Why Your Vacation Rental Needs a Name

Guest post by: Sarah Brubaker of WebChalet.com

I recently received this email from a friend: “I found the perfect vacation rental for our Bahamas trip. Available September 10-18. The house is on FlipKey (#506635) called ‘Sunset House’ and sleeps 10. Check out the photos and your calendars. Who’s in?”

When I received the email, the first thing that stood out to me is that the friend not only included the FlipKey listing number but also called the vacation rental by its name “Sunset House.” I realized that the owner of “Sunset House” is actually a WebChalet client because I recognized the name of the vacation home.

Create a Brand for your Vacation Rental

A name is a way to establish an identity for your vacation rental, build a brand and help generate word of mouth marketing. A name is also a way for guests to remember your rental. I can guarantee you that when someone asks me where I stayed in the Bahamas a year from now, I am not going to remember a FlipKey number but there is a good chance that I will remember the name “Sunset House” (and associate it with cocktail house and the amazing view at sunset). With an easy-to-remember name, you can also increase your word of mouth referrals. Word of mouth – recommendations made by friends, co-workers, or neighbors you know and trust – is the most effective and cost-effective way to win new guests. You cannot create this word of mouth buzz when your past guests don’t have a brand name to share.

Show Up in Search Results

A second reason to name your vacation rental is that it is highly likely that guests will type your vacation rental name into their search engine. In fact, a recent vacation rental marketing survey found 74% of people looking for vacation rentals would definitely “Google” the name of the property or the owner outside the listing environment. Today guests are doing their own research before booking. Let’s say you gave your vacation rental a generic name like “Bahamas Vacation Rental.” In addition to not being memorable, it is very difficult to optimize your listing or your personal vacation rental website for this search as you will be buried below many other websites. Now type the phrase “Sunset House in the Bahamas” into Google.com. What shows up? The Sunset House’s FlipKey listing, VRBO listing, and the owner’s personal website.

Importance of a Vacation Rental Website

Because users may type your vacation rental name directly into Google or Bing, you should not only include your vacation rental name on all your listings, but also optimize your personal website for the keywords as well. You can expect users to research your brand online and this is a way to take control of your brand image. Guests will look to see where else the house is listed. Are there other reviews on other listing websites? If you have a professional vacation rental website design, you can establish a brand and instantly impress your guests. A user doing her due diligence can now find more information about the vacation home and local area and is more likely to book.

How to Name your Vacation Home

The vacation rental name can be whimsical, but most importantly, it needs to be memorable so it is top of mind when a guest is choosing which vacation rental to book. If your vacation rental has a special feature or attribute, you could tie this into the name. A great name will help set you apart from your competition and help you create a brand that past and future guests can identify with. As for me, I am already daydreaming about sunset hour at the “Sunset House.”

Sarah Brubaker is Co-Founder of WebChalet.com, a vacation rental software company making it easy for owners and managers to book travelers directly with their own professional website. Starting with a variety of vacation rental website templates, owners and professionals can create their own professional website with availability calendars, online payment processing, and a suite of marketing tools built into the software.

 

Simplifying Check-in: Keys and Locks

So you wrote an inviting welcome letter and a quick list of safety precautions and expectations for your new guests. You even prepared a welcome basket with a bottle of wine and several brochures for neighborhood attractions.

Good work, but did you sit down and think about how you’re going to let your guests into your vacation rental?

Checking in guests to a vacation rental is different from hotels as rental owners have a little more freedom as to how to they give their guests access to the home. If you live relatively close to your property, the easiest option is most likely to meet your guests at the door, give them a tour of the property, and make their transition to “vacation time” a little easier.

For the other owners who are not in the vicinity or simply do not have the time to check in guests, they have to figure out the best way to get keys (or codes) to the vacationers.

What are the options?

  • Mail the keys!

If your home uses a standard key lock, you may opt to send guests a copy of the key through the mail. Seems simple enough, but is it worth the risk of being lost in the mail? How about damaged upon arrival? Or better yet, arriving at the wrong address or just too late? After all of these considerations, you will still have to determine how the keys are returned to you.

Of course these are not guaranteed risks, but as a rental property owner, would you have the time (and patience) to deal with mistakes that are out of your hands?

  • Lock the keys up!

Snail mail out of the question? Then you can lock up copies of your key in a lock box on your property. You can easily find many inexpensive options online and go with a key storage box that has many positive reviews and fits your tastes. Leave keys to the rental in the box before the guest arrives and simply tell them the combo to open it. However, the downside to the lock box is that you will have manually change the combination after each guest for security.

When using physical keys for your rental property, there is always the possibility that an unscrupulous vacationer may make copies of the keys. The keys can be stamped with “Do Not Duplicate” to tell locksmiths to not make copies, but there are some key cutters who may not pay attention to this at all.

  • Get rid of keys entirely!

Why not remove keys from the equation and install a keypad for your home? The perks of using a key-less system include being able to store many multiples of codes that can be recycled, changed, etc. for every group of travelers. If the guest forgets the combination, they can easily call or email you for the combination without needing to wait for keys to arrive in the mail or for you or another authorized person to show up and let them into the house.

You will need to carefully research your choice in keypads. While some may store multiple codes, you may have to physically change them on location. More hi-tech, and generally more expensive, keypads have remote-access options which gives you the ability to change codes using your computer and set up dates for automatic code changes around your vacationer schedules. Depending on your computer savvy level, the programs could take some time for adjustment and setting up.

What then, is the best option for you?

Think about your level of availability for your travelers. A good rental property owner can be reached at most times if emergencies or other problems arrive. However, you can’t always guarantee that you will physically available for issues. Compare the costs of each key option and determine whether or not you can deal with a recurring cost – mailing keys – or a fixed cost – keypad installation.

The check-in process should be simple enough for guests, but definitely consider your own needs and limits in order to save yourself from unnecessary headaches.