Unforeseen volume of repeat bookings

My listing went live on 2018-12-14 and our first available date was 2018-12-26. We hosted our first guest on 2018-12-27. This week we have received 3 inquiries from repeat guests. These 3 guests were also our first 3 bookings ever. All three booked their reservations on 2018-12-15. Unfortunately for two guests, the dates they wanted this time were already booked. They got lucky last year because we had just listed and all dates were available, whereas this year, the 90-day booking window had already been open for some time. However, the 3rd guest was a special case. My wife and I had a very good rapport with her and her family last year. They are coming for their kids’ spring break in early March, part of which is a time when we will be gone for our kids’ spring break and we had already blocked off those days. We trust them (this is the only guest that accidentally broke something and immediately contacted us and offered to pay for it). So, we unblocked 4 days out of 7 that would’ve otherwise been vacant during high season. They’re already familiar with the house after spending 11 days there earlier this year and I’ve got people to cover any plumbing/electrical/mechanical issues, so I’m comfortable with it.

I guess the real point is that I am completely caught off-guard by the potential volume of repeat bookings. I did not imagine this at all, so I spent no effort on figuring out how to do direct bookings, but now I clearly see the value for repeat guests.

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I just exchange email addresses with all my guests (I haven’t had any bad ones I wouldn’t want back) before they leave and of course we already have each other’s phone numbers, and tell them if they ever want to return, to just contact me directly. The ones that were wonderful, I also say to tell their friends as well, because I can tell they aren’t the types to have jerky friends.

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You must be doing something right . Repeat guests are the best

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Congratulations @Brian_R170 - that was a surprise to us as well but a good one! We have hosted a couple repeat guests, including one great family that have booked the same weekend with us each year. She contacts me via email and pays via Square. This past visit she couldn’t review on ABB since she was direct so she reviewed us on Yelp and Google. That was another great surprise. I love my repeat guests :heart:

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Yes I love my repeat guests and a good portion of them are direct pay. So this puts more money in my pocket as well as being an easier booking because they know the drill. I try to have a conversation with any guest who seems like they might be a repeat: people coming to town to visit family, people who pass through regularly for some reason, people who live in a nearby town with no airport who fly in and out of El Paso, etc. If I like them and they have been a trustworthy guest I tell to contact me directly and I’ll hold the days for them. I just had a guest here for 5 nights who has relatives that live on my street and she said she comes 2-3x a year. Ka-ching!

It is a little different because we have different kinds of listings. In your case I might ask direct bookings to send me a deposit in order to hold it.

Congrats! Based on your posts here I’m not surprised.

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I wonder if Air might have sent some sort of marketing email to your past guests to encourage them to book again? It’s quite an amazing coincidence otherwise. :slight_smile:

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You already know my response is going to be that I tell all departing guests they can use Houfy next time…no service fees for traveler nor owners. You have already earned that customer and unless you want them to pay through ABB, then Houfy is a great alternative where they book you directly through the site.

Having said that, do you normally mention anything to repeat guests now?

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We get lots of repeat guests too, as well as referrals from previous guests. A lot of them are folks visiting relatives in the off season so they are very welcome!

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I got repeats too, also people who come here regularly when they are in town for work. Also guests who booked me previously on vrbo now booked me on ABB. Some people really do like my house. I am very comfortable with repeat guests because they know the layout, the rules and everything and obviously are great guests. With some, I don’t even have to go to the house to know that everything is 5 *. I just review them to be done with, even before going to the house, this is how good they are.

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Houfy can be used for repeat/ friend/ family guests with secure payments, and sync calendar. My note to (hopefully) returning guests: " Hi-- we hope that you enjoyed your stay. ( Something personal) Please tell your friends about us! Would you like to trade emails? Mine is …I would use yours for special rates previous guests only and Houfy info. Thanks for choosing us and book direct next time"

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It looks like you have been using the ‘hand-made’ CRM (customer relationship management) system :slight_smile:

This is a good idea! or if in spite of the featuring at airbnb you also have your own property website, you may use MotoPress Hotel Booking extensions for sending notifications to your guests.

There is zero reason to use Houfy/Lodgify/MotoPress/TravelStaytion/9Flats/Vacasa or any of the other dozens of sites for the situation that @Brian_R170 is in. He already has established contact with these guests and can now take payment directly through a variety of payment platforms. What is this anyway, Houfy piggybacks on Airbnb/Vrbo and then MotoPress piggybacks on Houfy?

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The personal contact is definitely of the highest value, but when you have dozens of guests it may be difficult to handle all bookings and be attentive to everyone. the enumerated above systems are just so-called ‘tips and tricks’ to those who are eager to automate the process a little bit :slight_smile:

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I was trying to figure that out. My first thought was just using phone/text/e-mail and a payment service like PayPal or whatever. But, I suppose if you can combine a payment platform with a messaging service and calendar synchronization and it doesn’t cost any more than the generic payment processing fee, then there’s some value in the simplification, and the value increases with volume of bookings.

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch unless you’re talking about a charity proposition rather than a business one. It seems to me that eventually you get what you pay for. This parasitic model where other platforms piggyback off Airbnb’s market dominance and troll the Airbnb forums is an interesting one for some, no doubt.

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Yeah, I’m still weighing the options.

Simplification is also the main reason for avoiding direct bookings altogether. Keeping everything on Airbnb is still much simpler and the major simplification for me is the collection and remittance of state and county taxes by Airbnb, which nobody else does as far as I know.

From what I’ve read on this forum, direct bookings don’t make up a large portion of most hosts’ total bookings. Assuming I split the difference of Airbnb’s fees with the guest, I would only make $10/day more from a direct booking compared to Airbnb. That’s not really significant, and less if direct bookings are only a small percentage of total bookings. However, there is a fixed annual cost associated with the license to collect taxes and there is the time overhead of submitting the taxes quarterly and renewing the license annually.

There’s always the subject of diversifying your booking platforms, too, just in case…

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Excellent point! That alone makes Airbnb a value added service. It also depends on if STR is a supplement or ones entire income. As you say there is so little savings for some people that it hardly pays to go off platform.

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Love my trusted off platform repeat guests. I feel safe to go out of town and not be on-site in the main house when they are here. I’ll take payment any which way – Venmo, PayPal, paper check or cash.
I’ve already set up the payment accounts for state and local taxes, takes just a few minutes.

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Yes! A great benefit. I’ve had a couple of those for recent trips but not for an upcoming one.

If anyone would like a good deal on a longer term (up to 4 weeks) El Paso TX rental in Feb, PM me. :wink:

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