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Vacation Rental Domination - A case study

Vacation Rental Domination - A case study

Published on June 22, 2018 by alan egan

There is lots of talk about individual vacation rental websites.

Some say that you can’t rank in Google and you won’t get bookings.

But in this article, I will show you stone cold proof that you can. It's not even that difficult.

Meet Steve

Exactly one year ago, I created a vacation rental website for Steve. Steve has a cabin (Pike Point, behind Steve in the above photograph) in the Adirondacks, New York State.

Steve was aware that I make destination-based websites that showcase the area as well as the property. These are media-rich sites that contain articles and videos about the reasons people visit the area. Steve said that he wanted the best vacation rental website ever!

We identified that the main reasons for visiting the Adirondacks are for hiking, water sports, the incredible landscape and the wildlife within it, winter sports and fishing.

I packed the site with information relevant to people searching for these topics. It’s these pages that attract site visitors via search.

As I said, the site is a year old this week.

Steve has taken just over $150,000 of bookings in the those 12 months.

All through the website.

All #bookdirect bookings, no commission or listing fees. No third party cancellation policies.

Steve also had direct communication with all of his potential guests.

You can see Steve’s site here…

There’s more to this story…

We launched the website last June but by November Steve could see that he was going to be fully booked. He wrote to me saying,

What’s the point of having a website that’s this good, if I can only take $60,000 a year.

So he bought the house next door,

Beach point was born...

He carried out a makeover (replaced the furniture) and bought new water sports equipment and added that to the site.

It started booking straight away.

It didn’t stop there…

Steve’s brother was impressed with what he was seeing happen so he also bought a house in the area and they added that to the site too.

Placid Point was born... It too was added to the website

It started getting bookings

  • People love this website
  • The site has had 21,478 visitors in the first 12 months
  • About one-third of those visitors return to the site more than once
  • Those site visitors have viewed 148,000 pages
  • With the average visitor viewing over 5 pages per visit
  • The bounce rate is an incredible 0.54 percent
  • People that visit this site, stay on this site.

So, why does this site work so well?

Well, if you look through the site you will see that this site has many great features.

First off it's entirely focused on its visitors and their needs. It's mostly about what they can see and do in the Adirondacks. If it inspires them and they decide to visit, they will need somewhere to stay.

When it comes to vacation rental websites there is one overriding factor that inhibits people from booking - DOUBT - If people have doubts (about anything) they won't book.

If you can remove peoples doubts they will book.

VR websites need to answer as many potential guest questions as they can. I'm not talking about questions about the property. I'm talking about the more general questions that people have. "Is this where we want to spend our vacation"? "What would we do if we go there"?

If your website answers these key questions you will capture many more bookings than a property only site.

Steve's site contains over 20 videos (over an hour of viewing) showing everything from hiking trails to a moose drinking from the edge of the lake. There are videos on white water rafting and a lot of videos of winter sports ( The site also benefits from some fantastic photographs.

But there's more to it than that.

I create a lot of vacation rental websites and this one books more than most. So I started to look at why some sites do better than others. As it turns out, the sites that do the best have the most dedicated site owners.

The owners that #bookdirect the most are those that put in the most work. It's pretty obvious really.

If you want to do well at anything in life you have to work at it. The worlds best athletes don't just turn up and compete, they train, they work hard.

Many VR owners think that when their website goes live the job is done but the reality is that the job is just beginning. Sites need to be maintained, expanded, tinkered with and improved.

A vacation rental website is an owners shop window to the world and shop windows need to be dressed, shops need to be staffed and shoppers needs need to be catered for and met.

In conclusion...

At the beginning of this article I said that getting direct bookings isn't that difficult and I stand by that. It's not that difficult (or expensive) to create a site like Steve's. You can find lots of videos on Youtube for just about every location on the planet. Professional photos don't break the bank.

Creating a stand out site is relatively easy as most owners don't have the time or inclination to build a site of quality.

The hard part is committing to the ongoing work and dedication needed to turn it into a booking machine like Steve's site.

Want to know more?

I gave a presentation about these sorts of sites at last years Vacation Rental World Summit and you can see that session here.

You will see more of the thinking behind this type of marketing and why it works (jump to the 15 minute mark if you are strapped for time).

Now, you may not take $150,000 of bookings in the first year as Steve has, in fact you probably won't but don't let anyone tell you that it's not possible - BECAUSE IT IS!

I hope that you find the video useful and that it inspires you into action.

You can see more example destination websites built with these same concepts here

Alan Egan is co-founder and head chef at Vacation Soup, a platform that helps vacation rental owners build their brand in order to help them escape the ever-rising costs of doing business with the big listing companies.

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