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We’re starting to move owners and property managers on to the new dashboard, so the next time you sign in to manage your rental, you could see our new design. It might seem a bit different from what you’re used to, so we put together this guide to show you where to find some of your favorite features.

Your rental business at a glance

After you sign in, you’ll land on the homepage of your dashboard, which shows you at-a-glance information about your rental business. The central area shows your progress toward a complete listing, while the statistics near the bottom keep track of your revenue, listing visits, reviews, and more. Your response rate now appears along the top of the screen.

Overall view of new dashboard

 

 

Top navigation takes you where you need to go

You can get to every page of your account from the menu at the top of the screen. Properties has all of your listing-related items like description, location, and photos. Here, you can also find links to manage your reviews or add a new listing.Properties menu

Bookings is where you can track reservations and update your booking settings—including cancellation policy, extra fees, and your saved messages that you can send to guests during the payment process. Finally, all of your administrative items like your contact settings, profile information, and deposit method are in your Account menu.

Inbox: more reservation info at your fingertips

The envelope icon takes you to your inbox, where you can see the status of each inquiry and booking request. Use the Show filters button to refine the messages that you see. Just as before, you can click into a conversation to accept/decline booking requests, or to request payment in response to an inquiry.

Where to find helpHelp topics

Keep an eye out for the blue Help topics bar that appears in the upper right corner of your account pages.

Here you’ll find links to on-screen tutorials that will walk you through the steps of your most common account tasks. It’s like your own personal rental management assistant! Even if there aren’t tutorial links, you’ll see links to FAQs that are relevant to the task at hand.

If you still need help, watch our video tutorial, or check out our updated Help Center. Happy Bookings!

Spiral Rings of Notebook

One of the most useful items you can provide your guests is a basic guide, or welcome book, that gives a snapshot of your area. In this book, you can compile all important information into one place, helping to reduce questions from guests while reinforcing their impression of you as an organized owner. Leave your welcome book in a place where your guests are sure to find it when they arrive, like an entryway table or kitchen counter.

Make the information easy to find, by using a binder with tabs separating each section. Along with your tips, consider placing a welcome letter at the beginning of your book. This can be a short note of thanks that will help make your guests feel at home when they first arrive.

To get you started, here’s a list of items we recommend you include:

  • Essential Information
    • Emergency numbers/contact information
    • Area maps
    • Wi-Fi network and password
    • Beach/park passes
    • Garbage collection
    • Check out times and departure instructions
  • “How to use” guides
    • Appliances
    • Entertainment systems
    • Water and septic systems
  • Provided household supplies
    • Toilet paper, paper towels, linens, etc
    • Food items
  • Area amenities
    • Restaurants – include menus for takeout and delivery options
    • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets/stands
    • Local attractions – hiking trails, best beaches, amusement parks, etc
    • Local dog park or off-leash area
  • Transportation options
    • Bus routes
    • Taxi and shuttle services
    • Car and bike rentals
    • Airports, train stations, etc

Happy bookings!

Blank Real Estate Sign & Laptop

To help new home owners accurately market their rentals, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your property listings:

Create a Catchy Headline

The title of your property is what initially draws vacationers to click on your property listing instead of the competitors. Steer away from generic titles such as “beautiful cabin” or “Resort unit C”. Try to focus on creating a title that focuses on a unique aspect of the property, like a newly renovated kitchen or the spectacular views from the balcony. Examples of eye catching titles are “watch the sunrise from the newly renovated balcony” or “walk your dog on the beach” which emphasize activities that are special to your property.

Showcase unique aspects of your home

Similar to your title, you want to focus on highlighting niche aspects of the listing. If the property specializes in pet friendly accommodation, or if you have a lake with kayaks, let the public know.

Select the Right Location for the Listing

If your property is a few miles away from a major city, you may want to place your listing in the larger area. These tourist heavy areas draw in significant traffic, and if your rental is close enough, you may want to consider changing it to gain visibility. However, if your property is not close to a major hub, it is best to not deceive travelers by misleading their location as this can cause reservation conflict. Make sure your travelers understand where your property is located.

Take Flattering photos

The better the quality of the photos that are displayed on the profile, the more appealing the property is to travelers. Make sure pictures of the property are clear, and have good lighting. Try to get a high resolution camera and take flattering pictures of the interior of your property, as well as the exterior. Emphasize bright colors and unique features of the property. These pictures are super important and will make or break traveler’s interest in the property, as they directly show the quality of the listing.

Take Pride in Your Listing

Make advertising your property a priority. Travelers can tell if an owner has not taken much time to create their listing which is a turn off, so make sure pricing is correct, the calendars are updated, and inquiries are responded to in a timely manner. You don’t lose out on bookings this way since it is easily preventable. The faster inquiries are responded to, the more likely a traveler will book your property.

Good Customer Relations

The way an owner or manager interacts with potential vacationers is huge. A traveler’s experience depends not just on the quality of the property, but on his or her experience with the home owner as well. Be professional and outgoing when communicating with the traveler. Make sure the traveler is accommodated for and feels welcomed when he or she arrives. Travelers will not want to stay at a property with an unprofessional owner, no matter how nice the actual property is. If you build a relationship with a traveler, they may want to book with you again, and get their friends to book with you as well!

List your property on multiple platforms

The internet has made spreading news about your newly acquired vacation home faster than ever. This being said, there are plenty of vacation rental advertising platforms out there that can advertise your property to the world. Having your property listed on not just one, but many, of these websites can improve the visibility of your listing. The TripAdvisor family alone consists of FlipKey, HolidayLettings, Niumba, and TripAdvisor itself.

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In the vacation rental industry, repeat customers can be a strong proponent for your listing. Happy and repeat customers typically provide stellar reviews, book in advance, and can provide traveler insight and tips on how to improve your property that owners may not consider. So how can you attract repeat customers? We’ve compiled some tips to help keep your calendar booked.

Before the stay

Once a guest books, it’s important to follow up as soon as possible to address any questions they may have about the property location and surrounding area. Set their mind at ease by providing up to date contact information, should any issues or other questions arise prior to their stay. While your guest may already have planned activities for their vacation, providing insider tips
and suggestions of things to do shows your guests that you care about making their experience enjoyable and fun.

During the stay

Create a brochure for your house that includes FAQ’s, house rules, restaurant/activities suggestions, and your contact information. Guests will appreciate having this information at their disposal should they need any assistance.

After the stay

Upon check out, send a thank you note to your guests. Thank you’s add a personal touch that highlight your attention to detail. Remain accessible to answer any post-trip questions your guests may have. For example, if a refundable deposit was included in the reservation, let guests know the timeframe during which they can expect their deposit back. Follow up with guests a
few months later to remind them of their wonderful vacation. Providing a special discount for repeat customers gives guests an additional incentive to rebook.

Ultimately, remaining accessible, attentive, and personal helps attract quality and repeat customers. Happy bookings!

Chocolate vs Flowers

Guest Post: Ryan Danz of Air Concierge

It’s no secret that vacation rentals are getting more and more competitive, especially in highly booked vacation destinations, and this means that vacation rental owners are having to up their game to attract the most guests. At Air Concierge, one of the ways we do this is by stocking vacation homes with a welcome package. Guests simply LOVE the welcome package and often gush about it in their reviews of the property (which means even more bookings!). A simple gift to welcome your guests to your home sets the proper tone for their stay, makes them feel welcome, and most importantly reminds them that they’re staying in a unique home, not some generic hotel room.

But what do guests really want in their welcome package? What is the perfect item, or perfect combination, that gets those glowing 5­-star reviews? Half of us here thought it would be chocolate, while the other half thought it would be fresh flowers. Both have their merits, and both are truly appreciated by the unsuspecting traveler. But we were looking for the best – the thing that would do it every single time. So we ran a test.

Over the summer we placed a box of local, gourmet chocolates in half of our vacation rental properties, while the other half got a vase of fresh, seasonal flowers, and recorded the guest response to each. We discovered that the overwhelming majority of guests preferred the chocolates!

But then we posted about the experiment on our Facebook page. In a not­so­surprising­turn, the overwhelming Facebook majority was for both chocolates and flowers! By themselves, chocolate and flowers were tied for votes, and there was even a suggestion for wine being included in the welcome package. We also shared our findings with a few other vacation rental owners and discovered local, non­chocolate food items were also a big hit (examples included salmon jerkey for properties in the Pacific North West and local maple syrup for properties in Canada – this is the perfect opportunity to show your creativity!)

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So which is really the best welcome package for vacation rental guests? If you can only include one item, go with some local gourmet chocolates (or, at the very least, a food item). Guests enjoy having a bit of something sweet to greet them after their travels, and returning at the end of a night in your town to find some leftover chocolates puts their mood in a happy place for the evening. But if you really want to up your game as a vacation rental owner, some chocolates and a simple vase of fresh flowers can be the difference between a 4­ and 5-­star review from an otherwise satisfied guest.

Regardless of what welcome gift you choose for your guests, remember that this too often neglected addition goes a long way and can bring you returns so many times more than the small cost of a box of chocolates.

Ryan Danz is the founder of Air Concierge, a vacation rental property management organization designed to improve the vacation and short­term rental home experience for property owners and their guests. Ryan is also a California licensed attorney, well­versed in the tax matters surrounding short­term rental properties and offers his insight to his clients.

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What better resource than Twitter to help you and your family or friends plan an unforgettable vacation or trip? With trillions of travel photos, videos and tweets on Twitter, it might seem like a daunting task to narrow all of that information down. Up to that task, I have provided some of the best accounts that you might not be aware of from people, news organizations and locations that you MUST follow!

People

Anthony Bourdain – @Bourdain

The KING of travel. After spanning the globe many times, Anthony Bourdain has seen it all and traveled everywhere.

Rick Steves – @RickSteves

Not only is he an author, TV host and blog writer, Rick Steves is the “unofficial” expert on European trips.

Heather Poole – @Heather_Poole

Check out this flight attendant and author’s twitter for tales from the sky. No shortage of crew drama, flying frustrations and crazy passengers here!

Chris & Tawny – @CaptainandClark

A couple who met on Mount Killmanjaro and topped that by getting engaged at the Taj Mahal, they show that love makes traveling a bit more special.

Jeannie Mark – @nomadicchick

When you travel, the most important thing to do is to share photos, tips and videos, which Jeannie shines at!

Brett Snyder – @crankyflier

With more and more airplane drama showing up in the news, follow this Twitter account for great flying tips, tricks and flying deals.

Chris Owen – @OrlandoChris

Chris provides great insight to any cruise related vacation or journey you are planning.

Rick and Sandi – @MidlifeRoadTrip

What better way to have a mid-life crisis than by traveling? Also, join them every Tuesday for their Twitter chat about travel, food and adventures!

Lee Abbamonte – @LeeAbbamonte

Dubbed as “youngest American to visit every country”, Lee’s experiences and travels never seem to end.

Johnny Jet – @JohnnyJet

With the last name of Jet, it is no surprise that this guy visits about 20 countries (on average) each year. Also, he shares some great travel deals!

Photos, News & Deals

Earth Pics – @Earth_Pics

Visiting a popular tourist destination? Going off the beaten bath? Check out, or tweet your own, photos from around the world.

JD Andrews – @earthXplorer

Award winning photographer and videographer JD shares some amazing photos and videos he has taken during his travels.

The Localist – @LocalistTravel

Get up to date news and culture information from locals. There is no better information that when it comes from the people who know the area best.

Independent Traveler – @TravelEditor

Tweeting out informative tips, tricks and photos, Independent Traveler is a must follow on Twitter!

Budget Travel – @BudgetTravel

Believing that amazing vacations are accessible to all, Budget Travel provides great tips, photos and deals to help you plan an amazing journey.

A Luxury Travel Blog – @luxury__travel

Want to live in the lap of luxury? Get some amazing location, food and places to stay tips here.

WorldHum – @worldhum

Hosting a great collection of tweets ranging from beautiful travelers in China to a “not usually seen” side to the Mexico’s nightlife, this Twitter account really pulls back the curtains on travel.

Lastminute.com – @lastminute_com

Suddenly have a nice long weekend on your hands? Get some very last minute deals from this account.

Travelbite Team – @Travelbite

Need a great travel idea and are serious about travel? This Twitter account is perfect for you.

NY Times Travel – @nytimestravel

Leading the way with travel news and features from all over.

Locations

Rio 2016 – @Rio2016_en

Even though the 2016 Summer Games are over a year away, you can get all the updates for the games right here!

WhyGo – @WhyGo

With great travel guides for a number of cities, you can’t go wrong with any tweets from this account.

Goteborg/Gothenburg – @goteborgcom

This amazing Swedish city on the west coast is where I spent my year abroad while in Sweden. With a great culture, plenty of places to see and things to eat, Gothenburg is a city that no one should pass up.

Lake Placid – @LakePlacidADK

Located in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, Lake Placid boasts not only a fascinating history, but tons of fun activities and places to visit.

Foliage Central – @foliagecentral

The essential fall foliage one-stop account for coverage of fall in New England.

The Good Pub Guide – @GoodPubGuide

If you live in the UK or are planning a trip there, follow this account for daily recommendations of the best pubs and beers in the UK.

Best Bars – @BestBarsESQ

Similar to our UK travelers, but for American travelers! Check out their recommendations.

Abandoned – @abandonedpics

May it be on a local, national or international scale, everyone is interested in abandoned places. Use the photos as inspiration for your next trip!

50 Shades of Travel – @50travel

Documenting photos, recipes, stories and experiences from traveling across Asia.

 

Front elevation large single family home

You’ve decided to list your home on FlipKey—great! We want to make sure you get the most out of all of our site features, so we’ve provided tips on how to create a quality listing that drives bookings.

Showcase Your Home

You can capture travelers’ attention with a compelling headline. Avoid using vague adjectives and leave out listing criteria like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Instead, opt for descriptive terms unique to your home’s features.

Write your  property description so that travelers can scan it easily. Try breaking up your summary into chunks while painting a picture of what it’s like to stay in your home. Plus, here’s a tip: You can aid your listing’s performance in search engines if you use an original description that doesn’t appear on other listing sites.

Take the Perfect Shot

We see it again and again: photos play a big role in capturing traveler interest. It’s your first impression, so choose photos that are appealing and well-lit. A dark, pixelated image of a cluttered room will be overlooked in favor of ones in which a traveler can actually imagine themselves. For instance, if you’re photographing your dining room, set the table as though you’re hosting a dinner party for friends.

Set Competitive Rates

When setting your rental rates, check out what similar properties in your area are charging to make sure that your prices are competitive. Keep your pricing structure simple and easy to understand by providing nightly and weekly rates, categorized by season.

Here’s another tip: The default rate that you choose here fills the gaps between whatever you set for seasonal rates, so travelers will always get an accurate price when looking at your listing.

Establish Clear Policies

From damage protection to refunds, your policies help set travelers’ expectations prior to booking.  When you edit your listing, you can set explicit policies that ensure your protection, and define what you and your guests are responsible for throughout the booking.

Update Your Calendar

Finally, the most important piece of your listing is your rental calendar. It’s simple: an up-to-date calendar leads to more qualified inquiries and booking requests. You can manually add your booked dates, or sync it with an existing calendar by importing the data from websites like Google or other listing sites.

Want to learn more? Check out these blog posts:

Make Your Vacation Rental Headline More Clickable in Just 10 Seconds
Why High-Quality Photos Matter for your VR Listing
Tips and tricks for how to set ideal vacation rental listing rates

For general information, check out our Help Center.

Guest blog by: Mike Heller of TruPlace

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FlipKey has partnered with TruPlace to begin offering Interactive Floor Plans for FlipKey’s listings to help you increase conversions and book your homes faster.

TruPlace provides you with professional photos and an accurate floor plan, and then combines them into lightning-fast technology so your guests can instantly navigate through your properties – with no load time – and see large, high quality images along with full floor plan layouts of your vacation homes.

These interactive floor plans help guests quickly visualize their vacation, feel confident in their choice and book the reservation faster.

A recent study shows properties using TruPlace’s Interactive Floor Plans book an average of 22 days faster and 18% more nights than properties without. And faster bookings mean less discounting, more revenue and less chance your guests will go to competitors’ listings.

Here is what you get with a TruPlace Interactive Floor Plan:

  • high quality professional photography (interior, exterior and amenities)
  • Accurate floor plans by a trained professional
  • Fast-loading web-based interactive technology and responsive design
  • Mobile version and QR code for each tour
  • Unique links to the interactive floor plans for your website, social sharing and distribution

With TruPlace you also receive:

  • Image storage of print quality and web quality photos and floor plans
  • Unlimited support
  • Full account access to upload replacement photos and monitor analytics

Get to know TruPlace, Inc.

TruPlace has been providing interactive floor plan tours for over ten years and currently manages over 30,000 floor plans and over 3.5 million images. Their team of professional photographers, friendly customer service representatives and innovative technology gurus helps to make the process easy and fast.

The FlipKey team has been working hand in hand with TruPlace’s tech team to customize the display to give your guests the right information in the right place to help your vacation properties book more and book faster.

**Call or email your FlipKey account manager or Mike Heller with TruPlace at 844-Tru-Tour, mikeheller@truplace.com to find out how to get started.

delayed flight

As a customer care representative at FlipKey, I have heard from many frustrated travelers who were confused and panicked because  their reservation was canceled at the last minute. Many of these travelers  were not contacted by the owner explaining the situation, but instead received an email from FlipKey stating that the reservation was canceled and that a refund is on its way. This can lead to some tense conversations, so I recommend that the traveler reach out to the owner to discuss why the reservation was canceled in the first place. Here are some tips to avoid this uncomfortable situation:

Be forthcoming

Before canceling a reservation, reach out to the traveler by email or phone. Once payment has been made in our system, you are able to see the traveler’s personal email address or phone number and can use them in case situations like this occur.

In the email or phone call, be truthful about why you have to cancel the reservation. Travelers will understand if a pipe has burst at the property and there is water damage, or if a tree limb has fallen through the roof. However, FlipKey does not condone canceling a reservation because you received an inquiry from a second traveler for a larger amount of money.

Find an alternative

Once you have explained the situation to the traveler, work with them to try to find an alternative accommodation that fits their needs. If you have another property that  could accommodate the reservation, make sure to provide the traveler with plenty of pictures or a direct link so they can look at it before making their decision to proceed. Or, if you know another owner with availability and are able to work out an agreement, put the traveler in touch with them to work out the details.

In both situations, you’ll want to make sure that you send the traveler a new rental agreement that outlines the updated information.

Offer a future discount

If neither option is available and you have to cancel the reservation, consider offering a discount to the traveler if they re-book during different dates. Try to keep your interaction on good terms so the traveler will consider re-booking with you again once the property is available. Sometimes travelers’ dates are flexible, and if work needs to be done at the property, they can move their vacation a couple of days. Also, the traveler might visit your area often, so there is an opportunity for them to book with you again.

Understand the refund policy 

It is also important to inform the traveler that once you issue the cancellation and refund, FlipKey will release those funds back to the card that the traveler paid with, but that it will take 7-10 days for the funds to be processed by the traveler’s bank or credit card company.

While no one likes to have their plans canceled on them, it is still possible for both parties to come out of a situation like this with no hard feelings towards each other. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a traveler who was contacted by the owner who canceled the reservation a couple days before check-in. The owner worked with the traveler to find alternative accommodations, but nothing was available. So, he issued a full refund and was apologetic and hoped that the traveler could book with him in the future.

When I asked the traveler if she was angry that the reservation was canceled at the last minute, she said she wasn’t. In fact, she was grateful that the owner had actively reached out to her, explained the situation, worked with her to resolve it  and was apologetic about the inconvenience. To his credit, the owner was able to take a tense situation and create an outcome that satisfied both parties.

For more information on owner cancellations and refunds, visit our Help Center.

cash-for-keys

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the leap and list your vacation rental on FlipKey and TripAdvisor. Now how can you market it? There are several different types of travelers out there, so here are a few tips to help you target the key demographics.

A Family Vacation

Parents want to make sure that their children will be staying in a happy, fun and safe environment. If there are local amusement parks, attractions and restaurants for the whole family, be sure to mention them in your property description. It can also be very difficult to transport all the comforts of home, so why not help to fill a family’s checklist? Do you have family friendly amenities that you don’t mind sharing? A high chair, crib, backyard games and pool toys? Don’t be shy to include them in your property description and amenities. Even that big screen TV and Blu-ray player might come in handy on a rainy day.

The Romantic Getaway

Do you have a quiet and secluded property? Your vacation rental may be the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. When couples plan this type of escape, they want to know that the atmosphere is just right. Your stone fireplace, four poster bed or hot tub may be the key features that separate your property from the rest. Be sure to highlight them by taking advantage of our unlimited photographs on FlipKey and TripAdvisor. You might also want to mention a few dinner spots that are perfect for a night on the town.

Business Trips

A business traveler is looking to stay connected and have a seamless experience getting in and out of town. First, they are looking for a solid WiFi connection. Be sure that WiFi has been added to your list of amenities as it has become a key selling point for all types of travelers. Close proximity to the airport or public transportation is also a strong selling feature. As business travelers don’t always have the option to extend their stay, it may be helpful to cater to these travelers with a nightly rate. Business trips may not fit your minimum stay requirements, but these reservations can help to fill the gap between your weekend and long-term travelers.

Elderly and Special Needs Travelers

Finding a property that caters to travelers with special needs can often be a challenge. If your property is handicap accessible, it can be a major selling point for your listing. Make sure to note that your property is wheelchair and elderly accessible. Prospective travelers have the ability to search for these types of properties using one of FlipKey and TripAdvisor’s many search filters. Also, if your property is not currently listed as pet friendly, you might want to consider making a special exception in the case of a service animal.

You may have already noticed that your listing is a very popular spot among a certain demographic. Why not cater to your market and make it the best?