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Do you know someone who can build me a great cheap website for independent bookings?


#1

I’m looking for someone to build a website for me where guests can book directly through me. I am getting a lot of guests saying they will come back and I would rather have control than a company and also the pressure of getting good reviews, etc. (even though I don’t have a problem with them!). I like the idea of being more in control of my property. I am thinking of leaving a card with a link to my website inside my units so they can book directly with me the next time they come. I will also put in a 10% discount if they tell a friend about my place or something like that and they can both get a discount. It’s all about control.

thanks for your help!


#2

This isn’t really a forum to solicit services. You may want to take your query to another type of board.


#3

You will find thousands of people who can build you a cheap website, that doesn’t mean it will be any good.

You need someone to build you a website who understands design (front end and back end) and how to optimise your website to drive traffic from your target market.

You will also need to understand how to drive traffic yourself through advertising, social media, digital content, direct marketing to your existing customer base etc.

It’s not all about control. It’s all about marketing your business effectively so that you make it as easy as possible for guests to book with you directly and incentivising them to do so.


#4

I can build it GREAT… and I can build it CHEAP. But never GREAT and CHEAP. Go hussle some college student!


#5

Great answer @Helsi. It seems that there are a lot of people today (by which I don’t necessarily mean the OP) who think that a website (of whatever quality) is some sort of magic formula for success. They are often the same people who think that, for example, that a Twitter account is somehow magical and that a combination of the two will bring people flooding to their door to buy.

A ‘website’ has as many variations and variables as a ‘car’. In the car world there’s a lot of choice in between a fifteen year old rustbucket banger and a latest model Aston Martin.

There are many companies who make very good money creating websites, running marketing campaigns, building brands, creating and running social media and curation services etc. etc. etc and the reason they’re making good money is because they are good at what they do

Yes, like @KenH says;

Anyone can build a cheap website. You can easily do it yourself these days. You don’t have to know anything about html or any sort of coding at all.

And by the way, most Airbnb guests say, or write in the review, that they’ll be back. Yet I find that we only get a few repeats every year. And they mostly book via Airbnb. There’s no need to offer them a special deal. Unless your accommodation is at the budget end, offering 10% discounts isn’t important. Give the guests a fabulous place with friendly service and they’ll be back and they’ll recommend you to their friends.


#6

@proyster, you’ve just reminded me to update the great, cheap website I made for my listing. It got 7 unique hits last week! Thanks!
My airbnb listing page had 1,258.


#7

Suggest you set yourself up with a Wordpress site. Something of a learning curve, but with maybe 1 hour of coaching from someone local, who can sit with you and show you how the menus work, you can get the hang of it and then do all your own maintenance.

Ignore those who say you can’t have “great” and “cheap.” For a simple site, oh yes you can.


#8

Wix has some easy to use templates.


#9

I had a wordpress website built years ago, and then it was just kind of left abandoned. So I am still being found directly by guests somehow, but to be honest the site is a hot mess. It doesn’t have a complete rates table, but guests fill out my contact form and I send a quote back in reply. Wordpress has a high learning curve.

I am now using my Houfy listing as my website for repeats. When guests depart, I send a message explaining how they can save by booking directly, and then I provide the link to my Houfy listing. You can import your Air or VRBO listing, and all of your pics, reviews, etc into Houfy, within a matter of seconds. But if an Air photographer took your pics, you need to remove those - as Air owns those.

Houfy is a site that is still in testing and development, so it is not being marketed yet. But it works great if you just want to use as your website to send your repeats to. Another thing to keep in mind is that more and more travelers are doing google searches to see if they can find your listing directly. So they may shop on TripAdvisor, Air, Homeaway…and then google your property name and pics to see if they can find you on a site that doesn’t charge booking fees. So that’s another good reason for having your own website.

Here is the import tool:

Once you click on the link, you can scroll down and will see three screen shots showing you the process, using an example. Very simple - basically you grab your VRBO or Airbnb url and paste it in. Then click…and voila! Your info will be imported within a few seconds. Then you just need to finish up your base pricing and rates in order to activate the listing. It’s free. You do not need to enter a credit card or anything. Houfy will not even charge anything to owners until the site begins to produce bookings…even then it will be something like $10 a month. Recent announcement is that it is free all through 2019.

BTW - for anyone reading this, I know in a previous thread I had mentioned Houfy was for self-contained listings, but I just learned bedrooms are fine to import too. Several payment options for guests to be able to book through the site will be coming in the months ahead. I am currently invoicing my guests through PayPal so it works fine for me.


#10

If you want to see an example of what it looks like, this is my Houfy listing. I imported everything from VRBO.


#11

I have been messing around with wix. They have templates, and the whole thing is fairly intuitive for someone with limited programming skills; if you want a slideshow, you go to “add” and select a slideshow, and so forth. I don’t think you’ll get something brilliantly innovative out of the process, but I don’t think prospective clients want something brilliantly innovative. They want something that will tell them about the property, show them pictures of the property, and allow them to book if/when they decide they want to. Wix can deliver that.

Now, how to actually drive traffic to your site—that’s something that I haven’t started to tackle yet. And that, I think, is the most important part. A pretty site gets you absolutely nothing if nobody visits it.


#12

Yes, that most certainly is the most important part. And for anyone who is starting from scratch with no existing infrastructure in place, it will be a full time job for a long, long time;.


#13

But your site is worth something. Like I mentioned before, more and more guests are shopping on the OTAs (online travel agencies) and google searching the property to see if you have your own website, or you are listed on a site where there are no booking fees. There is a HUGE booking direct movement going on the background. Owners/hosts are educating guests how to book directly and save their money.

If someone googles the name of my cabin, I can be found on three different listing sites that charge zero fees to travelers. And they can find me directly on my own website. I agree with you…driving traffic is also important too, but having a website of your own is definitely not useless.


#14

@cabinhost Curious as to what sites you list on that have no booking fees?


#15

@Cyn. I will send you a more detailed PM with all the info about listing sites that promote book direct and what they each are about. I know you had mentioned possibly writing about alternative sites.

For now though to briefly answer your question…I have joined Vacation Soup. I have not attempted that one yet though. Last I heard, they are still offering free websites with tutorials. Owners can choose to start blogging to drive guest traffic (for a fee) or just get a free website built…you need to follow tutorials though… Tons of tutorials on SEO.

Still trying to build up my Houfy guides so am putting off Vacation Soup for the interim. But I did pay when Vacation Soup had an introductory special. I am also on the Carolina and Smokey mountain websites for this network: http://www.vhrnetwork.com. Scroll to find your region, and many are offering free trial periods. I am also listed on places like some accommodations that will do a reciprocal link with me. I list them under my “activities” and in turn they list me under their “accommodations”

All of the above no booking fee sites I have mentioned are run by vacation rental owners who all were sick and tired of the OTA’s taking more and more control, and piece of the pie. These are not your fly by night listing sites.

Houfy is also using SEO with our guides that will eventually reach to those doing a general search and not immediately searching a website. Two of my past guests have joined Houfy and are “following” me now. This is not your average listing site. There is also a social site aspect, but keep in mind the site is testing and in development. If you and Tommy want to learn more then please join and “follow” me.


#16

And just to clarify about no booking fees…yes some of the new sites do have annual sub fees, but no guest fees. But annual sub is low in comparison to the amount of service fees and the fact that guests can use extenuating circumstances. Example: the Carolina site is several month trial and then I pay $99 a year. So worth it to me. I just need to figure out my Google Analytics…know where people are coming from so I can decide where to spend advertising dollars. I am listed on Cabins.com and it is or was $129 a year?? All of them are direct booking. They have no interest in playing Mommy Airbnb.


#17

@cabinhost Thanks for sharing! That’s such great info. I’d love to hear more and share with our members about alternatives to Airbnb for those who are interested. I read that booking.com and Airbnb are testing no guest fees which means you know where those extra costs will be coming from!


#18

This is really funny really. Back in 1992 when I first started renting apartments around Europe from owners directly, they all wished that there was a place that did all the marketing since their reach was fairly limited. Then the all posted on VBRO… and you know the rest.

These new sites are really leveraging the marketing that is being done by the current players, i.e. they see your cabin on AirBNB and then search to book directly.

it will be interesting to see what the unintended side effects are of this new generation of providers.


#19

VRBO was great when it was run by an individual owner. Will definitely be interesting to see how it all unfolds. Big listing sites got too greedy. A few years ago, many were happy to list on VRBO. Then for some, bookings were basically non-existent.


#20

Hi, I saw your post and just imported our bedroom/suite listing into Houfy last night. It was easier than I expected and I’ve joined the Facebook group to learn more. I hope you’ll continue to post more of your learnings as you go. Thanks for sharing the information.


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