Marketing I made up this list after spending an entertaining afternoon looking at the worst of the worst vacation rental web sites. I am not naming and shaminng, and this is simply my opinion as one who sees a lot of sites and frequently asks for feedback from people who are looking for a cottage to rent. Reading an article by Valyn Perini on Tnooz – The Problem with Vacation Rental Websites supported most of my thoughts – it makes a good read as do the comments. 1. You made your website with a free template I have yet to see a decent website that has been made with a free template. This is not the place to cut costs as it will lose visitors while an attractive and well-optimised web site will pay back in site traffic and conversions. It’s inexpensive and relatively easy to set up a good looking web site with WordPress – it doesn’t have to look like a blog. Here’s a quick tutorial on doing this. 2. Photos are dull and grainy It’s the photos that sell your site so they need to be clear and attractive and show off rooms in the property. Guests want to imagine themselves eating, sleeping and relaxing in your place so if the furniture looks aged and lumpy; the beds are unmade, or unappealing, and the kitchen is cluttered, they are more likely to move on to the next listing than convert to a booking. 3. Photos don’t enlarge It’s the photos that sell your site so they need to be clear, attractive and large. This doesn’t mean just putting a huge image on a page – visitors are used to seeing a smaller picture and having it enlarge once clicked on. Alternatively use a slide show presentation like Slidedeck to showcase photos. 4. There is no consistent style from page to page Good web sites are designed with the visitor in mind. They use consistent colours and fonts from page to page and are easy on the eye. Bad vacation rental web sites are thrown together with little thought for consistency and design elements, use different styles, fonts and colours with underlining and italics all over the place. Here’s some tips on creating a really good site. 5. You have a one page home-made web site with everything on the page in no particular order Web savvy travellers are used to researching professionally designed web sites and when they come across a one-page amateur looking site they won’t stay around long unless it is clear and well-structured. 6. It takes more than 2 seconds to find out where the property is located If a visitor can’t find where the property is located in the first couple of seconds of a site visit, they will just go elsewhere. There’s plenty of other properties out there so why should anyone hang about trying to find out if your place is in the location they want. 7. The availability calendar is not up to date Visitors want accurate information and nothing irritates them more to see an available date they want to then find it has been booked and the calendar had not been updated. It’s almost a guarantee they won’t come back to the site. If you haven’t got a calendar on your site, try this one at Rental Calendars Direct – it’s free 8. Links don’t work It’s a lot of work to keep links up to date but it’s worth the effort. Broken links are frustrating and can be the reason a visitor will leave the page. This Daily SEO Tip recommends a plug in for a WordPress blog that will check for broken links. 9. The rates page says ‘Call us for Rates’ When there are hundreds of listings and web sites to look at, visitors want the information upfront and available and are unlikely to take the next step and pick up the telephone or email, when the next one is waiting for them with a clear rate structure. 10. The site lacks authenticity The media loves horror stories and reports of scams and vacation rentals that don’t exist grow every day. Unless your site has an authentic look and feel, visitors will move on pretty quickly. Counter this with a good About Us page and clear contact information.