How to increase bookings in your vacation rental
Are you a new vacation rental owner? Or you may be an existing owner, but are not getting a steady trickle of reservations.
Vacation rental business is very competitive. To stand out, you need to do more than just acquiring an apartment or house, furnishing it, uploading on one or two listings sites, and waiting for the inquiries to flood in.
Here are some tips to increase your bookings and guidelines for marketing your vacation rental better.
1. Give better value than the price
You need to keep in mind that a vacation rental is a micro hotel. Be very professional in how you handle the customer. Respond immediately to all inquiries, with courtesy, and avoid ambiguity.
Connect with your guests and be available to answer any questions they may have.
Have a comprehensive, well thought out welcome manual, describing possible excursions, local experiences the customer can enjoy, and any other tips/information that will make their stay easier and fun.
Consider having a welcome gift, which can include a fruit platter, drinks, or samples of local snacks. Make your customers’ stay as memorable as possible.
Your interior and exterior design should be excellent. Engage a professional if that is not your expertise. The amenities in the property should be modern and working at all times.
Get your pricing right. A beautiful rental property can stay empty if your pricing is wrong. If much higher than other similar properties in the area, what is unique about your property? Would clients be ready to pay for that extra value you offer? Adding luxury upgrades can enable you to charge higher for better value.
2. Take quality photos
Photos are everything. Highlight the good parts of your property with high-quality images. Include drone videos to your property’s advantage, as you give the client a better feel of the facility and its environs.
For your property to stand out in listing sites, use professional photographs, rather than smartphone photos. Optimize your photos using software, to make them stand out even better. Use plenty of photos for a detailed view of your property, facilities, and amenities.
3. Get your property listed
List everywhere possible. Not just in one or two listing websites. There are several vacation rental sites such as Airbnb, FlipKey, HomeAway, VRBO, and booking.com. The list is not exhausting, keep searching for more listing options and add your property. It may require more vigilance in monitoring bookings to avoid double bookings.
In your listings, your headlines and descriptions of your property should be a correct representation, be honest and straight forward. Let people know that you have taken time to create a proper listing. Do not forget to highlight your unique selling points, and use plenty of great photos.
4. Have a professional website and drive traffic to it.
Invest in a good website that will do most of the marketing work for you. If your website does not look trustworthy, you may turn potential guests away.
Remember your website is the first impression of your property that people will have.
Features of a good website are not just limited to a great logo and photos. It should be fast loading, easy to use on a mobile phone, and have an updated calendar and rates.
Make it easy to book and pay through the website. A professional payment system is likely to increase bookings on your website.
Drive traffic using advertising campaigns, such as Google ads, Facebook, and Instagram ads. The best thing about Google ads is that it can enable you to target with precision the person who is looking for your vacation rental, depending on the keywords you use.
Use search engine optimization to drive free organic traffic to your website. Add relevant keywords which show the client that what they are looking for is on your website. Google will eventually list your website among the top in the search engine results whenever a prospective client uses those keywords to search for your kind of property.
Another free way of driving traffic to your website and potentially increasing bookings is through the use of email marketing. Your past clients are a gold mine. Send them newsletters, offers, promotions, coupons and any other interesting updates at least once a month.
5. Brand your property, and where possible, yourself
Using a strong social media presence, update your followers with great property photos and offers. Connecting with your customers and prospective clients provides that desired top of mind status, which results in increased bookings and referrals. Get consent from your guests before you post photos of them online.
Branding yourself personally builds credibility and trust. Post photos and videos of yourself on your property periodically. This may not be for everyone since not all of us are willing and able to put themselves out there.
The most common social media channels to use are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google myBusiness.
6. Team up with other vacation rentals and service providers in the area.
Other Vacation Rentals may have excess bookings once in a while, introduce your property to them so that you can benefit from this overflow.
Strategic partnerships with relevant service providers, such as taxis, restaurants, and tour guides can prove to be beneficial to both of you. Create a relationship that both can benefit from.
For example, you can arrange to refer guests to those businesses as they refer any inquirers to you.
7. Ask for Reviews
With great reviews, your bookings are likely to increase at a faster rate.
Most people, including you, tend to look for reviews before visiting a resort, restaurant or excursion. Without reviews, you are probably losing a lot of potential clients.
Reviews help you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and will go a long way in helping you continuously improve your facilities.
Send a link to your past guests asking them to fill in a review as soon as possible after their stay. Do not hesitate to respond to all online negative reviews, but do so in a professional manner without losing your cool.
In summary, vacant rental business is a great way to make “passive income”, but it is not always as easy as it is made to sound. You’ve got to run it like a professional hotel business, make the customers feel special and give them the best customer experience possible. Keep your amenities in perfect working condition, upgrading to modernize your facilities from time to time.
Many of us are creatures of habit. Once you make a guest happy, you will create a follower, and keep them coming back over and over again.