Do you have a website for your vacation rental? If yes, what is the tool you are using and what is the pricing of it?

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Carla LodgifyCarla Lodgify
2 years ago

Great question, Pravin! (Full disclosure: I work for lodgify )

Generic CMS' like Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla are great but have you considered looking into vacation rental website builders?

Both options – a specialized vacation rental website builder and a CMS – will allow you to create a professional website for your business. BUT you have to weigh up the pros and cons of each in order to evaluate which is the better choice.

You have to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How easy is it to use?

Vacation rental website builder

Drag and drop website builders are easy to use, you don't have to spend too many time setting them up and they help users create stunning websites. They'd allow you to focus on what you really want your website to do: get direct bookings.

Generic CMS

Learning the ropes can take a bit more time, especially if you have little experience in coding and haven't used these CMS' before.

2. How flexible is it?

Vacation rental website builder

They generally offer less flexibility because they're specifically designed for vacation rental owners and/or property managers.

Generic CMS

They offer a lot more flexibility but can also take a lot of time and effort, or in some cases, require the help of a professional developer.

3. How will your website be hosted?

Vacation rental website builder

There is no need for hands-on configurations!

Generic CMS

In general, using a CMS will require having a hosting service. Though more often than not, this can be set up and installed for free with your CMS.

4. What maintenance will it require? Will I always be up-to-date with VR software technology?

Vacation rental website builder

Good news! It's unlikely you'll ever have to manually update your websites.

Generic CMS

It's all up to you. If you want to stay updated, you'll have to do your own research and manually update your website.

5. How much does it cost?

Vacation rental website builder

You'll either pay one monthly or yearly rate and it's generally quite easy to change plans. Just make sure you check if the plan includes everything you need! Some companies charge extra or take commissions on, for example, each booking you take.

Generic CMS

They're generally free. BUT it'll cost you extra to add a reservation system, accept online payments and add any other tools that may be necessary for a vacation rental business. Plus, domain and hosting costs.

If you do decide on a website builder, I'd recommend you give Lodgify a try :) You can and test all our features such as our booking system, channel manager and reservation system (which will allow you to manage all your rental data from one centralized place).

RichardVRichardV
2 years ago

Jumping in here and full disclosure (I'm a Rentivo director as well)

  1. Consider why you want a website. Our research shows that despite the real interest in self promotion the OTA's still have a semi-stranglehold as they moved from listing to squeezing more from the financial platform. A high % use them.

So if you are interested in a website as a shopfront, good move, but it requires "WORK". The days of a cool focused domain name and limited old content and the "build it and they will come" approach doesn't work.

1. We all know a website can be used for:

  1. Referrals and sending people to a site when found elsewhere
  2. A search website tool that generates organic traffic based on main keywords or long tail keywords (easier keywords)
  3. A simple "Billboard effect" site so when people search and OTA and look for that specific property name or word, your site is found and the guest has direct options.

Take your pick!

2. The big question is how do you build the site and make it "guest functional". These days guests want:

  1. Great photos
  2. Easy to read and digest content
  3. Accurate pricing and availability
  4. Increasingly the option to not only email and call, but also to book online and pay there and then. (OTA's were correct about this to some extent, but always alluded it was necessary on their sites alone).
  5. Simple look to book flow. Don't put barriers in their way.

So where does that leave you as an owner or a manager. The latter needs a much more complex environment behind the scenes due to all the manager/owner variables and pricing options and filters for searching etc.

Owners with one or two properties have a simpler life BUT need to consider the same marketing and booking elements so combining 1 and 2 (which makes 3 below).

3. Most people want to have a site that works for them , so a site needs WORK.

  1. Regular relevant content (this is more than weekly)
  2. Social media (that hard one)
  3. Get newsy about the area, specialist topics focused locally and also generate links (don't buy them) from friends family and get people to refer back to your site. Google still likes links but is fussy.
  4. Use Google locations/maps and get on their mapping for search
  5. Build in a real time calendar
  6. Ensure that its easy...easy...easy to book, even add online payments in real time
  7. Make sure you can check the site stats and metrics to see progress.

  8. DESIGN ....Here's the hard one! It's so subjective, but what is important is what the guest wants to see, not what the owner thinks is cool. So think guest. Also look to see what the big boys are doing. They have literally spent billions on refining their conversions.

What tool?

There are three main options for an owner:

  1. A template from a dedicated supplier of rental websites. Upsides: Easy, fast, cost effective, integrated calendars, payments and booking management. Downsides: Generally hard to make significant changes without CSS experience, content solutions not great.

  2. DIY and use a generic content management system such as Wordpress with a professional one off paid for template or ones such as Wix or Squarespace with yearly fees covering hosting and maintenance.

Upsides: Wordpress is brilliant for content and a multitude of free tools and plugins and is really cheap overall

Downsides: DIY means a learning curve and as rentals is a specialist subject the booking elements supplied as plugins are inadequate and increasingly more so. Hosting fees and support.

  1. A full bespoke site, which is often based on 2, whereby a designer will create a beautiful site but will charge.

Upsides: All done for you.

Downsides: The same as 2. above except they can undertake hosting. Possibly expensive.

Best solution

This is just an opinion, but one from lots of experience:

If an owner really wants to be pro-active, have full control, be a local hotbed of relevant information, be active on social media, be able to update other calendars (e.g OTA's), take payments online, send quotes, record bookings, pay refunds, have great design, then use an open/free CMS and professional template and a separate booking system.

Wordpress is the worlds most used tech for all those reasons. Now add a booking management system (BMS) that provides widgets (not iframes) that can show availability and checkout in real time. Add these widgets to your WP and you have the best of all worlds.

The learning curve, if you have no experience of any of this, is the pain point. Having relied on listing sites for years has left many bereft and stranded and requires a real change of approach.

dannydanny
2 years ago

Just to simplify slightly, WordPress and similar CMS' have 1,000 of plugins, great support and rank extremely well in Google. Therefore, I believe combining the functionality of a dedicated vacation rental website with the versatility of a CMS is ideal 👍

LindaNLindaN
10 months ago

What is the best online booking tool. Most owners I know in PCB, FL prefer OwnersRez and was wondering what alternatives are out there?

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