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Mark Simpson's top three direct booking tips

Mark Simpson is the man Airbnb don’t want you to listen to. He’s the king of direct bookings and one of the most respected voices in the short-term rentals industry. Mark is the Founder of Boostly and renowned for sharing valuable tips, trends, and best practices with hosts, property managers, and industry professionals (there’s a reason why he’s the most popular individual shout-out on our podcast).


And during our latest episode, Mark shared his considerable wisdom. In a near hour-long interview, he discussed his story in the industry, founding Boostly, direct bookings, ambush marketing, and much more. He even had some very kind words for Airbnb (which might surprise a few people!).


In this article, we’ve picked out Mark’s top three tips to attract direct bookings – but make sure you listen to the full episode. We promise it’s worth it.


Tip No. 1: Build a database


The one thing I want everybody to do is build a database. A database is an email, phone number, and name. The cool thing about email marketing is that for every $1 you spend, you get $42 back. That's a 4,200% return on investment. That is how powerful email marketing is. The problem is everybody just assumes it’s a dying art form, or it’s spammy because they look in their inbox. Now, the thing about email marketing is that when you post on social media, like Facebook, it is so noisy. Just because you hit post, it doesn't mean that the person scrolling is going to see it. But with email, there is one-on-one communication. There's no other noise. And as long as you’ve put it together nicely with good copy, then you’ve got the best chance of getting that person to take the action that you want.


Tip No. 2: Become the go-to in your area


Number two: become the go-to in your area. I was speaking to a chap in Phoenix, Arizona, and he messaged me saying he’d just taken a $10,000 direct booking, which was unreal. His property is based in an area with great golf courses, and he let people at the local airport know he had amazing accommodation that is set up for golfers. He became the go-to for the local golf community.


Tip No. 3: Turn your guests into super-fans


When a guest is staying at your place, they’re usually on vacation, or they might be travelling with work or something else. Whatever the occasion, they want to show off to their friends at home. They’re already posting online, so all you’ve got to do is make sure they tag your social media account. You can ask them in your digital guidebook or have things laid around the house. We used to put laminated posters on the back of the door and the fridge. We were once aiming to get to number three on TripAdvisor for the whole of Yorkshire and the way you do that is by getting loads of reviews. So, we put a QR code on the poster and asked for reviews. We used to dangle a carrot by having a prize draw every month. The prize might be a bottle of wine or a stick of rock, anything fun and quirky. But it really worked.


You can do the same thing with pictures. Ask people to tag you on Facebook or Instagram. Tell your guests you pick the best picture every month to win a spa day. And remember that everyone is an influencer, whether they have one follower, ten, 100, or 100,000. Somebody is going to see that post and they might think it looks great and enquire about booking. This is influencer marketing 101.


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