Managing vacation rentals is a rewarding business, but sometimes it feels like you’re constantly running into hurdles that prevent you from reaching your full potential. 

At any stage of your business journey, you could be faced with a lack of bookings, a string of bad reviews, security issues, or other problems.

Here, we’ll explain some of the most common challenges that vacation rental hosts face, and give you actionable advice on how to solve them.

Want to run your business efficiently and get maximum bookings and revenue? With Rentals United, you can list your properties on 70+ channels, run your business smoothly and get exclusive data and AI insights.

1. Bad Reviews

Bad reviews are every host’s worst nightmare. 

Negative guest feedback can damage your reputation and reduce your chances of getting bookings. 

Since reviews are one of the most important decision-making factors for guests, it’s vital to prevent bad reviews and keep your scores as high as possible.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Communicate with guests throughout their stay — This will help you resolve issues faster before they lead to a bad review.
  • Leave positive reviews for your guests — Leaving guest reviews can help you get more reviews which can boost your score.
  • Respond to bad reviews — In the event of a bad review, respond explaining your side of the story and do your best to resolve the situation
  • Take action on reviews — Fix problems as soon as you receive a bad review so you deliver a better experience for the next guest. 
  • Improve the experience overall — Go the extra mile for guests so there’s less chance they’ll leave bad reviews.

2. Missed Guest Messages

Responding late to guest messages, or missing messages altogether, can cost you bookings and lead to reduced guest satisfaction.

However, keeping up with all the messages from potential guests and those already staying in your property is difficult and time-consuming, especially when you’re listing on several channels.

The best way to manage guest messaging is with a centralised inbox where you can read and respond to all messages in one place. Instead of going to all your different channels to check for messages, you can access all of them in one inbox.

3. High OTA Fees

Listing your property on a wide range of booking channels increases your chances of getting bookings all year round.

The problem is that most OTAs take commissions and fees for every booking, meaning you lost out on some of the profit. 

Relying on OTAs for all your bookings is not the most profitable approach to managing vacation rentals. By creating a website for your business you can attract direct bookings where you keep 100% of the profit. Direct bookings are also a good way to build your brand and earn guest loyalty.

With a direct booking website, you can supplement OTA bookings and increase your overall income. 

4. Poor Listing Performance

You think your listings are in need of a makeover because they aren’t performing as well as you’d like.

The problem is, it’s difficult to understand exactly why your listings aren’t converting.

Booking sites are extremely competitive, so you need to do everything in your power to make your listings stand out and rank well. This includes:

  • Uploading high-quality photos
  • Listing all your amenities
  • Completing your property description
  • Writing a host bio
  • Getting plenty of 5-star reviews

For accurate insight into how to improve your listings, try out our Check My Listing tool for Airbnb, which analyses every aspect of your listing, scores each section, and gives you actionable tips for how to improve. 

5. Low Demand

Optimised your listings, and demand is still low?

It could be that local or global events are impacting the vacation rental industry and travel as a whole.

While periods of low demand can be normal, there are steps you can take to improve your performance when the industry is struggling. 

For example, you can:

  • List on more channels  — Diversifying your listings is especially important during quiet periods, as you’ll give yourself the maximum exposure to potential guests.
  • Apply special discounts — Run promotions or special discounts to attract more bookings. 
  • Run loyalty or referral programs — Reward guests and incentivise them to book again or recommend your properties to friends.

6. Double Bookings

Listing on a variety of channels increases your chances of bookings, but can also create a risk of double booking.  

Double booking leads to headaches for you and your guests. Cancelling a booking can tarnish your reputation and even result in your business getting penalised by booking sites.

But, with a reliable channel manager, you never need to worry about double bookings again. 

Rentals United offers secure, reliable connections to 70+ channels. All your calendars and prices will sync in real-time, so there’ll be no risk of clashes across different channels.

7. Setting Accurate Rates

If your prices are too high, guests will book with your competitors. But, set your price too low, and you’ll miss out on profit.

Your pricing strategy must be dynamic, and you must leverage data to make sure you’re charging the right price at the right time. 

Looking at your performance metrics, as well as market data, can help you understand demand and trends in the market. Then you’ll be able to take action to improve both occupancy and profitability. For example, you can:

  • Maintain higher rates during periods of high demand
  • Increase your prices for upcoming events that lead to a surge in demand 
  • Reduce rates during low season to fill gaps or recoup losses after cancellations
  • Look at what competitors are doing to benchmark your nightly rates

Rentals United has a complete data platform, Elevate, where you can review all your property performance metrics side by side with market averages. You’ll even get bespoke pricing tips to help you optimise your rates.  

8. Security Fears 

Avoid problems with good Holiday Preparation.

The safety of your guests and property is paramount. If you’re worried about fraud, damage, or other security issues, there are some things you can do to protect your peace of mind. 

  • Run guest screening — Confirm guest identity documents before accepting them into your property
  • Insure your property — Taking out a damage protection plan that covers a range of incidents, including injury, accidental and malicious damage, and fraud, will help you protect your business.
  • Install smart locks and outdoor security cameras — Smart locks and security cameras help protect against intruders and make sure your guests feel safe
  • Maintain your property — Regular maintenance and property upkeep can help prevent fires, floods, and other accidents.

Keep guests safe via Rental Safety Tips.

For more tips on protecting your business, check out our safety tips for property managers.

9. Growing Your Business

Want to grow your business, but not sure how to go about it?

There are several ways to grow your business, such as:

  • Adding more properties to your inventory
  • Elevate the experience and renovate your property to increase your rates
  • Get more bookings (especially direct bookings)
  • Develop your brand

Growing your business requires you to look at all areas of business and take action to improve, and prioritise fixing weaknesses and tackling high-impact areas first. 

Delight guests with Welcome Packs.

Surprise with Welcome Gifts.

Rentals United can solve your vacation rental problems 

Challenges are par for the course for vacation rental hosts. 

However, armed with the right tools and strategies, you can overcome these obstacles and drive your business to new heights.