Think of your homepage as the ‘grand entrance’ to your holiday rental website.
You want your visitors to marvel at it.
In other words, it needs to make an impact – to entice and lure them in.
It’s generally the first page people will come to when they find your website, so don’t rush it.
The three key elements an effective homepage should have are:
- Quality images – both of the property and local area
- Engaging text – in content, style and formatting
- Direction – using calls to action
Step One – Images to give your website that WOW factor.
What’s the one thing you’re trying to achieve through your website?
…. we’re guessing it’s enquiries.
And what’s that age old saying … a picture speaks a thousand words?
So be smart with the photos you add to your homepage.
The home page acts as the gateway to the rest of your website. The objective is to give your visitors a positive first impression and make them want to find out more.
The quickest and easiest way to do that is with a selection of high quality photos.
If your website has a header image, place a few of your best photos here – the more photos you display, the better idea your website visitors will have of the property and its location. If your website doesn’t have slideshow functionality, select the one photo that best showcases your accommodation.
What makes a good header image?
Something that makes people want to stay at your property.
It could be an inviting photo of a private pool, a hot tub on the deck, an idyllic view from your garden, a panoramic of your local beach, or a great photo of the property itself.
Try taking a few photos in different locations, at different times of day and of the year, and see what works best.
But they need to work hard to ‘sell’ a holiday. An escape. A time to forget about everyday life. Make them look desirable and you’re half way to getting an enquiry.
And remember, all computer monitors are in landscape format. So make sure your header photos conform. If not, they will make the header image too tall, forcing your visitors to scroll down the page to see the whole image plus the content below.
What about the page itself, should you include photos here too?
Depending on how your website is formatted, you may have an area that’s perfectly suited to display more photos.
These photos should vary – giving an overview of your accommodation and the local area.
For example, you could display a photo of:
- The property exterior
- A reception room
- A bedroom
- A bathroom
- The outdoor space
- Local scenic image
- Local attraction
The number you include will depend on the amount of text your page has.
Remember, it’s all about aesthetics – align your photos and text to avoid unnecessary whitespace.
For advice on how to capture the perfect shot, photographer Sarah King gives us her 10 holiday let photography tips.
Step 2 – Text to captivate and engage.
The purpose of the homepage text is to build interest in both the property and its surrounding area, and create desire.
The rest of your website is where they go to get the specifics.
All too often we see holiday rentals being let down by the homepage of their website.
Owners make the mistake of not giving enough information, giving too much information, or simply duplicating content across all pages of their site.
Remember, this is your marketing tool. If your homepage isn’t right, your website visitors may not bother to explore your website further.
What text should you include on your homepage?
An overview of your holiday rental and its local area.
So start with adding a page heading.
The page heading is the first piece of text your website visitors will see after your website name and tagline.
Rather than saying Welcome, or something general that gives them no information, you should use this space wisely and give a summary of the key points.
For example, Stylish 2 Bedroom Cottage, Sleeps 4 with Sea Views of Watergate Bay
Immediately your website visitors know the size of the property, its location, and a unique selling point. i.e. Sea Views
Every piece of text and every image you place on your website serves a purpose. So don’t waste any opportunity for promoting your holiday rental.
Next – the main body of text.
Although you will want to take the time to provide as much information as possible, the reality is that your visitors just want information quickly and easily.
They’ll get this information by scanning the web page rather than reading every single word.
This is particularly true when it comes to the homepage. Because first of all they just want to know if your accommodation, and area, meets their criteria to decide if they should delve deeper.
So when writing the homepage, make sure it’s easy for people to pick out key pieces of information at a glance.
Here’s an idea of what to include:
- A brief intro
- A brief overview of accommodation, but not going into the specifics (e.g. type of beds, kitchen facilities, etc.). Instead include what they’re more likely to desire e.g. “plenty of space to unwind”, “spacious deck to watch the sunset”, “BBQ to enjoy a delicious meal with the family”, “Wi-Fi (because the world is obsessed with staying connected)”, “a wood burner for those romantic nights in”, etc…
- A brief overview of the local area and its attractions. Again don’t mention absolutely everything. Just think of a couple of key places your target market would want to visit. Sticking with our Cornwall example, “minutes from beautiful sunset strolls along the pristine beach”, “short drive to lively Padstow with its arty shops, and delicious places to eat” etc…
Then comes the formatting.
Use plenty of short paragraphs and include sub-headings and bullet points where appropriate.
This helps tremendously with online readability.
Long text-heavy paragraphs with no breaks are not user-friendly.
Remember that every time you sit down to write any online content – website pages, blog articles, social media updates…
Check out our other tips on how to hold the attention of your visitors through website content here.
Step 3 – Tell your website visitor what to do next.
You’ve written an engaging overview for your holiday let’s homepage and formatted it perfectly. You’ve included some stunning header images, and you’ve added a few more visual stimulus to help seduce your website visitors.
But what happens next?
The truth is, when it comes to your website visitors, they like to be told what to do.
So tell them.
What is the main purpose of your website?
To get enquiries.
Therefore, think logically and guide your visitors through your site as you would when showing someone around the property itself.
Don’t leave it to chance – they may never discover what fun activities are nearby. Or what local event is happening. Or that the ensuite has a whirlpool bath!
What’s the simplest way to tell your visitors what to do?
By adding a strong call to action.
For example, towards the end of the homepage you ideally want them to make an enquiry.
You could be bold and tell them to do so. For example:
We’d love to welcome you as our guests at Seaview Cottage. Contact us here so we can answer any queries you may have, let you know the latest activities and events, and book you in.
Or you could make your call to action more of an invitation to find out more. For example:
Seaview Cottage is the perfect place for your next family holiday, read everything it has to offer here.
In both examples above, the bold and underlined text would be hyperlinks through to the relevant page.
In summary, make sure your home page:
- Wows people with high quality images
- Captivates them with easy to scan text
- Tells them what to do next with clear calls to action.
Do all three and you’ll have yourself a homepage that works hard 24/7 to generate more enquiries for your holiday rental.