Vacation Rental Website Branding

These 3 Steps Will Make Your Vacation Rental Website A Superstar

Building Your Website’s Brand, 101

Step 1: The Competitive Landscape

The first step property management companies have to take when brand building is to understand the competitive landscape.

Put yourself in the shoes of the traveler: given the choice, would you book through the website of an OTA or your property’s website? And why?

UX Vacation Rental Websites

When looking at competition, including neighboring properties as well as the OTA sites, ask yourself:

  • Who provides a better user experience?
  • Who has the best sales pitch?
  • Who offers the best prices?
  • Who provides best value proposition? And is that value proposition clear to the visitor?

Websites with a poor user experience have a big disadvantage. Users expect fast-loading, easy to use, and well-designed websites when conducting business. If your website is falling short in any of these areas, chances are you’re losing business.

Is your sales pitch clear and transparent? Is the value you’re providing front and center?Travelers don’t like to find hidden, or hard to find answers to common questions. Property managers need to formulate and elevate a clear sales pitch.

Are competitors beating your advertised prices? Surprisingly, this is common with the vacation rental industry when working with OTA’s. Travelers are savvy searchers and will find the lowest price online.

Your value proposition is the guarantee that they’re getting the best coupling of a great deal and great experience by booking direct.. Booking direct should offer better perks than the competition advertises, and it should be easy to understand why on your website.

By asking the above questions, you should have gained a number of valuable insights.

Take Action:  To complete the first step in building a brand, leverage those insights to fix the issues discovered in the competitive analysis.

Step 2: How Do You Rank?

Vacation Rental Ranking Results

When it comes to customers, a key factor of brand trust is found with rankings. The average searcher finds more trust in higher-ranked websites.

Achieving desired ranking results to compete against OTAs is a long-term play, especially for broad search phrases. In a perfect world, a property manager’s website would show up #1 for all correlating phrases for vacation rentals in your location.

However, the reality is that very few property sites are able achieve these results, especially in the short term.

The key to improving ranking placement is developing a methodical, long-term plan to grow rankings over time. This slow-and-steady approach will prove valuable for property managers, IF they’re willing to invest in a long-term play.

It’s also important to be realistic when undertaking a search-focused campaign. Depending on current rankings and domain authority, it is imperative to understand, and work towards, realistic goals.

Take Action: To complete step 2 in building an online brand, develop a strategy to improve rankings to capture organic search traffic before the OTA’s.

Step 3: Playing PR

PR for Vacation Rentals

Many website owners do not believe PR is as important as a brick-and-mortar business. While most brick-and-mortar businesses understand that continually getting the word out in the local community to build loyalty and awareness is a key step in bringing people through the door, website-based businesses often do very little to bring the same kind of attention to their site.

If property management companies hope to compete with the OTAs, they not only need to do public relations effectively among the local community, but they also need to focus on PR within targeted geographical areas.

OTA’s spend millions annually on public relations to help with awareness and trust. If property management companies hope to compete, they’ll have to learn the ropes of playing the public relations game just as well.

Travelers will not typically use the services of a company that hasn’t earned, first, their awareness, and secondly, their trust.

Consider these public relations opportunities to grow both awareness and trust:

  • Target local organizations and businesses with opportunities to collaborate
  • Ingratiate your business to social networking and online groups by offering expertise
  • Develop a community service plan that targets media savvy non-profits
  • Pitch local/national media outlets with interesting stories on your location
  • Reach out to influencers and look for opportunities to work together

Take Action: To complete step 3, research potential areas to improve public relations locally and within geographic targets to reach potential guests.


Competing against OTAs is achievable if you’re willing to invest in your brand. Click to Tweet

How much would profits increase if your property management company captured just 25% of the bookings generated from OTA’s first?

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