I recently responded to the following question: “Does having your own holiday property website help in getting more bookings?” which was posted on a popular French property forum. The context of the question was really whether a personal website was likely to generate more bookings than placing your property on one or more holiday rental listing directories.
Whilst comparisons like this are never black and white, I do think that having your own website is a great idea. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also place your property on a few listing sites too (especially while your new website is building momentum in the early days), but I would definitely recommend having your own holiday property website for the following reasons:
1. You have complete control over the type and quantity of content that is used to market your property
2. Over time (assuming your site has good SEO and some legwork on your part) your website will get more traffic
3. Over time you should even be able to reduce your reliance on listing sites – thereby reducing your costs
4. Even with your own domain name and hosting costs you can still have a great looking site for a lot smaller investment than was necessary just a few years ago – hundreds, rather than thousands of pounds (and it could even be free if you do it yourself with a publishing platform such as WordPress)
5. When a visitor reaches YOUR website you have their total attention. With a listing site your visitor generally has dozens of other properties to compare against yours and to choose from
6. When building links (for example, through social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, blog comments and forums) to promote your property you will be marketing YOUR OWN website and not the listing site that you are paying to place your property on
7. Eventually, if your site develops reasonable traffic, you might even be able to sell a little advertising in order to help cover running costs
8. Even further out – if you ever decide to sell your property, for example, you may be able to boost the sale price by offering to include the website in the sale as a marketing asset for the new owners
9. You can enhance your own website to use new techniques / technologies as and when they become available rather than having to wait for your listing sites to change
10. You can also save time by only having to update 1 content source (your website) rather than updating your listing on each of the listing sites you are using
Essentially, having your own holiday property website gives you control, more design authority, and (I think) most importantly, it gives you security – nobody will ever take it away from you… you own your domain and you control what is on it! What would you do if your listing site(s) suddenly lost favour with the search engines? What if the Facebook page that you have carefully built over the years with all your texts and photos, was suddenly removed or lost? Listing sites are either good or they are bad – if they are good then your costs are likely to rise over the years; however, if they are bad, then you probably shouldn’t be with them anyway.
As I said right at the beginning of this article – it might be a good idea to list your property on a few external sites, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket just in case the basket changes or disappears altogether. Where would that leave your business?