Getting direct bookings has its benefits. What I like most is that I have real security deposit that I control and do not have to submit a claim for any damage caused by guests. But let me also note that in over twelve years in the vacation rental industry we have never kept a full security deposit. And only a kept a small portion three or four times. And those were mainly for real and accidental broken things: glass fireplace doors shattered, overloaded washer caused a blockage, pull-out garbage bin drawer broken, and excessive dirt and late departure causing severe challenge on a back to back turnover.
We don’t like to keep money from security deposits, it makes guests mad and you surely won’t get them to be a repeat guest. But that can be a good thing. Guests that have paid real security deposits know that they have to be good if they want to get that money back. So that is a benefit.
The other benefit to direct book is that you have less fees and that means more money in your hands. There are some fees if you use credit card processing or PayPal, but the fee is less than what the OTAs charge.
If you book direct you must have a way to collect money online. People are busy so giving them the ability to pay online will make it easy and convenient for them. I created an online invoice that includes my rental agreement. They can pay online with one click using PayPal. This is super easy and very quick. Some people opt to mail checks, which is fine for bookings that are more than a week from check-in.
The easiest and best way to get direct bookings is with a website and online payment system. We are currently using OwnerReservations widgets on our website. This is a very effective tool and guests can book directly through the site (see screen guests post).
Before we established OwnerReservations integration we used Wix for invoicing and PayPal as the payment system. This was very effective, however, it did required me to manually create the reservation and payment request. It was free and was easy to do and it looked professional.
Whatever level you are at in your vacation rental journey you can choose to pay for some support systems or designate time to manually quote and book guests. There is no one way, just a way that works for you.