In such a competitive vacation rental market, it can be tough to make sure your property stands out from the crowd. Each platform boasts thousands – if not millions – of vacation rental listings, so it’s more important than ever to make a great first impression.
Investing time when you are starting out can make a huge impact on your vacation rental business’ success in the future.
Not only do you need to think about where you are going to advertise (which websites you’ll use), but you also need to put plenty of effort into the making of your listings.
Follow the advice below to avoid expensive blunders when creating your vacation rental listing. You’ll soon reap the rewards as you gain more exposure for (and engagement with) your property on OTAs.
1. Poor photos
Photos are one of the most powerful factors which can help to increase your bookings.
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.
Invest money in professional vacation rental photography if you can. While it can seem like a big down payment along with everything else that hosting entails, the truth of the matter is one extra booking in your first year will more than cover the costs.
Whether you hire a pro or take the photos yourself, use wide angle lenses and additional lighting to show off your space. Take several shots of the interior, exterior and for extra points, the surrounding neighborhood and a few of your favorite spots. Be sure to add detailed photo captions and alt tags, as these will help to optimize your images for SEO.
If you really want to get ahead of your competition, hire a professional stager. They will make your place look its best for the photographs and the result will make it even easier for guests to imagine what a vacation is like at your place. If you’re feeling confident, you can do this yourself! Start by arranging a few snacks in a careful composition in the kitchen, placing vases of fresh flowers around the interior and kitting out the pool area with inflatables, patterned towels and fresh fruit.
2. Not enough detail
As they say, “the devil is in the details”, so don’t speed through your listing like it’s a fridge note just to get it up and active.
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.
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.
3. Rates and policies that don’t make sense
Pricing can be a pain point for many hosts who are just getting into the industry. 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. Use their prices to orientate yourself and make your rates lower than theirs the first few months – especially if this includes your peak and off-season!
In terms of policies, you can also use your competitors to get an idea of what’s normal near you. What are they charging per night, per week and per month? If other properties have a five-night minimum stay, then you could aim to be in the same ballpark. However, if other properties in the area tend to do Saturday to Saturday rentals, you could consider not setting this type of restriction in order to reach a larger audience of mid-week travelers.
Rates will be one of the aspects of your business that you will revisit and revise time and time again. To launch your vacation rental, go for rates that are competitive and policies that are comparable to other properties in your region. Don’t be a loose cannon making up your own rules – or guests may even fear your property is a vacation rental scam!
What to take away
Guests spend a lot of time planning their holidays. In fact, Americans would rather put more time, effort and money into researching vacations than retirement plans.
Being a vacation rental owner can be a time-consuming business. As well as guest turnover, you’re also responsible for responding to inquiries and figuring out the finer details with each potential traveler.
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!
About the Author:
Andrea Lamond has 16 years of experience in marketing and is the CMO of OwnerDirect.com, which helps vacation rental owners pair their properties with guests and makes sure bookings go smoothly.