Not everyone knows that Rentals United started off as a partnership between the founders of some of the top worldwide web agencies for holiday rentals. That’s why we have no problems calling ourselves experts in the field of selling holiday rentals. I went ahead and asked our founders for their expert tips to increase vacation rental bookings and Mike Donelly pointed out that he already wrote about this in FOUR PART series: what sells part 1 , vacation rental pricing, making great photos, more sales tips. Nevertheless, we managed to come up with more tips, we hope they will help you increase your vacation rental bookings in 2015.
Sales Channels are websites were you can advertise your holiday rental on. How many do you work with today? Maybe 5? Some are more successful than others but you’re reluctant to take the time to advertise on more. You think of the dread of the uploading process, having to delve into each new websites business process, finding out about commission, updating your prices on a yearly basis and then of course, every time you get a booking: updating the calendar – or at least making sure the iCal still works. Oh and yes, you have to do that for the 100 properties you manage.
What if I told you, you could press a button and have your entire property database live on hundreds of channels? Yep, it’s not quite a click of a button yet but it’s what we, at Rentals United, are working on. This is called a channel manager for vacation rentals. It’s been decades that the hotel and airline industries have worked with channel managers, now the our industry is ripe enough and few of us are making property managers lives already much much easier.
You know this already: properties with reviews get higher ranked in sales channels and are more likely to be booked. Reviews are vital. But do you have a strategy to get them? Vanessa de Souza Lage, our CMO and property owner, said what worked for her was putting the price down in the 1st year. “I have what you could call a 4 ★ holiday rental in Barcelona”, she says, “and in the first year of renting it I gave it at a budget price”. Guests were so happy about the price value that reviews poured in. “I followed this approach with the rest of my properties and now I’m on 75% occupancy rate.” Pricing is a vast topic and one that we want to look at again in this blog (subscribe at the bottom to be notified!), but there you go, don’t be afraid to undersell in the beginning, it will help you in the future.
While this is definetely the topic of a much longer article (subscribe at the bottom to be notified!), you may want to start looking into yield management for vacation rentals (also sometimes called revenue Management). Think of it as optimising your rates according to your availability and hence increasing your vacation rental bookings. With Rentals United you can do this rather complex task in “auto-pilot” mode for the channels you work with or you can get trained to start yield managing your inventory. Say goodbye to the concept of “last minute deals” and rather anticipate and influence guests much longer in advance.
A good concierge service has a proven direct impact on guests satisfaction. This is true for the hotel industry and now also for the vacation rental industry. But hang on: you already deal with updating 5 channels on a daily basis (unless you work with us!), you deal with the double bookings that come with it, you deal with cleaning, check-ins, checkouts, gathering reviews…. and we tell you to add a concierge service to your daily bread?! No thanks. Ok but how about you step back and let someone else organise the tours, the welcome pack, the babysitter…. Now you’re thinking “yeah but it will cost me“. Well nooooo in fact with Vreasy concierge service for holiday rentals you make money when your guests go on tour or book a babysitter. This service gets the “Pretty Great Idea” stamp from us.
As a property manager you probably have little or no traffic to your own website. It makes indeed no sense to bid on the same keywords as the travel industry giants. There’s a way however to generate traffic to your website with little marketing money and that’s: email. Always, let’s repeat: always make sure to get the email of your client (agreed with AirBnB that has become harder). Topics to keep in touch could include: new properties, discount codes, happy holidays card and why not a reward scheme “Forward to your friends and get a night free”. One of my favourite marketing quotes is by Seth Godin “be 100 percent focused on signing up strangers to give you permission to market to them”. Your strangers are in fact “guests” and the relationship has already begun.
There you have, our 5 expert tips to increase the bookings of your vacation rentals 🙂