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.
Not enough inquiries
What’s your number one source of inquiries: a specific listing site? Your own website? Craigslist? (If you’re not sure, consider tracking this information going forward.) Understanding where your guests come from can help you prioritize where you spend your time and money.
- Make sure you’re not making these mistakes with your vacation rental listing.
- Confirm that you are following these best practices, like using a descriptive headline and keeping your reservation calendar up-to-date.
- Add more positive reviews to your listing.
- Consider a higher-level package: if you already have a solid listing, some owners find that investing in a bigger advertising package is worth the expense.
- Look for different ways to promote your website, so potential guests can easily see how to reach you.
- Check: does your website include all the information your guests are looking for?
- Search engines like Google are a focal point for trip planning. Do what you can to push your website towards the top of those search results.
- If you haven’t created a local guide to post on your website yet, put it on your list. Providing a local guide is great customer service for your guests, but it’s also great information to feed into search engines.
- If you haven’t tried Craigslist yet, give it a chance! Ads are free, and with all the information you’ve pulled together for your website and listings, it should be pretty straightforward to create an ad to be posted.
- Consider starting an email newsletter for both past and potential guests. A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with people who already know and like and your vacation rental, so give them opportunities to come back and tell their friends about you.
Not enough bookings
Travelers send an average of seven listing inquiries before booking, and there are any number of reasons that influence whether you are or are not the “winning” vacation rental.
Matt Landau, of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, did an exercise where he went back to people who’d sent inquiries and didn’t book to ask them what he could have done differently.
Are there gaps in the way you respond to inquiries?
- Try to customize your response. Adding a personal touch to the way you connect with guests can help you get bookings and secure great reviews later.
- Being prepared and responding quickly can make a significant difference; following up within one hour can make it up to seven times more likely that you will score that reservation.
- Test auto-responders. Auto-responders are emails that are triggered when an inquiry comes in. If you can balance a standardized email with helpful information, and auto-responder can be a reasonable first step to take, until you’re able to connect more directly in person.
Not enough income
If inquiries are coming in and you’re consistently booking reservations, but your income still seems to fall short, you’ll need to review both your income and expenses.
- Read how Mike, MyVR’s co-founder, does competitive rate analysis for his own vacation rental in Lake Tahoe.
- Sometimes, you will need to adjust your rates. We’ve outlined factors you should consider before doing so, but be sure to give it time; when you’re just starting out, it can take time for your rental to get established.
- Other times, you’ll need to look at your expenses. Would it be reasonable to adjust the amount of property management support you have? Could you take on more of the maintenance?
The vacation rental market varies from one area to the next; try to connect with other owners in your area so you can build your connections and share notes. They may have good advice to share, and understanding what’s going on with other homes in your area can provide insight into the highs and lows of your own business.
For more inspiration, check out 10 Minute Marketing, a presentation packed with easy-to-implement and often overlooked marketing ideas I co-presented at this year’s HomeAway Summit.
How have you adjusted when business wasn’t quite as good as you thought it should be? Did you adjust what you were already doing, or try something entirely new? Tell us about it in the comments below!