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Happy summer from MyVR!

We can’t believe 2015 is already at its midpoint. It’s been a great year for MyVR thus far. We’ve made a ton of improvements to many areas of our platform, but we don’t always do the best job of sharing those updates. As the summer kicks into high gear, we thought it was a good time to pause and reflect on many of the enhancements we’ve made thus far in 2015.

Reservations

We’ve added numerous new capabilities in 2015 to our already-robust Reservations module. These include:

  • Low credit card rates – MyVR’S merchant processing rate for Visa and Mastercard is only 1.85% + $0.30 per transaction! And, yes, any processing fees on refunded deposits are also refunded.
  • Control over which cards you accept – MyVR gives merchant account holders the option to accept additional cards, like American Express and International cards. Accept payments from customers anywhere in the world!
  • Online transactions with offline payments – Want to book renters with your online contract but take and manage payments offline? MyVR has you covered.
  • Offline transactions – Manually enter transactions taken offline or otherwise outside the MyVR system and manage them all (with your online transactions) at MyVR.
  • Phone transactions – Enter and process reservations and payment info taken over the phone.
  • Accept payments for one-off fees – Charge a renter’s credit card for one-off items added during the rental (movie rentals, pool heat, etc) directly from your MyVR account.
  • Redesigned renter booking flow – MyVR’s booking flow has been streamlined for easier renter checkout and higher conversions.
  • Ability to set up multiple merchant accounts within MyVR account – For property managers needing to process payments differently for different properties, you can now set up multiple merchant accounts within MyVR!
  • Automatically charge future payments – MyVR makes scheduling future payments easier by allowing renters who are booking to authorize that these payments be processed automatically on their due date without any further renter action needed.

In the coming weeks, MyVR will also be adding optional add-ons to your renter transactions, and we’re adding more flexibility in setting up your default reservation settings (including refund & cancellation policies for instant bookings). Please be sure to send us feedback on what would make our reservations product even better for you.

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This topic recently came up in Matt Landau’s Inner Circle forum, and these two posts are based on information I shared there. If you aren’t already participating, check out the Inner Circle forum or connect with Matt Landau’s Vacation Rental Marketing blog.

In my last post, I called autoresponders “the secret weapon most vacation rental owners ignore,” explaining that adding them can save time, improve professionalism, and increase conversion rates.

As an owner, I like to know that every inquiry gets a response — even those that aren’t likely to convert because they fall outside my renter criteria. You can spend a lot of time responding individually to people who aren’t a good fit for your property, or you can use autoresponders to free up that energy so you can focus on your actual guests.

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I posted about this recently in Matt Landau’s Inner Circle forum. It’s been a while since I blogged about autoresponders, a tool many owners still aren’t taking advantage of, so I wanted to share the information with you here. If you aren’t already participating, check out the Inner Circle forum or connect with Matt Landau’s Vacation Rental Marketing blog.

"welcome" written with magnets, photo by Christian Schnettelker (CC BY 2.0)Done well, with some fine-tuning, using autoresponders in my vacation rental business have helped me capture more bookings, cut demands on my time, and build better relationships with my guests.

Inquiry autoresponders are messages that send automatically and immediately when someone sends a new rental inquiry. Some owners choose not to use autoresponders, but many don’t realize they’re even an option.

Here are seven reasons why I think every owner should include autoresponders in their booking process.

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Guest post by Jeff Caldwell 

When you’re trying to rent your vacation property, your first priority is to attract interested renters — and to do that, you need features that will catch people’s attention when they’re searching online.

Some of the most important are outdoor amenities: the right kind can grab the eye when someone is browsing hundreds of online listings, and can help someone choose your rental over the competition.

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MyVR has a platform that delivers the tools you need to market and manage your vacation rental business — but what does that actually mean? For people looking at their marketing options, not to mention owners who are new to the industry, it’s hard to capture what we offer in a brief but engaging way.

We contacted Adelie Studios to create a video that would explain what we offer in a way that was quick, engaging, and not full of “marketing speak.”

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Want to save money, save time, be more organized and look more professional when it comes to managing your vacation rental property? The MyVR team has been busy building great new features — it’s like spring cleaning for your property management to do list.

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"Oak Terrace Preserve's Walkable Neighborhoods" on Flickr by North Charleston (CC BY-SA 2.0)Referrals are a common way for businesses to grow, and rent-by-owners (RBOs) aren’t any different; you likely already know that word-of-mouth marketing from happy guests can be one of your most powerful assets.

But what about referrals from other businesses — and other vacation rental owners in particular. Is it weird to get referrals from your competitors, or is it a potential source for new bookings that you’ve overlooked?

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Fish with big eyesLaunching a new website for your vacation rental business is an exciting event…that can quickly deflate when nothing seems to happen. Where are the website visitors? Where are the new bookings?

Like building a business, generating web traffic takes time; over time, there are a lot of different ways you can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) — where you show up in search results — and make it easier for people to find you.

But for now, you just need your site to show up! Continue Reading…

Skift || Here’s a First Look at the Expedia-HomeAway Vacation Rental Experiment

Expedia

After announcing a partnership late last year, Expedia and HomeAway have just launched a beta version of their combined vacation rental search.

The user experience is a little rough, explained Skift’s Dennis Schaal, saying that it “functions more like an advertising relationship would than a tightly integrated booking process.” He also notes, however, that these are only first steps; much will likely change as they gain information and feedback.

Poster for the United States Travel Bureau promoting tourism, showing two cowboys on horseback by stream near desert rock formation. Created for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, by Frank S. Nicholson, between 1936 and 1939. [PD] This picture is in the public domain.

Travel Daily News || Vacation rentals even more popular with U.S. travelers in 2014

A recent survey by TripAdvisor found that 52 percent of American travelers plan to stay at a vacation rental in 2014—up from 44 percent last year.

Where are they planning to go, what are they willing to spend, and what amenities are they looking for? Reporter Theodore Koumelis covers the survey’s highlights. Continue Reading…

"Ice storm" on flickr, by Amanda B (CC BY 2.0)From a drought in California to snow in Texas, transportation blocked by ice storms and blackouts—not to mention the introduction of “polar vortex” into everyday vocabulary—it’s been an unpredictable season for traveling.

What do you do when your guests’ vacation is derailed by extreme weather—or worse, they can’t even make the journey to start their trip?

How you respond to any particular situation depends a lot on you and the relationship you have with your guests; there are no clear-cut answers, and it’s unlikely you’ll hit the same unexpected situation twice. But here are some ideas and best practices from other vacation rental owners. Continue Reading…