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DO I NEED AN EXCLUSIVE WEBSITE FOR MY HOLIDAY HOME BUSINESS?

Friday, 23 January 2009 16:14 by Ben

Having some sort of internet presence for your holiday home rental is a no-brainer! Even by the UK tourist board’s conservative figures, over 60% of people use the internet when booking a holiday. In reality, it is probably far more. The real question, therefore, is whether to create your own website or use a well known portal to drive the internet side of your holiday home business.

There are compelling arguments for both. Certainly, you are never going to get as much traffic on your own property website as the big property listing sites. Finding a suitable holiday home and booking online is huge business and the big players attract tens of thousands of daily users to their sites. However, therein lies the downside. The big property listing sites are just that, big! And your holiday home is hidden amongst the rest, just one property in the midst of an excess of others returned in the search results.

Conversely, if someone is browsing for a holiday rental has found your website, with just your property on then there’s no competition. Providing you be easily contacted, or better still, the user can book your property online and pay a deposit instantly then you’re ten steps ahead of the crowd!

Of course, the difficult part is attracting the surfing public to your holiday home site (and then keeping them interested). All too often, I have clients for whom we build a great property website and they instantly think it is going to start appearing in the search engines. We all know this is unrealistic, unless you’re one of only a handful holiday home website in your location (very unlikely these days unless you rent out your own island - not unheard of). To get anywhere near the top of the searches takes focus (on certain keywords), time and a lot of hard work.

The best strategy, in our opinion, is to use make intelligent use of the listing sites to drive custom to your own website and property booking system. This way you are getting the exposure of the big sites, you have your very own property showcase and online booking system, and you are not losing out on the booking commission that a listing site would take if you booked using them. We have a few guidelines on how you can effectively combine listings with your own site:

 

  • Choose – choose the listing sites you apply for very carefully. Investigate how many properties they have listed. If they boast 50,000+ properties then don’t list. If they will not give you a link back to your site, again, don’t list. If they demand booking exclusivity of your property or if they charge an exorbitant commission, once again, don’t list. Ask for website traffic statistics – you want sites that generate a lot of traffic but have manageable number of properties listed.

  • Location – Try and get listed on sites that serve your area. You are far more likely to get quality referrals on popular sites for your location than on general holiday home booking sites. Alternatively, target your property type; you could be an exclusive villa?

  • Track – install tracking code like Google Analytics and monitor closely the referrals and bookings you get from the property listing sites. If the sites are not generating bookings, do not renew your subscription.

  • Link – make sure you get a link from any sites you list with. Not only will this directly funnel visitors to your property booking site, it will improve your own position in the search engines.

  • Pay – don’t be put off if you have to pay for a listing. A year’s subscription is more than likely only a fraction of a week’s holiday home rental. But remember to follow the above guidelines: don’t go for a big listing site, try to specialise either by area or property type, or both.

  • Bookings – it’s all about bookings! Make sure you invest in quality reliable booking software and that it is fully integrated into your site. Having your own booking system with availability calendar is invaluable, the benefits are too numerous to mention.

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