Review Part 1 - Guest post by Tyler Gillespie
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.
The “hotelization” of your vacation rental
I like to start by asking one question: From a business perspective, how do hotels brand, market and run their businesses? Here are the top themes I see when I compared “them” and “us”.
It’s Business Time
Make sure you have everything set up to properly run your vacation property as a business. That would include a proper business entity, licenses, approvals, lease agreements, paperwork and separate bank accounts. Keep everything organized. A simple accounting solution is outright.com.
Name your property and give yourself an identity—both online and offline. Hotels do this very well! By doing so, you will definitely make a name for yourself.
Today more than ever, creating a website—outside your listing sites—is essential to the success of your business. MyVR.com is a great option that makes creating a simple website easy and painless.
Consumers expect to be able to pay online for your property in real time. According to a recent interview with Homeaway spokesman Victor Wang, only 14 percent of owners on Homeaway/VRBO have the “book it now” feature activated. If you act now, your property will stand out even more.
Perform a competitive analysis! Find three-to-five properties that are very similar to your own and located in your same area. See how they price their properties throughout the year, including all specials and holidays. Furthermore, make sure you know the pricing at local hotels so you can convince potential guests to book their stay. It’s always good to remind guests the value proposition of a vacation rental property vs. a hotel.
Operations (100% Digital)
I could write a whole book on this topic, but to get straight to the point: make sure your operations are in the digital age. Here are some simple ways to get started:
- Set up Google Apps for your unique domain (ex. firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Use Google Forms for surveys (FREE) and e-mail guests to get feedback on your property.
- Use a cloud service to store all of your rental agreements, business paperwork and more. My personal favorite is Dropbox.
Market to your current and past guests whenever you can!
Make sure to save your valuable e-mail list and use my favorite free service, Mailchimp, to manage these addresses. In addition, this site also has many great (FREE) templates that you can use to get moving on your vacation rental business.
What services do you use to streamline your business? Share your recommendations in the comments section below.
Tyler Gillespie is the founder and CEO of Breakaway Vacation Rentals in Aspen, Colorado and the man behind VacationRentalBusiness.net, a blog where he shares his advice and observations from 10+ years in the vacation rental and travel industries.