11 Ways to Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings

Seaside Beach Cottage

If you own a vacation rental you may of noticed other rentals similar to yours that always seem to be booked more than your property. “How are they always booked?” You probably ask yourself. I assume if you are reading this then you are tired of watching someone else get all the bookings and you are ready to maximize your rental income. Here are a few things you can implement immediately start increasing your bookings.

1. Renovate, update and modernize 

It all starts with the look. Just like selling a house appearance is everything. From the right curb-appeal to the newly renovated kitchen, your rental should look and feel like luxury. Depending on the current condition of your rental this can be a sizable investment but it is just that, an investment. Updated kitchens are usually at the top of mist renters wish lists so start there. Make sure your appliances are newer or at least in great condition and they should all match. Don’t have a white refrigerator and a stainless steel oven for example. A nice granite counter top, new appliances, good lighting and nice tile flooring can dramatically increase your number of rentals as well as allow you to increase your rental fee’s.

By now every rental should have at least one large flat screen Smart TV with access to Netflix or Hulu. Give your guests the luxury they come to expect and Home entertainment is another highly desirable amenity guests are looking for with includes high speed WiFi as well.

The beds should be the most comfortable thing they aver slept on. Don’t go cheap on the beds. You want them to feel like they are in luxury every time they put their head down on the pillow. A comfortable and well rested guest is a returning guest.

When I walk into a bathroom I also expect something luxurious. A large walk-in shower with a nice soaking shower head are very important. I want to feel like it’s my own private getaway. Not a crowded shower with a cheap plastic curtain and a shower head that either has no pressure or feels like I’ve just been pressure washed.

Outdoor decor is also very important. If you have a pool make sure the pool deck area is clean, stones are free of dirt and mold and not loose. A BBQ grill is also very important for guests so make sure it has gas and well maintained. One of the most frequent issues we hear as property managers is a hot tub that doesn’t work. If they book your rental and it has a hot tub or Jacuzzi it should working or you will have some unhappy guests.

Sandpiper’s Cove 401

2. Modern Decor with a local feel

The interior decor should reflect the surroundings of the rental property. If the rental is by the beach then give it a beach like feel, if it is a mountain resort make it cozy with mountain lodge decor. Don’t over do it with tacky decorations, overly bright color patterns or too many knick-nacks. A nice pleasant color pattern that extend throughout the house and a few nice decorations go a long way. Consider hiring an interior decorator for professional help if you need to. Especially if you have not renovated in some time.

3. Use Professional Photo’s

If you can afford it, hire a professional photographer to take your pictures. The difference between professional an amateur photography is huge. You are trying to sell something based almost entirely on appearance. Most guests have not seen your rental and they base their decision on where to stay because of the look of the unit. If your pictures don’t look great guests are far more skeptical and likely to look elsewhere for a rental. Don’t skimp here. Hire a professional.

4. Focus on a satisfied customer

Creating a great customer experience is in the details. Focus on small things like making sure the internet is fast enough to stream videos with multiple users. The kitchen is well equipped with all the proper utensils, small appliances, dishware, a working ice maker etc. Make sure your rental has fun entertaining things to keep them having fun. This could include things like video game consoles, board games, Foosball, air hockey or pool tables, as well as outdoor entertainment like volleyball, lawn darts, corn hole boards, beach equipment or snow sleds, ski’s based on your region.

5. Leave a detailed manual of all electronic components

Nothing is more frustrating than walking into a rental unit and not being able to operate the TV, lower the A/C or turn the jets on the hot tub. Many residents are not quite up to date on all of today’s modern technology so we should not take for granted they know how to use them. Leave a detailed folder with a separate page of instructions for every electronic device that may require directions for use. This should include, the TV, cable box, remote controls, Alexa, WiFi password and set up, thermostat, washer/dryer, Jacuzzi/Pool, ceiling fans, electric window shades, coffee maker and outdoor lighting, electronic locks and gates.

6. Make sure your property description is easy to understand, updated and detailed. 

The property description should be straight forward and detailed. Basic amenities, number of beds and baths, how many people it sleeps, size of the unit etc, should all be included in the basic description and easy to understand. Also include other important info like “One block from the grocery store, Just footsteps to the beach, Ski in-Ski out” etc. Don’t try to hide details that may put off the guest. If their is pool repairs being done then mention it in the description. Guests don’t want to be surprised with these kind of details and you don’t want to be surprised with their negative reviews that say things like “They didn’t tell me about….” or “They conveniently forgot to mention ….” Make sure these issues are mentioned and if you know dates of when work may be completed that is even better. Don’t forget to update the description whenever needed. I’ve seen descriptions that say mild construction being done only to find out that it finished last year.

7. Keep Updated Calendars

If your calendar is not up to date then there is a good chance you will be missing out on valuable rental income. If a guest tries to book a marked available unit and it is denied it can affect your rating and your future bookings.

8. Respond to all online reviews

All reviews should be responded to in a timely manor. If a guest thanks you and says something nice about your rental, thanks them and encourage them to return for a another visit. If it was a negative review address the review with compassion and understanding and make every effort to rectify the situation and avoid it from happening again. Quickly addressed issues show potential renters that you are addressing their concerns and trying to fix them.

9. Don’t neglect the off-season

Many vacation home owners simply dismiss the off-season because it’s slower. This is the wrong approach. Sure, it is slower but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t have profitable bookings. You may have to adjust your rates to entice off season bookings but it is certainly better then having your rental vacant. This is also an opportunity to increase your number of reviews and ratings by getting more reservations. You can also use this time to suggest seasonal attractions to help pull in more renters.

10. Create in-room up-sells

If you have a spare closet keep things like beach chairs, coolers, umbrellas, outdoor games, snow shoes or sleds locked up in the closet with a digital lock. If the guest want to rent them all they have to do is send payment by PayPal, they get the code then they have access to the closet.

11. Offer your car to rent

That car that you have stored in the garage for 9 months out of the year, make it pay for itself. Websites like Turo allow local people to rent out their own car to anyone eligible 21 and over and it is considerably cheaper in most cases then renting a car from a big name rental car company.

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