While I am pretty sure the How the Internet Works diagram above isn’t right, fortunately none of us really need to know how the Internet works to have a great property website. I have been a technology nerd for a while with property websites for a number of years. Throughout this time, I asked many of my guests about what was important to them about a property website. Here is what I learned:
- Make it Easy to Use
Chances are that your website visitor found you while on your listing which means they probably are shopping other properties. Make your website landing page stunning and simple or they will move on to your competition.
The best way to accomplish this is to pick a clean website template or theme for your site. Also keep your copy simple and minimal. Sketch out your web design using what the professional designers call a wireframe. A wireframe is basically a webpage drawing. Putting it on paper really gets you thinking through the best way to structure your content. The Goldmine Toolkit Design Worksheets can be a great help to get a simple and well thought out design. Homepage Design Worksheet
- Show The Details in Pictures
Listing sites have greatly improved their ability to showcase photos by implementing capabilities such as photo sliders with larger pictures. While improved, listing sites have limits on the number and size of photos. Use your website to implement a large and comprehensive photo gallery. This allows your guests to research and get convinced your property is the right one for them.
There are lots of great Photo Gallery options out there. This is especially the case if you are using a website builder such as WordPress. Here is a review of some of the best Best Photo Galleries Purposefully pick your photos and order. Some of your prospective guests will look at every photo. Most will not go beyond 10-15 photos, so make sure those really count.
- Give Information Beyond the Listing
Don’t waste your guest’s time or yours by rehashing your listing content on your website. While you will absolutely have some common content, provide the guest new, rich information that excite and boost their confidence to book your vacation home. In the Vacation Rental Goldmine Book, I discuss four different kinds of guest shoppers. One of those types is the Researcher who needs extensive information before making a booking decision. A well done property website is gold for these prospective guests as they look to investigate every aspect of your vacation home and experience before booking.
Area information about local attractions and restaurants is excellent content for researching guests. Show them your favorite experiences so they can do them too. This makes their research and planning easy. Include floor plan diagrams so your guests can see the layout and plan the details of their stay. Also, consider adding photos of useful features that aren’t exciting enough to include in the listing. Examples could include pictures of a keycode lock, outdoor storage, grill, or other useful amenities. Add these photos in your gallery after experiential and property photos. Many of your website visitors will not take the time to look at them, but it could make the difference for some between booking your property or moving on to others.
- It’s Nice to Get to Know You
Add an Owners page to your property website that introduces you/your family and tells guests “your vacation home story”. Numerous guests have commented that they liked getting to know a bit about us or mentioned things that told me they read the owners page. Sharing your vacation home story invites them to join your experience and hopefully begin connecting to your property. Some guests honestly won’t care about this page, however many go the rent by owner route to work directly with owners. Stands to reason they would want to know who they are working with.
A solid structure for your Owners page includes an introduction of you, your vacation home story, and some narrative on what guest experience you strive to create. The introduction is straightforward. Your vacation home story could include why you bought it, what you love about it or what memories you create on your visits. As for customer experience, briefly tell guests the steps you take to make their experience great. If you are always available to guests, this is also good to call out.
The Goldmine Toolkit contains numerous website design and build tools to help you get started or optimize your existing site – The Goldmine Toolkit. If you prefer a more hands off approach, WebChalet is an excellent option specialized for vacation property sites – WebChalet.