You’ve bought the property, outfitted it for guests, and set up your listing. Now it’s time to answer the golden question: How do I get more bookings at my vacation rental? We reached out to property managers and vacation rental home owners around the world for their top tips on how to get found, get more bookings, and start stockpiling those 5-star reviews. From sales to social media, here is their best advice for getting more bookings at your vacation rental.
Play Up What Makes Your Vacation Rental Unique
By constantly promoting your home’s best attributes you help customers understand exactly what your vacation rental home offers and how it’s different from the competition.
Providing unique amenities is critical to setting your home apart.
Consider, for example, the home’s exterior. If possible, create an outdoor oasis complete with amenities like comfortable, weather-resistant seating, a firepit, or a relaxing water fountain, suggested Sam Zuo, a property manager with Passive Airbnb. Extra credit if you can offer guests a pool or pet-friendly play area. Learn more about how to boost your rental’s outdoor appeal.
Inside, you can promote a world-class kitchen, unique furniture or large-screen TV. The key is to try and anticipate your guests’ needs – and then go above and beyond.
“I think of everything a traveler might need in terms of personal care and toiletries, and make sure these items are all available, along with a selection of snacks of all kinds, coffees, and various teas,” said Tracy Lamourie, who manages a vacation rental home in Hamilton, Ontario.
Zuo recommends leaving a bottle of good wine out for travelers. Other little perks include outfitting your vacation rental home with bathrobes, high-end slippers, and luxury linens.
“Anything you can do that is unexpected but feels like a bonus or treat for your guests is going to go a long way,” said a Realtor Eric Sztanyo, who has owned and managed vacation rental homes in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Newport, Kentucky.
His way of wowing guests? Surprising them with homemade pies.
Invest in High-Quality Photography for Your Vacation Rental Listing
Our experts’ second top tip for increasing your vacation rental home’s bookings is to invest in professional photos of the interior and exterior. These are perhaps the most important part of your listing, they say.
“Having professional photography is a must,” said Luke Knowles, a property manager for the luxury oceanfront vacation rental brand Knowles Maui. “Do not skimp on this and think you can do a good enough job yourself. You can’t.”
But our experts warned that your photos must be representative of the actual home. They set an expectation, and if your home doesn’t meet it, your guests will be disappointed.
“Disappointed guests can lead to bad reviews and a bad reputation for you home,” Zuo said.
When you work with TurnKey Vacation Rental’s property management team, they’ll help you select the best photos of your vacation rental home and create an irresistible listing. Ready to get started? Here are 5 tips on how to prepare your vacation rental home for its photo shoot.
Adjust Your Rates to Increase Your Revenue
Every vacation rental home owner will experience high and low periods. By adjusting your nightly rate based on the season, day of week, and local events, dynamic pricing helps you maximize your bookings and your revenue. You can appeal to last-minute travelers with a special reduced rate. Then boost your income by charging more on weekends and when the area is in high demand.
Some of the property managers we spoke to also recommended using pricing incentives to help increase bookings during slow periods.
Chad Sutton, who owns and manages a vacation rental property in Chicago, offers deep discounts during the winter. He said it helps him compete with hotels, which also drop their prices to appeal to hardy travelers willing to brave the Windy City in winter.
“An extended stay discount of 15 to 20% can help keep the money coming in during slow periods,” he said.
Offering a reduced rate is also a smart tactic for new vacation rental home listings, said Sztanyo, “Once the positive reviews start to pile up, then you can increase your prices,” he said.
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of setting a rate for your rental property? Read our article on how to set the best price for your vacation rental home.
Read and Respond to Your Property Reviews
The goal of all of the suggestions above is to increase the number of positive reviews on your listing. The more 5-star reviews you have, the easier it will be to increase your vacation rental home’s bookings.
Learn more about how reviews can make or break your vacation home rental business.
“The vacation rental market is a lot more saturated than it was just 5 years ago,” said Sztanyo. “If you are looking to increase bookings in your area, then we suggest that you do everything you can to provide amazing customer service and get those top reviews.”
In addition to the tips above, he also suggests responding quickly to any guest’s questions during the booking process and — more important — when they’re staying in your home.
“Great communication and responsiveness is a must to get top reviews. If your property manager is bad at this, find a new property manager or do it yourself! It’s that important,” he said.
Talk to your guests, recommends Molly Hooper, a property manager with SummerMaine Classic Vacation Rentals. Even with all the technology we have to automate and outsource tasks, personal service is still your biggest asset and leads directly to repeat guests, she said.
And remember, it’s not just about getting good reviews. It’s also about how you respond to criticisms about your vacation rental home, said Zuo. If you do find yourself a victim of a bad review, don’t insult the guest or become defensive, he said, you will only confirm the lousy feedback. Stay positive, address the person’s comments in a productive manner, and, if needed, apologize for the bad experience.
“Choose your words carefully. Always keep in mind that your potential guests will judge how you respond,” he said.