Vacation rental websites are my favorite! They are joyous, exuberant and offer a utopia we search for after months and months of workload. The word vacation gives everybody an adrenaline rush. People search for a place they will visit, clothes they will wear and rental they will stay at, days before the vacations begin. And they keep on dreaming about how things will unfold at the place of vacation. They want to create memories and for this they ensure everything best. They have high expectations from their vacation providers. Imagine, their expectations not met! Right, they go hay-wired!
According to statistics, as many as 30% of property owners and 32% investment property owners plan for short term rentals (source -VRM Intel). As a vacation rental service, what do you do to ensure that this doesn’t happen? You might think this can avoided by spending large chunks on the services provided? That is after you have gotten through the first step! Website is the first step of that service. As per research, 67% travelers believe that it is easier to book a rental on the brand website than some other third party website. (Source- VROOM) The customer expectations are very high and if the websites do not appeal to them, forget about brand building through great service. So here are 5 things to avoid in a vacation rental website-
1. No Character For a Website
There are thousands of rental websites. VRMA lists that there were as many as 115000 vacation rental companies in the world, in 2018, out of which 20% were in the U.S. This number is expected to rise each year with every owner trying to sell property beautiful enough to get customers’ attention.
In such a case, any new website, similar to others, would just be lost among the others. Then how to make your website stand out amongst the crowd. This is possible by creating a differentiation for yourself by having a character for the brand, for the website and for the offerings. Those characters needs to speak of the brand image, as a whole.
For this, first of all you need to know your target audience very well. Study them. Study their preferences and likes. Study their behavior well and based on that insight create the character for your website.
The layout should justify the character of the website. Sit with your developers and instruct them on the functional and visual appearance of the website. Layout decisions include –
- selection of pictures on home page
- position of a search bar on home page
- language used in the website
- offers and discounts given to customers
Make sure that your customers love to spend their time on your website and it becomes their favorite digital hangout spot.
The color choices should be smart and go with the whole mood of the website. Here is a pro tip on colors-
- Choose bold colors for young backpackers
- Use sober colors for middle aged customers
- You can use colorful timeline to set the happy mood for travelers
Thus, depending on the preferences of your target audience select a good layout.
Filters are very important. The absence of filters can drive customers nuts. Filters should encompass all categories. Include location, price, gender, group etc. filters.
Choose your ads wisely. Cast your target customers in your ads. Do a research on your competitors about where they advertise.
The Pen is mightier than the Sword. Well said! Tell your backpackers interesting stories about places, experiences at rentals etc.
This will build a connection so strong that no telecomm network can provide!
2. Bland Way of Listing Amenities
People on vacation need the best of experience in everything. Just listing down the amenities provided doesn’t make much appeal to them. Websites should keep in mind the interactions that people will be doing with their amenities. Which means telling them, ‘hey, everything here is to make your stay a memorable one, even the amenities are designed so as to make you feel special’.
There is a way of listing the usage of usual stuff you provide, it’s a way in which people find the objects unique and adds to a joyful experience. Such listings give everything a personal touch. Listings can be as creative as you want like
- Wake up in the lap of nature and have a sip of coffee from your hot coffee mug in the backyard dock while looking at the sun rise
- Get some aromatic scents which not only relax you, but also freshen you up for a long day
- Guests can feel free to have a chit chat at any point and know about the rich culture of the place
- Guests are welcome to share a meal full of local veggies with us
However, this does not mean websites need to be wordy. Use simple language and keep text in pointers. Such a way of stating things gives you an edge over the others and spicen things up!
3. Bad Pictures
This makes me recall my own experience. I booked a place from one of the prestigious vacation rental websites. When I went to the place, I was surprised. The place turned out to be better than it was shown in the picture.
I was wondering why the website could not utilize the place to its full potential. That place could have fetched a lot more. The problem was that its pictures were not appealing and true to the size of the place. Thus, it had few buyers. Travellers spend about 59% on navigating the websites in which they go through pictures, blogs and if they don’t find all of that appealing they just shut the website down.
(source- VROOMRES) This makes really important for website owners to focus on pictures. However, the pictures need be professionally taken. You can do that on your own. As it was stated that out of the rental house owners, only 42% use professional photography. This means a website need not spend money on professional pictures, instead, pictures taken with a good phone works well.
(source -Evolve Vacation Rental Network)
Here are a few tips to pro the picture game without burning your pockets–
- Upload Large, eye captivating and beautiful images.
- Pictures must be enough to cover maximum parts of the place
- Keep in mind the contrast behind the pictures
- Upload only quality pictures taken in good light
- Mind the angle with which a picture is taken
A good picture is worth a thousand words. And people spend time on watching good pictures. After all, the more time people spend on your website, the more likely are they to take an action.
4. Less Information
Customers want detailed information of a place while booking it. The more information you give the more trust develops on the property. Tell them about the bedroom sizes, tell them on what floor is it located, how far it is from the city, how old is the property there is a lot more you can tell.
But too much information should not make them bored. In order to ensure that-
- Use small points to list details
- Use bold text to highlight pointers
- Use simple sentenced structures
- Clearly mention house rules
As a part of planning process, 52% travelers search for recommendations from social media while planning their trip. They look for pictures and reviews from different sources including the website’s review section.(source- VROOMRES)
So, it becomes necessary to have a review section wherein everybody can easily put up his experience. The review-upload process should be simple.
It is also important to keep visible a series of good reviews and respond to the bad ones. If people find the place great, they will tell two other people but if they find the place bad they will tell twenty others. So the owners of property need to respond to the bad reviews as well as apologize to the customers and assure them of improvement.
User penetration for vacation rentals are expected to reach 11.4%, by 2023, as compared to 9.1% by 2018 (source- statista.com) this means there is a lot of scope for improvement. It can start with not making these website mistakes.
Website designing, as they say, is an art that can be mastered when you do a proper research and give your customers a curated experience which they will remember every time they book a place. This is how they will come again and again to your website and take an action.