There are a few things you can do to your direct booking website that help increase bookings quickly. With some of these vacation rental marketing strategies, you’ll be independent from Airbnb in no time.
These tips are intuitive for the guest, and make it obvious to them that booking with you - directly from your website - is the best choice.
In this article, we’ll spell out:
- Where you should place things - including your booking button
- How to make people prefer booking directly with you over Airbnb
- Exactly where to place the elements of your vacation rental website, backed by data
- A trick to get people to find your direct booking website on Google
- How to make your vacation rental website stand out
Let’s take a look.
Vacation rental websites should be mobile responsive to increase bookings
Did you know that up to 80% of last-minute bookings are made on a mobile device?
Even if guests end up booking via desktop, you may lose them at the first touch. According to a survey by Skift, most people start their search for accommodation on mobile. If your website isn’t mobile-optimized yet, please do that now.
You can check if your vacation rental website is mobile responsive simply by dragging the corners of your browser, changing its size and seeing if the content adapts. See below:
If it doesn’t move like in this GIF and you have to scroll around to see the content, that means it’s not mobile responsive. More importantly, it means people on their mobile devices are leaving immediately.
So now that that’s squared away, let’s see where things should be positioned on your website.
Positioning of elements on your direct booking page
The most important thing is that your ‘Book Now’ button is clearly visible at the top-right corner of your website. Design psychology experts (also called UX designers) know that people expect important information (like where to book) to be at the top right corner of the page.
That’s just how the natural eye moves.
If your ‘Book Now’ button isn’t there, people will struggle to find it.
That’s for your desktop version, but for your mobile version it needs to move to the middle (as you saw in the GIF above).
People have fat thumbs, so make it big and easy to click.
About us for your direct booking website
After the main, large image slide, you should have a small ‘About us’ section.
In this section, include:
- Your name
- Your logo
- Your tagline, and
- A few lines about who you are.
This helps the FPG connect with you and see you as a human.
Supporting humans in their short-term rentals, rather than large corporate hotel chains, is one of the reasons people like short-term rentals, too.
Increase bookings with testimonials and reviews
This is probably the most important section of your website.
You can use Repuso as a plugin which extracts all the 5-star reviews from trusted websites: Facebook, Trustpilot, Google, Yelp, you name it.
This is what marketers call “social proof” and is what convinces buyers the most today.
We’ve always talked about how guest reviews are so important on Airbnb, but they’re just as important on your direct booking website. Include them here.
What we offer section
This is where you put what you offer, with beautiful and emotionally charged photos to support it.
You can divide it into sections, for example: “Breakfast” “Accomodation” “Events”, or whatever it is you offer your guests.
Make sure the photos of your listing are of good quality
Okay, not just your listing, but all the photos. Make it tell a story.
If you have a granary, show a picture of a 5-year old child with a baby lamb. If you serve breakfast, show a photo of the most mouthwatering blueberry pancakes and glass of orange juice anyone has ever seen. If you offer guided tours, but pictures of the scenery that makes people want to strap on their boots already.
People are visual creatures, don’t skimp the effort on your photos.
Use more icons than text to increase bookings
Some people will tell you that our generation is too lazy to read. It’s a bit of that, yes, but more importantly - people perceive and understand visual elements (like icons) faster than they do text.
Airbnb uses icons, Booking.com uses icons, and any large company with a UX Design team who knows what their doing will use icons.
It helps describe things easier, and helps break up text so that people don’t get overwhelmed by your website.
✅ I’m using an emoji here
✅ Doesn’t it look good?
✅ You should try using one on your website too
✅ I didn’t even have to download any icons
It’s important that you show what’s special about your property.
Why is it better than all the other properties out there?
This is where you show more pictures. All the bedrooms, the stunning idyllic locations, pictures of dogs having fun to show how pet-friendly you are. You can show pictures of your internet speed. Instead of saying “Fast internet”, show a screenshot of the actual speed of your internet.
You can do this easily by going to Speedtest.net and taking a screenshot of the result.
Special offer to increase direct bookings
This is what will make the difference between guests booking directly with you or from your listing on Airbnb (or another listing entirely).
You can give them a special incentive for booking directly with you: early check-in, late check-out, free breakfast, a special welcome basket, a future discount - get creative. Give them something they wouldn’t get if they booked on Airbnb.
Now that you’ve included all the above, you can show your rooms.
Every step of the website, you’re telling your guest another part of your story.
This section is like “our portfolio”.
Show pictures of every room in the property, the outside, and basically everything you’d include in your Airbnb photo section.
The next two sections are going to be the secret sauce that most short-term rental hosts don’t know about.
Use a blog to drive traffic to your direct booking website
Having a stand-alone page without any content that's getting regularly updated makes Google sad.
Start a blog and write about things to do in your area, local businesses, and you can even start a Pinterest account to drive traffic to your vacation rental articles.
Having a blog lets Google know your website is fresh and will make it easier for people to find you.
Use an FAQ for extra SEO juice to your direct booking website
The final touch is an FAQ section.
This is the secret sauce in 2020.
Frequently asked questions.
Take a look at this Google result when I search for "how to book a flight to Europe":
These are questions people actually ask related to the query.
Where do you think Google gets the answers to these?
From blog posts. If people want to know more, they can click through.
You can answer these questions on your websites.
This is called a rich snippet and is a powerful secret to getting traffic to your vacation rental website.