Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Tips for Getting More Vacation Rental Bookings

Take great exterior photos ...

The vacation rentals business is getting more and more competitive, no matter what area you’re located. Keeping your properties booked as many weeks as possible is the cornerstone of your success. Here are 3 tips to help you out.

Photos matter more than anything else – even price. That’s right – even price. Because if your property doesn’t look better than a more expensive property, even if it’s just as good, you’ll lose the booking.

... and great interior photos (note pool from
photo above in background).
Be your own worst critic when it comes to your photos, even if you think they’re fine now. Use the best photos you can take on your listing. If there's any doubt about your ability to take a fantastic photo, hire a professional, or find a friend with professional level skills. If you can't afford a professional to take all your photos, then hire them to take key photos of your best, most marketable areas of your property. Do not use your phone to take the photo. The shake and blur factor is too great with the shutter lag on most phone cameras. Borrow, rent or buy a real camera. Be your own worst critic. Then, every few years, update your photos. In fact, you may want to update photos on a yearly basis if you remodel or even redecorate. Guests expect to stay in the place they saw online. Check out more vacation rental photo tips in an earlier blog post.

Easy to read descriptions matter a close second. While photos are king, clearly written, highly descriptive property descriptions are the crown prince. A cardinal sin for any vacation rental property: leaving the description area blank, or with bare bones details. If you're not a skilled writer, or don't want to take the time, pay someone to do it for you. Or, simply use short, concise bullet points. You don't need paragraphs of copy (though that is preferred for organic search, which we'll address in a future post). You need to convey your property's best features and why those features set your property apart.

Offers and calls to action are the deal makers or deal breakers. The first thing that people want when renting a vacation rental is a beautiful place to stay with great amenities and in a great location. Your photos and property description will take care of that. The next thing they want is a deal. If two properties are equal, renters will almost always take the one that offers a better deal, and that doesn't always mean a lower price. Perhaps you can offer concierge service, or access to a professional chef. You might be able to work out deals with local attractions for discounts available only through your property. Think creatively. Then, once you have a great offer for your properties, include a call to action in your property description. It can be as simple as "Book Now," or more involved, such as "Call Now to Get Your FREE Coupon Book." Whatever the offer is, ask your prospective guest to book your property in a clear and direct way.