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Whether you’re just venturing into the world of vacation rentals and wanting to create your first website, or simply looking to update the existing business website you have, there is a choice you have to make regarding your new site. That is: whether you use a specific vacation rental website builder, or a more generic content management system (CMS).

If you’re not sure what differences there are between these two types of website creation tools, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at each system and explore what they are, as well as discuss the pros and cons of each type for vacation rental business owners.

What is a vacation rental website builder?

As a general rule, website builders allow users to create their own websites without needing any prior technical knowledge. With website builders, you can easily design your site using drag and drop functions. Using a website builder that’s made exclusively for vacation rental businesses is a great option for owners who lack coding skills, but who want to get started and publish their website immediately.

Website builders aren’t just for novices – they can also be equally useful for more tech-savvy owners. As well as providing you with the basis for a fully optimized website (e.g. mobile-friendliness and a template that supports on-page search engine optimization), a good vacation rental software will also allow you to add any customized pieces of code, should you want to.

An example of a vacation rental website builder which has these capabilities is Lodgify.

What is a generic CMS?

A CMS, or content management system, is an online application or program that allows users to create digital content, as well as edit, publish and manage it whenever they want. Usually, a CMS runs on a server managed by a web hosting service. Using a CMS often requires coding knowledge in order to custom-build your website, as a generic CMS does not cater to any specific business type.

Some examples of popular content management systems are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.

Vacation rental website builder vs. CMS

There are plenty of features of both types of software that you need to take into consideration before deciding which will be the best addition to your online vacation rental business. One of the easiest ways to make the right choice is by asking yourself the following questions:

1. How easy is it to use?

Vacation rental website builder

Drag and drop website builders exist for a reason – to help users create beautiful websites, with minimal effort and zero technical expertise needed.

By building a website in this way, vacation rental owners are able to perfect and publish their site very quickly in order to start promoting their accommodation offerings across the web. Additionally, when the website builder is just one part of a wider all-in-one software solution, these vacation rental businesses can enjoy taking direct bookings online, receiving payments and managing all other aspects of their inquiries and reservations.

Generic CMS

Owners and managers who decide to use a CMS to build their vacation rental website may find that learning the ropes can take some time, especially if they have little previous experience coding. Teaching yourself to create customizations on a CMS-built website can also take a lot of time and effort, or in some cases, require the help of a professional developer.

2. How flexible is it?

Vacation rental website builder

On the whole, website builders offer less flexibility as they are apps that have been designed with a specific user in mind – in this case, vacation rental owners. Most vacation rental website builders will allow any owner or manager to create a professional site for their business, but when it comes to tricky custom modifications, you may still require help from a developer or the website builder’s support team.

Generic CMS

A CMS offers a lot more flexibility than a website builder when it comes to scaling to businesses and adjusting to fit specific needs and markets.

3. How will your website be hosted?

Vacation rental website builder

One of the reasons users may prefer specialized website builders is that there is no need for hands-on configurations. Users can publish pages as they go and see updates immediately on their readily hosted website. The downside is that it can be difficult to change service provider down the line, should that be necessarily.

Generic CMS

In general, using a CMS will require having a hosting service. Though more often than not, this can be set up and installed for free with your CMS. Users of content management systems often like the freedom of being able to save all their data and migrate it to another host if they want to.

4. What maintenance will it require?

Vacation rental website builder

For those who decide to use a website builder, good news! – it’s unlikely you’ll have to ever perform any manual updates or maintenance for your website. These will instead be done automatically by your provider, who will also back up data regularly and protect it from online security issues. If new features become available, these will be instantly ready for users to implement in the website’s back end.

Generic CMS

With CMS applications, it can often be the case that manual software updates and maintenance are required. This can mean having to learn the processes yourself, or hiring someone with the right knowledge to help you.

5. How much does it cost?

Vacation rental website builder

For most website builders, business owners will pay one monthly or yearly rate for a plan which fits their business needs. It is normally quite easy to change plan further down the line if that becomes a necessity. Always check if the plan you choose is all-inclusive, or if there will be extra fees or commissions on, for example, each booking you take.

Generic CMS

Most content management systems are free to use – the basic version, at least. There is scope to purchase third party add-ons and special features which will help optimize vacation rental websites for taking online bookings, for example. There are, however, added fees of getting your own domain and hosting your CMS in a server to take into consideration. What’s more, it’s likely to cost you extra to add a reservation system, accept online payments and add any other tools that may be necessary for a vacation rental business. In turn, these extra charges can make your free CMS a much more expensive investment.

Making the right decision: vacation rental website builder or CMS?

Both options – a specialized vacation rental website builder and a CMS – will allow you to create a professional website for your business. Owners themselves will have to weigh up the pros and cons of each in order to evaluate which is the better choice.

Those who have limited technical knowledge and an urgency to get online might prefer to use a drag and drop vacation rental website builder, as it will give them the tools they need to build their site quickly and easily. Whereas those who want complete flexibility and have the time and skills required to build the site from scratch might prefer opting for a CMS.

Lodgify is the all-in-one vacation rental solution

If you do decide on a website builder, Lodgify is the ultimate solution for vacation rental owners and managers.

As well as being able to choose from over 30 customizable template designs, all websites built with Lodgify are already fully optimized for mobile browsing and for taking online bookings. You can access and edit your website’s content whenever you like, sync it with social media and showcase your glowing guest reviews on your site.

Besides the website builder, with Lodgify’s software, you’ll have access to a booking system, channel manager and reservation system, which will allow you to manage all your rental data from one centralized place.

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