Archives For Inquiry Management

"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?

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…

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.

Continue Reading…

"You've Got Mail", by Ron Reiring on FlickrYou put a lot of time and effort into keeping your online reservation calendar up-to-date. And you should: It makes a difference for your vacation rental listings, even impacting your placement in search results. You also don’t want people to waste their time inquiring about dates that aren’t available.

Why, then, do so many people insist on contacting you about days you’ve already blacked out?!  As I said in my last post, I don’t think renters are entirely to blame. Today, I’d like to explain why I’m actually happy to see every one of those inquiries land in my Inbox.

While extra inquiries take extra time and energy — something none of us has in abundance — every inquiry you receive is proof of your hard-earned marketing investment. More importantly, each inquiry has a dollar value attached to it, whether you land a new booking today or not.  Let me walk you through how. Continue Reading…

7x More Likely BookingsTo a vacation home renter, your home is one in a million. According to FlipKey, the average traveler will search through numerous property listings across four different websites before finally selecting seven properties to send inquiries to.

Let’s say you’ve got the great photos and relevant information included in your listings to garner one of those requests. Are you ready?

What happens next can make all the difference between a dead-end and a confirmed booking – if not on this trip, then perhaps sometime down the road. How can you create the best chance for a successful inquiry-to-booking conversion? Continue Reading…

Check Overpayment ScamThe email scam artists currently targeting vacation rental owners seem to have taken notes from the ‘Nigerian Prince’ fraudsters who’ve been around for decades. Maybe not as obvious, fraudulent inquiries on your rental property are likely to show up in your inbox. They will sound just as friendly as any legitimate inquiry, so take a look at these red flags:

  • Poor grammar and punctuation, plus bad spacing and line breaks. Especially when the request is coming from another country, this may seem normal. But the scammer may be pre-screening your patience level and naïveté.
  • Discrepancies about your rental property, such as calling your cabin an apartment suggest mass email.
  • Claims the trip is a surprise for someone else or a honeymoon. Generates warmth, creates distance.
  • Specifies dates then says they’re flexible. Or requests an extended stay, especially off-season for your location.
  • Inquiry comes from the UK or from a free email service, particularly Gmail, which is harder to trace.

Doesn’t really scream vacation rental scam, does it? Alone, these and other red flags are not enough to turn away renters. For example, check out this email from FindRentals.com: Continue Reading…

Haggle Free ZoneIt may be due to our recession economy, or the ever-growing array of online travel choices, or due to the growing interest in vacation rentals among travelers, but the fact is, travelers are increasingly likely to ask for a discount.

First, don’t feel pressure to concede! Ultimately it’s your decision whether you want to offer a discount or not. When you find yourself faced with a traveler looking to negotiate, here are some practical tips to help you out with some scenarios you’ve likely encountered already.

Scenario #1: The Bargain Hunter

An email inquiry checking dates available also comes along with a request for your “best available rates.” Everyone likes a bargain and travelers are only going to give you their business if they feel like they’re getting a good deal. Continue Reading…