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 Payment Protection 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.
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.