How To Make a Vacation Rental Direct Bookings Website? ᐅ Guide

Vacation rental owners and short term rentals hosts often offer their accommodation exclusively on booking portals. But this means they are giving away a lot of potential for additional direct reservations. In this guide, you’ll learn about the advantages of having your own direct bookings website and how you can create a great website with little effort. And you don’t need to be a programmer or web designer.

Why vacation rental owners need their own direct bookings website

Even if you rent out your vacation apartment or vacation home via big booking portals (OTAs) like Airbnb, Booking.com or Vrbo, it is worthwhile to have your own direct reservations website or homepage. This makes you more visible online and gives you another booking channel through which you can reach new guests.

  1. No commissions on direct bookings

    Another advantage is that you don’t have to pay any booking commission on your own website. You are independent from the booking platforms and their service fees. Guests who find your accommodation via Google search and regular guests can book directly with you.

  2. Become more visible on Google

    With your own website, you can also improve your Google ranking and appear higher in search results. If you have time and desire, you can make a lot out of your own website. But even without any effort you will be found on Google shortly after creating your homepage.

  3. Guests want to know more about your accommodation

    Most guests first look for accommodations on booking portals. After that, however, many use Google search because they want to find out more about their dream vacation rental. This is because they often find additional information on the owner website that there is no space for in the listings on Airbnb & Co. So it’s worthwhile for you to upload your content additionally on your own website and offer even more detailed information there.

  4. Build your own brand

    On your own website, you have full control. You decide which tools you want to use and which links you want to include. You now also have your own content with which you can advertise on Facebook, Instagram, etc. You can advertise your properties on Facebook, Instagram, etc. A hosting website also makes a good impression in your email signature or on your business card. This way, new customers see right away that you are a provider with good reputation. It also gives them the opportunity to contact you directly.

Most important content in a website for vacation rentals

A website for vacation rental hosts must be visually appealing. The easiest way to achieve this is through high-quality pictures of your accommodations and your region.

Meaningful description & additional information

On your own rental website, you can use the same descriptions that you use for your listings on Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo etc. Additionally, you can provide more info that might be important for your guests. This can be picture galleries, recommendations and reviews from happy guests, videos of your property – everything that makes your vacation apartment or vacation home even more attractive. Your guests will also be pleased to read further information about accessibility and surroundings. What shopping facilities are there in the area? Are there any places of interest? What about leisure activities in the vicinity?

Clarity & structure

Your homepage should offer a good overview of your services, because this is where it is decided whether your guests stay and reserve. From there, your visitors can access the subpages for the individual units. These should also be informative and attractively designed. The potential guests should not only see the prices, but also equipment and amenities.

Prices & availability

In addition, it must also be clear what services your total nightly rates includes (cleaning costs, etc.). A price and booking calendar makes it easier to book directly and provides a good overview of what is available and when.

These are the features a good vacation rental website needs

Domain name & layout

Before you start, you need to think about a domain name for your bookable website. It should be short, meaningful and easy to remember. It is important that it contains all the terms (keywords) that guests are looking for. For example, a combination of “vacation apartment” or “bnb” and the name of the place is ideal.

User-friendly layout

The user experience of your website is crucial for your success in Google search results. The page should load quickly so that visitors don’t have to wait to see all the content. Also, they should be able to find what they are looking for quickly. Not sure what the ideal layout for a vacation rental website looks like? Then let yourself be inspired by other sites. However, you should make sure that the websites are from the short term rental industry. Only then you will have a meaningful comparison of how you can optimally incorporate all the necessary information and functions.

Availability calendar

If you offer a booking option on your rental homepage, you can achieve many additional bookings. However, your booking calendar must always be up to date, otherwise double reservations will happen quickly. With a Channel Manager like Smoobu you can easily keep your availability in sync on all different platforms. Here you can learn more about the advantages of a Channel Manager for managing your vacation rental.

Responsive design

Your website should not only look and function well on laptops, but also on tablets or smartphones. The technical basis for this is called “Responsive Design” and is automatically integrated in Smoobu and most other website builders. So you don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Google Maps integration

The integration of Google Maps on your website ensures that potential guests can see exactly where your holiday home is located and how they can reach it.

Data protection & imprint

In order for your website to comply with all legal requirements about data protection regulation – GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California – you absolutely need an imprint and a privacy policy. But don’t worry, most website builders provide you with a template for this. This makes it very easy to create.

How much does a direct booking website for vacation rentals cost?

  1. Professional website

    If you let an agency create a professional website for you, the result will be adapted exactly to your needs. However, special web design has its price and will cost you from 500 Dollars upwards.

  2. Create your own website

    If you have time and skills, you can create your own website. This is very cheap, but will cost you some time. There are now many providers such as WordPress, with which you can quickly and easily build websites. However, the simple models are mainly aimed at bloggers and offer a simple design, which is mainly intended for creating texts. Adding booking tools, calendars, etc. may cost you more time and money than expected.

  3. Free website for hosts with modular systems

    With a website builder you can quickly and easily create your own website for hosts. At Smoobu we know exactly what your needs are as a property owner. You only need a few pictures and a description text. Of course you can use the content from your listings on the booking portals. In addition to the necessary features we have already presented, Smoobu offers you as a bonus of different languages and currencies, online payment and much more. This is also worthwhile for advanced users, because you can link your own domain and add your own Javascript & CSS.

Conclusion: Benefits of owning a direct bookings website

  • A website for vacation rentals brings you many advantages. You reach more potential guests, are perceived as a professional host and benefit from additional direct reservations.
  • With the right domain and an appealing layout, you become independent of booking portals. At the same time, you can include all the information your visitors want.
  • Smoobu offers you a free website builder for vacation rentals. With it, you can create your own website for your accommodations in a few minutes without any programming or design knowledge.

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