A website is accessible to anyone with an internet connection while social media pages can sometimes be accessible only to other users of the platform. It also opens up your vacation rental to travelers from around the world who don’t have accounts on OTA platforms.
A business without a website can seem illegitimate and untrustworthy to many travelers. An open and informative website gives a sense you don’t have anything to hide and is reassuring.
Direct bookings are an important stream of revenue for any vacation rental, free of OTA conditions like cancellation policies and OTA fees which can take out a significant chunk of your profit. Direct bookings also allow you to garner repeat bookings, maintain a relationship with your loyal customers, and provide a better customer experience.
A website is a great way for potential guests to get in touch with you with their inquiries, rather than going through the more tedious process of messaging you through booking platforms.
Your website is a great anchor for your marketing efforts, to drive traffic to and from your other digital marketing efforts on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms for example.
Your website is the perfect place to establish your brand, apart from your actual property that is. Showcase your brand in full through the guest experiences, from the design theme and navigation to content and visuals.
If you don’t already have branding material for your vacation rental, make use of this opportunity to go ahead and do so. You can always stay within budget by hiring a freelancer but make sure they provide a logo and brand guidelines that not only look good but reflect the value and story of your vacation rental.
Search engine optimization is a must if you want your vacation rental website to yield its maximum potential, showcasing your property up high to potential visitors who are searching on Google. If you are not paying a professional to manage your SEO, you can rely on a few tools to do so on your own. You can use SEMrush to mine the best keywords for your content, for example, and use them in your content to rank higher on Google search results.
Most travelers use their smartphones when booking trips while the rest use desktops, laptops, ipads, etc. If you don’t ensure your website is responsive to the multiple devices at your customer’s disposal, you are losing out on their business.
A website that takes its time to load will see you lose potential guests before they even get the full view of your landing page. According to Neil Patel, every second counts and websites should not take more than 2 seconds to load with even a 1s delay leading to a 7% reduction in conversions. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your load time and insights on why it may be slow.
Make sure your website is SSL certified. By ensuring your website meets security standards, you protect the confidential information that your guests provide when booking with you, particularly their payment details. Indicate your SSL certification on the website so your guests feel safe to book.
Before you design your website, you need to first register it on the world wide web.
The domain name is the address of your website. Choosing the right domain name is important. It shouldn’t be too long, difficult to spell, and ideally, be the name of your vacation rental. To find out if the name you want is still available, you can search the registrar at Google Domains. You should also consider if you want to use .com or a local domain like .ca for Canada.
Once you find the available domain you would like, register it with a recognized vendor. Then purchase server space from a reputable hosting service. You can purchase both a domain and hosting services from a vendor like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator, or purchase them separately. You can also purchase hosting services from website builders like WordPress.
There’s more than one way to build your vacation rental website:
1. Use Hostaway’s Website Builder (Booking Engine Included)
For a highly functional, aesthetically pleasing website that does not require too many pages or complicated navigations, along with a direct booking engine that integrates into your Hostaway property management system, Hostaway’s website builder is ideal. It requires zero technical experience or coding knowledge, is automatically responsive, is laden with gorgeous templates, and is highly customizable. It even provides you the ability to set up an online store and is completely free for Hostaway users.
2. Use WordPress
WordPress is easy to use and has a lot to offer. Entirely customizable, it comes equipped with plugins and themes that allow you to build the website you want. Used by millions of individuals and businesses across the world, it has built a well-earned reputation for being SEO friendly, security conscious, and easily navigable. WordPress also seamlessly integrates into the Hostaway system.
3. Use a Drag and Drop Builder
Building a website has long ceased to be akin to rocket science. Instead, the internet is replete with drag and drop website builders that allow you to create your best fit website by dragging and dropping website templates with the necessary content and images. You can opt for a vacation rental dedicated builder like Boostly or general builders like Squarespace and Wix.
4. Get it Built by a Professional
If you can afford the higher budget and feel like nothing short of a professionally designed, 100% customized website experience will do for your vacation rental, you can always hire a professional to build your vacation rental website for you. This will allow you to showcase your brand to its fullest as everything is created from scratch.
Embedding a direct booking engine in your website allows guests to check availability and book your vacation property based on desired dates and other filters such as amenities you may choose. In turn, it allows you to directly manage reservations and guest details. To make it easier for hosts, Hostaway offers direct booking widgets that you can easily embed anywhere on your vacation rental website.
Make sure your website has a clean design and a sleek interface. You have less than 15s before potential visitors will leave if they don’t find your website appeals to them. If you don’t want a high bounce rate make sure your website design is uncluttered, easy to navigate, and provides users what they are looking for.
The most basic vacation rental website should include a booking engine, a list of accommodations and amenities, a contact us page, a page about your brand/business and why you do what you do, a page of FAQs, and a blog. Make sure you include links to all your social media. Make sure your content is written in an attractive manner that also reflects your vacation rental brand.
Make sure to include your full contact details and a contact form on the Contact Us page in your website so guests can easily find your contact information. Also, consider including a mobile phone number and/or email address that guests can easily contact at the top of the navigation page as well as the hours you will be contactable.
The importance of visual imagery cannot be overstated. Use high-quality photographs that will make your vacation rental standout and showcase the luxury and uniqueness of your property as well as what a great stay will look and feel like.
Make sure pricing is indicated clearly for the dates being searched, including fees, deposits, etc, so guests are not left confused. Also clearly indicate any discounts you are providing, if any.
Offer special packages from time to time, catering to couples during Valentine’s weekend for example, or families during Christmas, as well as discounts, coupons, etc.
If you offer Airbnb Experiences type activities and experiences alongside accommodations, list them on a separate page on your website. You can also combine experiences with accommodations and amenities to create special packages that cater to sports tourists or other niche travelers.
Collect your best reviews and feature them on your website. Potential guests rate reviews quite highly in helping them make their decision on which vacation rental to pick.
Make sure you have a comprehensive terms and conditions document for your vacation rental which you can include in your website and even have guests ‘accept’ as part of the process of making their booking.
Improve the chances of your vacation rental and vacation rental website being found by potential visitors by listing your vacation rental on Google My Business. Not only will this place your vacation rental on Google Maps, making it easier to be brought up on a location search, but will direct them to your website.