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The 6 Deadly Sins of Vacation Rental Listing Sites


Guest Post by: Matt Landau

Whether you’re a VR genius, a seasoned vet, or just beginning in the market, chances are you use one of the big listing sites to generate bookings. As a vacation rental strategist, I see lots of listings every week: some are good, some are bad, some are downright embarrassing. Here are the 6 deadly sins that I see most frequently.

[Note: If you aren’t guilty of any of these sins, then you’re in a very minuscule (and advanced) minority.]

1) Clichés

In this podcast with Jessica Vozel, perhaps the biggest sin (according to the professional travel copywriter) is using cliché terms. Browse your listing and if you find the words “beautiful,” “stunning,” “amazing,” “incredible”…etc. in your text, slash them immediately and focus on being unique, not generic.

2) Set it and forget it

Too many owners and managers sign up for a listing site, fill out their profile (photos, description, prices) and then never touch it again. Oppositely, the best performers are checking back and updating frequently. That may mean changing photos for the seasons, pricing for the low time of year, verbiage for special events, or implementing the use of weekly promotions.

3) Clump your text

One of the biggest mistakes I see is when an owner or manager submits a listing description, all in one or two or three hefty paragraphs. This style of text can be daunting to the traveler and thus discourage them from reading your every word. Instead, utilize The Goldfish Trick for optimal content consumption (and to avoid travelers asking the same questions – that you’ve already explained – over and over again).

4) Skip the author’s bio

It’s easy to overlook the author’s bio box. It’s also easy to submit something short and thoughtless or to skip the photo part because you want more privacy. That’s what most people do. But the best performers in the world aren’t thinking that way. They use the bio box to tell their story, to connect with the traveler, and to set themselves apart.

5) Don’t upgrade because “it’s too expensive”

In the world of marketing (across various industries), the return on investment (ROI) of listing sites is disproportionately high. So if you’re using these sites, you’re best off selecting the best, most expensive package you can buy. Even the most expensive level pays for itself so many times over! (I say expensive because it’s analogous with exposure and actual inquiries.) The only people who shouldn’t apply here are those who fill their rental to capacity or those with budgets so tight that they should probably opt for the pay-per-booking model.

6) Forget to track

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’re a serious owner or manager. But I’m also guessing that you kind of eyeball your listing site progress: “hey it looks like my new picture gets more inquiries.” You may try one listing headline here, another there…one style of responding to inquiries today, another style tomorrow…etc. But without actual tracking (it can be something as simple as an Excel document) there’s practically no way to improve. And since everyone’s location is different, be sure to test different strategies, track what’s working, double down on your most effective practices, and delete any activity that’s not optimal.This will put you miles ahead of your local competition.

Matt Landau is the author of 20 VR 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.