How do you think to build your own website for your vacation rental(s)?

I’ve looked into it and built a simple website for my own vacation website. Have not published. Try to look for the advantage to have it. What do you all think?

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I have a website but I think it is crucial to offer the calendar of availability and rates, otherwise why wasting time to contact the host for a customized quote when you can get plenty of quotes instantly on AirBnB/VRBO/etc?

For now, I am giving my website for those guests who I get to meet directly (on FB, friends, friends of friends) but I’d like to implement a calendar The crucial thing is to keep the rates to par with those shown on AirBnB/VRBO/etc who might be adjusted with dynamic pricing tools.

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Why not using a channel manager that connect your own websites and the different platforms?

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This is the way how I built my website. It’s ready to publish. But I just don’t see much advantage. It’s basically for advertising. I built it under Google sites.

I have one for all the information that I provide guests (restaurant guide, activities, FAQ, etc).
I have also “branded” our villa name, and some of the very smart guests find us on one of the main listing sites, then look for our villa name and inquire through our website, so they do not have to pay the booking fee. Not very many do this, but if the major booking sites keep raising their commission, I believe more people will start looking directly, just like what has happened with the hotels.

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Well you can have direct booking, you have also adwords.

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I think its foolish to spend the time, effort, and money on a personal website for your STR – that’s what you are “paying” AirBnb 3% or more for! They have the name recognition that will draw people to look for rentals and hopefully find yours. A website called BillyBob’s STR isn’t going to set very high on anyone’s search list. IMHO you’d be better off tweaking and working your Air page, than spending time and money on a private page.

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You are actually paying 9 to 15% to Airbnb. 3% the host and 6 to 12% the guest. It doesn´t matter if they are separated, Airbnb fees are both combined. If you build your own website, all the money that the guest pays goes to you. However, I’m not sure if you will be able to charge from your website as much as you charge in the available STR platforms. Who knows?

True. The brand recognition is a true fact you can’t avoid. People might feel unsafe on booking with you than if they were booking with a worldwide known brand such as Airbnb.

True. Besides, the effort of building your website, you have to add the continuous and never ending effort of promoting it to get visibility. Does this worth the extra little revenue you might get? Will this extra hour spent in own website affect your performance into attending/improving/maintaining your listings in the other platforms? Time is finite.

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Or you can reduce your rates (since you don’t have to pay Airbnb), which makes them more attractive.

Though I haven’t done so myself, I think that having ones own website is perfectly reasonable, even if you don’t get a lot of bookings through it. It’s also possible to get bookings by more direct advertising, like distributing business cards, and then one has the option of directing people to ones own site. But one does need a site that has booking functionality - so it can’t be totally basic.

There have been threads here earlier where people talked about having their own websites, and they mostly seemed positive about it.

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Yes, I am one of those people. :slight_smile:

Originally it was standalone and we used to take bookings from it. But since we started using Airbnb we link to the listing. This is because (my opinion only) using Airbnb is much simpler for the host than faffing about doing it yourself. And it’s less time consuming in many ways but mostly because we don’t have to worry about double bookings - we use IB.

It’s true that it has little chance of coming up in search engines. Search for any STR accommodation and you’re going to find that Airbnb, VRBO, Trip Advisor et al come up first because they pay to do so.

But having your own site is still useful to show more photographs of your listing and add a lot of information that you can’t add on Airbnb. For example, hosts can’t put links in their Airbnb listing but we do on the site - to local amenities and for various free apps.

This rarely helps us get bookings because there’s no doubt that Airbnb is the industry leader but it helps a lot towards customer service. (We can send booked guests links).

Another advantage is that if you use any offline form of advertising (flyers, business cards etc.) then your own domain name is easier for potential guests to type in or remember than airbnb.com/rooms/long forgettable number.

I fully understand @KenH’s point about directing your time and energy towards your Airbnb listing however. I’m a webbery person (part of my ‘real’ job) so it was easy for me to create a site. The cost is negligible and it didn’t take long at all. But if I didn’t have these advantages, then I wouldn’t have paid anyone to create a site for me.

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There is one advantage about having your own website: when/if you do get a guest through other channels, you won’t have to pay airbnb fees and the guest also saves money as a result.
Other channels may include getting guests through a travel agent friend (as I had recently)

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My returning clients (from airbnb or others) are very happy to save fees from platforms and book direct.

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Hi @jaquo,

What proportion of your bookings did you get directly from the site?

I own a web design and marketing firm for my “real” job, and I agree with others’ comments above. One option I didn’t see mentioned yet is to simply purchase a domain name, such as BillyBobsSTR.com, and point it to your AirBnB listing. This would not allow additional links or fee savings like a full, separate website would, but it would enable you to easily share your direct listing with family or friends. You could even print it on business cards to give out where appropriate.

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It’s hard to say, @faheem - this is one of the problems with having your own site. Directly, I would say about 25% but nevertheless the site was a vaulable sales tool. For instance, if we had an inquiry by email, or via word-of-mouth we would direct people to the website for more details. Some would book directly from the site and others might call or email.

On the other hand, we had business cards and flyers that showed the URL and I studying the site’s stats often to see where people were coming from geographically. If I saw that someone had visited the site from a certain city, and we received a booking from that city shortly afterwards then it was impossible to say whether that guest had come from seeing a business card, from an ad, from a link on another website or from a Google search - there were other lead source possibilities too.

So, if a guest sees the URL from a business card, for example, to what do we attribute the lead? The card or the site? Why did the guest go to the site and not just call or email? It’s impossible to know so the assumption is that it was the site was a marketing tool that tipped the balance.

Then there’s the other scenario when a guest books by email or phone and although it’s always nice to ask them what the lead source was, they don’t necessarily give a true answer. For example, when I had the car dealership our salesmen had to fill out a form showing their customers’ lead sources. Some said ‘we saw your ad on TV’. We didn’t advertise on TV. Tricky business. :slight_smile:

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Hi @jaquo,

Actually, if I’ve got it correctly, you don’t actually take bookings directly from your web site any longer, is that correct? In which case, the answer to my question should be zero. :slight_smile:

Ha, you’re right but you did say did and not do. :slight_smile:

Yes, when we started using Airbnb we took away the booking facility and just linked through to the listing. It’s so much easier, despite paying the Airbnb fees, than seeing to everything personally.

Ah, right, yes. You did say clearly that you used to have bookings active on your site - past tense. My bad. So you used to get 25% of your bookings directly from your site when it was active. But I’m still a bit surprised you don’t keep your independence. I think that if I had my own site, I’d keep the option open of doing bookings through it. Assuming it was a workable system. Given the extra booking fees, and how increasingly unstable/ephemeral an Airbnb listing feels.

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A good chanel manager and almost no work to do.

That’s the beauty of the web - we can change back easily at any time. Airbnb really is so much easier for us at the moment than going it alone. So in a way, I think that I still have that independence because I have the option to change if necessary. Which, when I think about it, is a good answer to the question ‘should I have a website for my rental?’ It gives a host flexibility.