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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…

"Money Girl" on flickr, by Tax Credits (CC BY 2.0)While not every vacation rental owner accepts them yet, online reservations are gaining traction in the vacation rental industry. That means processing payments online is important, but choosing a vendor that fits your specific needs takes time and research..

PayPal has been a trailblazer in e-commerce for more than a decade, and for many businesses it’s the easy choice: a proven and familiar name in a space that’s new and still rapidly evolving.

Despite PayPal’s position as a leader, it’s a platform created to appeal to many different industries – and it may or may not be the right solution for your business. Over the past couple of years, the e-commerce space has been flooded with new options, and some might fit your needs better.

If you’re looking at online payment options, here are questions to ask a potential vendor. Continue Reading…

A lot of Facebook Page owners ignore the rules, but if you’ve been trying to keep your vacation rental Page on the straight and narrow, there’s good news: recent changes to Facebook’s Page guidelines have made this prime piece of screen real estate a lot more useful.

In the past, cover photos were rather restricted. For example, photos couldn’t include a lot of text or any promotional information (including contact details), references to Facebook features (such as the Like button), and calls to action were strictly verboten.

The rules have changed

There’s still one important rule when it comes to your Facebook cover photo: text must be limited to 20 percent of the image or less. But beyond that, you now have a lot more flexibility.  Continue Reading…

vacation rental disabilities ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, federally mandates that public buildings and workplaces must be accessible to persons with disabilities. It applies to hotels, resorts, campgrounds and public parks — but does it apply to vacation rentals?

The short answer is usually “No”, but there are a few exceptions.

Continue Reading…

A lot of vacation home renters want to include a little love in their vacation time: A survey by TripAdvisor found that one in four think the best benefit of a vacation rental is “more privacy for romance”.

LOVE sculpture NY

Photo credit: Hu Totya

How can you adjust your marketing plans to catch the eyes of folks who are looking for some time alone?

Most travelers turn to vacation rentals because they want more space for family and group vacations, so don’t focus all your efforts pitching your home as a romantic getaway.

However, chances are your home can meet the needs of two groups who will appreciate their privacy: Those who want to stay somewhere without any other guests, and those travelling with a larger group who like a lot of space so they can get away from everyone else once in a while.

While you can tell people what a romantic location your property is — “take long walks on the beach” or “watch the sunset over dinner on the veranda”, for example — reflecting it through photos and highlighted activities makes it easier for potential guests to envision how they will spend their time.

Continue Reading…

From movie tickets to home improvement projects, people are increasingly comfortable booking and paying for things online. The vacation rental industry has been a little slow to take advantage of this, but is change coming? We think so!

pay online button

Photo credit: vyancoskie

“Online transactions are a still surprisingly low % in this industry,” Jonathan Murray, CEO of MyVR, told Matt Landau of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog earlier this year.

However, Jonathan’s one of several experts who feel online transactions are ready to take off. Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway, also told Landau that 2013 “would have to be the year of ‘online booking.’”

Continue Reading…

Craigslist is an advertising opportunity that vacation rental owners seem to love or hate — and sometimes both. But there’s no denying it can generate inquiries.

Let’s start with positives

  1. It’s massive. In fact, it’s the eighth most visited website in the U.S.; One in every five Americans uses Craigslist each month.
  2. It’s free. That’s the main reason I encourage homeowners and managers to at least give it a try — there’s little to lose and, potentially, a lot to gain.

classified adOnline classified ads can be a bit of a jungle, featuring offers for many different categories from cars to clothing. When it comes to vacation rentals, they also have a bad reputation for fraud – among both owners and renters.

However, some of these sites are very popular, particularly in specific locations. With minimal investment of time or money, as long as you keep an eye out for suspicious requests there’s little to lose by adding your own listing to the mix. From my experience, aside from the major listing sites, classified sites have driven the most inquiries and bookings over any other channel.  They can be particularly helpful for filling last-minute inventory if you find yourself approaching an unfilled period on your calendar. Continue Reading…

customer serviceVacation rentals have a relaxed and authentic “do-it-yourself” vibe, but that doesn’t mean owners skimp on services.

From housekeeping to routine maintenance — and a growing number of owners who offer à la carte services, like pre-purchased groceries — a lot goes into delivering a great experience.

However, when it comes to delivering high-quality service your guests, where do you draw the line?

What guests expect

Perhaps more than anything, vacation home guests expect your housekeeping to be top notch: clean, heated or air conditioned, well ventilated, and free of funky smells.

For longer stays, you should provide cleaning supplies and arrange for someone to maintain your property on a regular basis. Continue Reading…

groupon deal

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People love to pay less, and daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial give them a chance to do just that. More recently, these deals have expanded into travel, including accommodations and vacation packages.

Daily Deals differ from other discounts in a few ways:

  • Buy now, book later. People are buying a voucher that gives them a deal at a later date; they may have no idea when they’ll be able to take advantage of the deal. (i.e. buy $100 worth of credit for $50)
  • Power in numbers. For a deal to ‘activate’, a certain number of people need to buy-in. If the minimum number isn’t reached, the deal is cancelled. (i.e. 10 people need to purchase for the deal to be valid)
  • For a limited time only. A buyer may not use the deal for months, but they have to purchase it within a certain window (i.e. same-day or within the next few days). (i.e. confirm your reservation by the end of the month)

The benefits of a Groupon-style deal

Daily deal sites have become marketing powerhouses that can deliver thousands of new customers to a business. You don’t need thousands of guests, but there are benefits to the model that can work in your favor: Continue Reading…