We continue with our series of guest blog posts, the following guest blog is by Jenn Boyles, a holiday home owner herself & over 20 years experience as a graphic designer.
 

Think of your holiday let website as your online shop window. It is there to entice potential guests to come in. Like what they see and then book with you. It should be easy, shouldn’t it? You have a great place with a bunch of glowing reviews. But so many get it wrong. Here are five mistakes that I constantly see holiday let owners make.

1. No direct booking engine

The ultimate goal for your website is for guests to book with you, right? So why do so many websites ask guests to ring them or book through an OTA (online travel agent like Airbnb)? There are two main reasons why this is a huge mistake. 

The first is that you are making it harder for the guest to book with you. They are already on your website. They want to stay at your property. If they can’t book the dates they want right there and then… they’ll move on.

The second is why are you promoting another business instead of your own? By asking guests to book through an OTA you are telling them that you don’t have confidence in your business. You will also be making the guest pay more to book through an OTA than if they could book direct. You also have to pay commission on that booking.

Having a direct booking engine saves you money. It saves the guest money. It allows the guest to book right away.

2. Thinking that launching a website will be a quick win

Picture this: you’ve been working on your new website for weeks (or even months - yikes!). You launch it online and… crickets. Where are all the bookings? If you build it, they will come… right?

Wrong. No one knows you are there so how can they book? Having a website is only part of your digital marketing strategy. You need to put the work in to drive traffic to your site.

The first step in your digital marketing strategy is to figure out your ideal guest. Who are they? Where do they hang out online (Instagram/Facebook/etc.)? How can you reach them and get them to book with you?

Once you have a clear idea who your ideal guest is and what social media platforms they use, then you need to show up there and show them why they should book your accommodation. This will take consistent posting. Not posting seven times one day and nothing the next. Think about how much time you want to commit and then do it. Every day. 

It won’t happen overnight. It will take awhile to build a following and gain the trust your ideal guest needs to book with you.

3. Not keeping an eye on the analytics

Once your website is active, you need to open an account with Google Analytics. This is the only way you’ll know what is working and what isn’t on your site.

You’ll begin to see where viewers are spending their time and what they are clicking on. Are they getting to the final stage of making a booking and then stopping? Why is that? Google Analytics will help you solve the problem and help you spend your energy where it needs to be.

You will be able to see if your ideal guest is actually who is coming to your site. Or is a different ideal guest popping by that you should be focussing on?

And the best part is that Google Analytics is free.

4. Not keeping your site up-to-date

Have you ever been to a website and their last blog post was from 2017? Or the photos they are using look like they are ten years old?

It is so annoying for a potential guest see old information on a website. They could be all ready to book with you and this could really put them off. It shows a real lack of attention. It shows a real lack of interest. Potential guests might wonder what else you don’t pay attention to.

5. Doing it all yourself

You can’t do it all. None of us can. If there is a task you can outsource and you have the means to do it, then do it. Spend your time and energy on the areas of your business that need your expertise. 

Anyone can pull a rotten tooth out. But wouldn’t you want a dentist to do this for you?

Just like creating a website. Anyone can create one. But will it look like it was done by just anyone?

Remember your website is your online shop window. It is how you present your business to the world-wide web.

Whether that is a graphic designer who specialises in creating websites for holiday lets, a photographer who specialises in staging and interior photography or a copy writer who creates content that converts – hiring professionals will show off your property to its full potential and get you direct bookings.

JENN BOYLES is a holiday let owner and a professional graphic designer with over 20 years experience. She helps holiday let owners achieve direct bookings by teaching them the skills and strategies to enable them to build their business on their own terms through branding, website design and digital marketing strategies. You can find out more on her website: jbdirectiondesign.com and on her Facebook page: facebook.com/jbdirectiondesign