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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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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…

Sydney Morning Herald || The hottest travel trend of 2014? We know everything about you

We’ve talked about different ways to connect with your guests and provide truly personal service, something vacation rental owners are in a great position to provide. But hotels are upping their game, too. In this article from Australia, industry executives say they’re focused on detailsfrom remembering a guest’s preferred room temperature to buying personalized gifts inspired by their social media posts.

Vacation Rental Marketing Blog || 4 vacation rental guru predictions for 2014

Will 2014 bring more competition or more opportunity for vacation rental owners? Likely a good dose of both, according to the four vacation rental pros interviewed for this predictions post. From new initiatives by big brands to the need for better systems and more comprehensive marketing, our industry is poised for significant growth and change over the next couple of years. Continue Reading…

Once they decide where they want to go, travelers want to know what they can do when they get there, relying on the Internet and a sense of exploration to serve their needs.

However, new and emerging websites and smartphone applications are popping up all the time, many of them delivering information that’s local, socially curated and—in some cases—highly personalized. And they require little if any extra work from you!

Pointing your guest towards resources like these can help make their travel research much easier. Continue Reading…

Skift || HomeAway Sues Airbnb Over Use of Birdhouse Mark

Having long argued that Airbnb isn’t a competitor and operates in a different market, HomeAway is suing Airbnb over their use of a birdhouse in their latest national marketing campaign—something HomeAway says infringes on their trademark.  The battle between the two companies has seemed inevitable to many, and has certainly just increased a notch (or 10) with the news of the lawsuit.

Skift || Why Hotel Brands Should Care About Airbnb’s Disruption

"hotel" by Daniel Zedda on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Airbnb has made a significant dent in the hotel market, building on strengths that every vacation rental has—whether they use the rental site or not.

Vikram Singh of Skift says brand loyalty has lost its power; people care most about location, value and good reviews.

He also notes that transparency helps build trust and community: “The host is the brand, and you have access to him at every stage of your travel experience.” Continue Reading…

What are vacation rental owners talking about, and is there any news that might impact your vacation rental? Here’s a look some recent highlights.

Vacation Rental Marketing Blog || Go Big Or Go Home

"Hotel Kursaal & Ausonia ROOM" by Hotel Kursaal & Ausonia on flickr (CC BY 2.0)If you missed this great discussion on the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog last month, it’s worth reviewing.

Referencing a thread on the HomeAway Community Forum, Matt Landau said:

“You either run a business and treat every guest like the most spectacular VIP in the world. Or you participate in a hobby and worry not about your income or revenue.”

The “hotelization” of vacation rentals is something Tyler Gillespie blogged about in a series of posts for MyVR last month, looking at our need to balance the best of vacation rental travel against increased competition from hotels.

The comments on Landau’s post provide an interesting look at the lack of consensus among owners—and food for thought when it comes to how you want to manage your own rental. Continue Reading…

"Warning!" on flickr, by lamoix (CC BY 2.0)There’s no question: Trust within the vacation rental industry is a huge issue for owners and travelers alike. With little or no recourse for many of the people who get scammed, the industry may seem practically evergreen to these criminals—but it doesn’t have to be.

While the details may change, the main themes of schemes seem to change little from one decade to the next; chances are you’ve heard from at least one Nigerian prince or heir since the 1990s and do little more than roll your eyes today.

Vacation rental scams aren’t so different. There are two main objectives for scammers:

  • to lure people into sending money.
  • to trick people into providing personal information that they can then use to steal their identity.

There is no way to isolate yourself from scammers, but learning the warning signs and being aware are big steps towards keeping your income and business more secure. Continue Reading…

You know your website is key to attracting bookings and making money. But how do you keep a website fresh and growing?

The more information you provide, the better prepared your visitors will be and the more potential guests you’ll attract. However, it has to be useful and relevant. What do your guests want to know?

"Security Westec" on flickr, by Derek Bridges (CC BY 2.0)You probably already know a lot of the key questions. However, a survey by CNN Travel this spring also helpfully asked people what mattered most to them when choosing a destination. The top results?

  1. security and safety
  2. price
  3. reputation
  4. knowledge and availability of information
  5. diversity of things to do, amenities

Your website can put this information at their fingertips – not just through an easy-to-share local guide, but also through regular updates.

How do you get the right message across? Here are a few ideas. Continue Reading…