Bitterroot River Ranch
First-Time Vacation Rental Owners Get More Than 50% Direct Bookings
Lynn and Dorothy Eppich are outdoorsy by nature. They both grew up on family farms in southeast Washington State, where they also ended up raising their children. Whenever the topic of retirement came up, they’d always talk about moving to the Montana countryside, to the tranquil and beautiful Bitterroot Valley.
And that’s exactly what they did. In their late 50s, they moved state and began to build their dream home. Once the house was complete, however, the Eppichs realized they weren’t ready to retire just yet. That’s when they thought about starting their own vacation rental business: not only would it allow them to meet a lot of nice new people and share their home with others, it would also provide them with financial security at the same time.
Lynn and Dorothy aren’t web designers and they admit they aren’t too tech savvy, so they didn’t really know where to begin. Knowing from the outset that they wanted to make a website, they started looking for affordable solutions online.
“We thought that rather than hiring someone to build us our website, because that can get really expensive, we’d look for an easy-to-use solution and try to build it ourselves. We also weren’t sure how much income our new business would provide, so we needed something that wouldn’t leave us on the rocks but at the same time, would allow us to create a ready-to-book professional website.”
After doing some research, Lynn and Dorothy came across Lodgify, and having read about the benefits, they decided to give it a go. As all new Lodgify users are entitled to a 7-day free trial, Lynn and Dorothy were able to test out Lodgify’s software before paying for a full subscription. During their trial, they discovered it was extremely user-friendly, even for beginners like themselves. Using the website builder, they made their site and tested out other features such as autoresponders and credit card payments.
It soon became clear to Lynn and Dorothy that this vacation rental software was exactly what they needed for their new business.
What they liked most about Lodgify
Lynn and Dorothy’s favorite thing about Lodgify is that it’s so easy-to-use, even though they’d never made a website before, they got to grips with it immediately. They were also impressed with just how attractive the templates are.
“We saw that the templates were good looking and we especially liked that Lodgify includes a reservation system right there in it! People could immediately book online. Right there. Rather than have them call me. I like that it has the whole package – users can book, make the deposit online and everything.”
How they found the process of creating their own website with Lodgify
During the Eppichs’ trial period, they tested all of Lodgify’s features and by the time they had chosen their subscription, they’d almost finished building their website. It just took them a couple of minutes to publish it!
They even had their son-in-law (an online entrepreneur) have a look at their new website and he agreed it was exactly what they needed.
“Creating the website was very easy and only took a couple minutes.”
How they got their first bookings
The Eppichs received their first online booking just two hours after publishing their new Lodgify website. But how? Before having their own website, their property was already listed on local tourism associations and TripAdvisor, though people could only book their stay at Bitterroot River Ranch by phone. Once they published their website, however, travelers began to Google the Bitterroot River Ranch brand name and arrive on the Eppichs’ vacation rental website.
Other channels that generate traffic and bookings
Unlike many vacation rental owners, the Eppichs don’t use listing sites. That’s why such an impressive number of their bookings – around 75% – come directly from organic searches! They are, however, present on local directories like Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce, Montana’s Bed and Breakfast Association, Montana’s Chamber of Commerce and on B&B associations like BedandBreakfast.com. To boost their online presence, they listed their vacation rental on TripAdvisor, which has also helped persuade former guests to leave reviews about their stays.
Regardless of which online directories and associations they advertise on, the Eppichs always make sure there’s a link back to their website, BitterrootRiverRanch.com. As well as being good for SEO, linking back to their own website ensures they get all those bookings coming direct.
“I’m not on any online travel agencies, but I did try Airbnb for a month. I wasn’t comfortable with not being able to accept deposits and how easy it is for users to cancel. So I closed it and have continued working on my own website.”
How Lodgify helped them grow their vacation rental business
Not only were Dorothy and Lynn surprised how easy it was to create BitterrootRiverRanch.com and for guests to book directly from there, they were also hugely impressed with their almost immediate results. During their first six months on the market, their vacation home earned them a grand total of $10,170 in rental income.
The Eppichs say they’re delighted with Lodgify’s vacation rental website builder. They love knowing that Lodgify is always working hard on their behalf to improve their products and services. Best of all, Lynn and Dorothy can enjoy running their business smoothly using the reservation system and autoresponders.
“Don’t be afraid to try Lodgify. It’s simple to set up and financially doable!”