Creating a Local Guide for Your Vacation Rental Website

Mike Stachowiak —  September 25, 2012

Travel Concierge on DutyI think the third most frequently asked question I get from travelers — after “What are your rates?” and “Is your vacation rental available for these dates?” — is “What activities and restaurants would you recommend near your home?”

We typically go back and forth via email, me asking them what kinds of activities they like, whether they’re traveling with children, what type of food they’re looking for, etc, etc. Basically, I become their travel concierge.

I decided it was a lot easier to just start posting my recommendations, favorite restaurants and upcoming events to my website. You can do the same and save yourself countless hours by directing travelers to your website. Plus, a local guide will also help your vacation rental website be found more easily online.

Website Optimization

Customer service is not the only reason to put together a local guide. It’s a great way to increase the number of people that will find your site because it improves search engine optimization — making it easier to find by showing up more often and more prominently in search results — by including a variety of long‐tail keywords. Remember to liberally include links when compiling your local recommendations.

If you want to feature yourself as a local expert, a blog is a great way to create lots of content around keywords that potential travelers might be searching for. Create a separate article for each activity or recommendation.

A Local Guide Checklist

The Basics

  • A neighborhood or regional map — embed a Google Map
  • Nearest airport or train station — include the distance to your home and directions
  • Transportation — public transportation, bus routes and schedules, local taxi service and contact info
  • Medical services — an easy to locate list of local hospitals, clinics and pharmacies
  • Emergency services — locate the nearest police station, sheriff department, and fire station

Tourist Sites

Local Travel GuidesIf you’re a local, these are often the places you only go to when playing host to out‐of‐towners, but they’re often the most memorable spots for vacationers.

  • Buildings of architectural or historic interest
  • Famous landmarks
  • Notable neighborhoods
  • Local or docent-led tours
  • Tourist and visitor center – a great resource for researching local activities
  • Search a few online guides such as ArrivalGuides.com or Lonely Planet for more ideas

Entertainment

There will certainly be more options in urban areas, but guests will always appreciate a local’s view.

  • Dining — include your favorites and top-rated restaurants from Yelp
  • Nightlife, theaters and music venues — link to the calendar of events so they can search for concerts or dance clubs
  • Sporting events
  • Upcoming events — search Eventful in your area

Recreation & Nature

City or country, have tips for those that want to play outside.

Other Tips

A shameless plug, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, check out MyVR’s local guidesthis is mine ). It makes it easy for you to recommend your favorite places, show the best rated spots in your area, list upcoming events, and it automatically incorporates daily deals from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Overall, it’s important to be expansive when creating your guide. Try not to let your personal preferences overly dictate the things you include. While you’ll want to use your best judgment (i.e. you might not want to recommend a restaurant you haven’t tried unless it comes well vetted), the broader the content, the more likely your guide will be useful and enhance your guests’ vacation experience.

photo credits: rosefirerising and hyperakt

Mike Stachowiak

Mike Stachowiak

Posts

Co-founder at MyVR.com. Mike Stachowiak is an entrepreneur, technologist, and active member of the start-up community in Silicon Valley. He has a vacation home in North Lake Tahoe and has been active in the vacation rental industry since 2009. You can find him on Twitter and Google+.
MyVR Free Trial