As channels attract more and more travelers, listing sites continue to grow crowded with vacation rental properties. With so many short-term rentals advertised across channels, it takes time and effort to make your listings stand out.
The best way to break through the clutter is to avoid the mistakes that everyone else is making. To ensure your vacation rental is seen, clicked on, and ultimately booked, refrain from the nine most common vacation rental listing mistakes.
1. Using all caps in your listing
Avoid using all caps. This is a good rule to carry across all of your personal and professional communications, because when you TYPE IN ALL CAPS, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING. While you might like to emphasize that you permit “NO SMOKING,” stating so in all caps makes you come across as unfriendly and unapproachable.
2. Depending on a lackluster headline
Ideally, your headline should be about 70 characters long. A top-rated vacation rental property headline includes a few of the following attributes, and is updated occasionally to reflect changes:
- Conveys the unique aspects of the home
- Clearly defines the property type (i.e. villa, apartment, home, cabin)
- Highlights special amenities or features (i.e. hot tub, deck, BBQ grill, WiFi)
- Describes the suitability of the home for certain groups of travelers (i.e. family-friendly or pet-friendly)
- Specifies the distance to a nearby attraction (i.e. beach access, theme parks, ski slopes)
- Headlines should not contain branded or other protected words unless it is needed to specify a location (i.e. “near Disneyland”)
3. Forgetting to share area or size details
Remember that vacation guests are trying to get as much information as they can to help them visualize what it will be like to stay at your rental. To many travelers, floor space is a critical factor in deciding where to stay. The floor area (in square feet or meters) should be provided in your rental listings.
4. Fumbling on the description
Your vacation rental property description should be between 300-400 words. The description is a vital component to your listing and should not be overlooked. It’s a short summary that paints a clear picture of the vacation rental and extras that you offer, as well as
- Highlights the property’s selling points in the first sentence
- Details the property type and size (i.e. 4-bedroom villa, 2500 sq. ft. home)
- Specifies bedroom info and bed setup (i.e. size of beds)
- Lists amenities by room
- Describes the home’s suitability for certain groups (i.e. kids, family reunions, couples)
5. Failing to max out the allowable number of photos
Always use the maximum number of photos permitted at your listing level. Every photo should have a specific caption. Don’t forget to include exterior photos and photos of charming areas of your property that guests might love. The first photo is typically used as the thumbnail, which means it should be clear, unique and exceptional.
6. Showing rates for less than 9 months
Depending on your unit type and booking/off season, travelers might be making their reservations months in advance. Spaces that are ideal for hosting large gatherings or are located in traditional resort locations should consider extending their calendar out one year during their high season - that way, guests are able to book next year’s gathering just after this year’s stay.
Without a regularly updated reservation calendar and rates, your search rank will decline and travelers may pass over your listing entirely. It’s best to automate this process by implementing dynamic pricing, that vendors like Beyond Pricing, Wheelhouse, or PriceLabs provide.
7. Displaying an incomplete availability calendar
One of the worst things that can happen in your short-term rental business is a double booking. This forces you to cancel on one of your guests and it negatively affects your ranking on the channel.
Your availability calendar should be updated constantly - as soon as you receive a booking. Doing this manually is a tedious, labor-intensive process, but using property management software with direct connections to every major channel is the best way to handle your calendar for you so no bookings fall through the cracks.
8. Leaving your amenities list unfinished
An exhaustive list of amenities and property attributes should be provided in your listing, including:
- Bathroom essentials and comforts
- Heating and air conditioning
- Detailed list of outdoor equipment
- Parking availability
- Safety devices (i.e. smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher)
9. Publishing with spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors
This one almost goes without saying, but your listings should be free of misspelled words, grammatical errors and glaring punctuation problems.
Use spell check and ask a friend to review your listing before hitting publish. You aren’t being graded on your listings, but you are being compared to a hotel booking experience, so professionalism counts: that means a polished message being presented to your audience.