Managing Direct and Indirect Booking with PMBO

Couple booking a Vacation Rental

Just a few years ago you only had one choice in how to book a vacation rental – call the owner directly. Now channels like Airbnb, HomeAway, and let renters book your vacation rental through third-party apps, but is this good or bad for vacation rental owners? Let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of direct booking vs using a third party and how PMBO can help you regardless of your preference.

What Happened to Direct Booking?

Before the explosion of Airbnb and other online travel agencies, booking directly through the owner was the only way to secure a short-term rental or vacation home. When the internet first surfaced it was easier than ever to communicate across the country or world and direct bookings thrived. There were listing sites and booking channels during the early days of the internet, but they only acted as a medium between owner and renter.

That all changed with the emergence of Airbnb and other online travel agencies (OTAs.) Now more than half of all vacation rental bookings utilize an OTA. Knowing that, is there even a point in trying to book your rental directly or should you stick to OTAs?

Direct Booking vs. Online Travel Agencies

There are two main ways to book your listing, directly or through an OTA. Each have their own benefits and drawbacks.


The number one benefit of is extra profit. Since you’re taking care of everything yourself there’s no one to pay but yourself. Vacation rental owners who book themselves also cut through the confusion of multiple channels and figuring out which bookings are from whom and how to process them.


The number one disadvantage of booking directly is the workload of the owner. Without the assistance of an OTA a vacation rental owner must do all the proper paperwork, keep track of schedules, and act as host on top of several other duties. Time is money and direct bookings can be a time sink though property management software like PMBO can help owners make listings much more efficient.

Benefits of OTA Booking

There are reasons both owners and renters like using OTA websites, they’re quick, efficient, and decrease person-to-person interaction in our increasingly anti-social society. Would you rather call a pizza joint and give out your name, address, and order, or just a click a few buttons on your phone? Most people like quick and painless which OTAs provide.

Disadvantages of OTAs

Any time another hand touches your booking, they’re taking a little off the top. Depending on your booking a little off the top could eat into a little or heavily into your profit margins. Some OTAs charge owners flat percentage costs while others charge per individual booking.

Do Guests Like Direct Booking or OTAs?

Unfortunately, you can’t pigeonhole all your potential renters into preferring direct booking or preferring OTAs, everyone is different. Some like the easy convenience of OTAs while others want to speak with the owner before booking.

Direct Bookings with PMBO

If you’re a fan of direct booking you’re probably not a fan of all the manual paperwork and organization that goes with it. Fortunately, vacation rental owners can use property management software like PMBO to cut through the paperwork. While many property management packages have moved away from direct booking packages and encourage OTA listings, PMBO is still a great tool for owners who like doing things their way.  PMBO existed well before Airbnb and other short-term rental channels so we know the proper forms, tools, and online tools you need to properly manage your vacation rental and booking schedule.

Rates and Scheduling

PMBO allows you to book, schedule, and organize your possible renters without OTAs. Many choose OTAs for their convenience, but you can make your direct bookings much simpler with PMBO’s tools. Securing the higher profits from doing the work yourself but using PMBO to make your direct bookings easy and organized has changed the way vacation rental owners operate for the better. You can also use PMBO to cut through the clutter of multiple OTA listings with a dedicated channel manager.

More is Usually Better?

Should you only book your site directly and make more money or should you use OTAs for increased visibility? A smart vacation rental owner uses both. You should continue offering direct listings for those who want a more intimate process and OTAs for access and visibility. You can use PMBO to easily manage both your third-party and direct bookings, so you don’t have any excuses for not utilizing both. Check out PMBO’s features to see how it can help you manage your rental and put more money in your pocket.

Book ‘Em Up

Ultimately the decision on direct booking vs OTAs comes down to the vacation rental owner. OTAs are less tedious but less profitable while direct bookings require more work but result in more money. We recommend using both OTAs for visibility and direct booking with the help of PMBO to secure your bottom line. There are plenty of great reasons for vacation rental owners to use OTAs or direct bookings, but you can easily tackle both with PMBO.  

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