Every year, on the second day of February, the vacation rental industry comes together to celebrate the notion of direct bookings. And while this term can be defined in just a few simple words, its very concept is like the foundation that so many successful vacation rental businesses are built on (or are striving to be built towards).
Incepted by VRM Intel in 2017, Book Direct Day (also known as ‘Guest Education Day) is dedicated to the relationship between a guest and their chosen accommodation provider, minus the interference of an online travel agency (OTA). As such, this one-to-one relationship serves both parties involved. For accommodation providers, it means higher profits (in the absence of commission fees) and generally, more control during the booking process.
For guests, it means booking a short-term stay with a business that actually has ‘a face’ (and perhaps, more personality than the bots on Airbnb). So, should anything go awry during the booking process, guests can easily contact their accomodation provider without having to jump through several digital hoops.
Of course, this is just a tip of the iceberg. There are countless other benefits of direct bookings, with many industry experts claiming that it’s the ‘inevitable future’ of the vacation rental industry.
But with industry giants such as Airbnb, Expedia, and VRBO taking a colossal share of the market, how can vacation rental businesses actually generate more direct bookings and finally end their over-reliance on OTAs? I learned very quickly after joining the industry as a writer, that this is the one question that drives most engagement, interaction (and sometimes, debate) among my peers and friends.
And while the advice and insights may vary, one thing is for certain – that the common goal remains the same. There’s no questioning that vacation rental business owners are interested in more direct bookings – perhaps now, more than ever before. However, on this particular February 2nd, the game has somewhat changed. One such tool has been launched by an industry leader, that promises to make every vacation rental professional a champion in their own right.
Enter, Mark Simpson, A.K.A ‘Your Coach’ – and author of The Book Direct Playbook.
Mark Simpson (founder of Boostly and the Boostly Podcast) has dedicated his life to giving hospitality owners the tools, the tactics and the training to help them skyrocket their direct bookings.
The entrepreneur and self-proclaimed soccer fanatic, said he noticed a huge gap in the market in 2016, while he was helping his parents run their family business, The Grainary. Frustrated with the lack of support available for vacation rental business owners (and the hospitality industry, at large) Mark created a Facebook group – which remains the most engaged of its kind, and is continuing to grow at an incredible pace.
With a solid community and fanbase behind him, Mark then grew his main business ‘Boostly’ – which has the brands Boostly Academy, Boostly Websites, and Boostly Content Creator within its belt. The down-to-earth Yorkshire lad has already helped hundreds of hospitality owners transform their businesses and intends to turn that figure to one million and refashion the very fabric of the vacation rental industry, as we now know it.
The first time I saw Mark he was throwing sweets at a very smart looking audience at The Book Direct Show in London, 2019. I knew from the get-go that this was a person who would make serious waves in our industry (and keep us high on sugar in the process).
You can only imagine my delight when Mark sent me a WhatsApp message in the winter of 2019 to enquire about my storytelling services. Over the months, one project turned into another – and pretty soon, I had agreed to help with the write up of his debut book.
For a person who is known for his podcasting and sleek presentation skills, Mark turned out to be a brilliant writer, too. Putting the likes of people like me to shame, he created the full manuscript of his book within 3 months – where he had poured all his industry expertise, stories, and personality, all around the goal of more direct bookings.
Till this day, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have read that first, raw draft of Mark’s Playbook – because that is truly where the initial sparks occurred. It was like standing at the edge of the Universe, waiting for a comet.
As a professional who knows his audience inside-out (he’s a stickler for data and research, by the way), Mark decided from the very beginning that his debut book was not to be ‘novelised’ in any way. The idea was to create a book that readers could dive into whenever they pleased, and take tangible advice from it instantly. Hence, the title of a ‘Playbook’ and the beginnings of our initial content skeleton.
While many know me for my tendency to overwrite, I was of course determined to help Mark create something that was snappy, fun to read, full of personal stories (of course) and absolutely exuded his contagious personality. Using a soccer theme throughout the entire book therefore made perfect sense – we would divide the book into short sections (First Half, Second Half, and Highlights) making it even easier for busy hospitality owners to use and learn from.
Never did I think that a large part of my paid work one day would involve searching ‘soccer references’ on Google, but such is the life of a writer. And with a goal as inspirational as Mark’s, I was more than happy to learn about a game that I had once described as ‘just for smelly boys’.
Rarely do business books come by, that are enjoyable to read and packed-full of tangible lessons, as well. The Book Direct Playbook wraps stories around data, industry tips and know-how; but most of all, it has heart – and that is exactly why it’s within a league of its own.
Whether hospitality owners choose to curl up on the sofa with it at the end of a busy day, or simply dive into a section in between meetings and guest check-ins, this Playbook offers immense value and guarantees more direct bookings and lucrative opportunities. Mark has accompanied it with an online course (which buyers of the book can access for free) and invites readers to engage with him on several occasions, via social media and email.
So while many Book Direct Days have taken place in the past (and long may they continue), allow me to be a little biased and say, that this one is perhaps one of the most memorable.
For this includes a gift to the entire industry, written by a man who has already served it for so long – and will most certainly continue to do so, because that’s just the kind of a person he is.
Grab your copy here: www.boostly.co.uk/ book and #JOINTHESQUAD
All that’s left to say is, well played Mark.