option of free cancellation, Direct Booker offers security for all the bookings.

Security is also enhanced by the automatic authorization of reservations which we do prior to check-in, which provides additional protection for owners. In case of cancellation of the reservation within the cancellation period, we follow the cancellation policies and protect the owner.

3. You do not have to worry about VAT on the commission of foreign websites

According to law, an owner who uses the services of a foreign agency or advertiser from another EU country which issues an invoice to the owner for their services, must request his VAT number and pay VAT on the commission amount.

In cooperation with Direct Booker, the agency takes over these obligations so that you do not have to request your VAT number or submit report every month.

7 tips to improve your vacation rental during winter

For successful vacation rental, it is not enough to work only during peak season. In the wintertime, when the accommodation is mostly empty, it is a perfect time to prepare everything for the upcoming season to be more successful than the previous one.

We have prepared some tips on how to use this period to get better results in the season. 

 

1. Attend workshops for vacation rental owners. 

Workshops can help you learn about new trends and opportunities for more successful rentals. Direct Booker, in collaboration with partners, often organizes workshops for private renters throughout Croatia. Follow the Direct Booker Facebook page to find out when the workshops are on time.

 

2. Analyze the previous season and try to fix the imperfections.

Guest reviews are very important in this business and no guest should be taken for granted. Therefore, if guests repeatedly complain that internet connection is slow – then it’s time to fix that deficiency to keep your future guests happy.

 

3. Make an initial sales strategy for next season.

Compare prices from last season: from the beginning and the end. Pay attention to the dynamics of bookings – was your accommodation booked much more before the season started? If so, then that means the prices were too low. On the other hand, if the accommodation was booked late, the reason for this is probably a too high price. Take a look at which sites actually made the bookings and which did not, and try to find out why they didn’t. 

 

4. Decorate the interior.

Use an empty apartment for small or large decorating. Wall colors may need refreshments or a change to a new one. Add new decorations to refresh the interior – pillows, paintings, photos, vases, curtains …

 

5. Get new, quality photos.

If you haven’t hired a professional photographer by now, or your apartment photos are outdated, then it’s time to do it. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words and guests book accommodation based on the photos. According to research, professional photos can earn up to 2 times more profit, and an ad with more than 20 photos is 83% more likely to receive inquiries.

 

6. Spend one night in your own apartment.

It may sound strange, but this way you will experience your apartment from the guest’s perspective. Perhaps the public lighting during the night interferes with a peaceful sleep with the light beams that enter the apartment and you need thicker curtains or shutters. You can see firsthand what your apartment lacks and what should be changed to make your apartment comfortable.

 

7. Say hello to your old guests.

Keep the contact details of the guests that stayed in the apartment (always paying attention to GDPR regulations!). Send them an email, a postcard, a birthday or holiday greeting card, connect with them via social networks or similar, and let them know about any promotions or special benefits you have. This way the old guest can become a regular guest.

What do Croatian vacation rental owners need to have in 2020.?

Every vacation rental owner must comply with certain legal norms in order to be able to carry out the business legally. From year to year, these rules change slightly, but you always have to keep up to date. When the inspection arrives, the various obligations are being reviewed, so please check this list carefully and make sure you have all of these items in your accommodation unit.

 

Property classification certificate– New vacation rental owners should know that this is actually the most important document for accommodation renting, a kind of work permit. The request for issuance of the certificate can be submitted to the nearest County Administrative Office.

Standardized Blue Board – A standardized blue board is an inscription indicating the type and category of the object, as registered in the classification certificate. It should be displayed in a conspicuous place.

VAT ID Number – Under the Catering Act of November 2018, the owner is required to obtain a VAT identification number. When advertising with taxpayers from the European Union, the owner must point out the tax ID or VAT identification number.

House Rules – Rules of conduct, obligations, and rights of the guest, but also of the host, should be placed in a prominent place, in Croatian and English.

Price List – The price list for services should be expressed in HRK, and the equivalent in other currencies may be indicated. It should include the price of services by rental period, information about the type of accommodation and the owner, the amount of the sojourn tax (if included in the price, then it should be emphasized), and must be signed by the owner.

Copies of invoices – The owner is obliged to give an invoice to the guest for the service of accommodation and keep copies of the invoices for at least 11 years and, and enter the data into the EP Form.

eVisitor check-in and check-out. If you are visited by Inspection, you may be asked to list the eVisitor system guest list, which must match the number of guests currently staying in the apartment and the number of invoices issued by that date.

Notice of Collection of Personal Information – Promoted on a visible place,  for the purpose of registration into the eVisitor system,  and also related to the General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR

Customer Complaint Notice – Instead of a complaint book, guests should be given a way to make a written complaint, with a blank space to enter their home address or e-mail, so that the owner can respond within 15 days.

Evacuation Plan – The most simple way is to show it as a floor plan of an accommodation unit with indicated openings and exits.

First Aid Box – If you have more than one unit within one facility, it is sufficient to have only one box, but it is recommended to have one in each unit. 

 

How to name a vacation rental?

Being present on OTA’s today is essential for a successful rental business. However, many vacation rental owners make the same mistake: they think it’s enough to just set up your property and wait for reservations.

Branding an object is a very important step to achieve optimal results and stand out from the crowd. Apart from photos and reviews, the name of an apartment or holiday home is very important. We’ll try to give you some tips to help you to come up with a name for your vacation rental.

 

AVOID “BASIC” NAMES

If your vacation rental has a generic, common name, such as Apartments Ana, Rooms 1 and 2 or Guest House Split (any similarity is coincidental), the chance to stand out from the competition and be noticed is reduced.

Naming an apartment after close person may be significant and symbolic to the owner, but to a person who’s looking for a place to stay, it isn’t – it doesn’t give any info about the accommodation itself. For this reason, it is recommended that the name of the apartment contains some information related to the characteristics of the accommodation, e.g. if the apartment has a terrace with a beautiful view – it would be advisable to include this information in the name, or with the feature of the destination, if it is located in the city center, it would be good to use it in the name as this way the guest will immediately know the apartment is located in the center.

 

 

THINK ABOUT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

The name may be suited to the type of guests the apartment is intended for, e.g., a studio apartment is not intended for families but for couples, and to stand out from all the other objects, this information can be used by calling the apartment Couple’s Getaway or similar. Too long names are not good because they are difficult to remember, it is recommended not to use more than three words.

 

GOOD EXAMPLES

Few examples of good names for an apartment: Odore di Mare or when translated from Italian, Scent of the Sea. From this name we can conclude that the apartment is located near the sea, and for non-Italian speakers, it will be interesting because of its sonority. Heart of Dubrovnik is another good example since this name tells us the apartment is located in the city center. Central and Quiet – we can conclude two things from this name: that the apartment is located in the center and in a peaceful area. 

 

A SMALL TRICK

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for optimally selecting your apartment name. These tips can help you create a name, but the owner should know best what makes his apartment special and, based on that, create a name that will stand out among the other apartments. If your creativity is low and you have no idea when choosing a name, then a name generator might help. The generator contains a search engine where you insert terms that describe the content and, based on those terms, the generator creates a name.

5 Most Important Trends in Vacation Rental Industry for 2020

Trends in vacation rental industry are changing faster than ever. Guests have new expectations and requests to which owners need to adjust to keep existing on the market, and also to attract new customers. Here are a few global predictions for the upcoming season, based on different surveys and market researchs.

 

1. Millenials will be the main market

Most of you have probably heard of Millenials, group of people born between the early 80s and the middle 90s. One of the key characteristics of millennials is they are tech-savvy, so you will rarely see them without a cell phone in their hand that serves them for absolutely everything. They love to travel and according to recent research, preferably in group (35 percent) and only 20 percent have not stayed in private accommodation during the previous year. Also, millennials have high expectations regarding technology and internet connectivity in accommodation.

 

2. Green is the color!

Today everyone is very concerned about environmental protection and this has become one of the most important topics in the world. Young travelers are eco-conscious and engaged in environmental activities. Private accommodations with an eco friendly tag are becoming more and more popular, 70 percent of travelers have stated they would rather choose eco-friendly accommodation, says Booking.com. Here are some of the eco options: use of eco products for cleaning, consumption of domestic and organic foods, use of energy-saving light bulbs, renewable energy sources, rainwater and wastewater treatment and waste recycling.

 

3. Property management services in growth

Managing a vacation rental is not easy and requires more and more action to keep both owner and guest satisfied. For this reason, a large number of private renters give their keys to specialized agencies providing services related to accommodation management, reservations, maintenance, etc. Each year number of renters that hire property management service to help them gain better results is increased, which is in win-win for both parties.

 

4. Pets as travel buddies

According to Booking.com research, 42 percent of global pet owners (34 percent from Croatia) say they would choose a destination based on whether they could bring their pet with them and 49 percent is ready to pay more so they could stay in pet-friendly accommodation. Considering this fact, the number of pet-friendly accommodation is on the rise.

 

5. Vacation rentals are on track to overtake hotels

Each year the vacation rental industry has doubled in size while hotels are only growing by a mear 1.1 percent each year. This trend is leading to a massive outnumber of vacation homes to hotels and it is believed it will overtake hotels by the end of 2020. According to a study by TurnKey, this is because private accommodation offers a unique experience, better suited to each individual guest.