SETTING UP YOUR OWN VACATION RENTAL WEBSITE
If you want to get more involved with managing your own vacation rental property setting up your own vacation rental website is really important.
Every Vacation Rental Owner who has the time or interest in managing their own property should have their own website.
It’s important because over a period of time, managed correctly, your website will generate more and more reservations for you and decrease your reliance on other websites you may be paying. If you have been thinking about it, here’s some advise.
First, get realistic about how good you are with computers
No matter who you are, there is going to be a limit to how fancy a website you can create on your own – unless you are a professional programmer or a computer geek. This is an important question because you need decide just how much time and effort you want to invest in this project. Even if you have good basic computer skills you are not going to just read a book and suddenly become a great web designer or programmer. Asking this question will help you decide how you want to build your site.
You have three options: Build it completely yourself, have somebody build it and then you manage it or have someone build it and manage it for you.
Building The website Site Yourself
You can build your own website but you should build it to be simple – simple is a good thing
Web Hosting Software
The easiest way to build your own website is to use a software that is designed to make it easy. There are many companies like Rentivo that have easy to use website design software just for vacation rental owners. Take a moment to check AVROA’s Special Offer’s section for information on companies offering special deals to AVROA members.
Another way to go is with a web hosting company like Godaddy.com. The way this works is that you purchase your domain name (probably from them), host it with their hosting service and they let you use their website building software. This software is not designed specifically for vacation rentals and there is a steeper learning curve but you can get a site up and do a lot of things like display availability calendars through Iframe and have social network connections.
WordPress is a free software that was originally designed for blogging but a lot of people use it to create websites. Many web hosting companies like, GoDaddy, will install WordPress for free when you let them host your domain.
If you are going to use WordPress the learning curve is going to be even steeper. There is a lot of video content available on YouTube that can help you but remember WordPress can easily get complicated. The trick for you with WordPress is to keep it very simple. Use a simple theme, keep plugins to a minimum. The downside to WordPress is that many times it requires writing code to fix errors and being an “open source” software makes it is very susceptible to being hacked. If you just barely know what I just said, WordPress is not a good choice for you.
One good idea is to find a WordPress expert to fall back on. There are a lot on the Internet. One place you might look is www.davidboozer.com. David does WordPress training for beginners and has a lot of free training videos.
And remember, always keep a back up of your site. Your hosting company will do that for you.
Have somebody build your website and then you manage it
This is the best solution for a lot of people. It’s a lot easier to learn how to drive a car than it is to build one.
Just don’t get trapped where someone else owns your site or has all the control over you it and you have nothing.
There are a lot of Designers out there offering to build websites but you need to be careful.
Skipping past the obvious like looking at at least three designers and reading your contract. The big questions you want answers to are: Who owns the business’s domain? (you need to), what platform is this site being built on (for example, WordPress) and do I get access to the administrative panel of the website so I can make my own changes (an absolute must).
Nothing is as painful as waking up one day and realizing that you don’t even own the website your business is running on. That it belongs to your designer and your choice is either scrap the whole project or pay the designer for the rest of your life.
Have someone build your website and manage it for you
My advise here is don’t do it. Nobody is going to care about your business as much as you do. You also have to “get your head in the game”. Your company website is a vital part of your business. You can’t just know nothing about it. You’re going to be making changes all the time, posting blogs, interacting on social media. You don’t have to be a website designer or programmer but you need to have a basic understanding about how your website works. Even if it’s just so you know how to ask for help.
A few last words of advise
Managing your website will be an ongoing affair. It’s like owning a hardware store. You are going to have to run the business or, in this case, the website.
Expect to feel overwhelmed at first. Just remember many people have gone through the start up process and you will be able to do it as well.
Don’t worry about making mistakes too much. If you break something usually it can be fixed.
Ask for help when you need it and keep it simple.