After retiring, Marcia Kelly soon discovered that she wasn’t ready to lay back and stop working. She wanted to put her efforts into a new venture that she’d feel passionate about. After crunching numbers and analyzing all the costs, she decided to start her own vacation rental business.
Deciding on where to buy property came easily for Marcia – she wanted to choose somewhere she loves and a place that’s popular with a variety of tourists – so she purchased a romantic log cabin in the Smoky Mountains!
With minimal knowledge of the industry, Marcia was worried about all the decisions she’d have to make – how to set rates, attract guests and what taxes she’d have to pay. As she began to figure out the finer details, Marcia also started to think about how she would advertise her property.
Before subscribing to Lodgify, Marcia had already been advertising her vacation rental on HomeAway and a few other listing sites. She would spend a lot of time updating all her different listings and calendars and had a hard time keeping up.
Although she was getting bookings, she felt like she had to do something to spend less time updating her calendars and more time promoting her vacation rental.
Then came the pivotal moment and it clicked, Marcia needed to start looking for alternative ways to run her Smoky Mountains vacation rental business.
“While listing sites were performing very well, I felt that I needed to diversify and not put all my eggs in one basket, especially since HomeAway changed its terms and conditions and introduced a guest service fee, which resulted in decrease volume of bookings.” – Marcia Kelly
Before paying for a full Lodgify subscription, Marcia started her 14-day free trial. She tested the website builder, channel manager and was even able to see the reservation system in action when three direct bookings came rolling in.
After nine days and with three bookings already in the calendar, it became clear that this vacation rental software was going to help centralize all of Marcia’s reservations and grow her vacation rental business.
What she liked most about Lodgify
Marcia loves Lodgify because she knows that her business is in her own hands. That means she can now focus on building her brand, work on writing compelling descriptions to persuade guests to book and most importantly, she can finally take control back from listing sites and generate her own direct bookings. Best of all, Marcia gets to keep 100% of her business income as bookings come direct.
“I love that I have complete control over my listing.”
How she found the process of creating her own website with Lodgify
Marcia Kelly was impressed by how easy it was to start building her own website and connect the channel manager to other services she uses, like HomeAway.
She also liked that the templates were attractive and functional, as well as extremely easy to customize to her taste.
“Lodgify is easy to figure out – anyone can set it up and easily build their own website with the stunning templates on offer. You don’t need to be a developer to work out Lodgify, It’s very user-friendly.”
How she got her first bookings and channels she’s used to increase them
Marcia Kelly had already gained a solid customer base by advertising her property on her local tourism board and listing sites like VacationHomeRentals.com, VRBO and HomeAway. Once her own personal website went live, she let the various boards know in order to update her contact details.
Marcia also strongly believes in the power of word-of-mouth referrals – positive reviews of her guests’ experiences have also helped her to secure her first direct bookings.
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How Lodgify helped grow her vacation rental business
Lodgify’s vacation rental software allowed Marcia Kelly to collect all her reservations into one place, ensuring she only has to manage one centralized calendar and inbox. She’s able to save a lot of time and be much more efficient as she no longer has to log into various listing sites to manage her calendars, inquiries and messages. With Lodgify, Marcia’s sole focus has been growing her business.
Additionally, in Marcia’s first months with Lodgify, she worked hard to optimize her website and promote it on different channels. Using Lodgify’s channel manager, Marcia was able to centralize all of her reservations from listing sites and ensure she never mistakenly took a double booking.
In as little as six months, Marcia could already see results. She realized that she was beginning to depend less on listing sites now that direct bookings were coming in on her website – in this first half a year, her rental income totaled more than $15,000!
She’s happy to see that consistently, at least 25% of her rental bookings come directly from her website and that number is growing everyday. Her Lodgify website has now become her primary source of inquiries and soon enough, it will also be the main source of direct bookings.
Her aim this year is to work on getting more direct bookings and outperform the reservations that come from listing sites.
“My website has been online for less than a year and I’m already getting approximately 25% of my bookings from there.”
Advice to new vacation rental owners
Marcia has the following recommendations for new vacation rental owners looking to grow their businesses:
- Ensure a fast response time to all inquiries
- Treat all potential guests and booked guests as friends
- Your vacation rental has to be spotlessly clean and in excellent condition always
- Invest in maintaining and improving your rental property, it’ll pay off in the long run
- Whatever you do, get your own website! Gain direct bookings and take back control over your business.
“Just give Lodgify a try! It’s easy to get started, uncomplicated to navigate and if you have any doubts, the Lodgify team is always ready to help. It’ll save you lots of time!”