Ideal vacation rental guest

Ideal Vacation Rental Guest Profile

I mentioned the ideal vacation rental guest when I told you about how to build a vacation rental brand. I feel much more can be said to explain this further, so I decided to give the topic a separate article.

As you can probably assume the ideal guest doesn’t exist. I hoped for a long time they must be out there. Some vacation rental owners still do. To tell you the truth it doesn’t matter if they exist or not.

Then you might ask, why all the hassle? What can we possibly gain by creating the profile of a person that doesn’t exist?

Well, there are a few benefits to this exercise and it does bring some other insights you’ll discover along the way. What it does is:

  1. Help you harmonize your customer experience
  2. Boost marketing results
  3. Help you identify possible opportunities
  4. And as we’ve seen in the article I mentioned, help with building your brand.

All of these put together should impact or financial results. The first KPI that you could see an increase with is the length of stay. But overall, you should also see positive results with the number of bookings, the price per night, and the number of reviews.

Look at your demographics

Look at the list of past guests. It might be from last month or the last quarter. The longer back you can go the better. See where they’re coming from. Are they foreigners? Mostly couples? Or maybe friends traveling together? What age? Do they travel with kids?

THink if there is any way to find out info about their income. And last but not least talk to them. One on one. On check-in date meet them. Try to be helpful. Ask questions but don’t be rude.

A face to face experience can help you so much. It will let you understand who your guests are, what makes them unique, and also what makes them choose you.

Another interesting thing to find out is whether they travel by plane or train or personal car for example.

At this point, you might think I’m crazy and I’m just gathering information for the sake of info. Hear me out. Think about this example. You find out 60% of your guests travel by car and 35% by train. That is valuable info. I can send out an email the day before arrival and explain to them where to park or how to reach us from the train station. And because of my profile, I know my information has a 95% chance to be relevant to them.

Collect customer feedback

Again. Talking to your guests. I know. But try to really listen. Some of them will provide direct feedback. Fix this. Add that. Others will not be as forward with you.

Feedback coming from guests is the most important thing in my opinion. They are the ones benefiting from your service. They are the ones with hands-on experience leaving on your property. Their opinion is relevant.

When you talk to them try to find out why they chose you. What made them click that book now button. After the check-out let some time pass. maybe a few days, up to a week.

Give them a call or send them an email. Ask what they liked and what they didn’t like. Ask how likely they are to recommend you to a friend. This technique is used in software dev and it’s known as NPS. We care about it because it puts the other person in a certain mindset.

Ask if they would recommend you. This will make them think for a second about the entire experience. Immediately after, ask what would they change. With the thought fresh in their minds it will be much easier for them to provide real and objective feedback.

A small side point here. From time to time, go to your property and spend a night there. Look at everything you learned about your ideal vacation rental guest and try to apply it. Act as if you are staying for a night or two and only have some spare clothes and some toiletries with you.

How do you feel spending the night there? Do you have everything you need? Is there something that bothers you?

You will be amazed by how many vacation rental hosts I know that don’t do this. At all. As in never spent one night in their properties. And you will be shocked to know for how many of them an experience likes this becomes an eye-opener.

Build your ideal vacation rental guest profile

Take everything you learned and build a profile. Talk about the guest. About what they expect versus what they find at your property. Tell the story of their stay. What they like and don’t like.

Put this all on paper and please, don’t stress about form. Just right a story the same way we did in 3rd grade. The only exercise here is looking at it.

You’ll see it’s something different. The usual reactions I get at this point are “We already knew this”. And I agree. Bits of pieces of this you already knew.

Having it on paper, structured, on the other hand, puts you in a position of strength.

After you finish take a break. 2 or 3 days and then come back to it. Does it still make sense? IS there something you will like to add?

Then take this idea profile out into the real world. Show it to your friends or family and talk about it for a few days. This is a good exercise to help you further analyze it.

In the end, you should have the full story of your guest. From the moment he leaves his house. His journey. His stay with you and his departure.

Use this profile in practice

When yo write the next article on your blog keep this profile in mind.

The next time you make adjustments to your Airbnb listing page keep this profile in mind.

Next time you send out an email or make a phone call to a guest, have this profile in mind.

I guess by now you get the idea and instead of a conclusion, I’m curious to see what you would include in a vacation rental guest profile like this.

How to build a vacation rental brand

How to build a Vacation Rental Brand

When I started out with my own properties, doing vacation rentals, there were 80 other owners doing the same thing in my small town. Now there are more than 1500. In 5 years.

As vacation rentals become more popular the competition increases. It gets harder to attract new guests. It’s harder for you to differentiate yourself.

Having a strong brand can help with that. A good vacation rental brand can help you attract new customers, retain old ones, and stand out from the crowd.

Below I list some of the steps you need to take when considering building your brand. The list is not exhaustive but should provide you with a good starting point.

Understand who you are

Vacation rental brand: Understand who you are
Vacation Rental Brand: Understand who you are

This is the fun part and the longest part. Take a step back and breath. Close your eyes and think for a second.

Why did you start with vacation rentals? Just as a side business? Or do you want to build it into something more?

What do you like about hosting? I there something you don’t you like?

Moreover, what did you like when you visited other places and used a vacation rental property? Did the hosts speak to you in a certain way? Did they do something special or out of the ordinary that you liked?

Then, take some time to think about you? What gets you excited? How are you in interactions with other people/

These are not all the questions. It’s just a small list to get you started. Your objective should be to build a baseline. To understand where and who you are.

Get a clear picture of why and how you want to do vacation rentals. That will make it easy to move to the next step.

Research competitors

I explained this in the vacation rental business plan article. The core principles stay the same. See who is doing the same thing around you. See how they are better, see how you’re better, and understand how you can improve.

vacation rentals competitors
Vacation Rentals can be very Competitive

The vacation rental landscape is always evolving at a very fast pace. Some things that are cool today might not be in 2 months. Learn to differentiate between trends and real differentiators.

It’s hard to give examples here as every property has some very specific pluses or minuses, even so, I’ll try some general ones.

Your competitor has a touchscreen fridge – that’s a coolness factor, not a differentiator. Your competitor’s property has a view. That’s a differentiator. And a hard one to beat sometimes.

Read through reviews in your area and see what people appreciated or not. You’ll be surprised by what they actually mention in their reviews. And you’ll realize it’s the little things that count.

Don’t try to categorize competitors in any way at this point. It’s easier after the next step, once you have ad ideal guest profile. For now, just take the time to understand the market. See who gets the most attention.

Even if it feels scary at first, you’ll see that the more you read and research the more comfortable you’ll be.

Determine your ideal guest

Every time I talk to a vacation rental owner this is the fun part for me. Imagining his ideal guest. And it can become fun for you as well.

Just think about it. A grumpy old man enters your property in the middle of the night. He’s tired and hungry. He starts cooking this smelly beans and sausage recipe. He sleeps on the couch, gets up late, and checks out 1 hour after the agreed-upon time.

I can assure you that’s no one’s ideal guest. However, if you want to avoid certain types of people now is the time to think about it.

Let’s take my example. For me, the ideal guests are a young family. In their late 20s to mid-30s. They have one or two kids and they love traveling and exploring new places. They choose vacation rentals because it’s easier to take care of the kids this way. Most importantly, they usually stay 3 or 4 nights and leave the apartment in good shape.

Write this stuff down for yourself. And try to analyze each of them. Let me explain how.

ideal guest profile
Navigate the Ideal Guest Profile

Number of guests, I listed 2 plus kids for example. Think of the group size. When you allow more than 6 people for example you might get parties. Are you ready for that?

Passions are hard to pinpoint and they depend on the area. Sports activities are a good example here. You are located in a mountain area, your guests love to ski but you are very far away from the slopes. Not ideal.

The length of stay determines your costs and the pricing strategy. If you want to offer a lower price some guest profiles are better than others. The same applies if you want to price above the market.

Build a story for your brand

Build your story. It starts with you imagining yourself in the same room as your ideal guest.

Tell him how you got started. How you found the property he will stay at. How you renovated or decorated. Tell him all about why you love doing vacation rentals.

Talk to your imaginary guest about things they can do around the city.

And write all of it down. A rough version will do for what we’re trying to achieve here.

This draft will become at one point your vacation rental brand story. Before it does that you still need to work on it. A lot.

From this first version, I imagine another 6 to 12 months of actually hosting people and talking to them. See how easy I moved form an imaginary ideal guest to a real one? I hope it’s as easy for you.

After that, try to write a final version. Less about you and more about this new brand. Imagine you are passing it over to someone and they in turn are passing it over to someone else as well.

How would you like them to host people? to talk to them? to great them? What amenities should the properties have? Talk about everything that’s encapsulated in the experience you provide.

The main advantage of this story is that you’ll never forget who you are and what your vacation rental business is. Hopefully, using this, you’ll find the resources to stay true to yourself and to your guests.

Create a visual identity

This is the part that everyone thinks of when I say vacation rental brands. And I can’t blame them. The brand has been for so long associated with its visual key elements. The ethos and the meaning behind it have been lost.

But now that we know better and we went through the entire brand-building exercise, creating the visual identity should be easy.

From personal experience, my opinion is to hire a professional designer. They will get the job done faster and better than you ever can.

Things to ask for would be:

  • A Logo
  • A list of fonts that go well together for you
  • A color palette
  • A website design
  • Stationery design, if you use this
  • Merchandise design – I love this one. Hats, umbrellas, t-shirts, and anything else that you can provide your guests with.
  • Anything else you can think of

It’s hard to give advice on this topic. There are all sorts of trends going around each year when it comes to a brand’s visual identity.

Just some examples for 2020:

And all I can say is that 2020 is almost over.

After you have all of these done. Test it out. With friends, family, past, and current guests. See any reactions. Gather all the feedback you can and iterate a couple of times with your designer.

In the end, find something you love most of all. I know it seems counterintuitive, but out of all the people, you’ll be interacting the most with your brand so it has to be something you love.

Improve

Everything you and I discussed here is constantly changing. Your competitors are getting better. The ideal guests profile changes as you host more people. Above all else, you change and adapt as you build up experience in vacation rentals.

Even if your brand has some directions defined from the get-go it should adapt. Adjust your identity as things evolve and always keep improving.

Building a vacation rental brand is not that hard

Even if it seems overwhelming at first building a vacation rental brand is not hard. It takes patients, research, and a lot of iterating.

In conclusion, take the time to go through every one of the aspects discussed and contact me if you think I can help.

Vacation rental website template

Vacation rental website example #1

I just love this theme. It’s a great example of what clean design and very nice pictures can do for a website.

If I could change one thing, I think I would add a more prominent call to action in the top part of the page. I hate how you have to scroll all the way down on the property page to “Check availability”

Vacation rental website template

Look how nice the filters are designed and positioned. Overall the attention to detail in this template really makes it worthwhile to check it out.

Looking for a conclusion to this, I think that if you take away one thing, that should be the quality of the images.

I am sure a lot of things can be improved regarding your vacation rental website. From layout to SEO and content in general. But if there’s something that can save you along the way, that’s good quality pictures.

Airbnb community

Airbnb Host Advisory Board and the Airbnb Host Endowment

I just received an email announcing this a couple of minute before.

Both great ideas. And in theory, great strategies of bringing hosts on Airbnb and Airbnb together.

You and I shouldn’t forget that as a system Airbnb is a marketplace. They bring together owners and agencies on one side and travelers on the other. That’s their business.

They lost the travelers. Most of them. As we all did. No one is travelling.

Considering they have an IPO planned, to lose the hosts as well would have been catastrophic for their business. So this too could be a PR move, the same as with Jony Ive.

They are holding on. By a thread, I can say. I have my properties on Airbnb just because they were already there. Since March, I did not receive one booking from them. Other channels, like Booking.com, still work, up to a point.

It’s going to be interesting to watch with Airbnb Host Advisory Board and the Airbnb Host Endowment how they’ll continue once the things settle down and return to something that resembles normalcy.

In my experience, over the past years, other platforms took way more care of their hosts. It’s good that Airbnb took this step in the right direction. But maybe it’s too little too late?

Airbnb Host Endowment can work

And I really, really want it to. I love the brand Airbnb built, and I love what the company stands for. Even if I didn’t always stand behind their business chicos, I have to respect how they disrupted tourism. Forever.

More info about Airbnb Host Endowment in their dedicated article.

_____________

Airbnb Host Advisory Board: A diverse group of hosts on Airbnb who meet regularly with Airbnb executives to represent the host community’s voice and make sure that hosts’ ideas are heard

Airbnb Host Endowment: A fund that is intended to provide support to our host community now and in the future, which we expect will be initially funded with 9.2 million shares of Airbnb stock

How to get your first review

I was reading this article on lodigfy’s blog about building trust when you have no reviews. It got me thinking about my own experience. How long did it take me to get my first review?

When I started out with my first property I remember it was the end of June. The “busy season” was just starting as schools were ending.

Back then I didn’t even have a website. I listed myself on bookin.gom and Airbnb, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.

The first 3 bookings came in a matter of hours. By the next morning, the next two weeks were full. As you can imagine, the reviews came shortly after.

I remember doing those checking myself and also meeting the guests for checkouts. Asking them about their stay. Wishing them a nice journey ahead and asking for a review if they get a chance.

I understand Lodgify’s angle up to a point. But reviews are not hard to get. It’s not like vacation rental businesses out there have to struggle to get them.

Care for your guests and pay attention to what they say. That’s all you really need in the long term.

Prejudices About Vacation Rental

Top 5 Common Prejudices About Vacation Rentals

Even I had prejudices about vacation rentals when I started out. I guess we all do at some level. In my mind doing vacation rentals was more of a numbers game. So many people multiplied by so many nights multiplied this price per night, subtract de expenses, minus taxes … I guess you get the point.

Since then I talked with more than 1000 vacation rental owners just like you. Everyone has their misconceptions. I’m going to talk about the most common ones I’ve seen.

I’m going to make so much money.

Just like I was doing above. You run some numbers in your head and all of a sudden you’re rich. Please, stop counting.

Realistically you’re not going to make that money. For different reasons. Seasonality for one or higher costs than originally forecasted.

The good news is that you are going to make money. The prejudice is that you are going to make 5 times more vs doing long term renting in the same property. Probably not.

What you should realistically expect is to do around 2 times rent for that area/neighborhood. Which is still good.

Manage your property very well and you could be looking at even more.

But, vacation rentals will never be a get rich quick scheme.

Anyone can do vacation rentals

Yes, anyone can do vacation rentals, true. On the other hand, to do it well and to actually be profitable is not for everyone.

Your heart has to be in it. All the way. Even if you’re still learning you have to wake up each morning thinking about how you can make the life of your guests better.

You have to smile even on your worst days. You have to be around for any issues even when you would rather be somewhere else.

And at the end of the day, you have to go to bed thinking what a great job you did.

In conclusion, anyone can but it’s not for everyone.

You can automate vacation rentals and let it make money for you

automate vacation rentals

Yes and no. A lot of day to day stuff can be automated. Today more than ever there are apps and systems that let you track check-ins and checkouts, automate guest and staff communications, or do auto followups with guests.

The question is now, should you automate everything? If you’ve read other articles from me on the topic you would know I lean towards no.

I still believe in that personal touch. That first hello when you welcome guests after a long trip. That smile when they ask about something you can’t provide right now, but the smile that helps them see you’re trying.

Automation can take a lot off your plate but can also create a mechanical relationship with guests. And in my mind, that’s not what hospitality is about.

As long as the property is in a good location it doesn’t matter how it looks

This one troubles me the most. I just don’t understand how someone can plan to start a vacation rental business and think like this.

Look at it this way. Would you stay in your place for 2 or 3 nights? Would you like to wake every morning in that bed? Would you use that bathroom?

I’m not saying that everything depends on how the property looks, but as with any business, that’s your product. Make it stand out.

If you are in a market with high enough demand you will receive guests even if your property looks bad. but overall it still hurts you. You will see fewer repeat travelers or a smaller price per night.

The biggest issue I’ve seen with properties like these are cancelations. Either they cancel when they check-in and realize how it looks or even beforehand when something better opens up.

There are already too many vacation rentals in my town

too many vacation rentals

So? Your point is? That means there’s demand. Plus there is no such thing as too many if you have a good vacation rental business plan.

You have a good property, in a good location and you offer a great service. You are competitively priced. You’re good to go.

In the offseason maybe you can feel the pressure from the competition. But take it as a plus. Find ways to innovate and differentiate.

Prejudices About Vacation Rentals are still out there

Even if I talk about them, and write articles. Even if everyone starting-up realizes that they are not real issues. Even if they pass their story forward to beginners. These prejudices will still exist. And others will probably pop-up.

Like in any business, vacation rentals have their myths. And that’s ok. As long as stick to your game plan and put in the work, like in any business, nothing can stop you.

Vacation Rental Sites Like Airbnb

Vacation Rental Sites Like Airbnb – What You Need to Understand

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb are great. I love them and I’m sure you do too. They bring in bookings for a small commission. Lots of bookings.

I won’t discuss here how many bookings or how high is that commission. Or what exactly you are paying for when you pay it. Today I want to talk about something else.

Listing sites like Airbnb or Booking.com are losing importance as more and more people understand that NOT relying on them is the winning strategy.

The big picture

The big picture people always seem to forget when doing a vacation rental business is the business part of it. And I don’t mean accounting here. I’m talking about business strategy.

First of all, you have a brand to look after. If you’re serious about doing vacation rental long term. Sites like Airbnb or TripAdvisor will not help you with that.

Thousands and thousands of apartments. Scroll, scroll, click. Scroll, Scroll, click. As a result, it’s so easy to get lost in the noise. The entire property I mean. The brand you are trying to grow is lost whatever you do.

Your own website or a newsletter can offer more help with this. Your own website is actually crucial for this.

And I don’t have to stress out in this article how crucial it is for a long term business to have a strong brand. It builds trust, it’s recognizable and most of all for vacation rentals it brings in repeat business.

Guests that love to come back

Returning guests is a strong fundamental principle for any vacation rental business.

Offer a good service, communicate in a nice manner, and offer an overall pleasant experience at the correct price and people will love to come back.

Bookings coming from listing websites have a lower chance of converting into repeat business. bookings coming from your own website or social media a higher one.

For instance, the strategy I started with was to generate bookings from OTAs and as they check-in grab as much contact info they would give me.

After I would keep in constant contact with them throughout the year. Not trying to be annoying. In our business, a good email sent every 3 months is enough to do the trick.

From those emails, I would redirect them to my website and run remarketing ads for up to 2 or 3 weeks. And it paid off.

In conclusion, I’m not saying this is the only way, but it’s one strategy I tried and it worked.

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb – Instead of a Conclusion

I know it’s hard letting go. They bring constant business. On top of that, with a good channel manager and reservation system you probably managed to automate the entire thing.

But take a step back. Do this exercise for me. Try to think about the amount of money you are spending on commissions. Do an average and see how many returns visits you had. Maybe put just these 2 metrics on paper and see if your business could benefit from a different strategy.

And these are just to list a few KPIs. Should I tell you that booking from other sources usually stay longer and have a higher average price per night?

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb will slowly lose importance. Not this year or the next but long term as vacation rental businesses move away from owner management to a more professional approach.

Fantastic Vacation Rental Property

How To Have A Fantastic Vacation Rental Property With Minimal Spending

Having a fantastic vacation rental property is my dream. And I’m sure it’s yours too. That property where everyone loves to stay in. The property that gets the best reviews. The one place in the area that gets featured in magazines and on Pinterest. Come on. We’ve all seen those Pinterest pictures.

The first thing to know is the easy and expensive way. Get an architect, get an interior designer, put in a lot of money. Get some designer furniture. A bit more money. Take some amazing professional photos. A lot more money. And you’re there. But you don’t want that. I don’t want that for you.

We are going to look at the minimal sending approach on how to have a fantastic rental property.

Put the time in to do the research

Get a nice cup of coffee. Get your laptop. Lay down somewhere comfortable. And look at pictures. And more pictures. Look at all the pictures.

Look at house trends on Pinterest. See what others are doing and understand what people tend to recommend and share.

Put the time in to do the research

Look at Airbnb properties. Who has the best reviews? Do they all have something in common?

Read interior design blogs. See what the experts say and compare them with what they actually show in the pictures. Does it fit the other stuff you looked at?

Ask around on Facebook groups and Twitter for ideas. People are usually more than happy to join in the conversation and pitch some ideas.

Plan, plan, plan

One of the construction teams I used to work it would always take 30 min every morning to measure and plan ahead. I loved it.

I also take a few minutes before starting anything just to think it through. Even blog posts like this one.

I run through a few scenarios. What could go wrong? What could some possible reactions be? How should I approve this?

And I do the same when renovating or rearranging a property. It helps me clear my head and sets a clear path forward.

This doesn’t mean unexpected things won’t happen. Oh, they will. And plenty. It just means I have the peace of mind to start working.

Plan a Fantastic Vacation Rental Property

Some tips and tricks here from my experience:

  • Measure everything twice or even three times
  • Check angles. You will be amazed how very few angles are actually straight in your property
  • The same goes for height. Check the height of the room in different places and make sure the ceiling is leveled.
  • Have professionals come in and check plumbing and electricity. These two tend to be very hard to fix once everything is in place.
  • When thinking about furniture use cardboard boxes to place them around the room. Look for something roughly the same size as the things you plan to buy. This will give you an idea of how much space they take and more importantly how much room you are leaving between items.

Now, let’s do the work

I already know you have an amazing property. I was telling you how to choose your first vacation rental property here.

But your fantastic vacation rental property still needs work. If you’re anything like me, probably lots of work.

The secret here is not to panic. Breath in and try to realize that more than 85% of all the thing s you need to do you can do yourself.

DIY renovation vacation rental property

Take for example wall painting. It’s a one-man job and even if you have no experience it shouldn’t;t take you more than a day for a small studio.

One of the things I was most scared of was bathroom tiles. It turns out that with the right tools it was no problem. Took me 3 hours for a small bathroom.

  • Ask for help. Always. And don’t be ashamed to do it. You must have a friend or an uncle that loves this DIY stuff. Ask them.
  • Look at youtube videos. In the last couple of years, people have uploaded some amazing video content that gets better every day. “Dad, how do I
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Anything, and I mean anything can be fixed/put back/replaced.

Doing it yourself doesn’t mean you can’t bring in professionals. Every time you feel something is too dangerous or too dirty, too heavy or too complicated call, someone.

As a sort of encouragement, I can tell you that I never experienced a better feeling than when I stood back and looked at those bathroom titles I was telling you about.

This type of work brings a certain satisfaction that you should try to experience at least once.

A Fantastic Vacation Rental Property With Minimal Spending

In conclusion, you can see it doesn’t have to be hard. As long as you don’t panic and you don’t give up.

Take your time. DO the research, plan ahead, and then get to work.

I did it, I have friends and people I know that managed to do it.

I am absolutely sure you can do it as well.

Which Vacation Rental Site Has The Lowest Fees

Which Vacation Rental Site Has The Lowest Fees

Whenever I talk to another vacation rental owner like myself that is just starting up the discussion always turns towards “which vacation rental site has the lowest fees”. And in every conversation, I can just feel the topic coming.

It’s hard to avoid and it is clearly one of the pain points for small vacation rental business owners.

I’m not here to list prices and comission fees. I;m sure you can find better lists of these in other places.

On the other hand, what I am trying to do here is to help you understand how to compare the fees.

Don’t focus on the price

Or maybe I should say not just only on the price. Each vacation rental website comes with certian benefits. It’s hard to list them beause they will be spcific to your area and your target market. I can give you the ones I came across here as an example.

Booking.com is very good at last-minute bookings. When I have some empty spots I’m sure Booking.com is going to fill those in.

Airbnb brings in a lot of young foreign tourists that like to book “one more night” and usually their stay gets extended even by 50%.

The tourists brought in by TripAdvisor are more culturally savvy and they tend to show up for big events or gallery openings.

You have to do a customer profile for each of these and decide for each listing site pluses and minuses.

After you do that you should take that profile and see how it overlaps on the list of things that differentiate your property.

Price the fees in

The fees are easy to price-in. When you calculate your ideal price per night you just take into account the fees for the listing site.

Another way to do it is to have a base price per night and just add the commissions on top of it for each website.

The second option, though, is going to generate different prices for each channel which might look a bit inconsistent.

Which vacation rental site has the lowest fees

By now I hope I made you understand that fees are not important. Or at least important in the sense that you should worry about them.

Focus on what generates more and good business for you. Learn to understand and care better for your guests.

Offer a better experience adapted for each listing website. Increase the rating/score you have there and I promise you fees will seem like a distant memory.

what are vacation rental sites

What are vacation rental sites

It’s never easy to explain what a vacation rental website is. It’s a website focused on you, but also on your destination, but also on your properties, and also focused on your guests.

As you know, I did more than 600 of these websites for my past customers. Everyone had their own idea. All vacation rental managers felt they knew best. But when the dust settled almost all of them look and act the same, with just a few main categories sticking out.

The portal

The big guys. The “catch them all”. You can have tourism portals like booking.com that try to get all traffic for all destinations and for all property types. And like booking.com a few good ones exist out there.

Booking.com

I guess you can imagine how competitive this part of the market can be. Nevertheless, there are a few people that tried building new portals, but, I don’t know of any that actually succeeded.

The destination website

These websites are still in very competitive markets. Each of them is going to be dedicated to a certain destination. Some are country-specific, city-specific, or even neighborhood-specific if the city is big enough (like Paris for example)

The website usually groups all offers for that destination but it becomes more than a listing site.

The destination website focuses on the destination itself. They promote activities, restaurants, and other local attractions.

The vacation rental agency website

The vacation rental agency website groups all offers from a single agency in one place.

Depending on the size of the agency they can have 5 or 6 properties and even 100 ore more.

They try to mimic destination websites as much as possible, but they lose focus and always come back to the property. (which is not necessarily wrong, plus it’s in their best interest)

Agency websites can be built in-house, but most often they run on dedicated content management systems and are integrated with other reservation systems and channel managers.

The owner vacation rental site

So this is you and me we’re talking about here. Our website should reflect our passion. It should show why we started doing vacation rentals in the first place and how we’re different.

Even though the same as agencies, we’ll focus more on promoting our properties and getting those bookings, there’s a clear opportunity to talk about other things as well.

We won’t be able to build the type of content a destination website has let’s say. But we can still start a blog and talk about things we are passionate about in our area.

I promise that if you manage to keep to it for more than a few months you will see results.

The single property site

Even if you don’t see a lot of these I promise you they exist and they are out there.

Single property sites are mostly used for direct bookings by return visitors.

An important feature for websites like this is the calendar which always has to be up to date to avoid double bookings.

If the property has enough demand there might be a channel manager integration as well for synchronizing and avoiding double bookings.

Can we conclude what are vacation rental sites?

Vacation rental websites are meant to generate bookings and that is and always will be their prime objective.

They come in all sorts of colors and sizes. Some are better than others. Some are better adapted for a specific type of tourist.

For most vacation rental businesses the website is their main source of bookings.

As tourism has moved online a couple of years back having your own vacation rental website, to maximize occupancy rate, is something you can’t ignore anymore.