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One of the most important tasks any vacation homeowner should pay attention to is getting bookings for their vacation home. After all, vacation home upkeep is not cheap, and to run any successful business (yes, owning a vacation home is a business) you need income.
There are several ways to market your vacation home in order to gain exposure and start getting bookings. Read on to learn about a few.
Five Ways to Market Your Vacation Rentals to Attract Bookings
1. Property Manager:
Any property manager worth his salt should be able to provide you with bookings and quite a few of them. Make sure when you are interviewing property managers to ask them about their bookings, and make sure they are not promising to fill your house up just during high season. You need bookings year round. I would suggest that a vacation homeowner should look at the property management bookings as their base.
2. Online Vacation Home Sites:
There are a lot of them out there, but the two most popular are VRBO (to learn more about how to rent your place and list for free on VRBO, click here) and HomeAway (click here to list your place for free on HomeAway—only pay when you get a booking). Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind before you pay them $300 to $800 a year to sign up.
- Do you have the time to answer calls and/or emails during the day about your vacation home? If you do then these sites can net quite a bit of revenue over the course of a year; however, if you can only take calls or respond to emails after 5 p.m., then more than likely you are going to lose out on the majority of the bookings.
When a person calls at 1:00 p.m. about your vacation home and leaves you a message, they will call another owner if you do not get back to them right away.
- Are you organized and have a follow-up system in place? Please note, many guests will call and ask you a lot of questions about your house, and then they will promise to put their deposit check in the mail to you that day. You will be left to find out in a week or so that they actually never sent the check.
Sometimes it is very frustrating managing the bookings of your own vacation home. You need to be very organized to make sure you do not double book your house and that you have a follow-up system in place to make sure you capitalize on all the inquiries on your vacation home.
3. Network with Neighbors:
Oftentimes guests are traveling with other families, and if you can offer them two or three units next to each other you will more than likely win their business. By talking to your vacation home neighbors, you could help each other a couple of times a year with bookings in each other’s vacation home.
4. Community Booking Website:
A lot of vacation home communities are now offering a booking site for just a particular community. You need to have your vacation home on this website. You can’t get much more targeted traffic than this.
5. Market to Past Clients:
Guest usually take their vacation at the same time each year. Make sure you reach out to your past clients through e-mail or a phone call to offer them a discounted rate if they would like to come back and stay again the following year.
Getting bookings in your vacation home is like setting a trout line: the more hooks you have in the water, the better off you are going to be to catch the fish (or bookings in this case). Once you have the marketing set up, you need to work on maximizing your bookings.
Three Steps to Maximize Your Bookings
1. Competitive Nightly Rates:
Do a little research on comparable homes, and make sure your pricing is very competitive. I would even suggest being the lowest cost provider during the off or slow season. More than likely any bookings you get during this time is just gravy, so why not offer extremely competitive rates?
2. Pictures and Videos:
Do yourself a favor and hire a professional photographer. It is often said a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure your home photos are bright and colorful. It is also important that you stage your house for the photos. Some fresh cut flowers in a vase here and there really makes a difference. I read recently where a vacation homeowner increased his bookings by as much as 28% by simply having professionally taken pictures of his house.
3. Offer More Amenities:
Oftentimes more amenities can lead to more bookings. Some of these amenities can be: internet (a must nowadays), premium cable channels, daily newspaper delivery, premium bedding, gameplay system for the kids, gas grill, etc. You don’t need to offer all of these, but most of these things are not that expensive, and they can really set you apart from your competition.
As you can see, a little bit of effort can go a long way in ensuring maximum bookings for your vacation rental. Once you have your marketing plan in place, make sure your property stands out both through high quality photos and rates competitive to the local market. Useful amenities and a warm, welcoming environment will help largely in leaving a great lasting impression on your guests, who will help to spread the word about your wonderful property.
What steps do you take to ensure bookings in your vacation property?
Please let us know in the comments!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.