If you rent a vacation home or operate a bed and breakfast, a web presence is now essential. Most tourists today plan their trips using the internet.
However, the market has become dominated by online booking websites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor, and by online listing agencies such as Air BnB and VRBO (formerly HomeAway). These services charge the accommodation owner a percentage of bookings made through them, which feels like a lot, but your competition is using them and so are your guests, so it’s hard to avoid unless you’re in a very specialized niche or have many units.
Air BnB is now dominating the industry and is currently the primary place you should list, before and probably instead of setting up a website, unless you have a very special niche.
Too bad, because I used to enjoy designing websites for tourist accommodations. I would strive to convey a feeling for the scenery and/or the decor of the house in the website. I figure that the people who will want to stay there will be attracted to a website that reflects the house’s personality.
Having your own website does give people an opportunity to book with you directly and avoid the booking fees. However, if you’re only renting a couple of rooms, you’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits. Right now, it looks like AirBnB.com is the first place to list, and maybe the only listing you need.