Intro Table of Contents
Hey there, fellow rentaliers! Are you looking to build a vacation rental website?
Let me congratulate you on taking the one step that (if executed correctly) can unequivocally transform your short-term rental business and surpass even your most ambitious goals.
A journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step. Chinese Proverb
Step one: build a vacation rental website of your very own.
In the past, I’ve shared inspiring success stories from extraordinary hosts I work with who fearlessly shattered the glass ceiling and elevated their short-term rental businesses to new heights.
But hey, I understand if you thought, “That’s all well and good for them, but can I really achieve the same results?
Can I really compete with massive listing sites like Airbnb and VRBO?
The Rise of The “Super Hosts”
Believe it or not, hosts like you threaten Airbnb’s business model.
A recent report stated Airbnb hosts who take control of their business, build a vacation rental website and launch a digital marketing campaign; directly compete with their platform.
When news broke about the rise of these “super hosts” affecting their bottom line, Airbnb’s stock took a brutal hit.
Super Hosts Superior… Hosts
But here’s the thing: an actual super host isn’t defined by the acts of jumping through Airbnb’s hoops to earn a badge.
It’s really about them being inherently better. They’re driven to take charge, stand out, and create an unforgettable guest experience.
The report said hosts who pose the most significant threat to Airbnb are the best and biggest players in the game.
You might not be the biggest (yet!), but you can certainly be better than those other guys.
Truth be told, your opportunity lies in the fact that many hosts are simply coasting, complacent with their average results.
But that’s not you. You’re here to claim your spot among the superior (once underdogs) hosts outperforming the market and proving IT IS possible.
Small Changes = Big Results
Now, you don’t have to be the absolute best right from the start – that’s a whole lotta pressure.
Instead, focusing on making small incremental improvements by just 1% consistently will compound over time resulting in a quantum leap toward success. This principle is called the aggregation of marginal gains.
But you must start by taking the first step to build a vacation rental website to compete beyond the listings sites.
Still not convinced?
13 Reasons To Build a Vacation Rental Website
In the spirit of sharing, I’ve compiled a list of the 13 biggest benefits of building a vacation rental website.
# 1 Brand Bleed
When you build a vacation rental website, one immediate benefit is; brand bleed.
Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO provide hosts with a host profile section where they can share more about their services and business.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: When you create a vacation rental website, develop a memorable logo and unique brand name.
A unique and memorable brand name for your vacation rental business can lead travelers to find you off the platform. This allows your branding to bleed beyond these platforms and into search engines, where potential guests can discover your website and book directly with you.
Using this branding strategy, you can leverage Airbnb’s marketing efforts without incurring fees or violating their rules.
The Future of Airbnb’s Branding: An Industry Speculation
In light of the challenges revealed in the report, there is a question worth considering: Could Airbnb potentially alter its approach to brand visibility by concealing or making it more challenging to view the brand or only show it after a guest books? Could we see a booking model similar to Hotwire’s model of concealing specific hotel names until after a booking?
Is such a change even feasible? Predicting Airbnb’s next move is never straightforward; hence, it’s crucial to capitalize on the current marketing strategy for your rental business while the opportunity still exists.
# 2. Take Control of Your Short-Term Rental Business:
Relying solely on third-party platforms puts your business at their mercy. When you build a vacation rental website, you begin to take control and move towards independence.
You have the freedom to set your own policies, communicate directly with guests, and tailor your marketing strategies to attract your ideal audience.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Build your own website using WordPress to gain complete control and ownership. WordPress offers flexibility, SEO friendliness, and extensive customization options. Avoid website builders that retain ownership of your site.
# 3. Build Up Your Brand:
Don’t Let Your Vacation Rental Become a Commodity
Your vacation rental should never be reduced to a mere commodity in the market. But, without effective branding, that’s precisely what will happen.
Shaping Your Brand Image
If you don’t intentionally brand your business and communicate what your brand represents, customers will form their own perception of your brand, and trust me; you don’t want that.
To avoid being seen as generic and unremarkable, it’s crucial to actively shape your brand image.
The Power of Branding
Branding empowers you to influence your market positioning, increase the value of your brand, and generate a desire that translates into higher rates and guest loyalty.
Your Website as the Centerpiece
Your website serves as the centerpiece of your branding strategy. It lets you showcase your property’s unique experiences, brand colors, vacation rental logo, and value proposition.
Invest in a Well-Designed Website
Investing in a well-designed and personalized WordPress website creates a dedicated space that aligns with your brand identity. From captivating visuals to compelling messaging, your website becomes the platform to tell your story.
⭐Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Include an “About Us” section on your website to tell your brand’s story. Share your business’s passion, origins, and what sets you apart from the competition. Connect with your audience emotionally, fostering trust and building a genuine connection.
# 4. Build A Vacation Rental Website for Direct Bookings
The vacation rental industry has been experiencing unprecedented growth, resulting in an influx of properties hitting popular platforms like VRBO and Airbnb.
So, what is the projected growth of the vacation rental industry?
Market research indicates the vacation rental industry will see a compounded annual growth rate of 8.49% from 2022 to 2026. (source: ipropertymanagement). As the industry continues to grow, it’s crucial to adapt and take advantage of opportunities for direct bookings.
With hosts reporting increased competition on Airbnb, capturing the attention of travelers has become a significant challenge for hosts. However, there is a game-changing strategy that can set you apart and boost your business; you guessed it… build a vacation rental website of your own.
Diversify and Maximize Bookings:
When you build a vacation rental website, you’re diversifying your marketing and unlocking the ultimate power-up for your business: Direct Bookings!
Double Your Impact:
While popular platforms like VRBO, Airbnb, and Booking.com are essential for initial exposure, relying solely on them will limit your potential.
With direct bookings, you tap into a new segment of travelers, expand your reach, and reduce lost revenue from vacancies. This diversification strategy can result in a significant boost to your short-term rental income.
Diversifying is a power move, giving you a high occupancy score and potentially doubling your bookings.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Showcase the Benefits of Direct Bookings. Highlight the advantages of booking directly through your website, free incentives, personalized customer service, and a seamless booking process.
# 5 MAX OUT Your ROI:
Unlock the Power of Direct Bookings with a Vacation Rental Website
Everyone wants a piece of the action. Commissions, taxes, booking charges, processing fees, and other expenses can diminish your returns, leaving you with less than you deserve.
In the short-term rental business, commissions and booking charges can cost hosts 20 to 35% of their rental revenue, depending on the listing platform or service.
By leveraging direct bookings through your WordPress website, you can maximize your ROI by minimizing (or eliminating) those pesky commission fees, allowing you to keep more of your rental revenue.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: You must clearly define the reasons to book with you. If you offer more competitive pricing on your vacation rental website: highlight direct booking savings and make it visible on the homepage and property pages.
# 6. Command Higher Rental Rates
Guests’ Perceived Value: Booking fees are often passed onto the traveler, resulting in a higher price tag.
However, if guests are willing to pay a bumped-up price on a listing site, it implies they perceive the value of your rental to be higher.
Escaping the Confines of Listing Sites: Building a vacation rental website allows you to capture the true worth of your vacation rental when people book directly. You can get higher rental rates without worrying if you’re pricing your vacation rentals out of the market.
Retail vs. Wholesale Bookings:
Consider the analogy of retail vs. wholesale bookings. When you list your property on OTA platforms, you essentially operate in the wholesale realm, where you sell at a lower price and share profits with the middleman. However, direct bookings represent a retail model, where you sell directly to the customer at the price you set.
Strive for a Healthy Mix of Wholesale and Retail Bookings:
Listing on vacation rental platforms is necessary for initial exposure and to generate revenue. However, to create a more sustainable vacation rental business, increasing the number of retail or direct bookings is crucial.
This way, you can secure the full retail value of your property, reduce reliance on third-party platforms, and enhance your profitability.
Tips on Setting Targets for Direct Bookings:
⭐ An excellent first target is to achieve your first direct booking. This is your proof of concept, proving your website and marketing efforts are paying off.
⭐ Once you’ve achieved this, aim for 25% of your bookings to be direct. This is a realistic and achievable goal for all vacation rental hosts and signifies you’re making substantial headway.
⭐ Next, set your eyes on the ‘sweet spot’ of 60 to 65%% direct bookings. Achieving this level of direct bookings can significantly increase your rental’s profitability, as you’ll retain a more significant percentage of the revenue.
Remember, achieving a balance of wholesale and retail bookings is vital. Wholesale bookings obtained through third-party platforms provide exposure.
In contrast, direct bookings represent a retail model, allowing you to command higher rental rates and ensure you receive the revenue your property truly deserves.
# 7. Build Guest Loyalty and Repeat Business:
When guests book directly with you through your website, you establish a direct connection that fosters loyalty and repeat bookings.
Providing a seamless and personalized booking experience creates a positive impression of your brand and builds trust with your guests.
Satisfied guests are more likely to return, refer their friends and family, and become brand ambassadors for your vacation rental business. This loyalty translates into a steady stream of revenue and an improved ROI over time.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: When a guest books with you (especially on listing sites), take ownership of those customers by collecting guest emails. Send personalized content like exclusive offers, local tips, and upcoming events. Keep your brand at the top-of-mind of travelers, nurture relationships, and encourage them to book direct through your website. Email marketing reinforces your brand and fosters guest loyalty.
# 8. Increase Revenue through Additional Services:
Your vacation rental website provides an opportunity to generate additional revenue by offering supplementary services or packages. This could include options like airport transfers, guided tours, or in-house chef or massage services.
Promoting these services on your website can increase the guest experience. This increases booking revenue, sets you apart from competitors, and adds value for your guests.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Maximize your vacation rental’s potential by creating a concierge or experiences page on your website. List a variety of additional services and packages that guests can choose from to enhance their stay.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Consider partnering with local businesses for mutually beneficial collaborations. This allows you to expand your offerings without requiring direct involvement or additional workload. Tap into referral systems or affiliate programs that benefit your vacation rental and local businesses and travelers.
By leveraging additional services and partnerships, you can generate more revenue, differentiate your rental, and provide your guests with a memorable and value-packed experience.
# 9. Enhance Guest Experience:
Your website becomes a hub of information and resources for your guests. Provide valuable and engaging content that enhances their experience and helps them make the most of their stay.
From local recommendations and attractions to tips and guides, you can create a personalized and memorable experience for your guests, fostering positive reviews and repeat bookings.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Create a dedicated “Things to Do” or blog page for your vacation rental website. Share valuable content such as local recommendations, tips, and guides to help your guests make the most of their stay. Providing a curated and informative experience fosters guest satisfaction, encourages positive reviews, and builds loyalty for repeat bookings.
# 10. Leverage Digital Marketing Opportunities:
Digital Marketing for Vacation Rentals: With a dedicated website, you open up a world of marketing possibilities. Implement effective SEO strategies to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results and drive organic traffic.
Utilize social media platforms, email marketing, content marketing, and Google Ads to promote your property and engage with potential guests directly. A well-rounded marketing approach can significantly expand your reach and attract more bookings.
Vacation Rental SEO: Optimize your website with relevant keywords, meta tags, and informative content to improve its ranking in search engine results. Focus on local keywords, niches, property-specific details, and unique selling points to target your ideal audience effectively. If you need help with your vacation rental seo we’ve compiled a list of free tools > 10x SEO for Vacation Rentals.
Social Media Marketing: Leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to showcase your property, things to do, share captivating visuals, and engage with potential guests. Promote your website and its offerings on these platforms to drive traffic and increase direct bookings.
Content Marketing: Create valuable and engaging content, such as blog articles, videos, or guides, related to your vacation rental business, local attractions, travel tips, and insider recommendations. Share this content through your website’s blog, social media channels, and email marketing campaigns to establish yourself as a trusted resource and attract organic traffic.
Google Ads: Consider utilizing Google Ads to run targeted advertising campaigns that increase your property’s visibility in search results. Use relevant keywords, compelling ad copy, and well-designed landing pages to drive qualified traffic to your website and generate bookings.
Takeaway Tip: What should I share on social media for my vacation rental business? This is where building a vacation rental website that has a blog will help your marketing immensly.
Implement a multifaceted marketing approach that includes SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, and Google Ads.
# 11. Streamline Your Processes: Optimize Efficiency
Your vacation rental website is a powerful tool for streamlining processes and enhancing the guest experience. With advanced features, you can save time and provide a seamless booking journey.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Consider using a Property Management System (PMS) to streamline your vacation rental operations. A PMS can automate inventory management, financial reporting, and guest communication tasks. Integrating your website with a PMS allows you to efficiently manage bookings, availability, and rates, improving overall efficiency and saving time.
An intuitive booking system simplifies reservations, allowing guests to check availability, view pricing, and book directly. Sync your vacation rental listings with your website to ensure up-to-date information, eliminate double bookings, and improve management efficiency.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Enhance Guest Experience with an FAQ Section: Optimize your vacation rental website by including an FAQ section. Proactively address common inquiries to save time for both you and your guests. When you provide quick access to information, you improve the guest experience and streamline communication.
By implementing these tips, including the FAQ section and utilizing a PMS, you can optimize your vacation rental website, enhance the guest experience, and streamline your operations. These tools empower you to save time, improve communication, and drive success in your vacation rental business.
# 12. Build Trust and Credibility:
Having your own website instills trust and credibility in potential guests. It showcases your professionalism, attention to detail, and commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences.
By investing in a well-designed website that reflects the unique characteristics of your property, you can establish a strong sense of trust and encourage direct bookings.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tip: Utilize reviews on your website’s homepage to immediately instill trust in travelers. Displaying positive guest reviews and testimonials showcases previous guests’ experiences, demonstrating the quality of your property and the level of satisfaction they have enjoyed. This social proof builds confidence in potential guests. It encourages them to choose your vacation rental while lowering any resistance to leaving familiar listing sites like Airbnb to book direct with you.
Make sure to curate and highlight the most positive and impactful reviews, emphasizing key aspects that resonate with your target audience. Encouraging guests to leave reviews after their stay and featuring them prominently on your website will further enhance trust and credibility.
# 13. Adapt to Evolving Guest Preferences:
The needs and preferences of travelers are constantly evolving. With your own vacation rental website, you have the flexibility to adapt to these changes and cater to different guest segments.
You can introduce new services, amenities, or experiences based on guest feedback and market trends. By staying responsive to changing needs, you position yourself as a host who understands and delivers what guests seek, ultimately attracting more bookings and achieving higher guest satisfaction.
# 14. Your Website, a Valuable Asset for Selling
As you build a vacation rental website, remember that implementing the tips in this guide will enhance your current business and position you for a successful sale when the time comes. Keep these significant factors in mind.
⭐ Vacation Rental Marketing Tips for Selling:
Showcase Your Property: Create a visually appealing and informative website highlighting your vacation rental’s unique features, amenities, and location. Use high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and virtual tours to captivate potential buyers.
Highlight Revenue Potential: Clearly demonstrate the revenue-generating capabilities of your property by showcasing historical booking data, occupancy rates, and financial performance. Provide insights into the rental income potential to attract buyers looking for a profitable investment opportunity.
Leverage Direct Booking Capabilities: Emphasize the direct booking capabilities of your website. Showcase the ease and convenience for potential buyers to continue generating income through direct bookings, bypassing listing site fees and retaining complete control over the booking process.
Incorporate Testimonials and Reviews: Showcase positive guest experiences and reviews on your website. Testimonials and reviews act as social proof, instilling confidence in potential buyers and showcasing the reputation and success of your vacation rental.
Optimize for Search Engines: Implement vacation rental SEO strategies within your website to enhance visibility and attract potential buyers. By ranking well in relevant searches, you can attract more qualified leads and increase the chances of capturing the interest of interested buyers. Incorporating SEO techniques tailored explicitly for vacation rentals will boost your current bookings and demonstrate to investors the positive impact on future bookings.
By implementing these actionable tips, you are maximizing the profitability of your vacation rental business and increasing its appeal and saleability. Your website becomes a powerful tool to attract potential buyers, demonstrate revenue potential, and showcase the unique strengths of your property.
If you want to build a vacation rental website and want it done for you, contact Villa Marketers, we’ve been marketing vacation rentals for nearly two decades. Let us help you succeed!