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We are building a personal website for our vacation rental (on it's own domain). Started looking for a web hosting company and got overwhelemed with options. I found some good reviews on http://top3hostreview.com/ but am still looking for advice. If you have any experience with this - please help!
I've been with HostGator for a little over a year now and am happy. Previous hosting company was OK at first but there were issues that developed as time went on (it was a much smaller operation than HostGator).
I've been using Bluehost.com for years. Don't remember the annual fee (maybe $50), but you get to host unlimited domains for no extra cost. I have sites for both grandsons, their parents, and other friends. Also, over the years I've collected a bunch of domain names that I'm not using for sites, so I have them automatically point to my vacation rental site.
I use Bluehost.com also for some of mine. And I use Yahoo for some as well. Yahoo is a more expensive, but their stats page is nice, and the email is simply added on to your Yahoo account (but separate), so no logging in to another account.
Nature's Retreat and Canyon Retreat | Vacation Home in Branson
Website Design and Photography | Marcink Designs
We use Google Analytics which is also free. You could use that for your bluehost accounts.
Take a look at SquareSpace (http://www.squarespace.com/). You can make some great looking sites using their hosted environment. You can try it free for 14 days.
I currently use iWeb and MobileMe, but MobileMe is going away this summer and I plan to switch over to squarespace. I know a number of friends that are very happy with them.
Creator of Vacation Props, an innovative iPhone/iPad app to manage vacation properties and quickly respond to inquiries
I'm using a2hosting.com Support has been awesome. On site tools, but I decided to go with Freeway from Softpress.
Stay away from 1and1.com They still owe me refund and I lost my domains thru them.
HostGator. I actually moved my website twice from two other host companies and will be staying with Host Gator ...been with it for 5 years now. I have more than one website...all with HG. 100% reliable...never had any issue or down time...very inexpensive...very good support. I never even have to think about my host company...it just works for me. The choice of host is many out there...and you will hear from people who stick with what gives them the best [customer] service and performance...etc. No doubt, you'll hear from Owners here with varied and good suggestions.
When I decided that I needed a website to promote my apartment in Calabria, Southern Italy I did a lot of research and came across a company offering a free 'basic' website building program :
I say 'basic'- there are numerous templates and designs available and it's very easy to enter your information and quickly end up with a very professional looking website. Even the basic templates offer pages for Home page, Property details, Photo Gallery, Pricing, Availability, Local Information, Map, Weather, Travel, and Guestbook. - the drawback is that with the free version you have to accept some advertising at the bottom of each page.
I was so pleased with my website I upgraded to the optional extras and paid a small fee for the following – removal of adverts, purchase of my own domain name, translation mirror pages and the statistics package- please see the end result:
Very nice website! Can you tell us more about the annoying ads at the bottom of the page on the free version? How much does it cost to upgrade to using your own domain name? Can you tell us about the booking and payment system you use, costs related to that, etc.? Thank you very much.
In reply to dbmeyer
The free version does have annoying ads placed at the bottom of each of your web-pages – this is how they cover their costs – you get free hosting and a free “domain name “ of the type :
wwww. XXXXXX.iowners.net ( where XXXXXX is a name of your choice). If you just want to showcase your property with more information and photos etc a link to this is great but it is limiting in that you are effectively linked to the iowners site.
To have some independence I purchased my own domain name through them – As it was a couple of years ago I think the cost was approx $50 US for setting up hosting on an independent server company and purchase of the domain name. I've since renewed my domain name through Go Daddy ( a US company) at a cost of £15.53 ( Pounds GB) approx $25 US
Back to the annoying ads – when I initially completed my free website – one of the first things I did was to pay £24 ( Pounds GB) approx $38 US to have “No more Ads”- my reasoning was that I wanted a website to draw clients in, offer more information, and hopefully convert into a booking. Having the ads at the bottom could actually take clients away as quickly as they came- if they clicked on the ad they were gone. I wanted them to linger
The website building concept had proved itself to me – I was very pleased with responses from colleagues about design, ease and speed of access and I could now direct my “ advertising” - word-of-mouth, business cards, web-sites like OwnersDirect and Homeaway etc to this site
I needed more “clicks” so I purchased my own domain name. Its taken some time but I now appear on Google searches for my area ( this is where the Statistics option comes in – it gives No of unique visitors, referrers, search terms used to find my site, and source of enquires etc) I can't remember how much this cost me – not much
The Languages and Optimisation options cost me £72 GB together ( approx $115 US ) They can be purchased separately. The Language option would probably only be suitable for property owners in Europe as the only languages offered as well as English are Spanish, German, Italian and French.
Overall I consider I've built quite a sophisticated website, with a good web presence where I have complete control of content that I can modify very easily - all for very little money and I'm no computer wizkid.
With reference to the RentalSytems online booking calender and payment engine- its owned by the Daily Mail newspaper group over here in the UK. As far as I can see it can be used to accept secure card payments of any currency from anywhere - doing away with having to set up a merchants account. If you have a website its very easy to set it up on a web page. I picked it as living in the UK we are outside the Euro zone so I had difficulty with banking Euro cheques, length of time clearing, potential clients having difficulty sending money, bouncing cheques etc. This middleman provides security for both client and owner
Its linked to a website called VillaRenters which is like HomeAway etc . To use RentalSystems you pay a one-off activation fee of £50 GB ( approx $ 80 US ) this also includes an advert on the Villarenters site
Each property gets a central online booking calendar so that customers can check availability, book and pay online. The moment a booking is placed your calendar is updated and you are notified via e-mail. If you accept the booking the system takes the customer through the entire booking process – dealing with deposits, contracts , balance due reminders , arrival instruction etc. I like to vet the bookings but the booking process can be made automatic if the dates are available
The costs are :-
If a booking comes from the advert on the Villarenters site you pay 10% commission
But if you generate a booking and use RentalSystems to process the booking ( all the above- card payment, contracts etc ) the commission drops to 2%
(You generate a unique link – you send it to the client- they access your RentalSystems online calender- and the system knows you generated the booking)
For more on RentalSystems see the link at the bottom of my web page
When you get to the directed RentalSystems page there is more information towards the bottom.
For anyone interested in building their own website there is a very good blog at
"advice for rental owners from rental owners"
that is a great blog. also, check out these free listing sites
Once you've built you own website you need to look at how you can generate more "clicks"
for some suggestions look at
These sites are not going to replace HomeAway,Owners Direct etc which generate massive numbers of visitors but will enable you to establish a web presence
Thank you so much for your thorough and detailed response to my questions. I will look into all of this as a possible solution for me. Thanks again!
Thanks for your feedback everyone! I think I am going with HostGator
And, I think you will really like HostGator! All the best.
I just created a new website for my property www.pochomilbeach.com and decided to learn how to write websites.
I use Google Apps and it is free, hosting, emails, and all the apps that come with it, including Analytics which is a very useful tool.
I found out that any change I make on my site, it shows on the Google search results the same day. The site has been up for one month and if you search Pochomil Vacation Rental, Pochomil Beach, Directions to Pochomil, I usually show up on the first or second page of the search, which is great.
As mentioned, it is FREE. Sure, it is not very sophisticated, but it works for me.
Perhaps a few tips when writing a web site:
Other benefit is that I don't have to spend that much time answering common questions from guests, I always refer them to my page or simply copy paste from it, rather than rewrite the answer every time.
Best of luck and have fun designing it.