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Are you a vacation rental owner or agency? Are you interested in renting your vacation home or properties? Perfect! There are certain steps you need to take before you can accept online bookings and start cashing in and making a profit. Vacation rental marketing involves a lot more than you may have anticipated. Here’s what you need to know about the vacation rental industry and vacation rental marketing.
Before you jump into the vacation rental market, think about your goals. What are they? You are probably renting your vacation property to make money, but what else do you plan to do with the rental? What are the benefits of your guests who stay at the rental? How long do you plan to rent your vacation home? It’s always good to have a game plan instead of jumping headfirst into an unfamiliar situation. Are you going to use a vacation rental management company? Do you need vacation rental marketing experts to help you get your vacation rental listing in the top search results of different search engines to help increase site visitors?
Provide an Accurate Description
If you’re trying to draw attention to your rental property, the product description will help you achieve that goal. The description needs to be compelling and persuasive as should your vacation rental marketing plan. When guests are browsing your property online, they are looking for transparency and trust. If there are issues with the property, such as construction in the neighborhood, loud neighbors or any other issue, you need to disclose this information in the description. Upgrades you’ve made to the property, such as granite countertops, new sink fixtures, an added hot tub and any other upgrades – make sure you also disclose this information your property description. Don’t surprise your guests with a property that is severely flawed. Pay attention to what past guests have noticed and considering including that in your listings description. You will pay the ultimate price in the end when the guests leave negative reviews of the rental home.
Be sure to update the property description often, especially when new restaurants in the are open, or an attraction or special event is in the area. Consider writing a blog post on your favorite local events, or must-sees to increase booking conversion – a lot of people value a locals opinion and like to check out local favorites. Pay attention to the seasons and how you word the description. These summer season should include appropriate words, such as sunshine, breeze, ocean, water, and similar words that will make guests imagine a perfect utopia when they read your rental property description. Winter words should mention being warm and cozy or sitting in front of a fireplace to make browsing guests take interest in your property. You can employ these same description tips in your vacation rental marketing plan to help increase interest in your property.
As the owner of the property, you want it to be as popular as possible. Providing photos of the rental property helps keep browsing the guest’s attention. You need to provide at least 10 pictures of your rental property. Include pictures of each room of the property, including the kitchen, bathrooms, dining area, and living room. If you have desirable amenities on the property, such as a pool, jacuzzi, exercise room and other amenities of similar interest, take photos of those too. The photos you provide need to be of high quality. Photos that are blurry or have low resolution are not clear and appear small, which makes details of your rental property hard to see. Pictures like these make travelers uncomfortable with booking your property, and they will choose a competitor property as a result. Also consider posting these photos on social media as a part of your marketing strategy. Content marketing is key in the digital world so linking your social media accounts to your vacation rental website is a great way to showcase your home. In addition it can aid in driving traffic to a direct booking page and increase your chances of booking a renter.
Quick Response Time
Responding to guests within minutes of their inquiry is ideal if you wish to get more bookings. Did you know some homeowners take days to respond to travelers? Taking this long to answer prospective guest’s questions and address their concerns is one way to lose them and money. Travelers are less likely to rent your vacation property if you take too long to respond to them because they have a negative first impression of you, which reflects on your property. Guests feel if you take too long to respond to their message, you will also take a while to address issues and concerns that could arise during their stay. Did you know more than 50 percent of travelers who are looking for vacation rental properties or facilities will move on to the candidate if they have not received a response within 24-hours? Again, quick response times are an integral part of your vacation rental marketing plan as a responsive host is more desirable than one who is not.
Understanding How the Platform Works
The better you understand how your current platform works, the better you can make it work to your advantage and get the results you desire. You may be using a site that is the best of its kind, but if you don’t know how it works, the platform is useless to you. Before committing to a specific booking platform, such as Booking.com, HomeAway or Airbnb, and many more, consider the size and exposure each platform receives and how they can benefit, or hurt, your vacation rental marketing. Other considerations you should think about are the features and fees that are associated with using the platform.
Reviews are another important aspect of the vacation rental business. Requesting reviews, or creating incentive for guests to leave positive reviews, should be an integral part of your vacation rental marketing plan. More than 75 percent of travelers look for recent reviews of a property before choosing to reserve it. One thing travelers fear most is renting a property that’s not as advertised. Reviews help ease this fear by giving travelers peace of mind. Ask for a review two or three days after a guest’s stay. It’s easier to get reviews from guests if you provide the link for them on your rental property page.
Make the Guest’s Stay Memorable
Your goal is to have happy guests and repeat bookings. Being unique doesn’t hurt and neither does being classy. Think of things you can add that will enhance the guest’s stay. Maybe you can include towels and rags in origami shapes or leave a greeting card addressed to your guests, welcoming them and wishing them a fabulous stay. Personalization goes a long way with guests. It shows them you took the time to address them personally instead of offering a generic greeting titled with Mr. and Mrs. If you do do something that makes you unique consider sharing small parts of that on your website, or social media. Social proof of your efforts should be integrated into your vacation rental marketing.
Upgrade the Living Space
Most travelers will agree that scenic views during vacation are important. Travelers who are on vacation want to be wowed and amazed. They want to feel like they’re on vacation. Travelers are not interested in “the norm” or average facilities and attractions. Travelers want luxury inside and out of their vacation rental, and they’re willing to pay for it. A private pool and outdoor grill are among the most popular amenities travelers are interested in having. Other cool amenities guests would like to have includes a deck, table and chairs, and other outside furniture, a fire pit, and some travelers enjoy fountains. You want your guests to be as comfortable as possible.
Maintain Your Calendar and Rates
Booking a vacation rental is about convenience. If your calendar is not up-to-date, you are putting yourself at risk of losing money. Calendars that don’t remain updated cause problems for travelers, such as double bookings, upcharges, and inaccurate rates. These three problems are the perfect recipe for disaster. Some travelers may be understanding of the mishaps and errors, but it is unprofessional.
Invest In Interior Design
The atmosphere your vacation rental provides is part of the guest’s experience so don’t try to take any shortcuts with interior design. If you don’t have an eye for design, hire a professional, it’s worth the investment. Think about what you want guests to see when they view your rental property. When guests are staying at your property, what do you want them to feel? Consider the environment like on the outside of your property? Is it a wooded, forested area? Is there a beach nearby? Are there mountains? Considering the current season and upcoming holidays can inspire your interior design efforts.
Maintain the Outdoor Living Space
Buying and installing outdoor amenities, such as a pool, jacuzzi, grill, patio furniture, and anything else you may have to offer is great, but that’s the easy part. The hard part is maintaining everything. Preventative maintenance is the key to success in this situation. Regular maintenance of your current amenities prevents you from spending unnecessary money on replacements. If your rental property includes a large yard in the front or back of the home, the yard must be maintained. Yard maintenance can include but is not limited to keeping the grass manicured, raking the leaves, and trimming the trees.
Pay Attention to Small Details
The small details are the ones that stand out the most in the guest’s mind. Small details, such as foggy and smudged windows or dust on appliances and furniture is a caution sign for guests that lets them know your vacation rental has not been properly and thoroughly cleaned. Make sure your rental home smells good and not like the previous guests. The linen should be clean, as well as the bathroom and other rooms in the home. Your vacation rental needs to be cleaned after each guest.
Kitchen Updates Means More Money
Investing in kitchen updates could mean more paying guests. Even on vacation, guests like to be able to prepare their meals. Being able to cook is something travelers opt for because it saves them money by preventing them from having to eat at restaurants on a daily basis. A remodeled kitchen can make your rental property more appealing and desirable, especially if guests plan to stay at the property for an extended period of time.
Leave Behind a Detailed Manual
Leaving a detailed manual for guests is something many homeowners don’t think about offering. Leaving behind a detailed manual for things, such as the appliances, theater system, thermostat, and other items, may have is a great way to safeguard your property. Using an item or particular device may be common knowledge for you, but to your guests, the operation of the device can be foreign. Instead of ruining a guest’s experience and to prevent damage to your belongings, leave a manual for your guests.
Disclose Luxury Items and Amenities
Travelers are interested in the luxury items and amenities you have to offer so be sure to list them. Do you have a therapeutic mattress or stainless steel appliances? Do you have a state-of-the-art washing machine and dryer? Guests want to live a luxurious life while they’re on vacation. Granite or marble countertops are also popular with guests, as well as laminated hardwood flooring. When you invest in luxury items, don’t forget to list them.
Responding to Reviews
Not all guests that stay at your rental home will leave a review, but when they do, you need to respond. Whether the review is positive or negative, you should be active and attentive to the reviews by leaving comments and providing feedback. Commenting and providing feedback lets other guests know you are dedicated to providing an awesome experience and willing to fix whatever you can to make the guest’s stay as great as you possibly can. Being involved creates a layer of trust with potential guests.
Considerations for Pricing
Nightly rates should never be static rates, which is a fixed price rate. There are a variety of factors you need to consider that will help you set nightly rates for your vacation rental property. Some of these considerations include the seasonal demand, the current average price in the area, the length of the guest’s stay, and specific events, including festivals, attractions, and other specific events.
Setting Your Prices
Numbers don’t fall out of the sky. You need to identify your goals and create a financial plan before configuring prices for your vacation property. You may have more than one objective that needs to be identified. Are you using the income from the vacation rental to cover the purchase of a second home or are you investing for another purpose? Clearly define your goals and create a financial blueprint to help keep you on the right track to achieving the goals you set.
Be Ready for Peak Periods
Peak periods are times when a lot of travelers are booking vacation rentals, such as Christmas, New Year’s, and spring break. During these times, your vacation rental will have tons of bookings so you need to be prepared and organized.
Maintaining a Stellar Website
Your website is another determining factor of guests choosing your property over a competitor’s. Provide beneficial information for guests so they can make an educated decision regarding vacationing at your property. Guests need to know what makes you stand apart from other homeowners who also want to rent out their vacation home on the same platform. Make sure your website has a clear layout that has a font that is easy to read. Avoid too much sales language and speaking in terms that are difficult for guests to understand.
Engage Potential Guests
Did you notice someone viewed your property but didn’t book it? It will happen from time to time. Reach out to them and see if they would like more information about your property. Ask them what you can help them with. Even if your property doesn’t have all of the features a guest is looking for, you stand out in their mind for another time. Thank potential guests for viewing your property.
Accept a Variety of Payment Methods
It’s great to accept debit and credit cards, but don’t forget about alternative payment methods, such as PayPal. More guests are becoming familiar with and using PayPal for everyday purchases and while on vacation. This payment method adds a layer of security and peace of mind for guests who are skeptical about using their debit card or credit card on the internet.
The vacation rental marketing is a great one to be a part of, but you have to understand how things operate in order to make a profit, whether large or small. You can take hospitality to another level when you provide outstanding service. Remember that it’s the customer’s needs and wants that matter. If you address those two instances, you are on your way to a profitable, successful business.
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