You’ve got an amazing 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. In such a competitive vacation rental market, it can be tough to make sure your property stands out from the crowd. There are thousands – if not millions – vacation rental listings, so it’s more important than ever to make a great first impression.
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 article, we’ll take a look at our top 9 reasons why you’ll never increase your vacation rental bookings (unless you change something soon). Follow the advice below to avoid blunders and you’ll soon reap the rewards as you gain more exposure for your property.
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. Poor web design will only dissuade visitors from booking, whereas a good user experience can make all the difference.
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.
New guests who don’t know about your vacation rental yet only have one way of finding you and actually arriving at your website: through organic Google search. Keywords are essential because they are the missing link between what users (i.e. potential guests) are searching for, and the information you can provide them to fill this gap. Once you implement your keywords, you’ll soon realize just how easy it is to boost visits to your website and capture more bookings.
3. YOUR LISTINGS AREN’T GREAT
So you’ve got a great website and you’ve optimized your site for SEO, but you’ve 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.
Note: Be sure to never include these 10 words in your listing description.
4. THERE ISN’T ENOUGH DETAIL
You can always tweak your description down the line, but spending a good chunk of time on it before going live will save you a lot of back-and-forth with potential guests.
Take the time to provide all the information that will make it scream, “we’ve got you covered!” to any of your future guests. Put yourself into your guests’ shoes: who are they? Where are they traveling from? What is going to be most important to them? It may be the case that you’ll cater to many international guests, families or groups of travelers – prepare your listing to speak to them directly.
When it comes to writing your listing description, more is more. Aim to write as clearly as possible with as much detail as you can. This will make it easier for guests to find out if you have what they are looking for. Don’t forget to include all the amenities and facilities included in your rental.
5. YOUR PHOTOS ARE AWFUL
What exactly are you selling here? Your property? Then show it off! Photos are one of the most powerful factors which can help to increase your bookings. Most guests aren’t going to visit your home before deciding to book, so the images you display on your website must speak volumes – and be accurate for that matter!
Good quality photos are equally (if not even more) important as the listing description. Given that so many travelers are booking their accommodation online, the images you upload are a reflection of the service you offer. That’s why it’s essential you have high-quality, accurate vacation rental photos.
Not only will these pictures attract guests to your property, they will also help you to manage expectations of the experience guests will have at your home. Make sure to add detailed photo captions and alt tags, as these will help to optimize your images for SEO.
Your entire business foundation rests heavily on this cornerstone. 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.
6. YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH REVIEWS
How often do you search for recommendations online before you go out to a restaurant? Or watch a movie? Or even download an app? Without any reviews, it’s going to take forever for your bookings to surge.
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.
7. 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.
8. YOUR PRICES AREN’T CORRECT
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.
Pricing can be a pain point for many hosts. You need to set competitive rates and policies, so make sure yours are in line with other properties in your area. Check out the competition by researching other listings with similar amenities, rooms, beds and so on.
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. Don’t be a loose cannon making up your own rules – or guests may even fear your property is a vacation rental scam!
9. YOU’RE NOT ADVERTISING
If guests don’t know your vacation rental exists how will they find and reserve it? Apart from being listed on OTAs and having your own website, have you thought of all the other different ways you can market your rental?
If you’re not active on social media, now is the time to create an account on Facebook and Instagram for your business. Social media will allow you to reach a wider audience and improve your rental’s visibility.
As part of SEO as previously mentioned, you can create a blog. Not only can vacation rental owners use a blog as a resource for their guests to learn about the area, but it can also help their website show up first in Google and give you something to post about on social media!
By advertising across multiple platforms and channels, your business will have more exposure which will lead to more bookings!
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY
Guests want to have the perfect vacation, so you need to prove to them why they should pick your rental. Whether you’ve just started out in the vacation rental business or have been hosting for a while, all these issues are easy to fix! It’s never too late to change your strategies and get those bookings up. If you don’t have your own website yet, you can start with a 7-day free trial.
As a result, having a detailed listing with correct, up-to-date and importantly, accurate information saves everybody time and hassle – resulting in more stress-free bookings for your property!
As well as taking these 9 points into consideration, you can also conduct a SWOT analysis to evaluate other factors in your vacation rental business. Download our free template below.