My Vacation Rental Is Booked, But Inquiries Pour In Anyway

Jonathan Murray —  June 10, 2013
no vacancy

Photo Credit: taberandrew

I’ve seen a lot of chatter lately from owners who are frustrated by people who send inquiries even when the calendar shows that the property is already booked.

I can understand that frustration. I work hard to keep my calendar up to date — which is easier, since we purposely designed MyVR to sync calendars across all online marketing! However, it still takes time to update and ensure it’s correct.

Sometimes it feels as if potential renters don’t even look at the calendar. And maybe they don’t! However, I feel differently about this additional work than many owners: whether I’m booked or not, I see each inquiry as an opportunity.

I actually believe it’s (usually) not the traveler’s fault; they don’t want to waste your time, they just want to confirm their plans as quickly and easily as possible. Here are four situations I’ve experienced that may help explain the inquiry overflow.

Calendars can’t be trusted

Even if your calendar is up to date, many vacation rental calendars are not. It’s a pain to maintain multiple calendars, which is why a lot of owners don’t do it consistently.

As a result, renters have been trained not to rely on them; many probably don’t even bother to check.

Owners don’t always respond

As with calendar maintenance, you may reply to every inquiry, but many owners do not.

I think this is bad for our industry, which is one of the reasons why I respond to every single inquiry I get — even when my place is already booked.

Travelers, unfortunately, have learned through experience to “spray” their inquiries because so many are left unanswered. From their point of view, the fastest and most practical way to secure a property for their trip is to send multiple inquiries and book with the person who confirms first.

Listing sites upsell and cross-sell

If you’ve ever booked a vacation property, you’ll know that I’m talking about. You submit a inquiry for one home and the system prompts you to “check out these five properties!” Or, it offers to submit a request to all of them for you if you just click a button. Sometimes, I’ve noticed, the properties being promoted aren’t even available for the dates I had entered!

Then there are follow-up emails, sent by the listing site, encouraging you to check out even more properties.

The major vacation rental marketplaces have made it really easy for travelers to submit an inquiry to multiple properties, possibly to compensate for the non-responders noted above. Despite the frustrations this can cause for owners, their intentions are good. Listing sites have made vacation rentals easier to find and book, which is making rentals more popular. Unfortunately, the result is that an inquiry isn’t worth what it used to be, and you need to do what you can to convert your leads better.

Listing sites let it happen (and that’s not a bad thing)

Listing sites could block an inquiry from going through if the requested dates are booked. In fact, some sites do remove unavailable properties from search results, but not all.

You could argue that this lack of filtering makes it more frustrating for a renter, who’s likely to be disappointed, as well as the owner. However, the underlying intentions are probably good here, too.

Plus, as an owner, I wouldn’t want the sites to prevent those inquiries from going through. In my next blog post, I’ll explain why I actually welcome these extra messages — and always respond!

What has your experience been with inquiry overflow? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray

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Before starting MyVR, he co-founded Lift Media (acquired), a lead generation company that worked with clients like American Express, Netflix, and Fandango. He started MyVR after being frustrated with setting up his own Sonoma cottage as a vacation rental. He studied engineering at Bucknell University and received his MBA from Stanford University.
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7 responses to My Vacation Rental Is Booked, But Inquiries Pour In Anyway

  1. Even though it may be frustrating to get an inquiry for dates already booked and shown on my calendars, I always respond. It is an opportunity to offer them alternate dates, which I sometimes offer with a discount, and to ask that they keep us in mind for a future. This sometimes leads to a booking.

  2. While it is frustrating, I also see it as an opportunity to add another potential guest to my group email .

  3. Hey Pat, I knew we agreed on that one. :) I remember the discussion on this in the forums and that I agreed with your take on it.

  4. Every opportunity to get in contact with a guest is great. Even if it is for a property that is already booked. Redirecting them to one that is available is ideal. I find that if I respond within 15 hrs of their online inquiry and suggest a similar rental, they are often rather happy for the direction and connection.

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