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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.