Choosing the best vacation rental software, or property management software, can be a challenging process. It is among the most critical decisions property managers face and it can, on occasion, feel overwhelming. Scale, guest management, and pricing are just a few of the factors that must be taken into consideration before a final decision can be made.
One thing that tends to elude property managers is that property management software selection has a dramatic impact on the front end of a business – i.e. the booking funnel. In this article, we explore how your property management software can impact your marketing strategies and what to be on the lookout for.
The majority of today’s vacation rental software companies, including LiveRez, Streamline, and United Rentals, all offer frontend options in addition to their backend management programs All of the aforementioned options provide clients with rental software, channel management, and a direct booking website.
On the other end of the vacation rental software spectrum are companies who specialize only on back-of-house operations, Escapia and Barefoot are good examples of this.
While the primary focus of this article is on the website and booking funnel aspect of your company’s operations, we’ll also touch on how your backend setup can impact your marketing outcomes.
Understanding Site Speed
One of the most important differentiators is website loading time / site speed. Site speed is an increasingly critical factor in how well your website ranks for organic search results.
On top of SEO rankings, having a slow site does not leave prospective guests with a good first impression of your business. If you haven’t checked your current website loading time recently, we recommend using this free Google tool.
Below are the average homepage loading times after testing three sites each from the top three software providers:
|Avg Mobile Speed Score
|Avg Desktop Speed Score
While a homepage comparison across this trio of providers isn’t a comprehensive site speed study, it does give a decent glimpse of how these popular vacation rental software options function.
What’s most surprising about these numbers is the low scores all three received on mobile. As more and more travelers are booking on their phones, having a mobile score that’s below 70-80 is cause of concern.
Some of the technical SEO components that can reduce page loading speed are:
- Reducing redirects
- Leveraging browser caching
- Increase server speed
- Using CDNs
One of the simplest things you can do to increase your website’s loading speed instantly is to reduce image sizes and ensure that each image is properly sized and optimized for its box. Large homepage hero images should be under 2 MBs. All other images should be under 100 KB in size.
Targeted Landing Pages
In regards to marketing, the ability to create specialized landing pages for common searches is also crucial and should play a role in your vacation rental software selection process.
For example, in a recent post we shared the importance of developing landing pages for key phrases like “Units with Wifi,” “Units with Flexible Cancelling Policies,” and “Units Near Hiking Trails.”
In short, you need to be able to create landing pages for COVID-friendly amenities because these are what vacationers are searching for right now on search engines like Google.
Not all vacation rental website builders allow users to create those types of landing pages out of the box.
For example, Lodgify has a template that, as far as we’re aware, doesn’t have these customizable landing pages.
LiveRez has the ability to create basic HTML pages but requires their support team to set up the page and add it to your site’s navigation.
Questions To Ask When Choosing Property Management Software
We recommend asking the following questions during the vacation rental software sales process:
Is there any limit on unit description lengths?
Long descriptions don’t always get more SEO traction, but short, boring descriptions can be overlooked by search engines. If you’re unsure how to write killer property descriptions, we can help. Our team specializes in content creation for property managers.
What size will my photos render through the API and/or on your website?
Sometimes, software providers only send small pictures to Airbnb, VRBO, and any other third-party booking website. Photos are the most important factor when it comes to getting bookings! Ask to see examples of how a given software provider’s photos render on OTAs and direct booking websites.
Will bedding descriptions and floor plan information feed through the API?
Not all APIs support information of this nature, which means clients like you have to either enter details manually on your direct booking website or be left without it.
The technical SEO end of marketing and SEO is where many property managers begin to grow bored. Fortunately, this is the part of the business that gets us excited!
Without going too deeply into the weeds, here are essential “on-page” SEO items all property managers should take into consideration:
- Does the platform you’re considering allow you to modify your site map?
- Does it support multiple languages?
- Do the URLs look clean and easy-to-read?
- Can you create customized, unique title tags for every page (including property pages)?
If you have questions about digital marketing, how your website is performing, or how to increase bookings please reach out to our team of vacation rental experts. We can’t wait to work with you.