2009 seems so long ago, but that’s when we launched our first state-specific, vacation rental website: RentWisconsinCabins.com, from a home office in Waunakee, WI. Now we have 6 Live websites with plans for 21 sites by the middle of 2017. We now have ‘legit’ office space in Middleton, WI.
It didn’t take long for rental owners & property managers around the country to tell us that there is a big demand for a listing website that embraces the “Book Direct” philosophy. We speak to vacation rental owners & managers often, and the conversations are similar; “large OTA’s are out of control! They control our inventory, rates and are now charging our renters an extra traveler fee.” Our consistent growth has confirmed that large OTA’s are not the only advertising choice.
RentWisconsinCabins.com: Nearly 700 rentals
RentMinnesotaCabins.com: Nearly 400 rentals
RentMichiganCabins.com: Over 200 rentals
Plus our newer states RentNewYorkCabins.com, RentMontanaCabins.com and RentTennesseeCabins.com: Over 200 rentals
…We are just getting warmed up!
Our renter traffic grows an average of 48% every year. Over the last year, our websites attracted over 1 million page views.
Why take on the time & expense to roll out unique websites for so many states? It’s never been done before! By 2012, our Wisconsin website proved that (even from a home office) we can compete long term with large OTA’s in Google Search by targeting regional organic long tail keywords & topics. Search for yourself – go to Google and type in popular terms like Wisconsin vacation rentals; wisconsin cabins; wisconsin cabin rentals, etc. Then try michigan vacation rentals; michigan cabin rentals; mn cabin rentals, etc. There we are!! From these first page results, how many “book direct” websites do you see?
We also discovered the immediate need for “traveler fee” education. We recently added a question about traveler fees to our survey and were shocked to learn that nearly every respondent had no idea that booking websites charge a traveler fee. What we’ve know for years though is that renters prefer to book vacation rentals with the owners and local managers 25-1.
What do you think of booking vacation rentals directly with owners/managers?
Joe and Team
JM Creative Group