A few suggestions to increase your bookings
Once you have a vacation rental and want to generate income, you will be looking for ways to book as many available nights as possible. Even if your property is being viewed often online, you might not be getting the bookings you expect. Here are a few ideas to change this:
Are you offering the best rental value?
Are your rates competitive with other properties in your resort and in line with other websites? Guests like to shop around prior to making a booking, to ensure they are being awarded good value. Don’t get left behind by the competition. Be sure you have at least 24 months of rates in place. If you have no rates entered your unit will not be shown to guests searching during that time period.
Do you have enough? Are the photos of a high standard? Guests generally choose the unit with the best and most photos. Have you updated your photos since you registered? Have you added photo captions and ordered your photos? Is the view from your hot tub or pool noteworthy? Also check out this blog post for further photo ideas.
Are your payment/cancellation policies scaring off potential guests? Revise them and make sure they are accommodating enough for the timid potential renter, but balance your risk equally. Are your minimum stay conditions too high? Many people travel for only 4 or 5 night stays, some as few as 2 or 3 nights, and if you can accept such a short booking, you may be booked more often. A 3 or 4 night minimum stay condition is common in many locations. In general, keep your conditions clear, concise, and meaningful.
Increase your exposure
Participate in the Last Minute Deals program. This highlights your property to prospective guests when they are searching and you still have a vacancy without much time to fill it. The last minute deals feature is ideal for a busy owner because it automatically displays a discount to every guest when applicable. Last Minute Deals are very popular with a dedicated group of guests who have flexible lifestyles. The discount works best with 15% or more off.
Your nightly rates are, of course, the most important data. Nightly rates are always presented to your prospective guests on the list of available properties. Taking the time to evaluate your unit’s ranking compared to others in the area is always a good idea. Update or experiment with your nightly rates to see what works best for you.
Also, are you offering guests weekly and monthly rates, that are better than your nightly cost combined? Some owners like to encourage long-term stays by offering discounted weekly and/or monthly rates. This helps us sell guests on longer stays with you. Fill out both the weekly and monthly forms so that prospective guests know that you will reward them for longer term rentals.
Checking in and out
Review your policies for checking in and out. Try to be accommodating for your guests, without compromising your or your housekeeper’s time. For example, it is often easier to arrange your housekeeper between 4pm and 7pm … and that is usually a better time frame for your guests to check in.
Safe & convenient for small children
Promote to families with small children by presenting a safe environment for their children (i.e. childproofing your vacation home: electrical plug covers, safety latches on cupboards, etc.) Provide high chairs and cribs at no expense to the guest, if possible.
Furnish and describe your kitchen as having high quality and durable items.
To accept pets or not … this is an important decision. If you do, you have a higher chance of increasing bookings and can also charge a higher rate for your property. On the other hand, there is also a higher risk of damages to the unit. Since most hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts do not allow pets, vacation rentals are the only choice a guest has to bring their pet. Consider adding an extra charge for pets to cover any damages. If you do allow pets, be sure to protect yourself by clearly spelling out your policy to the guest.
Accept payment by credit card
The more options you have of receiving payment, the more guests you can attract. Guests love to use their credit cards for collecting air miles, and various other reasons. We often run into guests only wanting to pay via credit card and only booking units where cards are accepted.
First night condition
Owners who can accept bookings on any night of the week typically get more bookings. If you specify that guests can only arrive on a certain day, then guests will only find your property if the first date of their search is for that day, i.e. a guest searching for a property for a Friday night won’t find properties which are listed as accepting Sat to Sat rentals only.
If your property can hold 10 people, don’t set your base rate for 10 people. Set the base rate for 4 persons so that you are still a reasonably priced option for guests with fewer people. After you set your base occupancy, then add a per person charge that will cover your necessary costs as the guest numbers grow in size. For example instead of a base rate of $200 for 10 people, why not have a base rate for 4 people of $140 and an extra person charge per night of $10 per night so that 10 people still nets you $200.
Maintain your availability calendar
We do not call you to confirm availability. If your calendar is not accurate, you lose bookings, and guests are disappointed. Guests are more confident in our service and in your vacation home if they can be reassured that all the information listed is accurate.