Online location, location, location: rentals vs your website

Monday, September 24, 2012

Online location, location, location: rentals vs your website

Booking Portals

Alongside pay-per-click marketing campaigns, holiday/vacation rental listings sites (known as booking portals) are probably the most effective route for holiday home owners to get their properties seen by their target audience. The premise is simple. Owner places advert. Holiday maker enquires. Booking is agreed. Easy, right? If only!

What options are there for owners?

Pay-per-booking: Airbnb and VillaRenters are examples of sites that take a slice of commission (anything from 3-20 per cent) for bookings processed via their portals. While certainly a viable option for owners not prepared to fork out lump sums, it could actually cost you more in the long-run. This model will become more common as some of the big players are initiating plans to go this way in the next year.

Pay-per-enquiry: Much less common and yet to become a significant option for owners.

Free directories: There are hundreds of sites offering free listing promotions. Whilst some are excel and effective in delivering enquiries the vast majority aren't and may be a waste of your time and effort.

Paid subscriptions: HomeAway, Holiday Lettings and FlipKey are just a few of the more recognizable subscription-based websites - but there are a lot to choose from. Each should have a niche, proven success and/or free trial period.

Budget: Your budget is entirely up to you however allocating at least 10-14 days of your peak season rental rate is recommended. Consider the popularity of each site, costs, prime location, your time in creating adverts and whether they can offer a link to your website. Caveat emptor: choose carefully as it's easy to get sucked in by rental calculators and 'discounts'

Your Holiday Rental Website

Booking portals can limit the amount of information and images in your adverts. However your own website is an unrestricted blank canvas for you to utilise unlimited photos, multiple pages, a regular blog, instant booking software, social media links...

So, buy your domain name, decide on using a designer or online template and create your site. It should be enjoyable and keep you focused on your goal - enquiries and bookings! Must-haves include professional images, property and local information, rates, previous guests' testimonials, contact/booking link, phone number and analytics tools.

Include around five carefully considered broad and specific search phrases (use key word analysis tools) into your content to ensure they can be picked up by the major search engines.

Finally don't forget to submit the URL to all major search engines and ensure it is mobile phone compatible.

Do Both

If you're new to renting, the booking portals will probably be the quickest way to promote your holiday home online. Having your own website gives you credibility with guests and full control to customise and optimise your 'shop window'. However of course it's not really a case of one or the other, do both.

SEO: How it helps you

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the never-ending task of pleasing the likes of Google and Bing and ensuring your site and its content are recognised and getting into that all-important first page of search results.

Some easy steps to get your overseas rental property website more optimised:
• Use keyword tools to discover what guests are searching for
• Link exchanging with other relevant websites
• Complete your full-page titles and meta descriptions (the tags that describe your page to search engines)
• Keep content fresh and relevant
• Describe images

• Carefully consider your bold and linked text

A Place In The Sun