Home For Owners/Managers Tips for Property Managers

Running a successful property management company can be boiled down to two key tasks: recruiting owners and retaining them. It seems simple, but really it is a very complicated and difficult chord to strike properly. Here are a few practical tips to help you recruit more owners for your portfolio and keep them longer. There are certainly more tactics you can use—and more advanced ones—but the following are great places to start.

1. Recruit using many marketing channels

Create a robust marketing strategy that integrates all channels, both old and new, to spread awareness of your company. Print ads and direct mail can still make an impact simply because potential owners do not receive as many pieces of mail as before.

Scale up your sales team with competent and knowledgeable staff members. This is critical for larger businesses, and a proper prospecting and outreach program can net high dividends.

New media is an absolute must for any business in 2014. An updated website, active social media channels, a weekly or quarterly newsletter, paid online ads, and an industry blog that demonstrates your thought leadership are all critical to marketing your business. Choose strategic partners in your industry; this can also be a smart decision to increasing your brand awareness and recruitment. Work on marketing campaigns with them, cross promote, and find ways to make the partnership win-win.

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As a property manager, nothing knocks you down a peg and puts some sweat on your brow more than a supremely negative review left by a guest. How do you tell your owner? What if they see the review before you have a chance to tell them? What if, at worst, you lose their business? Here are a few ways to avoid a major issue and stop any dissatisfaction from the property owner before it begins:

The FlipKey team is excited to be attending the 2nd European Seminar hosted by the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) on 9-11 December 2013, in Bruges, Belgium.If you’re a professional rental agent looking to grow your business and would like to interact with some of the most influential minds in the holiday rental industry, book your flight to Bruges! Join FlipKey representatives and other industry professionals from Europe and beyond for this two-day event with more than a dozen new education sessions specifically for holiday rental professionals.

The event will offer more than a dozen informative educational sessions and many opportunities to network with industry professionals to share ideas and best practices. General sessions include The Future of Search and Travel presented by Roel Naessens from Google and more. Additionally, five concurrent sessions will cover a variety of topics from branding and marketing to the impact of mobile and social media on the holiday rental industry.

Check out a a full list of presenters and session topics here, and click here for more gorgeous photos of Bruges.

FlipKey’s own Koryn Okey (@korynokey) will be presenting on Five Ways to Get Your Properties Noticed Online during a Wednesday morning session!

One hundred percent of 2012 attendees said they are likely to recommend this event to a colleague. Don’t miss this opportunity to join industry leaders and suppliers at this seminar. Just one tip, one new resource, or a single connection during this event can make or save your company money.

Don’t delay!  Register now for the 2013 European Seminar. Your industry peers will be in Bruges this December – we encourage you to be there, too!

For more information visit www.vrma.com  or contact Jill Curtis, Director of Membership in the U.S. by phone at +1 (317) 454-8315 or email membership@vrma.com.

Meet Walter, our FlipKey featured owner! He’s shared some tips below that have helped him successfully rent out his Myrtle Beach condo for over ten years.

Prompt Customer Service

One of the main things that helps to differentiate his homes from the competition is the experience he provides with prompt customer service and his determination to resolve any issues.

Promote to Past Guests

Along with excellent customer service to keep renters coming back, Walter has also capitalized on his ever-expanding rolodex of past guests by sending them mailers and reminding them of their relaxing stay in his homes.

Walter’s Wisdom

The last piece of advice that Walter has left us with is the reminder to “Price your unit fairly, respond to complaints the way you would want someone to respond to your complaints. Always leave the customer feeling like you are truly concerned and want them to come back.” Great advice from a vacation rental veteran!

View Walter’s listing here.

Photos used with permission of VRMA. Copyright Tourism Bruges

Photos used with permission of VRMA. Copyright Tourism Bruges

Last year, more than 100 holiday rental professionals from 14 countries met in Barcelona to foster collaboration between rental agencies throughout Europe and beyond. This December, the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) will once again host a European Seminar with title sponsorship from CSA Travel Protection and Europ Assistance.

If you’re a professional rental agent looking to grow your business and would like to interact with some of the most influential minds in the holiday rental industry, book your flight to Bruges! Join FlipKey representatives and other industry professionals from Europe and beyond for this two-day event with more than a dozen new education sessions specifically for holiday rental professionals.

Do you want to share your knowledge with attendees? VRMA is still looking for presentations for this year’s Seminar. All industry professionals are encouraged to submit presentation proposals to speak at this event. Proposals selected must address an industry-related topic with specific educational content presented. Proposals should be submitted by 1 September.

Do you offer products and services to rental agents? Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Learn more.

Come join FlipKey!  Online Registration will be available in September, along with a program of all sessions!

Here in Boston, city-dwellers are benefiting from new, automated technologies. We can beat the heat by setting our thermostats to activate while we’re miles away, we can hail a taxi by clicking a few buttons on our phones and we can pay for lunch by holding them up to restaurant’s readers. Though the vacation rental industry values relationships and personal interactions, we can still draw on emerging technologies to create a more seamless booking experience.

Accepting online payments has long been a vision of ours. In the past few months, we’ve built a platform that enables our clients to accept credit card payments from within their FlipKey listings. We’ve tested it, and are nearly ready to offer FlipKey Payments to property managers.

This tool offers travelers the gratification of confirming and paying for their stay immediately, removing one of the barriers that sometimes turns them to hotels. Online payments are secure: once the customer’s credit card is authorized and the traveler checks in, the money is placed in your account, eliminating the financial risk and fees of bounced checks. What’s more, online payments offer fraud protection and assures consumer confidence. For these reasons and more, we believe FlipKey Payments are a needed, practical solution for the vacation rental industry.

Stay tuned for an announcement about how you can integrate this development into your FlipKey listings. As always, we welcome your feedback about this new feature!

During the first week of May, FlipKey Director of North American Sales and Operations Bryan Goodwin presented at the Florida VRMA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Orlando, FL.

A copy of his presentation, Bragging Rights & Traveler Behavior: The Re-Personalization of Travel and how to make it work for your vacation rental is now available for review here.

by Matt Landau

Vacation rentals have come a long way in the travel industry: they’ve spawned their own search engines, they’ve provided competition to traditional hotels, and they’ve started to revolutionize the way travelers experience culture when they are on vacation. So it makes sense then, that the technology used to market vacation rentals has been rapidly improving as well.

One of the fastest growing techniques is through the use of online press releases. Distributing news far and wide is now cheaper, faster, and more accessible than ever in history. The same process that used to require thousands of dollars, publicists, and press agents, is now attainable for less than $100 in the comfort of one’s own home.

You’d be amazed at how much of what you read, on a regular basis, is actually a paid press release disguised as “real news.” But, how are vacation rental owners using the digital breed of press releases to reach new travelers?

Vacation rental owners are increasingly using online press release services to distribute their information worldwide. This may mean offering special discounts to travelers, not unlike chain hotels. It may be in the form of announcements about upgrades to their property or big events in town worth visiting. Whatever the theme, vacation rental owners can now reach international audiences at the drop of a hat, and here are 5 examples of owners doing just that:

  1. The New Promotion: Villa Rental Company Announces New Promotional Offer After Study Reveals High Stress Levels in Average Business Traveler 
  2. The Media Angle: Vacation Rental Company discovers a unique way to market Lake Tahoe utilizing national media
  3. The “Better Than Hotels” Angle: New Miami Vacation Rental Property Listing With Breathtaking Views of The Beach. Rent It Today!
  4. The Special Event: Curacao Vacation Home Rentals, Curacao Vacations During “Day of Banda Bou”
  5. The Insider Advice: Aruba Vacation Rentals Professional Offers Tips on Traveling with Children

It’s no mystery that vacation rental owners who are writing and distributing press releases are seeing more bookings. An improvement in marketing technology now allows for owners of every skill level to reach demographics they could never tap otherwise. Travelers too are enjoying this innovation as they’re increasingly opting for vacation rental accommodations over traditional hotels.

Matt is the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and also the founder of VRLeap.com, where vacation rental owners and managers can find great services and tools at largely discounted prices. He recently published a new guide – Mastering Press Releases for Vacation Rental Owners – which will be available FREE through June 5th.

FK Director of International Sales Koryn Okey

Koryn Okey is the Director of International Accounts at FlipKey. Since joining the team in 2008, she has worked with more than 300 international rental managers and agencies and represented over 60,000 properties globally. Koryn focuses solely on European markets and is dedicated to creating long-lasting relationships with her clients and to driving awareness of the holiday rental industry.

Prior to joining FlipKey, Koryn worked in publishing. She holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Toledo, in Ohio.

We recently asked her a few questions about her background and vision for FlipKey vacation rental managers:

What made you want to work for FlipKey? When I joined FlipKey, it was less than a year old and just breaking into the market, so working here has given me the opportunity to see first-hand how a business can grow to be a major competitor within an industry. Aside from the learning opportunity that a start-up offered, I was really interested in understanding the industry. It’s been exciting to be a part of something great.

Any thoughts on where the vacation rental industry is headed? I think we’ll begin to see standards set that make the rental process easier for travelers to book a rental and to better understand exactly what they’re getting. It won’t be overnight as there are many factors that go into this, but I think we’re definitely moving in that direction.

What do you love most about working in the travel industry? I feel excited to be able to play a (very) small part in helping people create long lasting memories with friends and family!

Where are the best vacation rentals you’ve stayed? I’m a big fan of vacations on the beach so I’m going to say Cabo or Costa Rica – they were different types of trips, but both rank pretty high on my list. The ability to return to a home-cooked meal or sit around the pool with only the people you’re traveling with provides such a sense of privacy and relaxation: it can’t be beat. That said, I’ve rented some great apartments in city centers in Rome and Barcelona, too. The ability to have a home base amid the energy of a city also can’t be beat.

What is the top piece of advice you have for professional managers? When you’ve made the decision to invest in a marketing partner, take the time to understand what it offers and how you can maximize your involvement: it’s about more than just signing the contract and having your listings live. Ask questions, talk to your account manager, understand the features the partner offers and how you can best utilize them. While it will be more work up front, the long term benefits will be worth it!

What FlipKey feature do you think is most under-utilized? Having the ability to incorporate the reviews you’ve collected directly on your own website is invaluable.  Our (free) publishing tools give managers the ability to provide their guests with all the information they could want while making a decision on where to stay — why not provide travelers with everything they’re looking for? Having reviews ensures they don’t need to visit another site to see what people have to say.

Think Koryn can help put your vacation rentals in front of the right travelers? Contact her: koryn@flipkey.com

BryanGoodwin2999v3Bryan Goodwin oversees FlipKey.com operations  in North America. He has helped over 2,000 rental managers leverage the guest review and advertising services provided by FlipKey.com and TripAdvisor.com since he joined FlipKey in 2007 — as its first employee.

Bryan directly manages over 400 accounts throughout the Atlantic Seaboard that represent more than 40,000 units and 250,000 reviews.  He holds a B.A. in Finance and an MBA from Bentley University in Waltham, MA and is an avid vacation home renter and aspiring vacation home owner. We recently asked him a few questions about his background and vision for FlipKey vacation rental managers:

Why did you leave the world of finance to work for FlipKey? I wanted to work for FlipKey because I believed in the management team, am interested in travel and specifically vacation rentals, and I was confident the concept of reviews in vacation rentals was smart and would work.

What is the top piece of advice you have for a property manager? Don’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low.  Property managers are in the insanely challenging position of pleasing both their home owners and their guests.  Undoubtedly — given human nature and people diverse personalities — someone is going to be over-the-top happy, over-the-top mad or somewhere in between.  When it comes to dealing with reviews and home owners’ reaction to those reviews, my advice is as much as possible to take a neutral stance and not let the highs get too high or the lows get too low.

What FlipKey feature do you think is the most under-utilized? Traveler photos and specials.  Specials help attract eyes to your ads.  The special doesn’t need to be 20% off —  it can be a bottle of wine with any 3 night stay —  just something to separate and differentiate your listings.  Once you have your guests, retaining them is key. If you know you’re providing them with an awesome experience, make sure you encourage them to share it with you by leaving photos of their stay with their review.  This kind of personalized content from your guests can be invaluable in attracting future guests or convincing someone who is new to VR that your home will be the right accommodation for them.

Any thoughts on where the vacation rental industry is headed? As someone who rents vacation rentals, I would like to see the industry move towards more seamless online booking so that as a renter I can make my purchase directly online after my research is complete.  I think we’re heading that way although there are technical challenges that need to be met prior to getting there.

What do you love most about working in the travel industry? Traveling!

Where are the best vacation rentals you’ve stayed? The beauty of vacation rentals is that they are all great in their own unique, different ways.  A mountain-side vacation rental in Breckenridge can be equally as great as a beachfront home on Pawley’s Island or a lakeside summer house in NH… I would have a hard time choosing only one home of the many great homes I have experienced!

What’s your favorite sports team? Boston Bruins and New England Patriots…

Think Bryan can help put your vacation rentals in front of the right travelers? Contact him: bgoodwin@flipkey.com