7 Sticky Features Of The Best Vacation Rental Websites – VRMB
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7 Sticky Features Of The Best Vacation Rental Websites

In getting ready for this year’s VR Marketing Makeover Project, a lot of owners and managers are using this as an excuse to finally pull the trigger and start building a website. (Hooray!!!)

And in last week’s post, I revealed the best way to build that site in the shortest period of time.

But to add some additional build up to the “big reveal” I wanted to share 7 important features that I’ve been reminding our participants (and that you should be considering when developing your own website) along the way.

I have added some genius examples for each feature (which can be all be unlocked using one share button) in the case that you want some further ideas.

1. An Incredibly Clear Call To Action (CTA)

The best vacation rental website in the world is NOTHING without a clear and compelling call to action, a marketing term that instructs to the user to perform an immediate response (usually using an imperative verb such as “inquire here” or “book now” button or link.) You could have the most beautiful images, the most engaging video, and the most tech-savvy responsiveness (details on all these below), but without an obvious CTA your vacation rental website will not produce results. Think of it like a store with no cash register or place to check out.

Here’s A Great Example:

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Among a myriad of wonderful reasons I am using MyVR.com to build Alanna Schroeder’s website in this year’s makeover is their strong CTA on buttons on every single page. Check out the great examples on Sonoma Square Cottage which is owned by the CEO of MyVR himself, Jon Murray:

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2. Embrace The “Help, Don’t Sell” Mantra

I’ve placed this pillar directly below the CTA intentionally. Just as important as persuading a primed-and-ready traveler to inquire, is the ability of a vacation rental website to softly nurture a traveler who’s not ready to inquire just yet…and we do this using the Help, Don’t Sell mantra. In fact, this demographic of visitors will account for the large majority of your web traffic. This is where your ability to blog, to tell stories, to provide helpful regional tips…etc. really comes into play and it’s where you’ll gather the greatest following.

Here’s A Great Example:

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Sarah Elder is really blowing guests away with her amazing blog that details any and everything you need to know about a visit to her Orlando vacation rental website. The best part? Her blog content is pure HELP and no SELL (adding to her credibility and that subtle marketing tactic we love) such as this post on “Fascinating Facts about ‘Disney’s Frozen’ You Need To Know.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 6.56.17 AM Sarah is also featuring a great red “Book Now” button as well as a quick contact form as her CTA: really nicely done.  [/wpsharely]

3. The Power Of Simple

There’s a tendency when getting your own website to try and include any and every feature you’ve ever dreamed about…but actually, the most effective vacation rental websites tend to be incredibly simple and predictable to browse. This theme of simplicity permeates down from the design and layout to the menu bars and even color schemes and fonts. Less is always more. If some functionality doesn’t need to be present, skip it in favor of a more streamlined look and feel.

Here’s a great example:

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There’s a reason Sarah and her team from WebChalet are featured in this year’s makeover as well! Here’s a website WebChalet did for a client in Russian River Valley that is so light on the eyes and easy to browse…there’s no way to get lost or sidetracked.

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4. Strong Imagery

A property’s photos are the first and foremost factor a traveler will view when considering your rental, so it should be no surprise that the best vacation rental websites use those photos loudly and proudly. A proper homepage should have a gorgeous set of gigantic photos…if you don’t have gorgeous photos, take a note out of Amy Firmani’s book and buy them immediately. Consider allowing the photos to take up 50-80% of the browser window.

Here’s A Great Example:

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The Brando is a luxury resort on French Polynesia and their website is stunning in its use of spectacular imagery.

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5. It’s Gotta Be Mobile-Friendly

Travelers are increasingly viewing vacation rental websites on mobile devices and tablets, which means that a great vacation rental website needs to be responsive and have the capacity to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. If you’ve ever tried to visit a non-mobile-friendly site on your smart phone or tablet, you’ll know what I mean: navigating is like trying to grab a needle with a pair of bolt cutters.

Here’s a great example:

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I just recently had a mobile version created for my website. Now, instead of seeing a compact miniscule version of the homepage, they see a clean easy-to-read mobile version ready to be accessed by any device. 

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6. Implementation Of A Video Element

All marketing and hospitality gurus point to one thing – video – as the definitive wave of the future in how travelers consume marketing information. Video fills in all those little holes that photos and compelling text simply cannot. Get a video commissioned or make your own DIY version like this. Put it front and center or link to it in the sidebar of all pages. The goal of your video should be to convey experience and further build trust and intrigue in what you are selling.

Here’s A Great Example:

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At my rentals in Panama, here’s a video I made back in 2012 (in the process of recording version 2.0) that really engages guests. They always recognize me upon arrival and ask where they can buy the coconut water. Here’s the video and below that is the column I place it on all pages of my website.

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7. Full Transparency Surrounding “YOU”

The vacation rental industry is new and ridden with all kinds of identity crises…both figuratively (it’s still in the process of finding itself) and literally (there are literally tons of annoying con artists pretending to be other people). So the best vacation rental websites always have a full bio that allows the potential guest to get to know who is the owner or manager, why they chose this location, photos to boot…etc. This goes for listing site pages too: if you aren’t utilizing the “About Us” section of your listing page you’re presenting a reason why you’re not trustworthy.

Here’s A Great Example:

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LindaLou and her Villa Seashell in Curucao has (among a number of other great facets) a tremendous “About Us” page where you can really get an idea of who she is and why this location holds such a special place in her heart.

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All of the examples in this post came from members in our Inner Circle. Thanks to them for being ROCKSTARS with their marketing.

Oh and feel free to share your website (whether it’s ready or in-progress) below in the comments section for feedback from other readers!

About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.

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