A 2018 study by B2B research firm Clutch found that email, website and social media are the top three marketing tools used by small businesses. Around 54% of them use email, 51% have a website and 48% use social media for marketing purposes.
While it’s a positive start, almost half of small businesses are still yet to launch their own professional website – a big error if you want to be successful in a predominantly online industry like vacation rentals.
According to Clutch, a website remains the “most popular way for small businesses to market themselves online”. So it’s no surprise that in today’s Google-giddy society, online visibility is more important than ever and vacation rentals are no exception.
Think of a website as the first stop – the first touchpoint, even – for your potential guests to learn about what your property has to offer. Travelers are becoming increasingly more internet savvy and are window shopping around for the best deal, rather than relying solely on the big OTAs. Some even know about the #BookDirect movement which has cropped up in recent years!
In short, if you want your short-term rental company to be successful, a professional website is key. Let’s check out some of the main reasons why you should add building a vacation rental website to your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Importance of a vacation rental website for marketing
Think of your website as the backbone of your online vacation rental business. Every effort you carry out in terms of your marketing strategy will lead back to your site. That means every email you send, every blog article you publish and every social media post you share. All marketing actions like these will actively drive visitors to your website for more information.
While using listing sites such as Airbnb are highly effective for getting your property in front of vast quantities of travelers, it’s also essential you have your own online space that you’re totally in control of. This allows you to send inquiring guests to specific pages when they want to find out a bit more about your offerings, and it even facilitates direct communication between you and your potential renters.
Importance of a vacation rental website for bookings
The number of reservations a vacation rental receives is a significant KPI for any owner to track. However, when advertising purely on third-party sites, costs can soon escalate when you take into account all the different fees and charges for using the site or accepting payments.
When you have your own vacation rental website, you can rest assured that you aren’t paying any additional fees every time you receive a booking. Besides accepting new bookings, having your own website is also crucial in order to cater to repeat guests who prefer to reserve their stay with you directly.
In addition, vacation rental website software tends to allow you the possibility to synchronize any external channels and reservations you receive into one centralized calendar via a channel manager. This takes the hassle out of managing multiple listings and helps streamline the overall running of your business.
Importance of a vacation rental website for your brand
Ask anyone you know about which travel services they’re familiar with and you’ll discover two common ingredients – they all have websites and recognizable brands.
Branding is often overlooked by smaller vacation rental operators, but it’s a huge factor that helps to differentiate one short-term rental from its competition.
Building a vacation rental website not only gives you a concrete location to define your brand – including its logo, color scheme and company values – but it also helps to establish trust and a solid reputation with past, potential and future guests.
According to research by Blue Corona, 30% of consumers won’t even consider a business without a website. That’s because websites are a sign of credibility and can help to establish authority on a specific subject. In fact, for vacation rental businesses, websites are the perfect space to show off insider knowledge about a certain destination, activity or seasonal event that takes place. In providing travelers with useful content that helps them to make their decision, you create a relationship with the potential guest and this can encourage conversion into booking.
Getting started with your vacation rental website
There are many options available for short-term rental businesses who want to launch a new website. One of the main decisions owners face is choosing whether to use a specific vacation rental website builder software or a generic content management system.
Software which has been built for the industry provides a number of advantageous features, such as easy drag-and-drop editors, the ability to take online bookings and credit card payments and a full reservation system already included in the package. That said, many owners with technical skills may prefer the flexibility of building a site from scratch and customizing it using their own code and modifications.
What to take away
Any vacation rental business which doesn’t have a branded, bookable website in 2019 will soon fall behind their competition. Not only will you be seen as far less credible, but you’ll also miss out on the many benefits having a website brings – such as marketing opportunities, direct bookings and establishing a brand. If like many owners you’re still without an optimized website, make sure you address this as soon as possible in order to reap the rewards for the next financial year.