I had the pleasure to recently speak with Jonathan Murray, co-founder of myvr.com. A San Francisco based vacation rental website builder & marketing software solution for vacation rental property owners. Jonathan and his team have created a beautiful product and in my opinion have filled a much needed void in the industry. No longer is creating a website challenging, time consuming or expensive. I personally use it for a few of my rentals (here is one: Fitz Lodge) and have really enjoyed the experience.
I will let Johnathan take it from here. Enjoy the recent guest post below:
No Website For Your Vacation Rental? Why It Could Cost You
Does your vacation rental marketing strategy have a hole in it? Your listing ad is going gangbusters, driving a steady stream of inquiries and bookings. You regularly connect with guests and other fans on your Facebook Page. You’re doing fine without a website.
Or are you?
I believe that committing to your own website is the most important thing you can do to protect and grow your rental business — and that without one, you’re all but leaving money on the table for someone else to sweep up.
A website isn’t a “cure all” for an occupancy rate that falls short of your ideal. But it will give you the greatest flexibility over:
What your potential guests think of you, and
How easily search engines can point those potential guests in your direction.
It’s Your Site And You Can Do What You Want To
Don’t get me wrong: listing sites are an important part of vacation rental marketing. I’m also a big advocate for testing other online advertising, like Craigslist and airbnb; don’t stop marketing just because you find one channel that works!
HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey all make it easy to link to external websites from your listings; they’re not isolated billboards for your rental, but part of a bigger ecosystem that works in harmony to attract attention and deliver remarkable customer service.
Build trust and credibility
None of us wants to become wrapped up in a vacation rental scam — least of all travelers spending limited, hard-earned dollars. This question of trust is a key factor that makes people wary of vacation rentals in general, and dealing directly with owners in particular.
Showing your history and roots with a comprehensive website helps dissuade these concerns by showing that you’re a real person who’s committed to your business.
Show a high degree of professionalism
Having a good-looking website makes a great first impression. When I’m looking at vacation properties — or any small business, really — a thoughtful and organized website indicates that the owners probably run the rest of their business with the same attention to detail.
I also take it as an indication that they’re in it for the long haul; if I’m planning ahead to next summer, I’ll have more confidence that they will still be around with my reservation (and my deposit!).
Better showcase your home and attract more bookings
Listing sites are a bit like movie previews: they capture the highlights and make it easy to find important details.
If someone wants more specific information, however, these sites fall short. They’re not optimized for depth of information, but your own website can be.
Find that you’re always answering the same questions? Start a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section or — better yet — start a blog.
Add value for your guests by creating a local guide to help kickstart their trip planning.
Add videos to bring your rental to life. Introduce yourself, show off your house, or tour people around town.
Share testimonials and top tips from previous guests. What have other families enjoyed? Business travelers? Honeymooners? Customize your site to provide exactly what travelers are looking for.
All of this information creates a better experience for your guests. It also gives search engines quality information to latch onto, which helps with something called “search engine optimization” or SEO.
SEO is the information search engines like Google and Yahoo! use to determine the most relevant information for someone’s search query. There are many different facets to SEO, but it starts with good and original web content.
Generate more inquiries
Your website is all you, all the time: there’s no link to “see similar properties”, no advertising from the property up the road.
So, make the most of it:
Consider the ideas above and look for different ways to inspire people and tweak their imagination.
Add as many photos of your property as you want — and include photos of the local area
Share your own list of favorite things to do
Start an enewsletter to share news and upcoming events (and start experimenting with email marketing)
Highlight testimonials, or add links to reviews you’ve received on different listing sites
Look for ways to get people more actively involved, like a photo contest.
There are numerous ways to expand your marketing, using your own website, that an ad on a third-party site can’t compete with. Some tactics will work while others won’t, but you can track your results and adjust your efforts when and how you wish.
Jonathan Murray is a seasoned entrepreneur who co-founded MyVR, a vacation rental website builder & marketing software solution, because of his frustrations marketing and managing his own vacation rental. MyVR’s vision for all owners is simple: more renters, less work
For anyone who is motivated to get their procrastinated website project into action please visit myvr.com and enter promo code: “Breakaway” for a special discount off all paid plans.