Growing Your Website: 5 Things Your Guests Want To Know About

Jonathan Murray —  November 5, 2013

You know your website is key to attracting bookings and making money. But how do you keep a website fresh and growing?

The more information you provide, the better prepared your visitors will be and the more potential guests you’ll attract. However, it has to be useful and relevant. What do your guests want to know?

"Security Westec" on flickr, by Derek Bridges (CC BY 2.0)You probably already know a lot of the key questions. However, a survey by CNN Travel this spring also helpfully asked people what mattered most to them when choosing a destination. The top results?

  1. security and safety
  2. price
  3. reputation
  4. knowledge and availability of information
  5. diversity of things to do, amenities

Your website can put this information at their fingertips – not just through an easy-to-share local guide, but also through regular updates.

How do you get the right message across? Here are a few ideas.

Security and safety

The CNN survey looked at international destinations, where situations like civil unrest can factor in. But on a smaller scale, security and safety still matter very much.

Use your website to share your experience with your guests and set realistic expectations:

  • Offer your own safety tips. What do you and other locals know that a visitor may not?
  • Profile businesses within walking distance: introduce the owners, link to the business website, and make recommendations about products your guests may want to try.
  • Interview the neighborhood watch leader (or comparable). Not only does this introduce someone who will be recognizable to your guests, it may also help build a positive relationship with your neighbors.

Talking about safety and security isn’t about trying to hide flaws; it’s about sharing your experience with your guests and setting realistic expectations.

In fact, Vacation Rental Marketing Blog’s Matt Landau has had a great response to a guide for his property, 5 Crackheads You MUST Meet In Casco Viejo – not what you’d expect in a travel guide, but something he’s used “to alleviate traveler’s concerns about our neighborhood…and give a face and some names to the individuals they may run into.”

Price

Pricing is one of the top criteria travelers consider when choosing a vacation rental – and finding it is one of their top frustrations.

What can you do, beyond listing your rates on your website?

  • Highlight popular attractions that cost little or nothing to enjoy.
  • Offer local recipes for people who want to take advantage of your full kitchen.
  • Share where the locals shop. In some areas, people can buy direct from farmers and other producers – if they know who to ask.

This can be a great way to use your local knowledge to highlight lesser-known attractions while making trip planning easy for people who want to stay with you.

Reputation

One of the top ways to prove your reputation is by sharing the experiences of other people.

  • Choose a selection of noteworthy reviews and request permission to highlight them on your website.
  • Ask former guests to share their vacation photos and (with permission) share them on your website to showcase both your property and the area around it.
  • Do you have repeat guests? Ask them to share their own recommendations of things to do and see.

Regular updates to your website and other online outreach help prove that you’re a real person, running a real business – something that can help build confidence in your potential guests.

"Indak Indak sa Kadalanan Kadawayan Festival 2012" on flickr by Jeff Pioquinto (CC BY 2.0)

Knowledge and availability of information

You don’t have to generate all the information you share from scratch; think about other information providers who would be of interest. This might include:

  • local news and weather
  • local community organizations, like the theater and library
  • service providers, especially if people rent your home for events like weddings and reunions
  • maps and travel schedules, especially if reaching your property includes time-sensitive transportation, like a ferry
  • nearby attractions

Some of this can be included in your local guide, but providing easily-accessible links on your website makes the information easy to find (for your guests and search engines).

Diversity of things to do, amenities

Regular updates about events and activities helps keep your guests informed and your website a source for up-to-date information.

Highlighting activities to do on a budget, top things to do, places to eat and events that locals never miss are just a few ways to showcase your community and convince people that your vacation rental is the perfect place to use as a home away from home.

How have you grown your website to attract travelers and keep your guests in the know? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

photos by Derek BridgesJeff Pioquinto

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray

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Before starting MyVR, he co-founded Lift Media (acquired), a lead generation company that worked with clients like American Express, Netflix, and Fandango. He started MyVR after being frustrated with setting up his own Sonoma cottage as a vacation rental. He studied engineering at Bucknell University and received his MBA from Stanford University.
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