5 steps to building a website for your Airbnb property, using a free WordPress theme

Text placeholder (12).jpg“How do I start a website for my Airbnb property?”

“Should I have a separate website for my Airbnb property?”

I get asked these questions all the time, and my recommendation depends on where you are in your hosting journey.  If you are just getting started, you don’t need the extra expense of a website.  Instead, focus on your social media game, which is free and something you probably already know how to do. 

An additional website is for more experienced hosts, who are serious about growing their Airbnb business.   Once you have crossed over from paying the mortgage to making a profit, you should be reinvesting in advertising and marketing to grow your business. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is through a website.  You can use a website to advertise your cohosting services, multiple properties, or to start generating your own bookings.

We have our own website, where we advertise our cohosting services and promote our listings.  A number of cohosting clients have found us through direct website inquiries, and we can easily collect emails of past and future guests.

However, we still link back to our listing on Airbnb for bookings.  In our experience, people already have a trust built up with the Airbnb brand, and are more likely to book knowing they are backed by Airbnb.  It streamlines things on our end, too – the cleaners go one place to see the schedule, and we can use previously saved messages through the app.  There is also the added comfort of the host guarantee and customer service.

Our website has brought in numerous clients, bookings, and press.  Since Omaha is such a small vacation rental community, our website ends up being on the first page of google when people search for “omaha vacation rental” and “omaha vacation rental management”.

I am not incredibly technically savvy, so setting up our website was a bit of a learning curve.  Luckily, after 3 years of managing our own site and creating them for other vacation rentals owners, I can easily walk you through the process.

Overview: the process consists of 5 steps

  1. How to choose the best Domain Name and web hosting for your vacation rental website
  2. Best Free WordPress theme for a vacation rental host
  3. How to Arrange your new vacation rental website
  4. What to add to your new vacation rental website
  5. How to promote your new vacation rental website to future and previous guests

1. Domain Name and web hosting

First thing’s first – your website needs a domain name.  That is essentially the address where your website will live.  The most professional domains end in a .com.  Although there are a lot of domain hosts out there, my favorite is Bluehost.  It’s already pretty reasonably priced, but blog readers can click on the link to enjoy half off for a whole year.

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You will be taken to this screen, where you can select one of three plans.  This choice totally depends on how involved you want to be in your website.  If you just want a simple, low maintenance site, the cheapest plan is fine.  If you want to add lots of pages, do advertisements on Google, and have a domain email, the third plan is going to be your best bet (and you can click this link to get it for more than half off!)

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Once you have chosen your plan, you get to pick your domain name.  Instead of using your Airbnb property name, use some general key words or phrases.  What might people google when searching for someplace to stay in your area?  For example, our website is vacationrentalsomaha.com.  So when people search for “vacation rentals in Omaha”, we will always be near the top simply because of the key words in our name.

2. Best free WordPress theme for vacation rental owners

After that, install WordPress.  You will be prompted to customize your webpage and install a theme.  If you are wanting to do your own online bookings through the site, you will have to install a premium theme.  However, we just redirect our traffic to our Airbnb page.  Considering they take care of interface, payments, and guest issues, I am more than happy to pay the additional fee and not have to deal with those headaches.

Under themes, search for Goran.

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Scroll down, and click on the “Grid Page Template” to install.

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3. How to arrange a website for your Airbnb property

*For any pictures that you add to your website, ensure that they are licensed for commercial use.  One of my favorite places to get images for free is Unsplash.com.

Download a picture of your city for the homepage of your site. Click “header image” in the menu on the right

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And click add new image, to upload your photo.

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Click the back arrow, and then menu, and primary.  Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.43.41 PM

Then click on Add items, which will pop out an additional menu.  Add one page for each property or room that you want to include on your website. Make sure to click the checkmark for adding to primary menu.

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Refresh your page, and these pages should be added to the top menu.

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Click on the first property name (property #1 in this example), and then click the Edit (in red).

That will open up a new tab, taking you to a page that looks like this:

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This is where you can describe your Property #1 in detail.

First, you will want to add some pictures.

At the top right of the box (under the title Property #1) click on the add, then media in the dropdown box.  This will cause a new screen to pop up.

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Click Add New on the top left, and add the pictures for the property (you can add multiple pictures at once by holding down shift as you click). Make sure all of the photos you want to add are selected (like in the picture above) and hit continue.

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Underneath layout, select slideshow, and insert.

You should already have a description of your property on your Airbnb page, so just copy and paste from there!

After a general description, make a list of all your amenities and then highlight them.  Click on the paragraph symbol, which will switch to some arrows.

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Click on transform to list

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After your description and listed amenities, you will want to add a “Book Now” button that will link back to your Airbnb page.

Click on the circled plus sign to add a block. Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 5.21.02 PM.png

Select the Button option.

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Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 5.22.40 PMClick on the “Add text” and type whatever words you want your button to say.  We chose “Book Now!” You can mess around with the shape of the button by clicking on the square to the right.  Underneath the button, copy and paste your Airbnb professional listing page.

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To find your Airbnb professional listing page, go to the dashboard of your Airbnb hosting account.  On the right hand side, under the Refer Hosts button, you will see “Go to Pro Marketing Page”.  You can add a customized picture header, as well as your logo (if you have one). Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 5.26.19 PM

If you want to change the color of your button, click on the settings icon (the gear in the box on the upper right hand side)

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Finally, click the middle alignment to put your button in the middle of the page.

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Finally, add some customer testimonials.

Add a heading block that simply says, Testimonials, or Reviews.

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Go to your Airbnb page, and screen shot your favorite 5 star reviews of the property.  Be sure to not include the name or picture of the person, or the price.

Then, add a gallery block.

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Use shift to select the screenshots of the reviews.

4. What to add to your vacation rental website

Now, repeat that process for each of your properties or rooms.

Go back to your home page, and write an overall description of your company, how long you have been hosts, etc.

Then add a “Book Now” button at the top of the page (a call to action!)

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And add a picture and overview of each of your properties onto the first page, using the media and text block.

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I think it looks nice when they are staggered – so picture on right, text on left, then picture on left text on right.

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I didn’t write a whole lot in this sample, just enough to give you an idea of what it will look like.  Try to write at least a paragraph about each property – you can repeat some of the info that is on their individual pages.  On the right, you can change your font size and color.

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In addition to the pages about your properties, you should also add an “about me” page, “contact us” page, and you can even link your instagram page to automatically upload pictures. But the home page and your properties are a great start!

5. How to promote your vacation rental website to old and new guests

Although I will go in depth on this in a future article, here are some easy ways to promote your new vacation rental website:

  1. share the link on your business and personal social media
  2. promotional advertising material in your listing (business cards, pens, postcards, etc)
  3. post it on nearby city’s Facebook forums
  4. see if you can advertise on your local tourism’s website
  5. post flyers on local college campuses (parents will want to come visit!)
  6. make sure you include lots of key words in your descriptions
  7. bring business cards with you and pass them out wherever you go
  8. include the general name of your website when reviewing guests (for example, Samantha was great! We would host her at any of our Vacation Rentals Omaha homes again!)

 

You don’t need to be a web developer (or pay big bucks for one!) to have a website for your Airbnb listing.  Although building a website is a tedious process, after the initial set up, your website is very low maintenance.  Even if you only get one or two bookings a year through your site, it will more than pay for itself.  And remember that it is tax deductible!  We have had a few people find us through our website, but the biggest advantage has been finding cohosting Airbnb clients in the Omaha area who want us to help manage their properties.  Good luck, and share your finalized website in the comments!

 

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