Will be glad to share more as the site evolves. For now, check out all the guides I am sharing on Houfy. It’s great. I no longer need to send out emails regarding area info. But I do still send important stuff by email (such as check in and arrival instructions). My guests can also share my guides about places they plan to visit, share my listing with their friends on social media, and my guests can comment on my guides to give tips to future guests. And if they “follow” me, they will receive new notifications every time I post about a new restaurant, activity, festival, etc.
So…Gotta say I am very impressed! I am now “following” you on Houfy. And you already made your first post…say what?? You are fast! Follow me back and then we are “friends” on Houfy.
Edited for typo: meant to say “now” following you
takes a bow Yep, I don’t like to miss an opportunity so you said “go” and I “went.” I will follow you and appreciate the follow back. I learn by doing so I’m sure I’ll make mistakes so feel free to nudge me in the right direction. I need to come visit Lake Lure area – have heard about it recently from a guest and it sounds lovely.
I will send you a message in your Houfy inbox to give you a few tips in getting started. You will see the little “bell” image turn red, and means you have a new message.
I got your messages and thanks for the tips. I can’t wait to try the story feature. It will have to wait until I get home from work. I have a great idea for that one.
@Cyn - I am going to tag Alan Egan on this thread so he can explain a bit better about listing site independence, destination marketing, what free website services they offer, and how Vacationsoup.com works. Because I have only joined Vacation Soup, and have not worked with it yet, I’d hate to misspeak for him…as I know he has a lot of great info to share.
Alan is very reputable in the VR community, and teaches owners how to try to gradually gain listing site independence from the Big Boys. I’ve been following him on http://rentmoreweeks.com for years.
Thanks for the shout out cabinhost,
I have built vacation soup because owners and hosts have been building their businesses on other peoples land and this is a fundamental mistake. First and foremost owners and hosts need to be in control of what they do and where they do it, otherwise they are vulnerable to changes in the platforms that they rely on. Airbnb can remove listings. HomeAway have imposed traveller fees and credit card processing fees. Wix websites don’t belong to you, they belong to Wix. We wanted to change that so we are giving away completed Wordpress websites and a video course that shows you how to change images, text, rates and so on. You buy your own domain name and hosting (covered in the videos) and everything that you create belongs entirely to you. These sites are quite different to the run of the mill rental sites across the web. They are destination-based as these sites carry more SEO weight. We also developed a content creation tool that helps owners write articles about ‘what’s on’, ‘what to see and do’ and ‘where to eat and drink’ in your area. This is also free to use. Everything that we offer is based on the concept of the owner / host building and controlling their brand. You can see example sites built by owners (and what they had to say about the course) here vacationsoup [dotcom] /websites-completed-via-our-free-vacation-rental-website-giveaway/ - So far we have given away around 500 sites. If anyone would like to know more about the soup please visit our /owners-area/ (I can add links) - Feel free to PM me on Facebook if you have any questions - Alan Egan
Thanks for the information. A few areas I’d like to clarify.
“These sites are quite different to the run of the mill rental sites across the web. They are destination-based as these sites carry more SEO weight”.
Why does a ‘destination-based’ website carry more SEO weight?
It’s great that you are offering this free resource but how are you monetising your product?
I have posted here rather than PM’d as I think this information would be useful to others on the forum.
Make sure they have your phone number then.
They could text or email you, and you can book them. Why make them go to a website?
They’re likely to save your phone number in their contact list and then bin your card. But they probably wouldn’t add your website to a list of favourites before binning your card.
If however (although you don’t say) you want lots of new guests, and want to save on the Airbnb fee, a website would be the way to go.
If a website only has property information pages, a gallery, a reviews page, a booking and rates page and a contact us page there is next to nothing to optimise.
Not only that, but the owner is targeting keywords like vacation rental + the destination - The big listing sites own these terms and an owner will never rank well in search.
By adding pages about the best things to see and do in an area the site instantly becomes more interesting for Google and potential guests.
Owners can rank these destination information pages as the listing sites don’t know the first thing about the destinations - They are one trick ponies. If owners/hosts share their inside knowledge this increases the SEO and UX of the site.
We aren’t monetising the websites (or the content creation tool) - Owners can choose to list on vacation soup if they wish but this is entirely optional.
Vacation soup collates and sorts all of the posts created via the creation tool and this leads to more exposure for the owners/hosts articles.
When a vacation soup visitor clicks on a property they are taken directly to the owners/hosts website.
The soup is like a farmers market - We all work together in order to drive more traffic to our individual websites.
Thanks for sharing all this rentmore. I spent quite a few hours on your site today and I think I just need to abandon my current wordpress site, and start again. I’d likely spend a year trying to figure out how to fix mine. I like the fact that you explained how I could get the basic site done, then later start making enhancements to really personalize the look of it.
I went through module one today and a bunch of other info, and so far is well-explained and thorough for those us lacking in the tech dept.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the Big Boys possibly trying to buy keywords for popular things to do in the area, etc for local destinations. Since we can’t really fight for keywords like “vacation rental in Lake Lure” (since they basically own them) - do you think they will try to buy up keywords if they see more and more owners hopping on to sites like yours and maybe Houfy?
Or would there likely be too many owners collectively blogging with those keywords (power in numbers) and the OTA’s wouldn’t stand a chance with destination marketing?
Or just too many destinations that the OTAs couldn’t compete within their budget to buy keywords everywhere on the planet?
Vacation Soup does offer paid services in addition to the free website and the free plugin that will help (those interested) in basically blogging about their destination in order to drive traffic to their site.
However, paying to list on Vacation Soup is not a requirement to take advantage of the free website tutorials, etc. If you complete the course, you will personally own this wordpress site and also be able to take advantage of the plugin that will share your posts/blogs on your own social media pages. Of course (like with my current site) you still need to purchase your own domain name and pay for hosting. But everyone has to do that. Hope that clears it up a bit.
I chose to pay to join Vacation Soup as I want my listing on there, and there are additional benefits.
But someone like the OP, who just wants a website presence and wants to direct repeats to their own website…it works perfectly. Especially for those who are in high repeat areas…they may not need to gain new customers every year. They can take advantage of the free resources, and never join the site if they wish.
Thanks for the feedback cabinhost.
The course is meant for non techie people. I wanted to create something that anyone could use. I estimate that well over 90% of owners/hosts that have created sites via the course have never created a site before. We have also created a community (also free to use) where owners can ask questions, help each other and share ideas. community.vacationsoup (dot com)
I don’t think that they can target the myriad of terms that we are ranking for. We are only 5 months old and we already rank for 5,400 keywords. They could try targeting some of the top level words but they are too busy doing head to head battle with each other for that to happen IMO
Thanks - that’s exactly what I wanted to know
Thanks for this information Cabinhost. I have been thinking about this for a really long time and keep putting in the too hard basket. The Houfy site sounds great and I will give it a go. I’m getting a little frustrated with seemingly every man and his dog wanting to clip the ticket on my listings while I work harder and harder to make it work. Our local council has just got in on the act and going start charging us huge amounts in rates so if I can make a saving somewhere it’s all good.
I completely understand the frustration. Just use the import tool above and within seconds either your VRBO listing or Air listing will be imported. Finish up the rest of your pricing and voila! - within 10 minutes or so you are listed elsewhere. It is a start. Air and HA did not just pop up out of the blue. Actually HA bought everything like VRBO in order to create their company to be bought out by Expedia. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get listed on these free sites, sites with free trials, sites offering free websites with free tech assistance. Just do it. Also, be sure to join the Houfy members group on FB. Great things still going on.
If everyone sits around waiting for the OTAs to change, they are going to be faced with the same reality that happened to owners on HA. I won’t rehash…but they all touted the same things that Air listers here tout. Things are going great…UNTIL they aren’t. People on HA forum used to bash other members who warned them…then those same bashers were caught off guard and had to sell. Why? Because they ignored every warning because things were working for them. They discounted everyone else…
Feel free to PM me.
This is really good to hear. I feel like I have a few days of reading/research ahead of me to get my head around it all. But I am determined to take more control over my property. Airbnb. Homeaway etc etc have been a great way to get up and running and learn over the past 5 years or so but I feel like it is time for me to try and kick off the training wheels if you get what I mean. Not that I feel like I’m in training still after all this time, just that I want more control of my business. I’m now beginning to go through all the information on Vacation Soup. Wow - a lot there but so far it looks good. I’m in New Zealand so not really any content related to me there yet. Maybe that is a good thing? Who knows. Massive learning curve ahead for sure. Thanks again. I may PM you later when I’ve read more and have questions.
The guy with Vacation Soup I believe is in Denmark, but what he offers is for everyone globally.
I will give you one important piece of advice. If you want to sign up with a listing site and pay money…then by all means think about it. If you want to get your feet wet to learn about Houfy…then take the 10 minutes right this second and join. That is the best way to learn about it. And, I never mentioned this before on purpose…But if you are the first person in your area to even list, and complete your listing, you will receive the first year free whenever Houfy does charge. So…it is free for all of 2019. The owner of Houfy is still not sure if and when he will charge maybe something similar to Netflix such as $10 a month in 2020. But that year will be free for you too. Not sure when the offer ends.
Click on the lodging section (may be to the top left of your screen) and punch in your area. If no one shows up…then you will see a tab called “get started” - then click it and import your listing. Your first listing will come with a free year when there is a charge. Don’t even think about it…not sure when the promo ends as I didn’t really want to promote it. But it takes minutes to complete everything. As you can see from the poster above, she didn’t expect the import tool to work so quickly.
Houfy is not for those who are looking to list and who EXPECT a bunch of direct bookings right away. This is for people who want to diversify long term or just need a place for repeats.
Others who want everything handed to them should stick with the OTAs. It is more for those who are looking for alternatives that are growing and willing to support. Planting the seeds more or less. And for those where a guest can google search your property name and see that you show up on Houfy and they can book through a site with no booking fees