Born and raised in Scarborough, close to the popular touristic region of the Yorkshire coast, Mark Simpson grew up surrounded by the hospitality industry. From the age of five he became immersed into the family business, a charming farm known as The Grainary offering tourist accommodation.
A lifelong passion for football and, specifically, Liverpool FC, saw him training to become a coach and, eventually, Mark flew the nest to teach soccer in the United States. After taking some time out to travel the world, he eventually began his marketing career at Qype, a web 2.0 company centred on social networking and local reviews based in Hamburg, Germany, which was eventually bought by Yelp.
In 2012, Mark took over The Grainary with the mission to bring the traditional, 25-year-old business ‘online’. Over the next five years he built up the humble farm stay’s web presence to rank amongst the top three properties in this competitive region on TripAdvisor, as well as the ‘most followed’ independent business on Facebook in the Scarborough area. His initiative not only won The Grainary several awards, it also saw the property expand with the addition of further rooms, a tea room and restaurant.
Always looking to improve and grow, in 2016 Mark began to network with other small business owners and hosts to see how they bring in direct bookings. He discovered they didn’t have any strategies in place, solely relying on online travel agencies [OTAs] like Air B’n’B and Bookings.com. Considering the commission rates and other costs attached to working with these platforms, Mark figured there must be a more rewarding way of attracting guests.
Frustrated by the lack of online support for marketing strategies specific to hospitality owners, he started the Hospitality Community Facebook Group, dedicated initially to just the local area. Helping owners and property managers from every niche of hospitality and accommodation, through word of mouth Mark’s social media community began to grow and is now one of the world’s most engaged groups on the platform with over 6,600 members and a 89% engagement rate .
Mark says, “I have lived and breathed this for so many years. I can see the difference when you get your own bookings; the increased power you have as a host and the improved quality of your life. Growing this community is one of the best things I have ever done, and I love seeing every single one of my clients’ wins.”
Recognising a gap in the market, in the same year the marketing expert set up Boostly, an online academy that gives hosts the tools, tactics, and training to boost their profits through direct bookings – with actionable advice.
Through Mark’s expertise, hosts can learn how to:
* Save thousands in commission costs
* Stop wasting time learning complicated and outdated strategies
* How to build a hospitality business that is not reliant on third parties to be profitable
* Take control of their destiny and attract their ideal guests to book directly through them
To date, Mark has worked with thousands of short-stay accommodation owners and helped them to skyrocket their direct bookings.
Staying true to his life motto, “Done is better than perfect”, what makes Mark a leader of the pack is his consistency, proactivity, and commendable ability to “show up”. Attracting a global audience through his successful podcast, engaging social media presence and the Boostly Academy, Mark has access to the most credible influencers and resources in the hospitality space and can help his partners make a big impact.
Named one of the "Top 20 Most Influential People in the Vacation Rental Industry Globally", Mark explains, ”My big, ambitious goal is to help 1,000,000 hosts to cut down on their over-reliance on OTAs such as Air B’n’B and Booking.com. I want them to increase their direct bookings, and I want them to have bookings that are on their terms without having to rely on a middleman. If I can teach 1,000,000 hosts how to do that, and they, in turn, can educate their guests on the benefits of booking directly, the big OTAs will have to start paying attention to us - and maybe we can have a seat at the table. There may be an opportunity where we can lower our commission costs, where we can get more power, and where they treat us like partners.”
The Book Direct Playbook will become another building block in Mark’s offering, allowing a whole new audience to access his expertise and support. In a nod to the coaching manual he used when teaching soccer in the US, the tome has been designed so readers can jump between the chapters that are the most relevant to them at any given moment, rather than reading the book cover-to-cover.
May 11, 2022
Tune in for today's episode with Boostly CEO Mark Simpson, joining us from across the pond to chat about the importance of building a book direct strategy. The Pandemic showed the short term rental industry how dangerous it …