A website can be one of the most valuable marketing tools for your vacation rental business. In this post, we’re going over how to create your own. There are several ways to go about it, and the information here will help you decide which option is best for you.
3 Steps to a Vacation Rental Website
We’ve broken the process of creating a website for your vacation rental down into three general steps. Depending on what you decide you want, you can set up your website in a few clicks or a few weeks.
Step 1: Decide if you want to take direct bookings
One of the first things you need to decide is if you want to take direct bookings on your website. It’s up to you, but we 100% recommend it for the following reasons:
- Remove booking fees – You can lower your prices by up to 5-15% or keep that extra cash for yourself.
- Gain independence from OTAs – Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO are great for getting bookings, but you probably don’t want your business to be completely in their hands.
- Market directly to your past guests – Having your guests book direct is a great way to start growing an email list, so you can easily grow your marketing audience.
- Establish trust and street cred – Taking direct bookings makes your business look more legitimate, which leads to more bookings.
- It’s not hard – With all the vacation rental software out there these days, it’s never been easier to take direct bookings and manage your bookings across multiple channels.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to get your own vacation rental insurance, since you’ll be solely responsible for any damages and liability (but you should probably get that anyway).
If you decide you don’t want to take direct bookings right now, then the rest of the information in this post isn’t very relevant. You can simply choose your favorite website builder (like Squarespace or Wix), pick a template you like, and create your website.
But if you do, let’s go over how you can start taking direct bookings.
Step 2: Choose your direct booking software and website builder
Here are some of the most popular vacation rental management software platforms that offer direct booking and website builder features:
You can find more information about each of these in our review of the best vacation rental website builders. Make sure whatever vacation rental management software you choose includes the following features:
- Direct Booking Engine – Accept reservations and payments independent of any other channel.
- Channel Manager – Sync bookings and property details across multiple booking channels (like Airnbnb, VRBO, etc.) – for convenience and so you can avoid double bookings. (See our list of the best channel managers).
- Website Builder – Build a standalone website that features your properties (this feature is optional if you decide to use an external website–more on that below).
All the platforms we’ve included in this post offer all 3 of these features, though they vary in how advanced the features are. Lodgify has the most advanced website builder of these options.
As you decide which software you want to use, keep in mind you have a few options:
- Option A (easiest): Use the built-in website builder
- Option B: Mix and match (add third-party booking to an external website)
- Option C: Use WordPress to build a standalone direct booking vacation rental website
Let’s take a closer look at each option.
Option A: Use the Built-in Website Builder Feature
If you aren’t tyring to create something very custom, then you can go ahead and choose your favorite vacation rental management software and set up your website in minutes (in some cases).
- easy to set up
- lower cost (since you aren’t paying for an additional service)
- convenience of having everything in one place
- limited to more basic website builder features
Most vacation rental management software platforms offer very basic website builders. One exception, again, is Lodgify, which has the most advanced website builder of all these options. Below are some examples of websites that were created with the built-in website builders of each of these platforms. You can also read our vacation rental website builder reviews.
Lodgify has the most flexibility in terms of web design out of all these options. You can check out their template library or look through this list we put together of real life Lodgify website examples.
OwnerRez has the next most advanced website builder after Lodgify. They only offer one template–it’s basic but also clean and uncluttered. You can also create custom pages. Read our full review of OwnerRez.
Your Porter App
Your Porter App has a ‘single-click website‘ feature that allows you to easily import your listings from Airbnb and preview it (before even creating an account). From there, you can change the fonts and colors, and add custom pages.
Uplisting has a very basic website builder with only one template–but we love the design. If you’re thinking about adding direct booking to an external site like Squarespace, then Uplisting might be a really good option for you.
Option B: Mix & Match – Add a Third-Party Booking Engine to an External Website
If you want something more custom than what you’ve seen so far, another option is to add direct bookings to an external website (like Squarespace or Wix). Here are some pros and cons:
- more website template options and design features
- more control over website
- better blogging features (great for marketing your vacation rental)
- one more thing to manage
- more expensive (but not much, since most website builders are around $10-$20/mo)
Here are some examples of mix and match combo options.
Lodgify + Squarespace
Lodgify and Squarespace play well together. You can easily add a Lodgify ‘Book Now’ button or even a search bar to your Squarespace wesbite. Check out our post on how to use Lodgify and Squarespace together.
Uplisting + Squarespace
Uplisting has a really well designed, easy-to-set-up direct booking website template. If you combine it with a beautiful Squarespace website, you can easily create a really nice, custom direct booking website for your rental property.
Option C: Use WordPress to Develop a Direct Booking Vacation Rental Website
If you’re familiar with WordPress development, or you’re interested in learning (or at least following some tutorials), you can also pretty easily create a vacation rental direct booking website with WordPress. There are a few vacation rental WordPress themes and plugins you can use to create a standalone direct booking website, that doesn’t require a subscription to any other vacation rental software.
You could also choose any vacation rental WordPress theme, and add a Lodgify booking widget to your WordPress site. Or simply add a ‘Book Now’ button that links to your property listings on your vacation rental software of choice.
Step 3: Build your website
Once you’ve chosen the technology you’re going to use, it’s time to set up your website. Obviously, this process will be different depending on which booking software and website builder you choose. But it might look something like this:
- Create a free trial account
- Choose a template
- Add your properties (import from Airbnb)
- Create additional pages
- Buy and connect a custom domain name (roughly $10/year)
Again, depending on which platform(s) you choose, these steps will vary. The options we’ve covered in this post are all pretty straightforward, and you’ll have access to tutorials, demos, and help from customer support.
Summary & Our Recommendations
If you want to easily create an attractive, customizable direct booking website, then we recommend Lodgify. It has the most templates and customization options out of all the vacation rental management software platforms on the market today. They also have a ton of convenient backend features for short-term rental owners and property managers.
If you’re looking for something even more custom, we recommend you add Lodgify to a Squarespace website. You can also mix and match any other website builder (Wix, WordPress, etc.) with any other booking software you choose.
And if you don’t really care about customizing your website, you can opt for a super simple direct booking website like the ones offered by Uplisting or Your Porter. These are extremely easy to set up, and you can import your properties directly from Airbnb or VRBO.
We hope this post has helped you better understand how to create your own vacation rental website. If you have any questions or you’d like to know more about our custom websites, please get in touch!