After much thought and planning, you have decided to purchase a vacation rental home, you carefully chose the home, and you furnished it with all the necessary amenities. You are finally ready to have future guests calling and filling up your calendar. The next step in keeping your home filled with happy visitors and you with a happy balance is to market it to attract as many bookings as possible.
First, consider whether or not to employ a property manager. A good property management company’s main responsibility is to get bookings for your home. They advertise the home, manage calls and emails of interested guests, and keep an accurate calendar to avoid double booking. They can be well worth the money you pay them. Look at the websites of the available companies and put yourself in the shoes of renters. Ask yourself, “Do the homes look attractive?” “Is the information easy to access?” “Is it possible to book online?” Also look at how booked the homes are, and if possible, look through booking history to see if the homes get renters during the slow season as well as the busy season. Interview them as well to find out just what they will do for you for their monthly or yearly fee.
Online vacation home sites are very popular as well and can save you money if you are willing and able to quickly respond to calls and emails of people wanting to book your home. People have found that if they do not respond right away, they will call another owner, and you will miss their business. Using these sites also requires organization to keep a calendar and follow up on deposit payments. Sites like VRBO, HomeAway, and Airbnb cost $300-$800 a year to sign up, but many vacationers use them exclusively when planning their vacations.
Networking with neighbors can increase your bookings. Oftentimes, guests are traveling with other families or a large group of friends and find themselves in need of more than one home. If you are in a neighborhood or complex with several vacation rentals, talk and coordinate with your neighbors, and help each other with bookings in each other’s homes.
Vacationers often travel at the same time each year and/or return to the same spot. Use that information, and offer them a discounted rate if they would like to come back and stay again.
You may consider having a vacation rental blog to help you market your property online. In a blog, you can post updated pictures and/or videos of your property – both to give visitors an idea of what it looks like, but also of special amenities such as a trail to the beach, sunset views, and updates to your home. It is also a place you can write about local attractions and events to give potential visitors an idea of what they can do on their vacation. Get out there in the community yourself and take pictures of shops, trails, restaurants and rivers as well as events such as the town Fourth of July parade or Christmas tree lighting. To help convince potential renters that renting your home is a good idea, you can include a section about the advantages of renting a home over a hotel room. Finally, include a Frequently Asked Questions page to address things like parking, cleaning fees, and refund and pet policies. Through your blog, you can direct traffic to your vacation rental listing if it is listed with a property manager.
Marketing your vacation home properly does take some time and energy. However, it will lead to increased bookings and the kind of momentum needed to keep your property rented throughout the year.