OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and property listing sites play an increasingly important role in the vacation rental and serviced apartment industry as they give property managers and operators an opportunity to expose their listing(s) to a wide range of likely guests; however, the hospitality accommodation providers should not just rely on these commission-based booking websites and establish their own independent websites as well. So, it’s absolutely necessary for them to know how to build a vacation rental website or hire someone to do so for them to get more direct bookings, hence earn more money to operate and scale their business.
Why Do You Need to Build Your Own Vacation Rental Website?
1. Increase Your Brand Credibility
Booking platforms for sure provide you with significant exposure and many bookings, but you can’t keep relying on these third-party websites forever. You have to decrease your dependency on OTAs and build your independent business identity and highlight your listings under a unique brand.
2. Control How Your Rental Property Is Described and Displayed
Showcase your vacation rental in more detail and give your brand the design it deserves. Build a vacation rental website that displays all of your property’s unique features. Personalise your website to handle your specific business needs. You also need some space for marketing and content creation and sharing information about the area and city, local recommendations and events.
3. Manage Properties and Bookings More Efficiently and Boost Direct Bookings.
By driving in more direct bookings to your website and decreasing the money leaking through your fingers as commissions to online booking websites, you can boost your profit margins.
4. Communicate Directly with Guests
Accept bookings right through your website and provide better guest experience for your renters. Entice travellers to book your rental for their next vacation. This way you can also collect your guests’ real email addresses and other contact info for future marketing. This is exactly what OTAs and property listing sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Expedia deprive you from.
How to Build a Vacation Rental Website
As a vacation rental owner or manager, you might consider website creation a daunting task as you might not be very tech-friendly or have the required technical skills or simply sufficient time. Fortunately, today there are tons of tools out there to help busy short term rental owners and managers to get their websites up and running with the help of excellent and inexpensive options. As a vacation rental manager, you have two ways to build your vacation rental website. You can either customise your website from scratch or resort to a vacation rental website builder.
1. Build Your Website from Scratch
You can create a self-hosted site using the popular open-source “Content Management System” (CMS) WordPress by either using “free WordPress platform” or building a “self-hosted” WordPress website. If you want a unique custom website with more complex elements added to it, you should create your site through a specialised platform and need to pay a freelancer web designer or an agency to create a well-designed, personalised vacation rental website for you that can stand out in the competition.
2. Use a Vacation Rental Website Builder
A vacation rental website builder is a tool designed specifically for property managers to simplify the process of creating a website. As these websites provide pre-built, easy-to-use customisable website templates and tools, working with them is fairly easy and no technical knowledge of web design is required. There are several website builders offering a range of designer-made themes to choose from, but see if you can find one that is vacation rental specific.
How to Choose Your Vacation Rental Website Builder
When choosing a website builder for your vacation rental, it’s vital to pick the best platform that suits the needs of your business. Here we have made a checklist for you to make sure that the platform you choose is rich in features and offers all the required services.
When choosing a website builder for your vacation rental, make sure that the website is:
Before choosing a website builder, compare your available options in terms of ease of use, and see which one out in the market has the easiest drag-and-drop website builder without demanding any coding experience or dealing with technical hurdles. Plus, make sure that the platform has a responsive and dedicated support team.
Nowadays, a great deal of Internet traffic is from mobile devices, so a responsive, mobile-friendly website is essential to the success of your online performance.
Find the most cost-effective, professionally-designed website which is commission-free and optimised for converting lookers into bookers.
Here are the 12 must-have tools and features for every vacation rental website builder:
It’s imperative for any professional vacation rental website builder to have a booking system with an integrated booking calendar. An integrated booking engine with fully live updates can help your potential guests search your rates and availability and book online immediately and in real-time, without the risk of experiencing overbooking on the website.
In addition to featuring a robust booking engine, your vacation rental website builder must be able to sync your calendars with major booking channels and listing sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, and VRBO and remove the possibility of double-bookings.
3. SEO Optimisation Tools
As many of your likely guests use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to look for holiday or business trip destinations, you know the undeniable value of increasing your search engine rankings. The vacation rental website builder you choose must be equipped with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tools, which can help your website to hold one of the top ranks in search results.
4. Themes and Templates Diversity
First impressions are the most lasting! Your website builder must offer you a variety of attractive, designer-made themes and templates to give your vacation rental website a stunning design. You should also be able to customise templates and change color schemes, background images, fonts, text styles and layouts of your website via the editor.
5. Photo Gallery and Video Embeds
You must be able to create an appealing vacation rental website which visualises your holiday home or apartment and showcases your property’s features by presenting high-quality photos and videos and displaying addresses on maps to show the exact location of your vacation rental and available local sites.
6. Dynamic Pricing Integrations
Dynamic Pricing solutions can help you come up with the most appropriate pricing with minimal effort by analysing real-time web data. A dynamic-pricing-integrated vacation rental website builder will ensure that your prices are optimised with response to changes in competitors’ prices, demand, and market shifts.
7. Secure Payment Gateway Integration
Your guests must be able to book your property directly via secure online payment gateways using debit or credit cards.
Your website builder must offer your guests a guestbook which is a space for guest greetings, comments or rates. This way you can get in touch with guests, respond directly to reviews and build up strong relationships with no hassle.
9. Guest CRM, Data Storage and Privacy
A good rental website not only allows guests to book directly with live rates and availability, but also provides you with your guests’ real information. Your website must automate the collection of guests’ email addresses after they place a booking and enable you to ask your guests’ permission for using their contact information for future marketing and follow-up purposes to comply with GDPR requirements.
10. Blogging Tools
Your vacation rental website builder should have the straightforward tools and features for your blog and let you add posts and categorise them, manage comments, and connect your blog to your social media accounts.
11. Social Media Integrations
It should also be possible to add social media buttons to your website pages to link your social media accounts.
12. Website Reports and Analytics
Opt for website builders which can integrate with third-party services like Google Analytics to analyse your website activities, view your website statistics reports and track your visitors.
Use Free Trials
If possible, try a vacation rental website builder before you buy it and see if it has the features you need and works for you. Many PMSes available offer vacation rental website builders. The point is to choose the one best equipped with all the tools and functionalities to get more direct bookings.
Don’t Put Ads on Your Website
Some website builders offer free hosting in return for ads on your site. It’s wise just to pay for the website builder rather than placing ads on your website because ads will slow down your website and most of the time you do not have control over the ads and the products or services they advertise. As a result, you will lose your viewers or their trust.
Bear in mind that your website is your virtual shop window for people who are most likely to book your rental. Make sure that the vacation rental website you create provides enough attraction and incentives. Make it easier for visitors to return to you through creating well-designed pages that include detailed information about your property.
Boost your direct bookings with Zeevou’s SEO-friendly, direct booking website integrated with top analytic tools.