In recent years, Airbnb, HomeAway and many other listing sites have grown to become important sources of business for vacation property owners. But whether you have just one vacation rental or a whole portfolio of properties, relying exclusively on these sites for all of your bookings is never a great idea.
Don’t get us wrong, listing sites can be a fantastic place to grab potential guests’ attention. But if you don’t have your own personal vacation rental website as well, you could be missing out big time.
So why exactly should vacation rental owners refrain from being solely dependent on listing sites?
There’s usually a price to pay
More often than not, having your vacation rental home on Airbnb and other listing sites doesn’t come for free. Sure, you don’t pay anything during the initial process itself, but every time a guest books a stay in your property, the listing site is likely to take a cut – that’s money you could be earning yourself!
Of course, you could argue it’s a fair deal, and well worth it in order to achieve the exposure to customers that these sites provide. But when all your bookings come from listing sites, that racks up to quite a hefty bill that you could avoid simply by having your own website.
When it comes to having your property on listing sites, there’s also the time element to consider. If you use a few different listing sites, it’s likely you’ll have to manage them all separately, and you may have already discovered how much time this can take…
Having your own website with a central channel manager means you can manage not only your own direct bookings from your website, but also any reservations made via HomeAway, Airbnb, etc. You’re able to access all your inquiries through one single inbox, simplifying the management of your properties no matter where you take your bookings.
It’s kind of risky
Ever heard the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” It couldn’t be truer for vacation rental listing sites. When you’re totally dependent on a third party – or multiple third parties – for all of your bookings, you could be exposing your vacation rental business to quite a big risk.
First off, there’s the competition: when a guest is looking for a vacation rental in Long Beach, California, listing site search results are going to place you side-by-side with your direct competition, which could even lead you to miss a booking just because your backyard is a few meters smaller than the neighbors’.
Then there’s the fact that listing sites are free to change their own terms and conditions whenever they like. Just earlier this year, HomeAway rolled out new commissions and traveler fees, sending the internet into a frenzy and vacation rental owners who only used this service were left displeased (to say the least).
You lack control
When the only way you can take bookings for your vacation rental is on listing sites, you aren’t in control. One day you might appear at the top of the site’s search results and the next day, you’re on page 22.
On the other hand, when you have your own vacation rental website, you’re the one in charge of driving traffic and converting lookers into bookers! As well as regaining control, your own website provides you with a platform to develop and build your brand.
What’s more, when you have your own “Book now” button which allows you to accept online credit card payments, you can ensure you’re not losing out on any income through ever-increasing high third-party commissions.
You won’t be able to show off your superior user experience
On listing sites, what guests see in terms of the user experience essentially comes down to the capabilities (or limitations) of that particular website.
On your own vacation rental website, however, you can go above and beyond any guest expectations and customize every detail the way you want your users to view your page. Nowadays, you don’t even need web design skills to make this possible. There are also plenty of templates available which mobile-friendly, meaning the user experience is just as great, whichever device your guests are using.
As customers are more likely to return to websites they’ve had positive experiences on, a bit of initial work will pay off in the long run when it encourages those repeat bookings!