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People are often surprised when I say they need to stop stressing out about search engine optimization (SEO) because it may not even be right for their vacation rental marketing strategy. It’s true that MyVR offers powerful vacation rental property management software, and it’s true that websites are one of the key features. But there are plenty of very good reasons to have a website even if SEO isn’t a core part of your strategy.

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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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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…

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…

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…

Review Part 1 || Guest post by Tyler Gillespie

In a recent post on his blog, Tyler Gillespie of VacationRentalBusiness.net challenged vacation rental owners to “hotelize” their businesses. In this three-part series for MyVR, he explains why it matters, how to do it, and what you can do to bring your guest services to the next level. This is part two of three.Families have started to make the switch from hotels to vacation rentals, and why not? Vacation rentals have a lot going for them!

Unfortunately, we also have one big self-defeating problem: Inconsistency. That’s why I believe that a key part of your focus – this year and in future – should be on streamlining operations to become more professional. Much like a hotel.

Whether you manage your rental business on a part or full-time basis, here is my advice to kickstart the “hotelization” of your vacation rental property by zeroing in on the things that will keep your business running smoothly. Continue Reading…

"Graveyard lemonade stand" by Nina Frazier on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)You know you have a good thing going: Your guests are happy, the bookings are coming in.

But you can’t help but feel that you’re not quite there yet; you feel like your vacation rental could be doing better, but something hasn’t clicked yet.

What’s the missing link?

Here’s a look at some of the ideas we’ve shared to help you tackle three common issues: Not enough inquiries, not enough bookings, and not enough income.
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Having a quality website for your vacation rental property is one of the most important things you can do to maximize the potential for your rental business. Given how easy and inexpensive a website is to launch, not having your own web presence is one of the biggest mistakes we think owners can make.

Here are four simple ways having your own website can help you.

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I often receive emails from concerned subscribers that go something like this:

Mostaza Panama

Photo credit: Matt Landau

Dear Matt,

We don’t know what to do. Our leads from listing sites were going down and more competitor rentals have opening their doors weekly, so we’ve built our own website with great descriptions, professional photos…etc. But the problem is, nothing seems to be happening. We haven’t had an inquiry in days. Please help!!!!

These emails always get two things incorrect.

First, they assume that I am a magic genie (rub my belly twice, pick your ideal occupancy rate, and then *POOF* your wish is my command). I run the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog. I am not a magician.

The second, and clearly more significant assumption, that many owners get wrong is that by building your own website, your bookings will automatically increase. They think that a website is the remedy to all their worries and that once they get set up, tomorrow will begin as a new and entirely more profitable day.

But here’s the thing…it probably wont. Tomorrow will most likely begin precisely how yesterday did (only now you happen to have your own website and some added monthly costs).

I can’t help but draw the false analogy to computers. It’s common in today’s market to consider our bookings like computers: if a computer breaks, we take it to a specialist who’ll fix it for us. It’s so easy for vacation rental owners and managers to just assume that a specialist like me could turn their season around with one convenient fee.

But your bookings are not like broken computers.

Your bookings are like plants.

My rentals are located in Panama and when I first started off, I wanted to grow beautiful and traditional veraneras (aka bougainvillea) on all the balconies. However, with my forgetfulness combined with my busy schedule leaving Panama every few weeks, they began, along a period of about 1 year, to wither away until they resembled ugly brown sticks emerging from dirt. But here’s the thing: they never completely died.

Our bookings are not unlike plants: they need the right conditions to grow. You can’t fix a plant. You can only give it the proper conditions – light, soil, water – and then wait.

So if our bookings are like plants, what are the conditions needed to make them blossom?

Perhaps the most important condition (and one which MyVR solves pretty transparently) is your own website. You must diversify your business (away from solely listing sites) if you ever plan to establish some control and independence. If you’ve got your own website (or are thinking about getting one) you’re on the right track. But remember, your bookings are not fixed with one fell swoop. So you can’t stop here…

You must be involved with your website. Publish posts on your blog consistently, gather guest email addresses for monthly newsletters, upload resounding reviews, build backlinks…etc. You must give your bookings the right conditions to grow, and then wait, just like I did with my flourishing veraneras, which now – after several years – are about as bountiful as the guests inhabiting my very rentals.

 

photo: Matt Landau

 

This is a guest post by Matt Landau, a good friend of MyVR.com and the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and VRLeap, two resources designed to help vacation rental owners and managers establish independence and increase their bookings with bulletproof techniques.

professional photosIf you don’t know exactly what should go on your website, you’re not alone. We get a lot of questions about what’s most important. There are some must-haves and some when-you-have-more-time, but here’s our complete list, in order of importance:

1. Perfectly cropped, well-lit photos – You can take these yourself, but hire a pro as soon as you can afford it.

2. Professional, staged photos – Check out this side-by-side example to see the difference.

3. A compelling description – Longer descriptions do better than short ones. See our 5 Must-Follow Tips when you write yours.

4. Complete rates – Learn how to set your rates correctly and when to adjust them. Be sure to show rates at least 1 calendar year out if possible. Continue Reading…