Archives For Listing Sites

In my last two posts, I explained why I try not to get frustrated with travelers who inquire about dates I’ve already noted as unavailable, and the value I see in every inquiry I respond to – whether the result is a booking or not.

"Snail Mail" on Flickr, by jaaronI know I’m not the only one who gets these emails; some owners find them frustrating and a waste of time. Sometimes I wonder whether people even look at the calendar I diligently keep up-to-date!

Hold off before you hit delete on those extra emails, though: yes, it’s annoying when people overlook information you’ve made readily available. However, each one is worth the time to follow up.

Here’s how I see it: When a renter shows interest, there’s potential business for someone. Maybe this time it’s not you  —  but down the line, it could be. I don’t want to squander a chance to foster goodwill and new relationships, so I look for ways to make that effort pay off for me and the renter.

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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. Continue Reading…

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…

farmhouseYou can probably distinguish between a yacht, apartment and a villa. But what’s the difference between an apartment and a condo?

The truth is, many of these terms can be used to describe the same property; one person’s chalet could easily be another person’s cabin. You may choose a term because of what’s commonly used in your area, or because of the feeling a particular word evokes. Here’s an overview of the more standard categories.

Apartment — one of a number of units within a building that is owned by one common person or entity. (See also condo.)

Bungalow — generally speaking, a detached house where the main living areas are all on one floor. It may be one-and-a-half stories, with additional living space in either a basement that has above-ground windows or a second floor built under the slope of the roof. More specific features vary by region.

Cabin — “a small one-story dwelling usually of simple construction,” as defined by Mirriam-Webster. The term has traditionally implied a more rustic building. (See also chalet, cottage.) Continue Reading…

cat eyesThe average traveler will visit between 3-5 vacation rental websites, and inquire about 7 different properties, according to data from FlipKey. To make the shortlist, you need to do one critical thing: Get their attention!

That doesn’t mean SCREAM AND SHOUT at travelers with all caps, use lots of exclamation marks!! or even post photos of cute little kitties to make them swoon. It means putting together a great listing that speaks directly to your target traveler.

The real competition starts with the search results. If you’re updating an existing listing, take a minute to search for yours and see what kind of “first” impression it makes. If you’re feeling too biased, show a friend and see what they think.

Just yesterday I was asked to look at a great vacation rental in Maui. Their listing title said “true beachfront property” which was compelling to me as a traveler. One time I stayed at a hotel that said “beachfront” only to find a busy, 2-lane street intersecting my room and the beach. But, with their title in place, the first shot that appeared in the search results was a photo of the bedroom. Not exactly the beachfront I was envisioning.

All of the items that typically appear in the search results are pulled from your listing (you can’t customize them separately), so be sure to keep these in mind when creating your listing.

  • A small photo of the property (approx 1.5” wide x 1” tall)
  • The headline
  • Basic details (i.e. number of rooms, max occupancy, rates)
  • The number of reviews received, maybe including star rating
  • A very brief summary (i.e. the first sentence of your description)

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family reunionIf you were looking for the perfect vacation rental for your family reunion, which headline would get your attention?

  1. Amazing, multilevel 6 bedroom spacious home 6000 SF
  2. Waterfront Tahoe Keys Home, Hot Tub, Boat Dock
  3. Comfortable 6 Bedroom, 4 Bathroom House in South Lake Tahoe

The reality is, these three rental properties from FlipKey all have six bedrooms and sleep 16 people. They’re all good headlines, but A stands out. Why? It packs in four ways to tell you it’s big – multilevel, 6 bedrooms, spacious, 6,000 square feet – before you even click.

While some owners shy away from accommodating groups, others rely on it. But, it’s important to think about what types of groups might be relevant for your home. Some groups might include:

  • Family reunions
  • Church group vacations or bible study weekends
  • Close friends for a ski trip
  • Corporate off-site or retreat
  • Activity-based group like geocaching or kayaking

According to FlipKey, houses are the #1 type of vacation rental property, making up 67% of their listings in 2012. If your rental property is a home, you have a large market, but you need to stand out. Here are a few basic steps to attract large groups to your vacation rental. Continue Reading…

writing descriptionPhotos that capture the best your vacation rental has to offer are critical when it comes to attracting attention — but they’re not the only thing that matters. In fact, they may not even be the most important thing.

Without the “1-2 punch” from great photos and an effective description, travelers who come across your listing may move on to someone who does a better job of showing and telling what their property has to offer.

What earns an inquiry is a rental that captures the imagination or meets the needs of a particular traveler. Your description’s goal is to relay the key features of your property as effectively as possible.

1. Have a great intro

You first sentence helps shape first impressions and hooks people into reading more.

Starting with the basics, like “This three-bedroom house is in a quiet neighborhood that’s walking-distance to downtown,” is a simple way to begin.

However, an opening like this misses a great opportunity for two reasons: Continue Reading…

Kijiji LogoIf you have a vacation rental in Canada and are looking for a free classified site like Craigslist to promote your vacation rental, check out Kijiji.ca (pronounced kee-gee-gee). Kijiji Canada is Canada’s largest classifieds site, according to the eBay Classifieds Group, the site’s parent company. In 2012 they had over 10 million unique visitors per month!

Kijiji Canada Stats Continue Reading…

The following is an excerpt from “3 Vacation Rental Guru Predictions for 2013,” originally published on Matt Landau’s Vacation Rental Marketing Blog. Jonathan Murray, CEO of MyVR, shares his predictions for the vacation rental industry in 2013. 

Jonathan Murray“Everyone now has online bookings,” Jon revealed, “but online transactions are a still surprisingly low % in this industry according to several studies I’ve seen.

Jon confided in me that he thinks that 2013 is the year that online transactions take off for two main reasons:

1) He explained how there’s a huge movement towards the direct booking button. Instead of the typical back and forth between owner and renter, a direct booking button allows rentals to get booked immediately.  In fact, HomeAway just sent out a $50 incentive for folks to turn it on.  He points out that Airbnb has used it as well and several sites are now determining a property’s ranking based on whether or not they accept direct bookings, so there’s a huge incentive to turn it on.

2) Second, Jon points out that several listing sites are moving towards the free listing model, where owners can list for free, but must run the payment through the listing site in order to get paid. (Airbnb has been doing this a while, HomeAway has told investors they are working on that, HolidayLettings just announced it, FlipKey is using this model to win back owners who have previously canceled on them…etc.)

Jon believes these things will all push more and more bookings online, many of them of the direct booking nature.  And at his own company, Jon has had a ton of customers ask to add bookings to their websites, which he’ll be rolling out shortly to complement all his marketing tools and website builder.

Read the full article

flipkey listing modern tahoeFor the seventh day of MyVR Marketing Tips, take a tour of vacation rental websites where you’re listed and either add or revise your listing information with your newly-updated description.

Armed with the information about which sites have more or less value to you, you may want to adjust your plan for these sites too. If a paid site did not bring you any bookings in the last year, considering changing your subscription to a different level or canceling it altogether. This is a great time to upgrade or downgrade your account.

As you check each listing:

  • Tweak your headline to ensure it includes attention-grabbing keywords.
  • Update the description to match what you wrote earlier.
  • Ensure all other information (i.e. contact details) is up-to-date.
  • If you intend to increase rates, add a notice to the page.
  • Evaluate the rest of your listing. Have you used the best photos? Are there any comments you need to respond to?
  • Make sure there are no typos or grammatical mistakes!

Vacation home renters like to browse around; a survey by FlipKey found that the average traveler looks at four different sites before finally inquiring about seven different properties.

Some listing sites give you an opportunity to connect with a more focused group of potential renters. If you target a particular group of travelers, a bit of online research may help you find a directory that’s dedicated to that particular audience.

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This post is part of our 12 Days of Vacation Rental Marketing series. Subscribe to the blog and we’ll send you an email each day with a new post.