Last week, I talked a little bit about how in the early days of managing our vacation rental, I spent too much time focusing on the wrong areas of our vacation rental marketing strategy. I wanted our vacation rental to increase bookings as quickly as possible, so I was throwing everything against the wall to see what would stick.
Luckily, I saw some big wins pretty quickly by making these marketing updates.
However, I also spent A LOT of time focused on some other areas that I probably could have waited on. So what's the top item that comes to mind? Our website!
This one is still so counter-intuitive from everything I have ever learned in my 12 years spent in digital marketing. When I had previously worked with clients, the website was always the MOST important piece of the digital strategy. It was the hub of all marketing activities (in most cases) and the end goal was to get people to the site and drive the conversion (i.e. call, email, buy).
However, the vacation rental industry is rapidly growing every day thanks to websites like Airbnb and Homeaway (VRBO). These listing sites are considered online marketplaces which means travelers are typically headed straight to one of these websites when they decide they are looking for a vacation rental.
Which means...my recommendation is to first FULLY optimize and maximize your vacation rental listing(s) before concentrating on building a website because you want to take advantage of the massive amount of targeted traffic that is already occurring.
How do I know if my Airbnb or VRBO listing is fully optimized?
Does your listing come to the top of the search results on these sites?
Have you received an Airbnb Superhost or a HomeAway Premier Partner badge?
Are you maintaining a (mostly) fully booked calendar throughout the year using these websites?
If you answered 'no' to one or more of these questions, the chances are you should focus your time and energy on getting your listing optimized to the point where you can say 'yes' to the questions above.
Sure, building a website today is easier than it has ever been (although still time consuming) but getting traffic to a brand new website is not an easy task! In order to drive traffic to your site, you will need to dive into SEO, local marketing, blogging, social media, advertising, etc. So, that 'to do' list will get pretty large, pretty quickly!
I always recommend leveraging the droves of traffic that are pouring into the listing sites like Airbnb & VRBO every day before conquering the road to vacation rental listing site independence. It's the easier win.
Should I eventually build a website for my vacation rental?
Absolutely! The holy grail for a vacation rental host is getting a guest to book directly. It is ideal to not have to rely on a listing site for bookings, but it is a sensible place to start.
So, start with the low hanging fruit and take full advantage of the existing traffic these sites receive. Then, work your way towards being less dependent on listing sites. Just remember, do not feel like you have to do it all at once (like I did almost five years ago)!
If you’re interested in implementing a marketing strategy that will increase your listing position on Airbnb or VRBO and increase rental bookings, learn more about Fully Booked here or head over to our Services page and book a free consultation. We would love to talk to you and learn more about your vacation rental business!