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Advantages and Challenges of Doing Your Own Bookings

So, community: this is a sub thread of the discussion we have going about which website host to use if we were to also/completely go the independent route. Question: what would be the advantages and challenges of booking as as independent? I’d love everyone’s perspective. To grease the griddle:


  • out of the dictatorial clutches of ABB–their rules and their penalties
  • more profit margin, more say in rules that are appropriate for us and how to enforce them (e.g. A guest brings two extra people with them, which goes against your maximum-guest policy, so you can ask them to them/charge them/etc.)


  • Rulings on damage–did the guest really do it? The guest did it, but is it a result of normal wear and tear?, etc.
  • How to require govt-issued I.D. (many folks aren’t comfortable with this, but feel safe when it’s a platform; not so safe when it’s an individual).

Looking forward to your ads. I’d like to see as much lay of the land as possible before I add this self-booking venture to my business.

Mine is about better control.
My properties can be found by their name so a potential guest can hunt me down and I am completely over the way Airbnb is heading. The stats are wrong, the pressure to reduce price is stressful and the review process is completely unfair as guests are looking for the hotel experience without the price. I am becoming paranoid regarding reviews due to some manipulative recent guests, and a direct booking is blessing as it is between me and my guest.
I had a direct booking who moaned about a found dead cockroach (recent treatment) and a couple of other small issues. I just apologised and said it would be fixed by their next stay. That was IT, she may have been angling for a partial refund, but that wasn’t happening.


On Airbnb I only direct book people who have stayed with me before and that I like and trust. I have more experience with direct booking strangers in my dog boarding business.

So I’m guessing but the primary thing I wouldn’t like is knowing nothing about the client. Airbnb’s review system has problems but it’s better than nothing.


I love my direct bookings, I get ID from ALL my guests including AirBnb. I get to collect a real security deposit, I have more control, less worry about reviews (they can still review on TA and Google, as well as my own site but I can delete those) AirBnb will not even share a guests ID with a host after they have been robbed! Guests can and do google the listing name after seeing it on AIr and book direct. My goal is 75% or more direct bookings in a few years. I use Google adwords to drive traffic to my site.



You have missed out the most important challenge. How are you going to market the site? And what investment have you put in place to drive traffic to your site. @mypictonhouse


Interesting, @RiverRockRetreat. So do folks scan their photo I.D. and send to you?

I ask them to snap a picture and send it to me BEFORE I give them the door code. Air say’s I cannot do this, but they also say I must obey local laws and regulations. As a condition of my STR permit I am required to get a copy of ID for the booking guest and keep it for three years. I am prepared with a copy of the regs to send air should anyone complain.


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No one’s missed anything @Helsi. It was a question: what are the advantages and challenges. So, for you, it’s marketing and driving traffic to the site. And have you personally attempted this? Are you still figuring it out? Or…?

Google Adwords for me


Very cool. Curious to know if anyone has ever mentioned this negatively in a review (or even just been taken aback by this)?

No mentions in reviews, a couple people told me they already uploaded to Air and I told them I needed it as well. No issues, but I do expect someone will complain to Air eventually.


Love this and I’m going to incorporate it. Ty : )

No as I mentioned to you when you asked me if I had a website on your website topic @mypictonhouse , I don’t have my own website, as I don’t need to/want to market my place directly. I just take repeat bookings from Airbnb guests directly.

However I have done marketing plans for several friends who market their STRs directly.

If I was to develop my own website, I would start by identifying my target markets, and identifying what sort of website would be likely to attract them.

As part of my research, I would also identify which communications channels my target markets are likely to use and what third party marketing partnerships I could develop.

And then I would identify my marketing budget.

I would use this information to develop a measurable action plan to measure what works best when it comes to marketing the the site.

After all you can have the best website in the world but if no-one is visiting it you won’t generate income from it

Hopefully by now as I have worked in marketing and comms for over twenty years, I have figured out what works and what doesn’t for various target markets :slight_smile:


Looking at it from a guest point of view, I would be worried about getting scammed. How do I know if the website is legitimate, the property is accurately represented, or actually exists? How do I know the host won’t try a bait and switch? How do I know the host won’t fake damages to scam me for my deposit? What recourse do I have if the host cancels after I’ve paid?

@KKC has this solved by only direct-booking previous guests, but I doubt this would work for most hosts.

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Thanks @Helsi. As one of the other community members mentioned the marketing and driving traffic that people traditionally used to take on can now be handled by third-parties (not ABB), such as vacationsoup. I’ve been digging into it and it looks pretty interesting.

We’re all going to have a different experience with driving traffic depending on where we live. Because we’re in a hot destination site with not enough supply to fill demand, there’s already a built-in high traffic drive to any site that contains the name of our County.

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I think it’s worth you looking at Vacation Soup as part of your marketing mix @mypictonhouse, but I wouldn’t rely on it as your sole or main vehicle to drive traffic.

They say they have huge following on their social media channels and use that to help drive traffic to your site, but their Twitter account has less that 3000 (I have more on my personal account) and their FB only 11,000.

Lonely Planet as a comparator has 6.2 million on Twitter and 2 million on FB, Airbnb 694,000 on Twitter and 15 million on FB.

You are correct marketing is not a one size fits all and should be based on your destination, target market and an understanding of demand for your market.

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I have had my reviews referred to when I get direct bookings.
We looked at your place on Airbnb, booking.com, home away and then we googled you.
Have never had an ‘are you real’ question.


Interesting. Ty. I’ve never checked out lonely planet from a host’s perspective. Do they have a hosting platform now?

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@Brian_R170 Yes, that’s the stuff I wondered would come up.

I am a newbie to all of this, and I only rent out a room. Thus, this is not my primary business or income. I have rented our twice for long term rentals outside of Airbnb and found the entire experience to be much more pleasant. Note, these are two month bookings. I require to meet the people in person first to put a name to a face and provide a lease for them to sign. I have not yet had any significant damage (perhaps because I am in the house) nor do I collect a security deposit. I require one months nonrefundable payments three weeks in advance and future months to be paid three weeks in advance. I’ve found the entire experience to be much more pleasant and relaxed, and frankly, easier. However, I have not yet had to advertise, which I am just about to face.

My plan is good old flyers around the local University. NextDoor has proven effective as well, and I am looking into SharedSpaces.

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