My experience with a vacation rental website

From the first moment, when we began hiring our holiday home, we have always had our own website. These beginnings, date back to the year 2005 and that first website, was nothing more than a presentation of the property with a contact form. Still, we did get some bookings, mostly thanks to Google ads. Interestingly, many of those early guests were British, who were related in one way or another to the world of computing. But this was soon over, and the website has been and still is, a way for us to be found by guests, who know us or our holidays home, has been recommended to them.

In 2018 we published the website with RentalWebs, a website builder that let us to create a vacation rental website, with an online shop. Now we not only have a presentation of our holiday home, but our clients can book online, paying an amount on account with their credit card.

That first year, we did not receive any reservation or even an inquiry. It was from the following year, when we began to receive them. Former guests, when booking have continued to contact us by email or phone, as usual. Instead, the vast majority of newcomers, who have returned, have booked directly from the website, without any prior contact.

Do we really have more reservations, thanks to the website?

Honestly, I don’t think so. Except for someone, to who the house has been recommended, perhaps if it is easier to book, it will also be easier for him or her to take the decision to book. However, there is no doubt that repeat guests value being able to book directly, in an easy and simple way. In some way, we give them control over that vacation home they like. They know when it’s available and with a few clicks, they have it at their fingertips.

How do we promote the website?

Our property is located in Porto Cristo on Mallorca, where the competition for vacation rentals is not as tough as in other locations, even so, for a small or medium vacation rental website, any type of online promotion is very expensive. Therefore, the only promotion we do, is with links in emails or mobile messages and in the house. Anyone who has spent a night at it, knows our website address.

It should also be said that searching for the house by name in a search engine, the website comes out among the first results. It’s a way to easily contact us, for anyone interested in our property.

Finally, we offer all guests a promotional code with a discount for their next visit, by booking via our website.

Why do only customers who know us book?

The first handicap is that in a market as competitive as that of vacation rental, it is difficult to make yourself known. But above all, it is due to mistrust. Our guest come from abroad and booking with a company in their country, or with one of the international listing sites, they have legal guarantees that give them security and protection, against what could eventually be a fraud.

For this reason, it is important to offer clear and transparent information, with our contact details and to collect any advance payments by card, since in the event of fraud, the client would always be more protected than with a bank transfer.

However, once customers know us, this barrier of mistrust disappears and with a website of our own, we can make listing sites to loose its purpose.

Last conclusions

The website in nothing more than our vacation rental shop, open to everybody and at anytime, which helps us to stablish direct contact with our guests. This is the starting point of our commercialization, where we not only establish our own standards, but also it allows us to offer an exclusive and stable meeting point over time, which the ads scattered on a thousand listing sites, will never be able to offer.

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