Top Tips for More Bookings in 2014

There is a lot involved when it comes to owning your own vacation rental and what makes all of the effort worth it are real, simple, and secure bookings. Now that we’ve come into a new year, make it a goal for yourself to book more inquiries and help more happy travelers in 2014. Need help getting a game plan together? We’ll get you started! Here is a list of our best suggestions for turning more inquiries into more bookings this year.

Accept Online Payments

Allowing online payments is a great way to avoid fraud and to also boost your overall bookings. Travelers are much more apt to book a rental with a credit card over the web rather than send a check in the mail. If you want to increase your bookings, the way that you accept online payments is also important. Using FlipKey Payments is, of course, our best suggestion because travelers may feel more comfortable using our Peace of Mind Guarantee, which covers bookings up to $10,000 should it necessitate refund. If a traveler sees that you do not accept FlipKey secure payments, they may become suspicious and decide not to book your rental.

Create a Rental Agreement

If you don’t have one already, a rental agreement is the best way to set the expectations for your traveler and your business. The rental agreement should clearly state your guidelines for the home and your bookings. For instance, a good rental agreement will always include a damage deposit and how it is regulated, an outline of any extra fees included with the rental, what you expect from the traveler, and what the traveler can expect from you. As a suggestion to make the traveler more comfortable and to let them know that you are a legitimate owner, think about including a section in the rental agreement requiring that the traveler’s photo ID and credit card used to book is presented upon arrival at your home. If you need help drafting your own rental agreement, try looking up some examples online to give you some guidance. The less surprises your traveler has when paying for a booking, the better!

Add a Book Now Button

Using FlipKey’s “Book Now” button is a guaranteed way to get more bookings faster. Travelers like the ability to book their vacation at the moment they decide they like a rental and this feature allows them to do so.

Update Your Listing Frequently

In order to graduate to the level of a vacation rental all-star, you should be regularly checking your property listing and update its most important features which are the calendar and rates. Having accurate availability listed on your calendar is imperative to making a good booking. If a traveler finds that they cannot book a date that was listed as available, they won’t bother trying to book with you again and will look elsewhere. The same idea is true for your rates. Nothing upsets a traveler more than finding out that they have to pay more than what was quoted to them! Listing special deals in your rates is a great way to get your home viewed by more prospective customers. If you’re not sure that your general rates are competitive, a good way to check is to search for vacation rentals in your area and get an idea of what owners are asking. Try filtering your search so that you can find the properties that are most similar to your own for more accurate results.

Get Great Photos

Travelers rely greatly on visual stimuli when booking travel. Sure, most individuals may sort by price at first, but their eyes will do the choosing from then on. If you have high quality photos for your listing, chances are you will stand out among the others. The best photos are the ones with the highest resolutions. If you can’t afford a professional photographer to take photos of your property, try finding a quality camera to borrow so that you can take your own. Be sure to get photos of every aspect of your property, especially if you have special amenities such as a pool, jacuzzi, pool table, etc.

Reply Fast and Often

To secure more bookings, it is important that you respond to all inquiries – even those that you cannot accommodate! By letting the traveler know that your home is available or not available as soon as possible, they can be assured that you are a great owner who cares about the traveler experience and wants to make bookings. If you are available, make sure that you get to the traveler before the competition, because chances are the traveler is sending out several inquiries to properties in your area if they are actively planning a vacation. Try your best to keep yourself organized and make yourself available to the customer’s questions as soon as they ask.

Follow Up

Following up with your traveler after they leave your property is a great way to create a more long lasting relationship and ensure future bookings from that guest. Keeping yourself and your home fresh in the traveler’s mind is also a great way to help them remember to leave you a review. Reviews are important to have as many travelers will read what the public is saying about a rental before they book. If you receive a bad review, consider it a great opportunity to professionally respond and rectify the situation. If people see that you are responding to your criticism in a healthy and proactive way, they will most likely decide that you are indeed a good homeowner who cares about the process and the traveler’s vacation.

Top 5 Must-Offer Amenities for 2014

Every year, competition gets more fierce to secure travelers in your area. More listings are available, prices are fluctuating, and most importantly, more amenities are being offered. You need to keep pace. This is Amenities 101, not a master class. Hopefully you are already ahead of the pack, but for those who aren’t, here are the top five amenities travelers are looking for in 2014:

1. Free Wifi

wifi

Easy one. This is a staple of the vacation rental world. Smart phones are everywhere, and not everyone has the luxury of unlimited data plans, so having free wifi in a vacation rental can save your attendees hundreds of dollars while they are visiting. Wifi is typically much faster than 3G or 4G cell phone connections, and this will allow your guests to research the local area with speed. For the especially tech savvy guests, they may have even brought a computer with them, and being able to connect their laptop to your wifi system will enable them to browse more quickly, download larger files (like a movie), or upload some of their hi-res images from vacation.  Average wifi on its own would cost approximately $50, but bundle it with the cable package you have at the home for more savings.

2. Hot Tub

Easier to add on than an entire pool, a hot tub offers relaxation and fun to both warm and cold weather vacation rentals. Enjoying time in a hot tub can be a family activity, a romantic one for a couple, and a safe one for young children. Nothing beats a dip in the water on a mild Florida night or even a freezing Boston afternoon. Pro tip: keep your hot tub sanitary with proper chemicals and regular cleanings.

3. Bikes

BikeRide

Vacationers are becoming more active as the years go by, and it should be reflected in the amenities you offer. Most visitors do not want to sit on the couch catching up on Breaking Bad, they appreciate athletic offerings that get them out into the area. For most owners, a home gym is a difficult and expensive item to offer, but bicycles (both for adults and children) are a sweet perk that could put you over the edge. Include training wheels for the little ones, and an easy-to-understand map of the area to help travelers navigate.

4. Video Games

Making a vacation rental child-friendly is key for owners. If you have children yourself, you don’t even need this advice. Not only will this make the stay more enjoyable for the children, but it will also allow the parents to relax and know that some of the luxuries of home are with them on the road. Having a video game console (XBOX, PS4, even an old-school version like N64) is enough to keep the children occupied while parents can cook or pack or plan the next day’s activities. Video games can be used as a reward for good behavior, and the absence of video games can be used for the opposite. A few on-site games would be nice, but let the visitors know in advance you have this functionality so they could possibly bring a few of their own games or controllers.

5. Pet-Friendly

Puppy jumping on the beach

Pets are a member of the family, who are we kidding? Leaving a pet home while you go on vacation can be both devastating and expensive. If a traveler is lucky enough to have a family member or friend who can watch Meow Mix or Fido while they are away, they still won’t feel completely confident everything will go smoothly. Even worse, putting a cat or dog in a vacation boarding home can be an extreme strain on a wallet. Having your vacation rental listed as pet-friendly will not only increase bookings, but it will increase satisfaction of the stay as well. Adding little pet extras like treats, beds, or hair rollers will be appreciated fully.