Are you ready to create a website for your holiday let and market it online?
Before you sit down in front of a computer to start the website creation process, take some time to think about each of these points:
- Is your property guest-ready?
- Do you have professional or high quality photos?
- Do you know your target market?
- Have you written the content?
- Have you set your rental rates?
- Have you purchased a domain name?
- Do you know what website platform is best for you and your skill level?
If you’ve covered each one, great! You’re all set.
If not, you’re potentially making life much more difficult for yourself.
Of course you could rush in without thinking about any of these points, but it may result in a less than ideal website, a lack of targeted marketing, difficulty appearing in search results and overall frustration with the process and the business.
There is one slight caveat which we’ll get to at the end, but for now, let’s take a look at each of these points in greater detail.
1. Is your property guest-ready?
First thing’s first, how does your accommodation look?
Try to be objective and go to the property as if you were a paying guest.
For example, is it easy to find, or are the lanes a little tricky to navigate?
Remember to provide ample instructions for arrival making it as easy and stress-free as possible. You may know the roads like the back of your hand but your guests don’t.
How does the property look as you approach? Is it inviting? Is it adequately lit?
Make it clear where the parking is. Ensure there’s an obvious pathway or entrance. And always remember to think about those who may arrive after-dark – sensored lights are perfect for this.
On entering the accommodation, is it clean? Would it appeal to all tastes? Are there instructions for the wood burner, air conditioning, etc.? Can your guests last a night without heading off to the local store?
What can be an average welcome, could so easily be a superb welcome if each of these things are considered.
2. Do you have high quality photos of your rental and the local area?
Don’t make the mistake of uploading poor quality images of your holiday let. They’re not appealing and certainly will reduce the amount of enquiries you’ll get.
Again, first impressions count.
For potential guests, their first impression will be via your website. Displaying less than satisfactory photos or too few photos, will do yourself and your business a disservice.
Make sure you’ve covered everything:
- Exterior – capture a photo when the outside of the property is seen in its best light. For example, a cosy country cottage shot may look great lit up at night. A modern villa by the sea, could look its most enticing at sunrise or sunset. Show any outside living space – decked patio, garden, pool, etc.
- Living Areas – make it look inviting and show potential guests where they can relax.
- Kitchen & Dining Areas – Set the table for dinner. Include some wine. Show your website visitors how pleasant an evening meal would be.
- Bedrooms – make each room look comfortable. De-clutter. Switch on soft lighting. Think plush hotels – add towels and plump up the pillows.
- Bathrooms – make sure the toilet seat is down! Put out some fancy soap and a few crisp white towels to set the scene.
- Local area – a beautiful beach; fun city; rugged mountains; vineyards; cobbled streets; surfing; … whatever there is to do near your holiday let, don’t keep others in the dark about it. Those are all part of your rental’s selling points. So sell them!
3. Do you know your target market?
Think about your holiday let.
Where and what your property is, will determine who it is primarily aimed at.
For example, an 8th floor apartment with no lift is not necessarily suitable for the elderly or very young. Similarly, a 4 bedroom country house isn’t necessarily best suited to a young couple looking for an intimate weekend break.
Of course this doesn’t mean that your accommodation won’t attract guests outside of your target audience, it will simply help you focus on who you should cater to, how you should promote it, and where your best marketing opportunities lie.
4. Have you written the content?
Once you’ve determined the target audience it’s so much easier to sit down and write the content.
Doing this away from the website itself allows you complete freedom to write what you like, disregarding any webpage parameters or restrictions.
Create a draft of your homepage, accommodation details page, local area page, getting there page and any other specific pages you want i.e. a corporate page, large group page, activity page, etc.
Then walk away.
Leave it a while before coming back to it.
Again, you should try to be objective.
Imagine you’re searching for a holiday let.
Make tweaks where needed to ensure it does grab attention, it does sound appealing, it does give enough information and it does make you want to book.
Once you’re happy with it, send it to a family member or friend. Preferably one who will offer constructive criticism.
Listen to what they have to say.
Then finally, make more tweaks.
Now what you’re left with, is great website content that will do your rental proud.
5. Have you set your rental rates?
Have a clear plan in place for your rental rates.
It’s a good idea to check out the competition before deciding on your rates. What you may want and what you can get could be two entirely different things.
Other factors to take into account are:
- Long-term rates
- Weekend / Midweek breaks
- Last minute discounts
- Advance bookings
- Repeat bookings
And remember, when you first start out you want to get as many bookings as possible. So consider ‘new to market’ discounts – physiologically this makes people think they’ve found a great bargain and it helps you see money coming in straight away.
6. Have you purchased a domain name?
Purchasing a domain name for your website is recommended for three reasons:
- It looks more professional
- It could help with your search engine rankings if you include keywords
- It allows you to ‘own’ that name indefinitely
To choose the perfect domain name for your website, it’s a good idea to think about your property’s keywords (you may even want to carry out an initial investigation using Google’s Keyword Planner as it could help determine the domain name you should purchase).
a) Think about what your accommodation is – cottage, villa, chalet, apartment …
b) Think about where your accommodation is – beach, mountains, city, countryside …
c) Think about who your target market is – families, couples, walkers, cyclists …
For example, let’s say you own a stylish villa near the beach on the Greek Island of Santorini, it could be beneficial to try and purchase a domain name that refers to these keywords i.e. BeachfrontVillaSantorini.com
Of course that domain name may already be taken. But taking the time upfront to think of your keywords, could make the difference between choosing an average domain name and choosing the perfect domain name for your holiday rental website.
7. Do you know what website platform is best for you and your skill level?
What works for one holiday let owner, may not work for you. So when choosing your website platform, don’t jump straight in without understanding the level of technical know-how you’ll need to setup, create and manage your website.
Platforms like WordPress offer huge flexibility, but they require quite a bit of technical knowledge to maintain. They also require separate hosting and you will need to take regular backups and make frequent updates when new versions come out. WordPress may not be the best solution if you are looking for a hassle free option.
A specific holiday let website builder may offer a better solution if you’re not so tech savvy, or if you want the security of technical support when needed.
So – if your property is guest-ready; you’ve taken high quality photos; you know your target market; you’ve written the content; you’ve set your rental rates; you’ve purchased a domain name and you’ve decided the best website platform – you’re all set to start building your new holiday rental website.
Oh and the one small caveat we mentioned at the beginning – if you’ve purchased a holiday rental that requires work before it’s guest-ready, you can (and should) still get a skeleton website online.
Websites take time to be indexed by search engines. The sooner yours is online, the sooner it will start appearing in search results. And with the exception of being guest-ready and taking some great pics, you can still tick-off each of the points above to make sure your website brings in the enquiries when it’s up and running.
Good luck and most of all, enjoy the process!