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.

10 Surefire Signs You’re A Savvy Vacation Rental Pro

By: Matt Landau

Vacation rentals are taking the travel industry by storm of late with a new PhoCusWright study proclaiming that they will account for up to 30% of the entire US travel market before the end of 2014.

But with so much growth and success, and many new owners rushing to cash in on this booming trend, experienced veterans of the industry are taking advantage of their time-tested efforts to capitalize on monthly bookings.

Here are 10 signs that you’re operating your vacation rental business like a savvy pro: 

tetris1. You operate your calendar like Tetris

If you shuffle around bookings, offer special discounts/upgrades, or are successful in convincing guests to reserve specific nights – all in search of the almighty flush booked calendar – you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

2. You are suspicious of any renter under the age of 25

If you raise an eyebrow when a potential guest asks about the minimum age requirement or inquires about staying with “their colleagues” during Spring Break-like vacation weeks, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

3. You know when someone has been smoking in your home before even stepping inside

If the first thing you think when you smell the faint odor of cigarette smoke in your vacation rental is “$500 Special Cleaning Fee,” you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

facebook_like_thumb4. You ask guests to post pictures from their stay on your Facebook

If you have an automatic message that goes out to all guests a day after their vacation, asking them to post any and all wonderful family photos on your rental’s Facebook wall in an effort to enhance your marketing brand, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

5. You look through guest’s trash

If you or anyone on your staff looks through guest’s trash just to “observe” (or perhaps to re-stock their favorite drinks for a second visit) you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

6. You have a graveyard of iPhone and Blackberry chargers

If you have, somewhere stowed away, a massive tangled basket of smart phone chargers left behind by guests and are eager to re-gift them to new guests in need, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

classified_ads17. You frequently scan classified sites to make sure no one is stealing your vacation rental identity

If part of your monthly regimen is checking online to see if anyone has stolen your photos and started secretly selling nights to unsuspecting travelers, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro. 

8. You under-promise and over-deliver

If your guests arrive and are WOW’ed by your vacation rental experience (“The photos don’t do this place justice!” or “This host was like our own private concierge!”) and you intentionally blow guests like this away on purpose, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

9. You secretly know that vacation rentals are creeping up on the hotel industry

If you don’t need to hear from PhoCusWright that vacation rentals will make up 30% of the US travel market by the end of 2014 (because you secretly knew this all along), you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

10. You run your own Groupon-style deals

If you keep track of all your previous guests’ email addresses and, in the low season, offer them flash sales in which they can purchase $500 credit for only $250 cash, you’re probably a savvy vacation rental pro.

Matt Landau is a vacation rental marketing expert and the author of 20 Tips Under 20 Minutes, a free eBook designed to help vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings for their property using simple, effective, and efficient tips.