This article is courtesy of MaidThis! Cleaning. MaidThis! is a California-based cleaning service specializing in vacation rental cleaning. They currently serve the greater LA, Orange County, and San Francisco areas.
The vacation rental market is growing at an astonishing rate. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), from 2013 to 2014, vacation home sales rose by 57.4%. With an overwhelming number of properties competing in the market, finding the perfect vacation rental can be a nightmare for many travelers. At the same time, travelers have become more sophisticated than ever in their search – they dig much deeper and have higher standards. As a result, vacation rental owners need to put a lot more effort and time into understanding their target market if they don’t want to get lost in all the vacation rental noise.
Successful vacation rental businesses know how to optimize their occupancy rates and thus, maximize their income. In this article, we’ll discuss 5 different ways to ensure your property remains occupied and attractive to potential renters throughout the year.
1. Improve your lead management process.
An incoming inquiry equals a potential renter. Once you receive a new inquiry, you should send a response right away – thank them and explain you’ll get back to them within a certain number of hours. The faster you reply to that inquiry, the higher chance you’ll maintain that booking. Keep in mind that you’re competing with a plethora of other vacation rental owners, so being the first to get in touch with a lead will put you ahead of the game.
Having an automated or semi-automated reply system (such as the one provided by Hostfully) in place can help streamline inquiries; setting up standard templates will make your life much easier. Creating different templates such as a first response template, a booking confirmation template, and a pre- and post-stay template also helps establish a professional image for your business and increases your reliability.
2. Build value for your guests.
In the long run, knowing how to create lasting value for your guests will be your secret sauce in winning their hearts. The key to making your vacation rental property appeal to potential renters is to ensure the perceived value of your vacation rental outweighs the nightly price. This can appear easier said than done and might not seem like the most affordable strategy to accomplish. That being said, value can be built in different ways. The most visual way to increase value is through your interior design. Customers can tell when your decor is outdated or your property is in need of an upgrade. The interior improvements don’t have to be expensive – they just need to be clean, beautiful, and comfortable.
Head to the nearest IKEA or other local discount home furnishing store for some help. A small investment can go a long way. Now that the interior work is all set and you’ve got a beautiful place to show, what really helps close the deal is taking beautiful, high-quality photographs of your space. Having the right lighting, angles, and image clarity will help entice potential renters to look closer at your listing and request to book with you.
Consider investing in a professional photographer that specializes in real estate photography. This will give you an edge over other vacation rental owners who chose to forego this extra step and take photos themselves. Your vacation rental will stand out as professionally managed and cared for.
3. Be creative and strategic during the slow season.
As a vacation rental owner, you’ve probably asked yourself this question: “How can I increase my occupancy rate during the slow season?” It’s important to understand the slow season in your area. While it’s common to lower your rental rates during off-peak season, do you know how much and when to lower them? Analyze the data from previous slow seasons. Who were your guests? This will help you define and understand your ideal market during this time of year and adjust your price accordingly.
Use a service like AirDNA to look at your direct competitors and find out details like how much they charge during high season versus low season or how much they charge on weekends versus weekdays. Don’t forget to check the prices of hotels near your vacation rental as hotels tend to have good yield management tools. The more data you gather, the better picture you’ll have about how much you should charge when demand is low.
Likewise, be creative. If weekend bookings are full while demand for weekdays is staggering, try running some special weekday promotions. How about giving away 1 night if renters stay for 3 consecutive weekday nights? How can you create a romantic getaway option? Develop different packages that offer more for the same price, like partnering with a popular restaurant nearby to give away a free to your guests.
4. Make customer service your #1 priority.
The best way to set yourself apart from every other vacation rental in your area (and really, anywhere) is to provide top-quality customer service. Transparency is crucial in this step. People want to deal with real people. Put your contact information out there and make sure that you’re helpful, easily accessible, and open to communication 24/7.
Once you’ve secured a booking, how can you build customer loyalty and make people want to come back? The answer lies in offering a great guest experience. Attracting old customers is far easier (and cheaper) than finding new ones. Hence, it’s vital to offer a memorable experience to your guests from the start so that repeat bookings, referrals, and 5-star reviews will follow. Begin with the basics such as a complete rental cleaning; then start adding nice touches like complimentary snacks and drinks upon arrival, hand-written thank you cards, and local guides (such as the ones provided by Hostfully) with coupons and discounts. Going the extra mile to provide the most unique and remarkable experience for your guests will help you maximize your ROI.
5. Take advantage of email marketing.
Email marketing is a powerful (and inexpensive) tool to generate repeat business. Start collecting email addresses now! This will be your database of potential loyal customers. Send out regular newsletters with discount offerings, new property openings, reward programs, holiday cards, and even birthday cards to go that extra mile and extend great customer service.
To succeed in the market, vacation rental owners need to constantly look for different ways to maximize their occupancy rates. If you’re not aware of the trends and don’t stay on top of your guests’ needs, you’ll soon fall behind your competition. Don’t let that happen – start implementing these tips today.