The website builder software you choose for your vacation rental, bed and breakfast or hotel business needs to have specific hospitality functions, as well as serve your guests properly. Besides a great design for your website, you also need software that is intuitive, easy-to-use and includes a hosting service.
Choosing the Best Free Website Builder
There are several features to look out for in free website builders which will contribute to a professional, easy-to-use platform. It will provide different options for your specific business needs, a wide variety of templates and an optimized domain name.
The best free website builder will offer everything you need for your vacation rental. However, while web hosting usually requires a certain fee, you can find website builder software which provides a professional look at no extra cost. In fact, you may find that free software is easier to use than a more expensive one that requires a coding expert. One of the most important features for building your site is to find an affordable yet excellent hosting service.
Researching Free Website Builders?
When creating your website, you may prefer a hosted service because of the expert staff who are available for flexible coding. With an online builder, most clients find more success in their design efforts. In most cases, your web host will provide a free website builder. There are lots of functionalities that a free service provides for its users, let’s take a look at what these are.
Free website builder features
An optimal free website builder will have a wide selection of templates to start creating your page. These are crucial to your vacation rental business for several reasons:
- Save time
- Improve navigation between website pages
- Decrease the likelihood of broken links
- Even amateurs can use templates
- No complicated code is necessary.
The website template you select is just as important as your actual vacation rental’s appearance. When you create your website, the pages must be clean and easy to read. Perhaps even more importantly, they must be easy to navigate.
Fortunately, even free website builders provide a wealth of templates that have that very feature. These ready-made layouts not only suggest where to place your content, images and widgets, but they may also provide navigation maps that enable your guests to get the information they need.
Templates are readily available from your web host or from other sources online. They provide you with a blueprint structure for your site, making it easier to visualize what your final website will look like. Most templates allow for easy moving of images and text to specific places on each page, which makes building your website more intuitive.
As well as an optimized template, you also need a memorable domain name. This is the term that your guests type in when they are looking specifically for your vacation rental. Choosing this name to begin with can be an art in itself.
Once you have decided what your domain name will be, you need to register it with a domain provider. Be sure to block any traffic from your own domain (along with your IP address) from any web analytics programs for the most accurate results.
If you want to invent the name of your vacation rental, you can select that name and purchase the domain. For example, “Fisher’s Bed and Breakfast” would be a personal name to choose.
However, this is not always the best choice. You may want to select more generic search terms to gauge more interest. For example, “white mountain bed and breakfast” could capture more inquiries in that category. The problem arises, however, when another property owner has already purchased the domain you want.
Your free web service may be able to provide you with suggestions for unclaimed domains. Having the best website builder won’t do you much good if your site is never searched for or hard to remember.
Free website builder example: Wix
Wix is a cloud-based website builder. This platform boasts templates and drag-and-drop elements to allow users to create their websites. Hotel owners often find that the social plugins make it easier for potential guests from social media to find their site. This, of course, results in more bookings.
The site also provides access to email marketing, which is crucial for website builders when planning out marketing campaigns. Your bed and breakfast or hotel can send out email promotions when you are planning for seasonal traffic or for guests attending regional activities.
One of the complaints about the provider is that the user has to purchase upgrades to add e-commerce or payment processors to their website. This is also necessary to remove their ads from your web page.
Free website builder example: WordPress
Many templates interface well with WP, which is the most popular site creation and content management system. This is because it is the most easily used format available when it comes to website building.
This option provides many themes and you can import these features from other locations. You can also develop your own theme if you wish. The content management system, widgets and plugins are included with the free version. Users can also purchase additional templates and add-ons if they wish.
Other things to know about building a free website
Your hosting service will likely have a fee that may or may not cover the cost of buying your domain name. So, technically, your website is not 100% free. You can use the website builder and editor, however, at no extra charge. This will provide you with a selection of drag-and-drop templates, many of which are specifically formulated for hotels and beds and breakfasts.
In addition, it’s good to have a mobile-friendly website which will allow your property to be available to guests using their mobile devices. Your hosting service should provide a CSS that is responsive to a variety of screen sizes, platforms, and user behaviors. Grids, images, and layouts need to be flexible in order to adapt to these different orientations. The good news is that even a free website builder will generally offer that kind of construction.
Website design tips
You will have many options when you create a website for your business. The background colors, text colors and fonts are all your choice. Your style represents your business, so make these choices carefully so they match your brand.
Select a background color that does not glare or tire eyes when reading content. You want your guests to spend time on your webpage, and if they get a headache as they navigate through your pages, they will leave your site.
The font color is equally important. The color should contrast with the background. Your free website builder may have some predefined color schemes, but you also need to use some common sense. While red text on a green background uses contrasting colors, it would be very hard to read.
Font choice will also make a big difference in whether or not your guests read your booking rates correctly. If not, they may confuse, for example, $85 with $36. There is a reason that Times New Roman, Helvetica, Calibri, and Cambria are used predominantly for blogging purposes. There are other fonts, though, that work very well with your site and can give it a fresh design that makes it stand out.
Should I use a free website builder?
Most free website builders – when provided by a reputable hosting service – will give you all of the features you need to promote your rental, receive reservations and accept payments from guests online. They will also allow you to update your website regularly by adding images, blog posts and special offer notices. You will also be able to add widgets and links to social media platforms to bring more traffic to your site. All of this gives your rental more visibility to search engines and helps increase your ranking.
At the same time, it can also be a great idea to use a paid software option that allows you more flexibility in customizing your site the way you want, as well as one that provides you with round-the-clock support in case you need help with any of the more technical issues.