Building a website for STR properties

17 Replies

I'm building a website on WIX. It has 3 properties on it, all on different pages, plus an 'About Us' page and a 'Contact Info' page. I read people on here stressing the need for a website so here I go.....

First time doing this so any/all advise and criticism welcome. Lots of photos v few photos? Lots of text v little verbiage?

After it is built, how do I promote it so that people looking for rentals?

And is the purpose of a website to bypass ABNB or VRBO, or to just have more exposure in general?

Thank You All.....

I think it's valuable and it provides a landing page for other campaigns (like paid Facebook/Google ads) you might be doing.  I'm in technology though so it's an easier lift for me to create but using Wix and other tools like that the learning curve has come down greatly.  

The big benefits of your own site is getting commission free bookings and SEO traffic directly to your property and not all the properties around you like you get with the OTAs.  SEO is hard though...it's more art then science and it takes time and arguably you will never even reach page 1 or 2 for the keywords you want if you are in a very saturated area.  SEO on your site is not a set it and forget thing either, so if you are serious about it, you either need to teach yourself and be disciplined about it or just higher somebody for a few hundred bucks a month to do it for you.   

So, long story short, it's good to have an accompanying site for your properties, there are valuable uses for it and you are running a business and every business should have a website in this day and age, but don't expect it to delivery any sort of significant traffic or bookings unless you are in non-saturated STR market.

Best of luck!   

Hey @Bruce Woodruff , personally I would try and get all your content moved over from Wix to a standard Wordpress site hosted by Bluhost or another top notch hosting company.

Wix has a lot of limitations, it is very tough to move the content once you reach it's limitations plus there is a question of ownership of the site sometimes.

Here is a quick rundown on why not to use Wix - https://www.fullychargedmedia....

Now they are selling their services, but the points are valid. Especially if you plan to count on it for bookings etc.

My 2 cents on the subject.

More photos is better. Make them relevant. Maybe some nice candid shots etc. 

So I have a website as well but like @Jon Crosby said as far as generating new traffic and leads you can forget it.  My cabins are in the Smoky Mountains with 20,000 other cabins to which a large portion of them are in management companies promoting their cabins on their own websites.  You won't rank on your keywords or even be able to compete.  

These are the reasons I have a website:

1) It helps legitimize your business

2) It is a landing page I can send people to.  It is a lot easier to just tell them go to peacefulcabinrentals.com to see my cabins than it is for me to give them a vrbo or airbnb reference.  It is just easier.  

3) It gives me a website I can put on an email signature, a business card or any promotional material I may decide to use.

Generating tons of traffic so I don't need vrbo and airbnb  - ain't gonna happen.

Hope that helps.

For promoting it you could use a device like StayFi to send people directly to your landing page when they log into the internet. It also allows you to capture email addresses and export them into a CRM so you can run targeted marketing campaigns to guests that have stayed in your units. The idea being when they book again in the future they book direct versus using an OTA. I just ordered one so I don't have any real world feedback yet, but that is how I plan to promote my personal website.

We just bought a condo with huge revenue and bookings. We successfully transferred previous owner’s bookings, happily. We directed them to book off-platform. They all did, with my Google doc booking agreement and Venmo and PayPal. I used my listings on the common platforms and my website to generate trust. And off platform bookings going forward. For that, I picked your porter for its ability to generate a direct booking website. 
just sent the link tonight on VRBO.

Originally posted by @Dave Stokley :

As always, I’ll ask: why do you want a website of your own?

Well....

1) Because everyone says I have to.....

2) It may give me a way around ABNB and their heavy -handed policies....

3) Other than that I don't know

I'm just looking for advice....

 

Completely agree with the WordPress comment..you'll have a lot more options than Wix in the long run. However, if you have 0 design knowledge Wix will be easier to use and come with tech support. For the website more prof. photos than text and link it to an Instagram. Promote your site through Instagram. Some of my fave STR websites: openairhomes.com, theperchattwinpeaks.com, homesweethudson.com...to name a few! It's always nice to see what other companies are doing.

You got some good advice here. As someone who has built websites for many years, gone through failures and successes, running a website is no easy feat. I wouldn't use Wix, but instead use Wordpress (free) for total management, but there is a steep learning curve and you will also need to get hosting, domain name, market it, manage it, etc.  Bluehost gives you hosting for as little as $3 a month and that includes a domain name. Wix is easy, but you are still paying a monthly fee.

First you have to decide what is the goal/purpose of your website? You said you don't know. Who says you have to have one? Is it to advertise STRs you own? To make money? Get bookings? Is it to have a blog to discuss tips and advice about being a STR rental owner?

So, first, you need to have a audience in mind or you will flounder. Is it guests? If it is to get bookings, you will have to find a niche, understand SEO, and use social media to advertise those properties - Instagram and Pinterest are best. Getting traffic is difficult and a full-time job. In other words, not to be a downer, but think about ROI. If it is just to have on a business card, that is fine, but you still have to maintain it. Just throwing up a website will not bring in revenue or guests. What would bring people to your website vs. just booking on AirbnB? You need a business plan. There are plenty of ways to make money with a website (ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, etc) outside of bookings, but it takes work. If it is just bookings, the more professional photos, the better! Learn a little about copywriting and add that to your listings. Lastly, look at what other successful sites are doing. Let me know if you have any other questions.

As others have mentioned, having a website to legitimize your business and organize all your listings in one place is not a bad goal. 

But trying to replace the major platforms IS a bad goal. I don't think people realize everything they're getting for that measly 3% Airbnb charges...

  • Exposure to hundreds of millions of potential guests
  • Payment processing
  • Local occupancy tax collection and payment
  • Reviews to legitimize your rental
  • Reviews and other tools to help you screen guests
  • Property damage coverage
  • Liability coverage
  • Hosted website

I'm sure I'm missing things. 

But let's say your place is brining in $100k/year. How much of this will you be able to cover for $3,000? It's not even close...

    Hi @Bruce Woodruff

    As an agent you will need to begin building your identity as a trusted advisor in home sales and purchases. I would begin with a Facebook page. 

    With social media, or any other type of marketing you need to understand VRIN scores: V stands for value. R stands for rarity or how rare it is. I stands for inimitable and N stands for non-substitutable. 

    Value means you are giving your followers what they are interested in. Your posts need to be reaching your audience's values. I know my audience values growing their wealth safely, so I create content that shows how we do that. People value the payoff of real estate and investing, so I post my numbers, analysis and all the great tips that my businesses have profited from. 

    Rarity is how many other accounts are out there posting similar content. The more content that you provide that not many people get to see, the more excited people will be when they see it. It’s common sense. Rarity is the amount of emotion that people get when they see your post. 

    Inimitable means your post is hard to recreate. It means that not only is it rare, it’s unique and genuine. People can tell when what you’re posting is trying to be like someone else. You have to be unique, so others can’t reproduce what you’ve created. 

    Non-substitutable is similar to rarity, but it also means that what your posting is relatively impossible to be replaced by something new. You need to create timeless content, so as time goes on, your post is still relevant. 

    If you master these, your business will grow and you will create a loyal audience, because you understand why your audience follows you and engages with you. 

    Let me know if you have any questions!

    -Craig

    Thanks all for the great advice....lots to think about! No I don't need a website, at least right now. I more just somehow sense that it would be a good idea. No hurry since we are in our first year of STRs and doing just fine. I've just learned after 40+ yrs in business that you can't count on anything...might be a good idea to drive more people directly to you instead of someone else...?