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“Work smarter, not harder” is the rather clichéd advice that every business person receives at some point in their life — and now I’m giving it to you.
One way to save yourself a lot of time is to create materials that are “evergreen” — meaning, you can use them again and again, from now until the end of time!
You can benefit from these ideas whether you are the owner of a single vacation rental home or if you own several properties and work at this business full-time.
Here are a few tips on how to incorporate “evergreen” practices into your business.
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There are some emails that you will send to each of your guests.
“Is your property available on these dates?”
You receive an email asking if your property is available for rent. (You may receive such emails even if you have an iCalendar or Google Calendar on your rental page, as people like to make double sure.)
Rather than writing a new email each time you receive such a request, it’s a good idea to craft a response with fill-in-the-blanks for the dates your potential guests are interested in. That will save you a few seconds — and those seconds add up over the long run.
“Your stay is confirmed.”
Once your guests have booked the property, you’ll send out an email to let them know they are confirmed. This can be a simple one liner, but it’s better to craft an email that expresses your delight, from a personal standpoint, that they have chosen your property. (Begin with such sentences as, “This is to confirm your stay on these dates at the property at _______. Thank you so much for your business.” You need to tell them how to get into the property if you haven’t already — explaining how your key system works. And finally, you will end with, “We hope you enjoy your stay.”
Attached to this email you can send another pre-written document, explaining how your guests are to acquire the keys to the property and giving them more information about the neighborhood and so on. (This pre-written document should also be printed out and left in a prominent place in the home, as I cover in the “guest material” section.)
“How was your stay?”
Most guests don’t fill out questionnaires, but you want to encourage as many of your visitors as possible to do so.
Feedback is important, not only so that you learn of any issues with your property or the neighborhood, but also so you can share positive feedback on your listings page.
You can leave a questionnaire in a prominent position in the home so your guests see it, or you can send them an email after the rental period is over.
Either way, have the material prepared in advance so you don’t have to recreate it every single time.
You’ve purchased the newest microwave model, and it’s got all kinds of new features. You’ve read the manual (hopefully) and know how to use it. But that doesn’t mean your guests will.
The same holds true for dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, the newest ovens with glass tops, and so on. So make sure you keep the manuals for each of these appliances in a prominent place so your guests can refer to them.
Even if you don’t want to create a “neighborhood and city guide” as discussed below, it’s imperative that you create a list of emergency telephone numbers in case your guests need to call a plumber, for example.
You’ll also want to give them your own contact details — or those of your property manager or handyman who can handle any issues they may have.
Welcome to the Neighborhood and City Guide
It’s also a good idea to create a document for your guests that gives information on the neighborhood and the city.
Tell them where to find the nearest public transportation and even how much it costs for a bus ride or light rail ride. Give tips on purchasing travel cards to save money.
Share information and websites on any museums, sports facilities, theaters, restaurants, and parks in the city.
It takes a bit of work to compile all of this useful information, but of course once you’ve compiled it, you won’t have to do so again — although you will have to update it every now and again.
(For example, the price of a bus ride may change every year. You may think that with an “evergreen” document, you just won’t bother to give the cost because then you won’t have to update the document. However, for the satisfaction of your guests, you may wish to do so, as it is information that at least some of them will appreciate!)
“Evergreen” can also refer to your marketing materials.
It’s not enough to have your vacation home rental property listed on all the marketing websites out there — although, of course, you have to be in them!
YouTube or Other Video Channel
You also need to market your property in other ways, and one way to do this is to create a YouTube channel in which you share videos or photo montages not only of the interior and exterior of your home, but also of the surrounding neighborhood and even your city’s downtown entertainment venues and restaurants.
In the explanatory text of each video, you always lead off with the URL of your vacation home rental property (whether if you use Homeaway, Flipkey, or have your own website) and then lots of keyword rich text to ensure that search engines index the video.
Related: 10 Photo and Video Tips to Showcase Your Vacation Rental Property
YouTube is second only to Google when it comes to internet searches, so if you can get your videos indexed such that they show up in the top 10 results for appropriate keywords, you’ve won the battle.
Blog Guest Posts
It’s a good idea to have a blog on your personal website in which you talk about your property — but in order to build your readership, consider seeking out other people’s blogs and writing guest posts for them on a topic relevant to your property.
Is there a prestigious event that takes place in your town every year? Hopefully there’s more than one. Research them, take photos of them, document how far they take place from your own property, and then start writing about them!
You want evergreen posts, which means you need to concentrate on events that absolutely will occur every year. If you do so, people who are searching on such an event five years from now may well come across your blog post and drop you a line to see if your property is available for rental during those days!
Any other materials you use to market your vacation home or help keep your guests informed?
Let me know with a comment!