Behind the scenes our team have been busy bringing together a community of independent vacation rental photographers across the globe. It’s fantastic to share experiences and learn from each other. One question that came up in a recent conversation is, “A lot of short term rental property owners use Airbnb or VRBO for their marketing platform, and believe they do not need a dedicated website. Why is it a good idea?”. Nice question!
Listing on the well-known big players in the industry like Booking, VRBO and Airbnb is hands down the best way to get your business seen. These are established, trusted platforms with big budgets. They invest heavily in online and offline marketing, keywords, ad spend etc. Combine this with a worldwide audience and that means these online travel agents (OTAs) get a lot of traffic to their website. So they will always appear top in search engine results. (That’s unless people are searching for the name of your property specifically). To be clear, I’m not recommending that you have your own website instead of listing on the OTAs.
Here’s 3 benefits to having your own dedicated website as well. I’ll keep it brief.
1. Direct bookings = no commission
When you’ve got your own website, guests can book with you direct. Simple! So all of the money received goes straight back into your business. You’ll need some additional software to make sure everything runs smoothly alongside each other. But that’s easy to get sorted and it’s all tied together on your own website. Property Management Software (PMS) will give you an availability calendar, booking pages, and payment provider solutions. Most PMS have a built in channel manager too. So when someone books on eg Airbnb, that will update availability on your calendars everywhere else. You’ll also need to put in some effort to get people to your own website. Via social media, email marketing, building your own network, staying in touch with previous guests etc. We’re always happy to chat about the options out there.
“I am thrilled with my website for Boundary Cottage. Thanks to ACT Studios I have been inundated with positive comments for both the photography and the website.
Since launching the website and promoting the cottage online I’ve been amazed at the number of bookings I’ve had. As a cottage owner, it’s been great to be able to point visitors to the website and everything they need is right there.”
2. You’re in control of your own business
No one knows the holiday experience you provide better than you do. Having your own website (that YOU can update as required) means you’re in control. You can target the right type of guests to get better bookings. Control your own prices and terms and conditions. Add content that is relevant and remove any that isn’t. Use your photos properly – at the optimised size. Provide answers to all the questions potential guests might have. Recommend places to visit and things to do that you know your guests love. You’re not constrained to the limitations of a one-size-suits-all template and design. Plus, if you change your mind about the PMS (or other software) you chose when you first set out, it’s easy to switch to another – you don’t have to start a new website from scratch.
“The team from ACT have delivered us, what I think is a great little website. Which portrays our property in the light we wish it to be seen in and more importantly allows us to operate independently of a booking agent!”
3. It shows you’re professional
Investing in your own website proves you’re a bona fide business that operates professionally. Over the years the odd horror story has emerged where someone has booked via one of the big OTAs only to arrive and discover all is not what was promised. Your own website, built by skilled experts, helps establish trust from the outset. The SSL certificate confirms it is a safe and secure environment (that’s the padlock that appears in the address bar on your website). Plus you can feature reviews from previous guests (this can be done using a plug-in so you don’t have to manually update it) for even more social proof. High quality photography, 3D virtual tours and floorplans also add to this. As does displaying accreditations and awards received. When you’ve put your heart and soul into creating the dream holiday property and vacation experience, show it to the world! Your way.
“The ability of ACT Studios to showcase a property to best appeal to its target market has been a masterclass in excellence.”