Rental Listing 101: Understanding Your Audience
One thing’s for sure: it’s a booming time to be a vacation rental owner. The industry is growing by making hospitality more flexible and accessible, with vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and VRBO being the first stop for an increasing number of travelers.
If you find yourself in this industry, though, without a firm grasp on who your potential guests are or what they are looking for in a vacation property – take heart; even the most veteran owners have faced this question and rose to the challenge. To help you on your way, we worked with our friends from Trip 101 to pull together a few pointers that will help you craft your listing and best fit the needs of your guests.
Do Your Research
Take a close look at various vacation rental listings that are already posted, and don’t limit yourself to just one site. There are numerous sites out there that manage bookings, so be sure to check a number of them.
Be sure to check out the description on each listing. How long are they? How detailed are they? Do they immediately compel you to read further, or are you more likely to just skim and click to the next one? Ask these questions to help you develop your own listing and description. Most of your audience wants the description to be informative and personable, but not too lengthy if it can be helped. Don’t be afraid to display your personality while making sure it remains professional. After all, you’re running a business. Research will also allow you to review the feedback each owner or property gets; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Communication is vital – you have to be readily available to answer guests’ questions and to receive positive and negative feedback. It also would be wise to develop a consistent, reasonable tone when you respond to guest feedback and all other communication, again making it personable but also professional. Try to respond to each and every query and email in a range of 5 minutes to a half an hour maximum, depending on what’s on your plate at the moment. An attentive and highly responsive rental owner is a successful one.
Image Is Everything
Images make up a highly substantial part of your vacation rental listing, often appearing right at the top of the page, making it vital that you provide a stellar collection of pictures that will truly catch the eye of potential guests. When you’re checking out other listings for research, keep an eye on the kind of camera they used (if that information is available or if you’ve got a discerning eye) and the perspective that the photo was taken from.
Also, have a set number of photos in mind that you’d want to attach to your listing that will enable the guest to really visualize themselves having a good time being in your vacation rental property. But make sure you have a photo for every room in sequence similar to how one would walk through the home, as well as pictures highlighting standout features like new upgrades and amenities. If your schedule prevents you from taking photos of your rental yourself, you should look to bring in a professional photographer or companies like TruPlace and Matterport to really cast your rental in an elegant light.
Amenities Make a Difference
If you haven’t already, take all of the information you’ve obtained to this point and use it to evaluate your vacation rental. Note additions you could make that would enhance your listing and lead to an increase in bookings. Do measure the cost of adding these new amenities and balance them with the expected appeal they will provide for your customers.
A good first step would be to include electronic additions like streaming media players and devices attached to the televisions in the home, like Roku for example. Improving wireless internet access throughout the place is also an easy thing to implement that will attract vacationers as well as business travelers, who as mentioned before are also opting to book vacation rentals instead of being in hotels. If you are considering converting to a smart-home, take the steps to make sure your guests are comfortable with the added technology.
Veteran vacation rental property owners will do what they can to rejuvenate their spaces and make them more attractive, whether they’re apartments or full-fledged villas. However, it pays to be smart about it and choose the upgrades that pays off.
To start, consider giving your property a fresh coat of paint to boost its appeal. If you’re financially able, investing in new furniture like sofas and living room tables could also give your place a boost. If you’re currently unable to make these investments, put a plan in place that will allow you to start setting aside a portion of the funds received from bookings so that you’ll be able to make these renovations in the future. Keep in mind as well that with certain renovations you may want to enlist professional help in order to avoid unforeseen costs and future headaches.
These factors take on a greater importance if your vacation rental can be listed in the luxury home category. Guests expect luxury vacation rental properties to match all that five-star hotels and resorts have to offer, but at a more affordable cost. They’ll make the rounds of your place and stage everything properly to give you images for your listing that will be on par with travel websites and publications. Or if you happen to be more of the technologically adventurous type, enlist a drone to capture video of your property to add more dynamic views. It also adds to the perception guests will have of you and the property as one of the elite and will highlight any key outdoor features on your property, such as outdoor decks and patio areas.
The Finishing Touch
It can be the little things that really make the biggest impact. Keeping that in mind, consider leaving tour guides at the entrance to your rental property for guests to use during their stay. Breakfast in bed? Why not! With various food delivery companies available now-a-days, you could have a nice assortment delivered to their door. If you don’t want to go that far, maybe some cream and sugar for coffee and tea in the mornings would be nice for your guests have. You could even consider having a couple of “last mile transportation” options available, such as bicycles or transit passes; depending on what’s popular in your area.