With constant turnovers and endless upkeep, vacation rentals are far more work than standard residential properties, but they can also come with fantastic returns. Having a property in a highly desirable vacation area means a steady flow of business, and while this may sound like more work than you initially anticipated, the trick is to systematize your vacation rental business and work smarter, not harder.
Image via VisitCentralFL
How can you get the biggest bang for your buck this season? Here are our top five ways to maximize your vacation rental property.
Sites like VRBO and Airbnb specialize in vacation rentals, so take advantage of their services! Not only do they offer easy online bookings, but they also have systems in place to collect payments and deposits, display your availability calendar etc. The biggest benefit of using a specialty vacation rental site is the online traffic; thousands, even hundreds of thousands of potential guests can check out your property online. You don’t have to spend much time or money on advertising either – the guests come to you!
You can also properly vet your guests on these sites by checking out their user reviews. This requires a little bit of diligence on your end but will pay off in dividends when you have a reliable and relatively clean resident. Guests will also check your ratings, so make sure your property is well maintained – you don’t want to end up as a vacation property horror story.
For even greater results, diversify your vacation rental listings on several websites, including broader peer-to-peer websites like Craigslist. If you don’t like the generic vacation rental agreements offered by the rental listing sites, use a customized vacation rental agreement tailored to your specific property.
Naturally, the easier it is for guests to book your property, the more bookings you will have. Vacationers expect to be able to book their accommodations instantly, and when vacation rental site HomeAway surveyed travelers, 92 percent said they wanted the option to book online. This means the days of vacation property bookers and phone calls are almost completely obsolete.
Today’s travelers want a secure way to use their credit card to make their reservations. If they need to fill out a form and mail it in with a check, many will move on to a more convenient option. This is easily done by using the sites discussed above or including a payment path on your own website.
No matter where you advertise your vacation rental, great photos make all the difference. Stage your space, let in the sunlight and click away. Many landlords are now hiring professional photographers to get the best possible pictures. Airbnb even offers its hosts a free professional photo shoot, so take advantage of this and think about what will make your property seem more attractive to families, couples etc.
Great photos will engage your guests and entice them to book with you, reduce the number of questions from prospects and enable you to market your property effectively.
Some vacation rental owners find their listings generate interest but not as many bookings as they would like. If this is happening to you, it’s time to review what might be hurting your conversion rate.
Once someone shows interest in your property, focus on converting that interest into an actual booking. You already have a captive audience, so make the most of it. Answer their questions as quickly as possible. Do everything you can to prevent vacation rental cancellations, which cost you both lost revenue and valuable time.
Find ways to add value to your renters. Offering freebies and other incentives can also help convince travelers to book with you, and sharing tips on great restaurants and local attractions will prove that you are a trusted resource. Create a newsletter listing important information like local airports, taxis and rental cars. Don’t bombard guests with too many details – a one or two page pamphlet is plenty.
This tip definitely falls under the “work smarter, not harder” ideal. Many vacation rental sites allow you to easily collect a security deposit. Take advantage of this perk as you never know when you’ll need to use it. Although most guests will leave your property in great shape, accidents do happen. By collecting a security deposit in advance, you’ll have options later on if something goes wrong (which it will, sooner or later).
For added protection, make sure your insurance policy meets your needs. Not every policy covers short-term rentals, so don’t set yourself up for a nasty surprise when it comes time to make a claim.
Vacation rental owners, have you successfully increased your bookings? What are your favorite tips?
About the author: Terri Engels is a Boston-based lifestyle writer. She loves writing about a wide range of lifestyle issues, with a particular focus on real estate, and green energy. For more information on maximizing your vacation rental property check these 4 clever ways to cut vacation rental cancellations in half by EZ Landlord Forms.