Guest Post: HomeAway Community
Creating a Personal Website for Your Vacation Rental
You put a lot of work into your vacation rental, and the income it brings in is your bread and butter. Don't let your time and money go to waste by getting lost in the competition. To get better exposure and build a professional web presence for your home as a vacation rental property, it has become essential to have a personal website in addition to your HomeAway.com and/or VRBO.com vacation rental listing. On your personal website, you can feature beautiful image galleries, a booking calendar, links to nearby attractions, answers to frequently asked questions, a map, rules and policies, a link to your inquiry form, and social media links.
Why should I create a personal website?
When you already have a listing on a vacation rental listing website like VRBO.com or HomeAway.com, do you really need to go to the trouble of creating a stand-alone website? We think YES. Consider this: a recent survey shows that owners who market their vacation rental property through a personal website in addition to a listing site experience 40% greater occupancy rates than those who only use listing sites. A personal website gives you a broader reach to a bigger audience, more creative freedom, and greater functionality. Your vacation rental property is a business - and these days, it’s vital for any business to have a professional presence on the web. So how do you do that in a way that keeps your property occupied?
Here are a few ideas that will yield a great return for an easy investment.
- Create a brand.
- Branding your home, by either giving it a name (like Paradise Place or Ocean Cove Retreat) or just calling it by your street address (such as 808 Monarch) and purchasing the corresponding domain name, helps prospective guests easily recall you as a legitimate prospect for their vacation rental. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their friends if they can mention “Sky Vista Villa in Minneapolis” than if they have to remember your listing reference number. Interested friends and family can search for you by simply typing your brand name into any search engine. A memorable brand gives prospective guests a convenient URL to remember and happy customers a point of reference to return to year after year.
- Control the appearance of your site.
- Extend your branding by customizing how your website looks, too. The colors, fonts, layout, and features you choose for your website should evoke the character of your vacation rental property. Unlike on a listings website, a personal website for your vacation rental gives you control over the navigation and calls-to-action (buttons) so you can guide users through a compelling, cohesive experience of your home and city.
- Show your travelers your attention to detail.
- A polished website for your vacation rental home is one of the best ways to make a professional impression on prospective renters. If you care enough to create a website to represent your property, it shows that you will take care of other details that matter to a renter, such as quality, cleanliness, and reliability.
What should I put on my personal VR website?
On your VR personal website, you can go into greater detail fielding common questions renters ask, which will save you time spent in individual communication and improve your SEO for niche search terms.
A few of the best ways to do this:
- Create and continually add to a Testimonials section. Don’t forget to include a link to your VRBO and/or HomeAway.com listing so travelers can read all of your reviews in full!
- List your rental's amenities: from cribs to coffee makers, let them know what they'll be working with.
- Create a Rules & Policies page.
- Build a comprehensive local guide of your area to add to your personal website as well as your listing on HomeAway and/or VRBO.
- Show booking availability by integrating your calendar widget into your personal website.
Your listing on vacation rental listing websites has certain limits (number of photos, image file size, character counts, etc). On a personal website, depending on the platform used to build it, you should be able to feature unlimited content on multiple pages, creating a rich visual experience of your property. Here are a couple of ways to optimize your media:
- Upload custom background images of your beautiful landscaping or architecture.
- Create image galleries to highlight the various amenities of your property.
- Make sure your photos are well-lit, clear and saved at high-resolution.
- Show a video tour of your vacation rental property.
Don’t forget to include a Contact page that includes a map of your property and a link back to your inquiry form so that travelers can request a stay! By having your travelers inquire via your HomeAway.com or VRBO.com (instead of listing a phone number or email address), your protected from many scam and spam emails, and you'll always have a record of the inquiries in your dashboard.
How do I get started?
Websites 360® is an ideal platform for building your vacation rental website. We've built it with small business owners in mind, and as a property owner looking to generate revenue through your vacation home, that's who you are! We've taken into account everything you'll need to create a beautiful, feature-rich website that drives your business:
- Ease of management - you’ll be able to update information, add new images, and use any third-party integrations like social feeds and form builders
- Unlimited content and image storage
- Mobile-friendly interface - Websites 360® websites are built on responsive design principles so your website scales across devices without the need for a separate mobile site (meaning that the format of the site will adapt to any device your travelers use to pull up your site, including iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and other tablets)
- Design features that give you creative freedom with colors, fonts, layout, image treatments, and more
- Built-in search engine optimization that doesn’t require you to go into the code of the website to manage
How do I market my personal vacation rental website?
- Add a link to your vacation rental listing on HomeAway or VRBO.
- Add a link in your email signature so people you correspond with can find out more about your vacation rental property for themselves or someone they know.
- Have business cards, magnets, and postcards made which include your easy-to-remember website URL. (Try Moo.com for affordable options.)
- Integrate with MailChimp, Constant Contact, or another email marketing provider to add a newsletter signup form on your site to keep in touch with past guests and interested renters.
- Link to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts or stream your feeds directly onto your site. This can help keep visitors coming back to your site, and also serves to alert search engines that your site is active and frequently updated.
- Add a link to your site on your social media profiles so your followers and friends can find out more about your vacation rental property.
Any other reasons I should spend my time and money on a personal website?
A personal website may be the linchpin that closes the deal for you, helping give you that edge with renters who are having trouble deciding where to stay. It’s an excellent tool for diversifying your marketing efforts and amping up the experience of your home even before your guests arrive!