VRS201 – Free Vacation Rental Websites, Content and Collaboration with Alan Egan

Alan Egan has been prominent in the vacation rental world for the last ten years at least. A well respected VR photographer, WordPress expert, and all-round nice person, Alan has a lot of knowledge about marketing that he freely shares. At the Vacation Rental World Summit in Florence last month, he launched a new platform called Vacation Soup.

Vacation Soup encourages owners (with WordPress sites) to create amazing content that the platform will share with the world. From a free website that can be created in under 3 hours to an owner community and learning centre along with a complete listing site, Alan and his team have created an ambitious strategy to combat the stranglehold the big listing sites have over independent owners.

In this episode Alan explains the frustrations that underlie the Vacation Soup philosophy and talks about his vision for the future of vacation rental disruption. Alan shares:

  • Why he believes interdependence with listing sites is a key to success
  • How Vacation Soup tackles the issues owners are currently facing
  • The importance of content to any website
  • How using video increases Google’s interest
  • The owner’s site that has nearly 30 videos and how that has impacted traffic
  • Where to get great videos for free
  • What owners need to do to regain control
  • Who Vacation Soup is for and how members can contribute to the collaborative experience
  • The timelines for the project

Links mentioned in the episode:

Vacation Adirondacks

Vacation Soup Launch Site

Presentation from VRWS

Get Your Free Website & Plugin

Video Walkthrough of New Website Builder

  • Matt Elder

    Great to see that someone is trying to pull together an alternative to the OTA’s. What does Alan see as the long term goal/exit strategy of Vacation Soup? Content will always be king which seems the owners will generate. If it does become very successful, what will stop it from being sold off to a larger entity, changes made at the vacation owners expense and being back at a similar point to the HomeAway etc that led to its original inception?

  • Hi Matt, you are the second person this week to ask about exit strategy so I guess that we must be doing something right as we are just starting and people are already asking if we have plans to sell ;). We have no such plans. We have built this project in order to re-empower owners.
    That’s our mission.

  • arnaud subert

    I have a lot of interest in this project as I want to built my website for month and boost my marketing but struggle in doing it because of lack of time and knowledge. I like this idea. However, few weeks ago i had a presentation with the guys from fetchmyguest and I try to understand what is different or similar between you two. Sorry but I am not very familiar with all this digital strategy and marketing things but I see a lot of potential in getting free from listings giants.

  • Thank you Heather and Alan. Nice way to spend a Wednesday in front of my computer listening to two of the most respected icons of our industry.

  • Shawn Broskoff Teasley

    Loved hearing more about this new offering, very exciting – thanks for all the details!

  • Jane Krueger

    I do not know much about this, but I trust Alan so I’m in.

  • Thanks Terry

  • Hello Arnaud,
    I’m sorry to say that I’m not completely au fait with what Fetchmyguest is doing but we are linking owner sites together and helping owners to produce and syndicate information to potential travellers.

  • Jon Ham

    Alan, quick question. Who is writing the content for the local information that gets distributed to and from each homeowners’ website? Are bots creating the content, or freelance writers? My initial thoughts – I am very interested, however the complexity specific to my situation is concerning. I have enough to manage currently and needing to maintain and stay on top of the back end of an open source wordpress site sounds like a daunting task to me……

  • Hello Jon,
    Our smart forms write some of and prompt for some of the content. The form will suggest a subject, pre fill the title, offer related images, add a byline, tags and optimisation but you will have to fill in the text of the actual recommendation. Basically we have created a way of speed blogging and automated the optimisation and syndication components. There will be tutorial videos that will walk you through the process. What type of site do you have at the moment?

  • Jon Ham

    sounds very interesting Alan, congrats on putting such an elaborate plan together!
    I just switched from a squarespace billboard site to lodgify this week. http://turquoisehousescottsdale.com. Still in the works but lodgify does most of what I need at the moment and it is fairly straight forward and simple. I’m not opposed to jumping ship but I really like simple as I am managing a lot at the moment.

  • Thanks Jon, I completely understand (Very nice photos by the way). I don’t believe that Vacation Soup is for everyone. It’s more work that’s for sure… but the only way to stand out in an over saturated market is to out perform our competition. If you get a chance please watch this video over the weekend and you will see what I mean. I believe that 35 minutes of your time will change the way you see your business. https://vimeo.com/234482163

  • Jon Ham

    Thank you Alan, I’ll check it out.

  • Carrie Giordano

    Heather thanks for another great podcast and congrats on #200!!! I am in the process of preparing my first vacation rental to rent and I owe much of that to you!

    Alan, I love the idea of vacation soup as well as a destination based website to promote my property. I searched for a link to your free site giveaway but wasn’t able to find anything. Is access to this still available?

    Thanks!
    Carrie

  • Hello Carrie,
    yes, in fact the new website giveaway starts this week.
    You can sign up here https://launch.vacationsoup.com/do-you-have-your-own-property-website/
    You can also find out more about the soup here https://vacationsoup.com

  • Thank you Shawn

  • Thank you Jane