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How to Design a Vacation Rental Website For More Bookings

Having a website for your vacation rental has several benefits. One of these benefits is the ability to independently and effectively market your property. Here are five vacation rental website design best practices to help you get more bookings.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. The information in this post is a result of our years of experience creating custom vacation rental websites.

1. Use Good Photography (And Lots Of It)

If you’re planning to invest in a website for your vacation rental, we recommend you start by taking an honest look at your property photography. Does your photography look like it could belong to an Airbnb Plus listing? If not, you’re most likely missing out on potential bookings (not just on your website but on OTAs like Airbnb and VRBO, too).

Your photography will make or break your website. The simplest way to make an attractive (and effective) vacation rental website is to choose an optimized template and add a bunch of professional and compelling photography.

Here’s an example of the difference good photography can make. Obvious question, but which would you rather book, left or right? And yet these two photos feature the exact same space and staging. The difference is mostly just lighting, angle, and crop, but the impact is huge.

Example of the difference good photography can make.

If it’s in your budget, hiring a professional photographer will almost certainly be well worth the investment. And if it’s not, try picking out your best photos (or take some new ones on a sunny day with the windows open) to feature on your website.

As for how to use your photography, the most important places are on the homepage, and on the booking page. Here’s an example of a website with great photography.

Hinter Vacation Rental Website - Squarespace + Uplisting
Hinter website – built with Squarespace and Uplisting.

This vacation rental website design features a simple layout, with a full-width hero image of the property on the homepage. In addition, there’s a sliding gallery of images on the direct booking page.

Hinter Company Website - Uplisting Direct Booking Page
Direct booking page – powered by Uplisting.

Having great photography makes designing your vacation rental website much easier. And the more photography you can include on the booking page (where potential guests are looking for a virtual tour of your property), the better your chances of getting them to book.

2. Make It Easy to Book

When a new visitor lands on your website, it should be immediately obvious (within 2 seconds of your website loading) how they can book with you. Don’t make your guests go digging around your website for some obscure booking or contact form. Most visitors won’t.

Simply adding a colorful ‘Book Now’ button in the top right of the main menu is a very effective way to draw attention to your booking options.

If we assume that the main purpose of having a website for your vacation rental is to get more (and perhaps better quality) bookings, then the booking method is one of the most important considerations in the design of your vacation rental website. With your own website, you have the option to either take direct bookings, or link to your Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com listings.

If you take direct bookings, you should consider including a booking form (or a call-to-action button) right on the homepage. By using a vacation rental website builder, you’ll be limited to their templates. But this can actually make things much easier, since most of these templates place the booking form front and center.

Lodgify Website Example
This Lodgify website template features a prominent direct booking form.

If you aren’t planning to take direct bookings, then you can still use a prominent ‘Book Now’ button to link to your Airbnb or VRBO listings. Again, the key here is to make it immediately obvious how guests can book with you.

3. Answer Your Guests’ Questions

When visitors land on your website, they have questions. Your website should have answers. Here are a few pages you might consider including, to help your potential guests get the information they’re looking for:

  • About Page – An about page can give guests some background about your our your company. What is your story? What are your values? Including a picture of yourself is also a great idea. Let your potential guests get to know you.
  • FAQ Page – Having a Frequently Asked Questions page is a great way to directly answer questions. This might include information about the area, about your property, or questions about direct booking and cancellation policies.
  • Reviews – Including reviews on your website is an excellent way to encourage bookings. You can create a separate page for reviews, or put them on the individual booking pages, or both.
  • Neighborhood / Things to Do – Having a page (or pages) with information about the area make you seem like an expert, and can help guests decide to book with you.

There are other pages you can include as well. The more information you can add to your website the better, as long as it’s well organized and relevant to your visitors. Put yourself in their shoes. What information would you want to know before you book?

4. Optimize for SEO

One benefits of having your own website is that you can start showing up in search engines. In addition to using OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO/Homeaway, and Booking.com, potential guests are using search engines like Google to plan their vacations. They’re searching for places to stay, things to do, and other information about their trip.

The more content you create around these kinds of searches, the more likely you are to show up in a Google search. This is why we strongly recommend you create a blog, or at least create pages on your website with information about the surrounding area.

Here are some basic keywords to make sure you include on your website.

  • Your location – Include the name of your city, state, province, and/or region (and neighboring cities and areas).
  • Any nearby attractions – It’s a great idea to mention any National Parks, mountains, forests, lakes, or other popular destinations in your area.
  • Your property type – Your guests might search for a specific type of rental, such as a cabin, house, A-frame, beach house, apartment, loft, etc.
  • Vacation rental keywords –  Make sure to include general keywords like vacation, vacation rental, rental home, trip, rent, etc.

You can read more about vacation rental SEO and blogging in our vacation rental marketing guide. Creating the right content is one of the most effective ways to get more website traffic and more bookings.

5. Create a Consistent Brand Experience

Last but not least is your brand. A brand is more than just a logo, it’s an experience. It includes elements like colors, consistent photography, the staging of your property, and even website copy. Are you a laid-back beach getaway? Are you a luxury downtown escape? It’s worth it to think about the image you want to project, and find ways to stay true to that image in your photos, fonts, colors, and content.

Rent Nosara - Squarespace + Lodgify Direct Booking Website
Rent Nosara is a great example of a strong brand (built with Squarespace + Lodgify).

If you need help creating a brand or a logo, we can help. Contact us for a free quote, or with any questions about vacation rental web design.

Summary & Recommendations

Having a vacation rental website is one of the best ways for your business to stand out online, and get more bookings. Here’s a recap of some vacation rental website design best practices to make that happen.

  • Use good photography – Your photos will make or break your website. It’s worth it to invest in professional photography.
  • Make it easy to book – Include a ‘Book Now’ button or a booking search form. Most vacation rental website templates include this by default.
  • Answer your guests’ questions – Put yourself in the shoes of your website visitor. What information would you want to know? How would you want it organized?
  • Optimize your website for search engines – Be sure to include relevant keywords, and create content that answers questions your potential guests will be searching for. Like information about the surrounding area or events.
  • Create a consistent brand experience – Your website is the backbone of your branding. Use a color scheme, fonts, and photography to create a consistent, inviting experience.

If you want to easily create your own vacation rental website, we recommend Lodgify. It comes with ready-to-use templates that are optimized for direct bookings, and has a channel manager and other features that make running a vacation rental or property management company much easier.

Lodgify Website Builder
Lodgify is one of the most popular vacation rental website builders.

There are also several great Lodgify alternatives, depending on the features and web design aesthetic you’re after. And if you’re interested in a want a custom vacation rental website design, contact us for a no-strings-attached quote.

Here are some additional resources to help you design a vacation rental website that gets more bookings.

Additional resources:

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