Five Essential Tips and Tools for Vacation Rental Agencies and Owners

Guest blog post by: Anthony Dodd, Channel Relationship Manager at Kigo

We get asked for tips and inside tricks here at Kigo all the time, so we rounded up five of our best ideas to help you maximize bookings. Some are new additions to obvious solutions; others are from feedback we’ve had from our agencies. So, our top five…..

Gmail

For smaller operations or individual owners, Google Mail is a great free tool to manage your email contacts. Its range of plugins and tool make it a real time-saver for vacation rentals agencies and owners. Tools like Boomerang (where you can automate the re-sending of emails to keep inquirers attention) and Canned Responses (where you can save a selection of template responses to inquiries to quickly respond) are just two great examples of the hundreds available that can really save you time and make sure that your inquiries are not going unanswered or leads going cold.

MailChimp

For larger operations, MailChimp is an excellent solution. Free for your first 12,000 emails per month, the fantastic selection of templates, and the ability to add your own designs give so much scope for personalization. You can harvest emails by embedding a sign-up form in your website and automate emails following actions on your site and in previous email campaigns. All this comes complete with a detailed, granular analytics package to monitor your emails’ performance and automated postings on your various social media accounts. With great free options and affordable, scalable paid solutions, MailChimp is a great product for your email marketing.

Website

This is not exactly news to most of you, but it’s crucial to have a website for your vacation rental agency or property. From WordPress and Blogger to professional design agencies, having something to refer your customers to is always a big plus. It verifies your agency in an age where customers are ever more vigilant regarding fraud, gives you a showcase for your properties and helps you to establish a brand, all of which will help you to boost your bookings.

Google Analytics

One of the finest pieces of analytics available, Google’s free analytics package is a great way to monitor your sites performance. From an overview of which keywords are driving the highest number of visitors to your site, all the way to the granular details of how individual pages are performing and how long each visitor spends on your site, all the data is exportable, instantly assessable and segment-able. To get vital data on your site performance and how you can improve your site in a variety of ways, Google Analytics is a great tool.

Channel Manager

Managing your vacation rental properties through various online channels is always a rewarding experience in terms of bookings. But it can be time consuming and difficult to keep your own site up-to-date in addition to all the listings you have on great portals like FlipKey. Using a channel manager simplifies this process; all your availability data, pricing, and property details and photos can be instantly synced with your vacation rentals website so that every channel you market with is constantly updated in real time. Saving you time and money while streamlining your vacation rental business, a channel manager is a fantastic tool for your vacation rental business.

Kigo offers a Channel Manager option as a part of their vacation rental software package. Linking your vacation rental properties to Flipkey is made effortless through Kigo’s channel manager, with all data synced in real time. Contact us today to find out more.

Short-term Rentals: Addressing their Regulations & Restrictions

With the rise in popularity of vacation rentals, a more watchful eye has been placed on short-term rentals and their impact on the local community. New York City in particular has been a focus of news sources for the city’s regulations governing this type of property. However, regulation issues are prevalent throughout the rental industry. Increased attention coupled with a general lack of knowledge regarding these regulations has prompted the formation of the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, or STRAC. This group was created by FlipKey & TripAdvisor, HomeAway, and Airbnb to help empower and engage the short-term rental community in its crusade with policymakers for smarter regulations.

STRAC logo

First, you may be asking yourself, “Well, what exactly qualifies as a ‘short-term rental’?”

This type of property is a residence that is rented out for less than 30 consecutive days.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “Okay, well then what are the issues surrounding this rental market?”

This is a multi-faceted question, but some of the main issues are overly broad regulations, complicated and unclear restrictions, licensing fees regardless of how often a property is rented, and a lack of understanding by policymakers of the benefits these rentals provide to the community. All of these limitations have made it increasingly difficult to successfully operate a short-term rental.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, a good place to start is by visiting STRAC’s website, http://www.stradvocacy.org/. This is a great resource for finding a local chapter of the organization, learning about how these regulations have impacted U.S. cities and short-term rental owners, and providing guidelines on how to approach your local government about these issues in a well-informed manner. It is important that your voice is heard when these regulations are being drafted and enacted. It is your property, your community, and your livelihood. STRAC is here to help, but it is up to short-term rental owners to make themselves heard. Here are some tools to get started!

Currently, there are local chapters in the following cities:

Ashland, OR Marin County, CA
Austin, TX Maui, HI
Coachella Valley, CA Miami, FL
Myrtle Beach, SC San Francisco, CA
New York City, NY Santa Fe, NM

The STRAC website also provides a synopsis of each city’s current short-term rental regulations and how to contact them directly. Once you register with your local chapter, you can receive email updates on short-term rental regulations and meetings that are happening in your area.  These updates provide opportunities to get involved and share your story with others affected by these regulations.

Visit STRAC today, and get started on making a positive impact on your short-term rental community!

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