You’ve got a gorgeous vacation rental, kitted out with all the luxuries for a comfortable and welcoming stay. Yet, you’re still not taking the bookings you’d hoped for.
Instead of being complacent, sitting around and waiting for reservations to trickle in, have a long, hard think about what you’re doing wrong. Though you might not want to admit that anything is your fault, it’s likely something you can easily fix.
In this brutally honest article, we take a look at our top six reasons why you’ll never increase your vacation rental bookings (unless you change something soon).
1. You have a terrible web design
If you’re not thinking of your website as the front door to your vacation rental, you’re making a big mistake.
While how your site looks is still important, it’s not just aesthetics you should be concerned about, either. When you consider that an increasing number of travel bookings are being made on mobile devices, users will quickly leave a page that doesn’t adapt to their cell phone or tablet. Not only that, but a slow loading time, messy navigation structure and a lack of clear style or brand across the website will also drive visitors away.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don’t drive visitors away from making a booking because of your web design mistakes.
2. No one can find you
What good is a stunning website design if no one visits your site in the first place?
Many vacation rental owners overlook the importance of SEO and other online marketing techniques to bring traffic to their websites, but we can’t stress enough what a massive effect it can really have.
We’re talking to one group of owners in particular: those with no optimization for their brands’ keywords, a domain name that’s difficult to remember (or even spell!), and with little presence on social media sites.
When you stop putting off doing these things, you’ll soon realize just how easy it is to boost visits to your website and capture more bookings.
3. Your listings suck
So you’ve got a decent-looking website and you’ve optimized your site for SEO, but you’re yet to pay any attention to your listings themselves – that’s not going to help you take bookings!
Writing a simple sentence about your listing is no longer sufficient for the guest who values creativity over commodities, and personality over price.
With the nature of instant booking, and increasingly less guest/host interaction before the deal is sealed, a good listing description is still essential.
There are many resources to help you write your listing descriptions, but don’t fret too much if you’re not up to the job. There are plenty of people or companies out there you can hire to write for you.
The words aren’t all that matters, though. Good quality photos are equally (if not even more) important. Most guests aren’t going to see your home before deciding to book, so the images you display on your website must speak volumes – and be accurate for that matter!
Doubling, tripling or even quadrupling the number of bookings you take is only going to be possible with an effective listing that has optimal vacation rental photography.
4. You don’t have enough reviews
Without good reviews, it’s going to take forever for your bookings to surge.
How often do you search for recommendations online before you go out to a restaurant? Or watch a movie? Or even download an app?
Online reviews are everything in our internet-fueled lives, so if you don’t have any on your site, no one is going to give you the time of day or even consider booking your vacation rental.
Solid recommendations from past guests who have stayed at your vacation rental – and who can vouch that it’s as great (or better) than it appears on the internet – are a type of social proof which is extremely important for building your brand and convincing other guests to stay with you.
Getting into the habit of asking each and every one of your guests for their review can have an incredible effect on your booking numbers.
Even negative reviews aren’t all that bad, and hosts can actually learn valuable lessons from them, as long as they know how to respond to them properly.
5. You’re too slow at responding
Every host dreads opening up their inbox after a few days away from the computer to find they’ve missed an inquiry and potential booking because they weren’t notified of the request.
But the reality is that this is still happening to some hosts, and your bookings are never going to grow this way.
If you prefer booking requests to instant bookings, for whatever reason, you’re going to need to have some procedures in place to avoid letting inquiries slip away. Because sure enough, if you don’t reply quickly, your guests will no doubt look somewhere else.
6. Your prices are all wrong
We admit it’s hard to get prices right. But when your prices are wrong, that puts a big black cross next to your vacation rental.
If you haven’t set different rates for your high and low seasons or haven’t even given your pricing presentation a thought, you could be in for a harsh reality check when your beautiful vacation rental fails to fill up.
Whether your competitors are much cheaper, or your place stands out as a bargain in comparison, it could leave you (and your bookings) in a rut.
Research and implement a solid pricing strategy if you want maximum occupancy and that long-awaited increase in bookings.
See, these issues are easy to fix! But, if you don’t have your own website yet, that’s a topic for another day.