How to grow your vacation rental website online
How to grow your vacation rental website online
Managing a vacation rental can be challenging. It requires project management skills, stellar organisational skills and more. If you’re operating the vacation rental business entirely by yourself, it can be even more complicated, from simple listings management on online travel agency sites, to becoming your own content writer, photographer, travel guide, graphic designer, salesperson and property manager all in one.
Vacation rental websites, like eCommerce websites, are not the same as ordinary websites. Vacation Rental Sites use integrated booking engine software to facilitate reservations and reservation requests directly from the site.
All of this makes for a very busy schedule. If you were to say that you had never considered creating your own website for your vacation rental, it would be understandable! Instead, it can be easy and even functional to rely on online travel agencies (OTAs) for your advertising and booking management but, here at Jezweb, we know that there is a wide variety of reasons to consider starting your own site (with a little help from us, to ease the load).
It is a certainty that you will need a vacation rental website if you own or manage a short-term rental or vacation property, and you are wanting to grow your business. If you already have listings on Airbnb or similar sites, your vacation rental website can run in conjunction with these listings, operate separately or, once your site has been established, you can discontinue the use of listing platforms entirely. This is a great option for those who want to avoid the fees associated with these platforms.
It is possible to design a website without the booking functionality by linking visitors to a third-party booking site, however, this creates the potential for prospective guests to become distracted or frustrated with an un-optimised system. They may think it is too complicated, or that the website is having problems and they may fail to follow through with the booking process; a problem that can be completely avoided with direct booking functionality.
Also, if your online site links to a booking engine such as booking.com or other comparison sites, you may lose guests to a competitor.
There are many benefits to creating a website for your vacation rental property to further your existing OTA listing, such as: Greater customisation, the elimination of commission-based or service fees, reduced competition, direct client lists, and a great deal more.
Owning your own site also allows you to easily incentivise re-bookings and incorporate additional components, such as packages and inclusions, that OTAs do not allow for. Creating your own vacation rental website provides complete freedom, builds your credibility and can ultimately result in more bookings for you.
A common complaint amongst Airbnb hosts is the fees and charges associated with completing bookings through the platform. From November 2020, the platform introduced a simplified pricing structure that is applicable to all software connected hosts on Airbnb in Australia and New Zealand.
Hosts are charged a 15% service fee from the amount paid by the guests which can be a significant amount, especially if your guests will be staying for an extended period time. While Airbnb no longer charges a guest service fee which encourages more bookings than when the guest charge was in place, the host service fee still represents lost revenue for Airbnb hosts.
Switching to a website that you own reduces fees to a yearly domain (website name) charge and related hosting and web builder fees: Owning your own Vacation Rental Site puts you back in control.
When building your Vacation Rental Site, consider which relevant web builder you will use to design your site, manage your property and facilitate direct bookings on your site. This is a key functionality that is critical to providing a good user experience with site visitors and driving conversions.
There are multiple options to choose from, each with their own features, functionalities and pricing structures. Let’s have a look at some.
Lodgify is ideal for hosts wanting to facilitate direct bookings on their site. It is also useful for managing multiple properties and managing pricing and property details across all listings in one place.
Lodgify is one of the strongest options to consider when choosing a direct booking engine for your site. It offers a solid combination of vacation rental management and web-building features and stands as one of the most popular options on the market.
Lodgify software positions itself as the “Shopify for Vacation Rentals” and so is committed to providing a simple and easy to use solution for its customers. Lodgify’s strength lies with its backend capabilities as opposed to web design or blogging features.
OwnerRez is a web builder that also boasts a lot of attractive features and functionalities, including plenty of automation and integration options, which means that you only pay for services you select. OwnerRez is a popular option on the market as a result of its provision of quality features at a lower price and with a quality customer support service to help you if you get stuck.
OwnerRez is ideal for hosts who are managing multiple properties and/or looking to make commission payouts to property owners as a property manager, as well as those who want a customisable platform.
Your Porter App is as an affordable alternative to Lodgify, offering comparable vacation rental management features. It does however have fewer website customisation options because it champions ease of use, with its “Single Click Website’ set up feature that enables users to get their site up and running, quickly.
The included templates are basic, but professional-looking, and they allow you to customise your site by adding additional pages and changing colours and fonts. Your Porter App is ideal for those desiring a simple website set-up experience who want a basic level of customisation.
Tokeet is an option for those who like the look and feel of Lodgify but are deterred by the pricing. It offers good site customisation options at an affordable price. The software boasts multiple templates and facilitates the customisation of your site and the adding of multiple pages.
Uplisting has been included in this list but is more of a vacation website property management software rather than a website builder. It does however serve as a good management tool for an external website with existing booking functionality.
Uplisting exists as a premium management software that can be relied upon, offering solid customer support to provide help when you need it most. It must be noted however that Uplisting provides very minimal options when it comes to building your site, which is why we recommend it be used with an external site if branding and customisation are required.
There is one template to choose from, it is serviceable, with a clean modern design built with conversion in mind. There are however no options to customise this template which for some might be ideal but could cause frustration for others.
Uplisting, therefore, is ideal for those looking for a software solution that is heavily focused on property management with a website builder that is simple to use and makes for minimal distractions.
There’s a lot to consider when designing a website for your vacation rental and it can be overwhelming when there are so many options available on the market. There are technical considerations that must be taken into account, as well as other elements that make up a successful website. When combined, these can create a steep learning curve.
Choosing to build your site in collaboration with a web agency, such as Jezweb, gives you the ability to take the reins without all the stress of understanding all the technical components.
The team at Jezweb are experts in web design who have worked with many accommodation clients in the past to deliver functional, modern websites that delight. Our team is highly skilled in all areas of website creation and will deliver you a site that cements your presence online and gets you in front of your customers. If you want a new site for your vacation rental, visit us at jezweb.com.au, call us on 1300 024 766 or click here to send us an online message today.