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Now worth an estimated $100 billion and predicted to reach $170 billion by 2019, there is certainly no mistaking the growth of the vacation rental industry.

With this growth comes an inevitable truth that vacation rental owners are beginning to face: it is now becoming more important than ever for hospitality businesses to build and maintain their own website.

As a result of the increasingly high commissions charged by online travel agencies and the changing nature of how travelers book their accommodation, a professional website with an optimized design can really help hosts to stand out from the crowd and generate more direct bookings.

Unfortunately for business owners, however, the hard work doesn’t stop at creating a vacation rental website. Each and every aspect of their site must be optimized in order to attract more visitors and convert them into bookings.

That’s why we’ve created this infographic – to show vacation rental owners exactly which online features can make websites more attractive, while at the same time, enhance the all-round user experience to generate more interest, inquiries and direct bookings.

Anatomy of the Perfectly Optimized Vacation Rental Site for Increasing Booking Conversion

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Domain, logo and brand

First things first, before owners even think about creating a vacation rental website, having a good brand is essential. Branding is important to help distinguish hospitality businesses from their competitors, to set expectations for guests, build trust and loyalty among guests and form the basis of any marketing campaign.

Many features fall under the umbrella term of branding, including domain names and logos. Owners should choose a vacation rental domain name that isn’t too long or too difficult to spell, or guests may have trouble finding them online. A clean, simple logo that says something about the brand will be much more effective than an overly complicated one that tries to squash too much in.

Hero image and title

On first look at a vacation rental website, the most eyecatching aspects are the hero image and hero title. The hero image can either be just one, or a series of images at the top of the homepage which show off the very best about a vacation rental home, like its unique selling propositions, plus interesting photographs of what the area has to offer. Their purpose is to attract visitors with little more than a quick glance, and when paired with an appealing headline or “hero title” which clearly explains the property’s USP, the two are a perfect match.

Mobile-responsive and page speed performance

Modern websites won’t get anywhere in Google rankings without being mobile friendly, and that’s a fact. Using (or even designing) a website template that is 100% mobile-responsive will allow the VR business to show up in more search results, and even permit guests to make their booking on these types of devices. Mobile travel booking stats are constantly rising, so ensuring websites are fit for all devices is a step in the right direction to an optimized site for increasing booking conversion.

Equally, a slow loading time can dissuade visitors from staying on a website for longer than a matter of seconds, so improving speed is a necessity for any owner looking to keep users connected long enough to stay interested and make a booking.

USPs and featured properties

USPs set hosts apart from any of their nearby competitors because they are exclusive to the property. Showing these notable features on the homepage will immediately draw potential guests in when they see what’s on offer. Equally, for owners with more than one property, a featured property section showcasing the most popular options (and their prices!) can give guests a helping hand to make up their mind.

CTA and promotions

Owners with their own website can’t afford to fall into the trap of sending guests elsewhere to book – accept direct bookings and online payments with a few clicks with a call-to-action like a “Book Now” button.

Any current promotions such as “10% off”, “book four nights and get one free”, etc. should also take pride of place on the homepage. How else are guests going to find out about them? Special offers and seasonal deals can persuade even the most indecisive guests into booking a vacation rental over another.

Testimonials, external ratings and digital badges

Travelers love reading reviews – most people do it before purchasing anything online – so vacation rentals are no different. Making a great impression as a host is vital to succeeding in the industry, so showing off these good reviews when they roll in will also encourage others to book their stay.

Testimonials which describe, in the guest’s words, just how delightful the stay was (with an accompanying photograph of themselves), makes for a relatable and personable commentary, plus a great way to convert lookers into bookers. After all, nothing says “Book Now” like an array of glowing five-star reviews!

Another way to boost vacation rental business credibility is by displaying external ratings in the form of digital badges – think TripAdvisor excellence certificates, local tourism board seals of approval or even the Airbnb Superhost badge. These help confirm the reputation of a vacation rental business by demonstrating its validity.

Press and partner logos

When vacation rentals have been featured in press articles or magazines, they have every right to display any press logos of these mentions on their homepage. For guests, media mentions are positive social proof and a sign of brand trust, not to mention credibility and reputation.

This is also true for partner logos – partnering a vacation rental with local companies such as tourist attractions, car hire or even restaurants and bars is a great way to reinforce the VR brand in the local community, and outside of it on a vacation rental website.

Footer, payment logos and social media followers

Hosts can’t go wrong by including their contact information in the footer of their site. That means vacation rental business name, address, phone number, plus social media links so that guests can inquire any time via the channel they prefer. Make it easy for guests to get in touch and see more conversions as a result! Bonus tip: this is also great for local SEO and climbing up the Google rankings.

Lookers can only become online bookers if the site accepts payments. That’s why including logos for whichever payments are accepted (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, American Express…) will help convert guests and persuade them to book directly online. What’s more, security seals like VeriSign can provide guests with the peace of mind they need to ensure them their sensitive information is safe from online fraud.

Social media can be hugely influential for a potential guest: typical vacation research tends to include some time spent on sites like Facebook, checking out photos and posts by previous guests. Showing social media follower numbers on vacation rental websites can boost conversion, not only because it shows the host is up-to-date, but also because it encourages visitors to engage with posts across these different sites.

Does your current website not support some of the above features? Try a free 14-day trial of Lodgify today and see how optimizing your site can increase booking conversion!

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