Short term rental website for my gated resort community

In many gated resort communities owners offer their properties for short term rental. Other owners utilise the property for residential purposes. The resort may not permit short term rentals. Where they do permit it there will generally be an operational architecture wrapped around this process. Usually there will be a Resort Management Committee or Board. This will be made up of property owners in the resort who give over their time to provide a decision making forum for the resort. They will generally contract the day to day management of the resort to a Home Owner Association Management Company. Owners in the resort short term renting their properties will often want to initiate or ask the HOA management company to provide a website where potential guests can find and book short term rental properties.

Getting set up

There are complexities with offering such a website. There are also huge benefits. Often such a website comes with an operational overhead. Someone needs to administrate the website and generally take control of the enterprise. They will need to find appropriate software or a supplier to technically set up and run the site and agree a model to pay for this service. They will then need to populate the site with content, give the site a social media presence and use Search Engine Optimisation practices to make sure potential guests are aware the site exists. The decision to set up a resort rental portal will be one for the Resort Management Board. However they may not want to run it. Having it run by an owner or group of owners is often not a good idea as owners come and go. Having it run by an independent 3rd party is the best approach. Such a service is not dissimilar to a contract for grounds maintenance. The resort wants it to happen and would prefer to pay for the service without having to involve anybody else in the day to day activities related to the task.

Property listing process

To get up and running you will need to think about how you control and manage the property listing process. You will need to provide property owners with user accounts so they can access the website and create their property listings. You will need to be very mindful of scope for fraud in the short term rental market. If a fraudster can trick their way onto your site they could present a fake property within the resort and secure bookings from potential guests. This could take place over several months before the issue is surfaced. You will need to implement a robust process for on boarding of users. The HOA Management Company should be involved in this process by verifying owners who wish to list of even making it part of the property purchase process where new owners formally register with the resort so they can contribute their share of management and maintenance fees.

Growing website traffic

So now you've got the site set up, you've created the content, you've optimising it for search, given it a social media presence, you've defined and implemented a user on-boarding process and now you've got properties listed for short term rental. There are huge benefits available to a resort and its owner base if they set up their own rental portal. You can link the brand identity of the resort to the rental site. Guests often return and over time they become aware that they can securely book through your site and save themselves money by avoiding the various service charges applied by the larger booking portals such as Vrbo and Airbnb. Owners in the resort are also now avoiding these considerable service fees where the bookings come through the resort site. The resort itself can start to take control of the end to end journey with potential guests interacting first with their website all the way through to the actual booking. At each stage of the process the resort can ensure a uniform message is delivered to guests. Things such as what they can expect from the resort, how they access the resort if it is securely gated, how they access shared facilities, how owners present costs and cost of using shared facilities to guests.

What does success look like?

Over time the website becomes self-propagating. As owners begin to benefit from commission free bookings they begin to promote the site themselves. They will direct guests to the site from their own websites and in communications with potential guests. The site becomes inextricably linked to the resort. Guests who have booked their rental through another site become aware of the resort website and use it for their next stay. Over time leads and bookings transition away from the larger rental portals and begin to channel through the resort website. Eventually owners could secure all bookings through the site.