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From intern to Head of Department

Daniela Sorak is proof that hard work pays off. Six years ago, after finishing her Business Economics studies, she began her career at Direct Booker as an intern. Today, she is the Head of Property Development Department.

Always professional, meticulous, and dedicated to work. She is constantly thinking about how to improve the business. In her free time, she attends various courses to become better at her job. Directors say she is a person who respects hierarchies and rules and enforces them within her department.

She told us a little more about herself, the department, and colleagues.

What does your work involve?

It includes the organization of work within the department, distribution of tasks, communication with partners, testing implemented changes in the system, monitoring and elaborating proposals for changes and improvement of the system, and the department’s work in general. I provide help and support to colleagues in performing daily tasks and users regarding the use of the system.

What do you like most about your job?

The dynamic atmosphere and the fact that I acquire new skills and knowledge with the development of the business. I love learning about new things and the excitement that comes with new knowledge and curiosity. And the inevitable, great team.

What characteristics should people working in this department have?

Ability to adapt to work tasks, good mood, follow the rules, think outside the box, team spirit and player, independence in doing work, cooperative behavior (asking questions and offering suggestions, proactive behavior and interest or in short (independence, honesty, and integrity, positive proactive action and willingness to work). Additional pluses are if they are coffee and sweet lovers and will bring sweets to the office every day. #healthylifestyle

Who’s on your team?

We are a team of 7 amazing people (dragons) :). All of them are dedicated to the work. They are always thinking about solving the tasks and improving their work. Of course, it is stressful sometimes considering the work’s dynamism, but there is nothing that we can not solve as a team. We have a solution to every problem.

What are the most common issues in your work?

It depends on the tasks and work within the department. The problems are various and vary every day. On the one hand, we cover support for all partners, independent users and franchisors, and colleagues within the company. On the other hand the development part, therefore the problems and issues depend from day to day (as I mentioned earlier), some of them are:

-customer support to system users (setting up prices, restrictions, establishing a connection), and any questions related to the functionality of the system

-customer support when reading syn records

-assistance for preparing properties for set up on various booking channels

-questions about updating, adjusting and editing the content on the channels (caused by system modifications or new connections from the channel)

– how to use most optimally certain functionalities in the system, etc.

 How do you deal with stress then?

Always with a positive attitude.

Where do you see yourself in the future in the business world?

I want to develop in management and gain additional technical skills to learn all the secrets of this business. I also want to improve my skills in different areas (technology, management, and development sectors) to better understand the company’s framework and expand my knowledge and skills.

Lastly, how do you spend your free time?

Perfect free time is with my family, friends, and a dog. I like to watch a good movie or series (mostly SF), anime, gaming, read a good book, travel, and stay in nature… Also, I try to attend as many courses from various categories to expand my knowledge and experience. I am currently attending courses for programming and the Japanese language.

Booking.com Premier Connectivity Partner 2021

The travel industry has been going through a rough time this year, because of that we know that strong and productive partnerships are more important than ever.

Booker Tools, software which is used to manage more than 8000 accommodation units and which was made and developed in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is announced as 2021 Premier Connectivity Partner by Booking.com, one of the largest booking platforms in the world. The ‘Premier’ category is part of the Booking.com Connectivity Partner Program 2021; a new incentive program to stimulate the performance of its partners. Premier partners are top and highest-value connectivity providers. These providers offer the most advanced systems with the widest range of products and services.

There are three tiers in this program ‘Standard’, ‘Advanced’ and ‘Premier’. Depending on the number of points accumulated in the year, the providers are classified on the relevant tier.

Booking.com has recognized the efforts and commitment we put into our work. This is just one more step that will motivate us to do better every day and reach for the stars!

“In a job like this, the most important thing is to always understand who is sitting on the other side”

Read something more about our colleague Ana Raguž who started her career in Direct Booker at Information Department, continued in the Research and Development Department, and has recently taken a new position, as a Senior Business Developer. So far, Ana has lived, studied and worked in two world capitals.

Tell us, how did your life look like outside of Croatia?

From my early youth I knew that part of my life journey would be with a suitcase in my hand. When I was 21 years old and completed my undergraduate studies at DIU International University, majoring in International Relations and Diplomacy, I decided to go for a master ‘s degree abroad. After applying to colleges in Barcelona, ​​Vienna and other European cities, eventually I decided to go in Paris and studied master’s degree in International Business Development and Consulting.

My next destination was Belgium, Brussels, where I perfected my French with work experience, which made my life and work in France easier. France is one of the countries where you just have to know language to be able to live everyday life, and certainly the goal of my departure was to build myself in an international environment.

The most valuable things I have gained abroad besides language, are friendships that will surely remain for the whole life. and travel that were an integral part of the bucket list.

Tell us a bit more about your Department and work @Direct Booker?

I currently work in the Global Partnerships Department, as a Senior Business Developer. Although I’m in Direct Booker for some time now, my current position is from October 1st this year. The advantage of working in a company like Direct Booker is that with young staff and professionalism at a high level, perceptions do not play a major role, but only the quality of work.

There are no strict working hours or standard schedules in my Department. Access and communication with potential clients or partners are the most important in our job. Everyday brings something new on the table. 🙂

What are the goals and specifics of your business?

The goal of Senior Business Developer is to achieve cooperation with as many foreign partners as possible through communication and presentation. Our expansion model consists of two types; software Booker Tools and Direct Booker franchise.

When it comes to our franchise model, it is already a bit more challenging. We are the only ones in the world offering such a franchise model, and even the negotiations themselves and the introduction of the client into our core business require extra time and effort. But it ultimately brings a positive outcome for both sides. Partners get a brand and a successful business model. We are currently focused on international tourism fairs and summits that are going online, which we believe will return to normal in the foreseeable future.

Given the current Covid situation, meetings are conducted exclusively online, and the meeting itself is the final part, the whole process of initial communication, preparation, and the whole logistical part. Our current targets are Italy, Spain, and England.

We have set a goal and regardless of the Covid crisis we are moving towards the goal, and every working day is shaping up according to our goal.

Describe one typical working day in your Department.

We do not have the standard work schedule terminology. The workday always starts by checking e-mails and organizing a working day, holding presentations and arranging the next meetings. Since we are still in the process of organizing the whole Department, a lot of the time is taken up for preparation. We do several online meetings on a daily basis.

What is the secret to the success of mutual satisfaction, for you and the client?

In a job like this, the most important thing is to always understand who is sitting on the other side, who is the interlocutor, and then adjust your approach. As for the technology itself, customers always have the same goal, to find the best possible solutions for their business, and it is up to us to offer our PMS and Channel Manager, Booker Tools, which offers everything to a property managers, camps, ho(s)tels, or any agency needs.

If you’re looking for a business opportunity, and know a few things about short-term rentals, we can offer solutions for you: franchise, agency service or software for property management. Contact us and find out more: sales@direct-booker.com

Meet Miro, Global Partnerships Director @Direct Booker!

Current Global Partnerships director of Direct Booker Miro Pavlović, will tell us something about his professional life and maybe even more!
Those who know him best, say he is hard-working and ambitious!
Continue reading to find out more!

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Who is Miro Pavlović?

Taps microphone and sings „Microphone check one two what is this..“ (laughs). I am a 40-year-old who was born and raised in Đakovo in Slavonia, where I lived for the first 20-ish years of my life, and where I also finished my high school of economics. After high school I signed up for American College in Dubrovnik where I finished 2 years and got an Associate degree in hospitality management, and once that was wrapped up I chose to stay in Dubrovnik, first of all because I really liked the quality of life here, and then also because it offered a lot more opportunities compared to my hometown.

Then you know how it goes, first job, second job, you fall in love once or twice, and suddenly you turn around and realize that you’ve been here for almost half of your life, and I STILL cannot really say that I’m a „dubrovcanin“, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of people from Dubrovnik would quickly agree (laughs). Now that I’ve married a lady from Dubrovnik and that we recently had a baby girl, perhaps the opinion(s) will change, haha.

What is your previous working experience?

I’ve always been linked to service industry, first through the „usual“ student jobs like waiter, bartender etc, and then later through different positions in tourism industry. Some 12-13 years ago I started working in Grand Circle Dubrovnik and in that company I went through various job positions, starting in accounts payable, then product and finance management, and last but not least working as a…well…different companies have a different name for that position but Grand Circle called that position a „buyer“, a person who was negotiating and closing contracts with hotels, coach companies, restaurants, guides, etc. First I would do a market research and analysis, and then I would sign the best option following the guidelines that we had in the company. It’s been a long cooperation between Grand Circle and myself and I am very thankful for all the opportunities and lessons that I’ve had there. I grew a lot as a person, had some amazing experiences, met some exquisite people and made a lot of friends-for-life in all corners of this beautiful planet.

How did it help you for this position?

If we’re talking about the experience in Grand Circle, it helps tremendously, first through the learning, connections and cooperations that I’ve had during my time in the company (which can help a lot for my new position), but also because I’ve seen the „internals“ of a major travel company, I’ve cooperated with major players, made tough decisions, I’ve been a „small cog in the machine“ and have been led by some strong people, but I’ve also been a decision maker and a leader to a bunch of strong professionals as well. It all adds up to a massive experience, it leads to a lot of „aha!“ moments, and it leads to A LOT of personality development moments where you’re pushed to think quickly on your feet and make an instant decision, as we we’re going with the motto „Even a bad decision is better than no decision at all“.

And if we’re talking about my experience before Grand Circle…well, I can still make a mean cup of coffee, and some „refreshing“ cocktails as well (laughs). Though I would need to refresh my memory on the cocktails, to be fair haha.

What does a Global Partnerships Director do?

The idea behind the position is to organize the team and to „spread the word“ about an excellent short term rental company franchise and to go global. The idea is to develop strategies and plans, to increase client base, to develop business, to create new partnerships when it comes to both Direct Booker franchises and when it comes to Booker Tools software partnerships with other similar property management agencies.

In a nutshell, the idea is to make Direct Booker and Booker Tools a „gold standard“ when people (and companies) think about the term „channel manager“ and „property management system“. When you think about coffee first names that probably pop to your mind are Lavazza, Illy, Julius Meinl. What we aim to achieve is that when you think about a channel manager and PSM, we are among the first ones that pop to your mind.

At this point in time the team consists of Ana and myself, but we have a very strong support from our Management (Ivan, Nikola and Nino) who are very much involved in day-to-day operation and sales, which is very much appreciated from our side.

You are managing sales for PMS Booker Tools, and franchise Direct Booker. What is your vision for these products?

Well, like mentioned above, the vision is to have us as a strong presence first of all in Europe and to also be very present on other continents as well. The time of the manual work when it comes to managing properties is gone, all property managers and agencies are replacing manual work with software that automises the processes and the market itself is very lively and VERY active, and now its down to us to take a good portion of that cake for ourselves. We definitely have excellent products that are applicable to any corner of the earth, that can be successful in any part of the world, and now its our job to find the right partners and to increase our presence. And I cannot also forget the fact that we are now in the process of wrapping up our own webpage that will be a new force for us, an OTA platform where you will also be able to book all that we offer. I mean, we already have one in function but unfortunately the final product was not where we wanted it to be so now a completely new package is being developed that will be a good boost for our company and for our long term plans.

What are goals and challenges in terms of the global expansion? How do you plan to achieve these goals?

The biggest challenge is like in any business, to get the ball rolling. Now, luckily for me I did not come to a company where we’re starting from the very bottom and need to dig our way out of the hole, this company is already very strong, it invested some serious capital into developing 2 very good products which are definitely „sellable“ on the market. How am I planning to do this..? Well, I would not want to share ALL our secrets, would I? (laughs)

Who are your potential business partners?

The good thing about Direct Booker and Booker Tools is that they are applicable to any type of people or companies on the property management market. You are an owner of several short term rental units and want to leave the marketing and sales to someone else? We can do that for you through our Direct Booker system, either ourselves or through our franchisees. You are an owner of several units but you want to do everything on your own? We can provide you with a software that will make your life a LOT easier. You are an agency who handles 50 or a 100 units? We can provide you with a system that will allow your employees to not spend hours and hours typing in manually all the data, but that they can focus on the quality and better service towards your guests. Short term strategy is to focus more on agencies and larger clients of course, but that definitely does not mean that we will neglect our other partners.

What are your target markets for Booker Tools, and Direct Booker franchises?

There isn’t really any market where I would go with only one of them, as they are applicable for any market, and they are also overlapping in their purpose. Anyone who takes our franchise will use Booker Tools, they will also become a re-seller of the software, so it all goes hand in hand, there is no point in splitting them up.

When can we expect first major results?

The idea is to see the first major results within the next year. Now, admittedly, due to the current situation in the tourism market it is not going to be an easy task to deliver these results, people are extra careful in regards to changes and investments now, which is completely logical. But, we have 2 very good products, we have a very fair selling price based on percentage of completed reservations (no fixed fees, no money in advance) which was a great decision from our side, we have the sales team and the huge backup and support from the owners of the company, we have a dedicated IT team who are further developing the program to add more features to it to make it even more desireable… There is no reason why we should not be a superstar on the market.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation and hard work. Thank you for this qualities you putting into the company!

Booking.com – Recovery guidelines and tips

Since this is a rough and uncertain time for tourism caused by Covid-19, one of the biggest online reservation platforms, Booking.com, has created Recovery guidelines and tips which you can read here.

Through the special offers, you can increase your early bookers, last-minute reservations, as well as encourage guests to make their reservation for a longer period. Booking.com offers different options when it comes to special offers, but depending on the terms which your vacation rental unit has to satisfy for a certain type of promotion. Booking.com promotes those objects which use promo actions in their global campaigns via emails and partner sites. Using this type of strategy, your vacation rental becomes more visible and accessible to potential customers.

Take a look at the special offers to increase the number of your reservations on the Booking.com platform.

Early bookers – First-minute offer 

Attract those guests who book their accommodation far ahead of the others. One of the ways how to attract this type of guest is by setting discounted deals for the upcoming period like a next season or a year.

Genius – Loyalty program 

An exclusive loyalty program that brings vacation rental owners closer to Booking.com`s most frequent bookers. As a Genius partner, your property will get a special Genius tag with which you will accomplish better visibility and a ranking boost in search results on the Booking.com website. Your property will be displayed to the type of travelers who travel more often, book further in advance and spend more when booking.

Last-minute bookers – Last-minute Deal

One of the most effective ways how to easily fill up empty rooms and attract bookers searching for properties up to seven days in advance or closer to arrival. Setting up options like no address details or no credit card will make bookings through mobile devices more agile and easier.

Mobile rate – Mobile rate 

Bookings made through Booking.com mobile application continuously exceed those made on the desktop. This is an ideal option for attracting the fastest-growing segment of bookers. All you have to do is offer a discount of at least 10% for all mobile users.

Country rate/GEO rate – Rates for specific countries 

The best way to attract guests from specific countries and tap into new markets. Country rates represent targeted discounts which you can offer to guests from the market of your choice.

Preferred – Preferred partner program

The preferred partner program is an exclusive program that brings greater visibility to the top 30% vacation rental owners. There is a specific set of criteria that must be fulfilled to join. Properties listed within this program get greater visibility in the search results and receive a special “thumbs – up” icon which acts as the Booking.com certificate of approval.

Property Page Score – Page quality ranking 

The content of your property page has to tell a story and persuade a potential guest that you are worth staying with. Showcasing the right information you are setting the real expectations for the guests, which in turn brings satisfied guests, exquisite reviews, and new bookings.

Flexible policy – 5 days 

Choosing this option helps your bookings grow since the cancellation policy is flexible. It is used in times of uncertainty to give a little push to travelers to book since this option enables free cancellation up to five days before the arrival.

How to become a successful vacation rental owner?

Technology continuously changes and dictates market trends. It allows vacation renter owners to independently manage sales on a professional level. Brand recognition, market exposure, and sales strategy are three extremely important factors which determine the success of accommodation renting. Year after year, there are more and more early bookings since people are planning their vacation year in advance. This is why having prices prepared on time is important. 

Some vacation rental owners do this at the beginning of the year and only then release the sale, and until then they are not present anywhere, which is a big mistake. It is important to be present for the sake of marketing exposure and visibility which can be achieved only by preparing a sales strategy on time.

Technology is divided into the reservation and operational technology. Reservation technology is a tool that enables sales management and generates reservation on all connected reservation platforms through the channel manager. There is the possibility of generating instant direct reservations from the official websites of the accommodation unit using the booking engine.

Operating technology includes all those functionalities that make it easier for users to perform operational activities such as registering guests to eVisitor system, issuing invoices or updating reservation information.

Working together with private vacation rental owners provides an insight into the state of the market trends and the needs of the rental owners themselves. The system is made according to the needs of the vacation rental owners which is constantly being improved. Starting next year. our clients will be connected to as many as 7 global online reservation platforms: Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Hostelworld, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and Hotelbeds. Such market coverage, while maintaining price with automatic closing of sales on all connected channels with each newly created reservation, without the adequate technology is only possible in theory.

Ivan, Booker Tools IT manager

The leading regional private rental agency, Direct Booker, focuses on technological solutions to make it easier for vacation rental owners.

They are barely thirty years old, all highly educated and enthusiastic, information technology is their daily preoccupation, and presenter Ivan Bogoje, 37, is the eldest in the eight-member team. Regardless of the time of year, the IT department of Direct Booker, the leading regional private accommodation rental agency, is always active.

Direct Booker is a combination of a travel agency and IT company.

Locals from Dubrovnik still perceive us only as a travel agency, however, since 2016, the company has been more focused on the technology. We have successfully combined the services of a private accommodation agency, with which we have been present on the market since 2010, and the development of high technology, keeping pace with global trends –  says Ivan.

Direct Booker was named the third fastest-growing company in Croatia last year by Lider Magazine, and prominent magazine Rentals United had classified it among the top 10 property management agencies in the world. Direct Booker franchises are present in 8 countries, but the company also has big plans for the future:

The future development of the company is based on four directions of development.

The first is accommodation management on the leading accommodation booking portals.

The second direction is developing service Booker Tools for owners who manage their units independently, and agencies similar to us.

The third direction is to further develop the franchise: our business model can work anywhere in the world where there are supply and demand for private accommodation, and fourth is our booking site for direct reservations, for which we have big plans in the future.

As an IT department they are particularly proud of independently developing  Booker Tools, a technology solution for renters who manage their units by themselves.

We started developing Booker Tools in 2017, and a lot of effort has been put into it. Years of experience and knowledge were applied on the product for those who do the same business as we do – renting private accommodation.

Today it is a complete technological solution, an all-in-one tool for vacation rental owners, as well as other agencies.

This is actually the same technology used by Direct Booker employees and our 22 franchises, just packed into one simple and easy-to-use web / mobile app.

It is very difficult for owners to function today without the right technological support.

There are many advantages of using tools like Booker Tools.

For example, if a reservation is made through Booking.com, the owners must go to 5 or  6 other online channels and close the calendar to prevent overbooking – Booker Tools do this automatically. Also, there are other useful services, such as managing prices from one source, logging in / out of eVisitor, invoicing, “booking engine” for your own website, etc. This ultimately means a big time saver for the owner and a minimal amount of effort, with a reduced chance of error.

The Booker Tools system is currently integrated with booking sites such as: Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, HostelWorld and TripAdvisor, and new channels are coming soon.

Integration with E-domizil and Hotelbeds platforms, as well as modules for enhancing guest communication and direct sales is currently under development. Let’s not forget that Google is growing and becoming a bigger player in the industry. So over the next half year to a year, we will be integrating with Google to provide user as many direct bookings as possible.