I recently heard from an owner with a property in a popular resort area. His concern was that he was finding it hard to differentiate his vacation rental from the competition, and make it stand out in a crowded market. Being unique can be challenging but there’s a lot of ways to add extra value in presentation, facilities or features that could swing interest to your property from another.
There is no doubt that great photos can sell a property. The more attractive and appealing the images, the more likely a site visitor is to continue viewing the listing. Take a critical look at the pictures – are they clean, clear and uncluttered? Are the bedrooms attractively presented and appealing? If necessary, stage and retake all you photos.
Create a Gourmet Kitchen
People love vacation rentals because they have their own cooking facilities. Go a stage further and create a gourmet kitchen and attract the ‘foodies’. Just replacing an old coffee maker with a stainless steel model that includes a coffee grinder can make a difference. Invest in some quality small appliances – a food mixer, slow cooker and bread maker for instance, and describe how your kitchen is a dream for the vacation chef.
Entertain Your Guests
No, you don’t have to sing and dance when your guests arrive but it pays to give attention to how they will be entertained. It doesn’t seem long ago that having a satellite or cable TV would make a vacation home stand out from the competition. Now, prospective guests are looking for HD flat screens, Blu Ray DVDs, gaming systems and iPod docking stations. Some owners are turning former games rooms into home cinemas with plush seating and large screens. You may not want to go this far, but replacing older bulky TVs with flat screens can create more appeal.
One of the great advantages vacation rentals have over hotels is that guests may be able to bring their pets, and an increasing number of families want to travel with them. If there are allergy issues, accepting hypo-allergenic breeds only may be an option. Create a separate “Welcome to Your Pet” section in your Guest Guide to lay out your pet policy, and provide a Pet Kit that includes a couple of plastic bowls, some old towels and some poop bags. I also include a skunk kit with the ingredients and recipe for removing the smell. Pet owners are often the best guests and have the greatest respect for a property.
Offer Concierge services
If you live close by, or have a good management company that can provide concierge services, consider what you can offer. Booking tee times at a popular golf course; reserving restaurant tables or providing tickets to local theaters or events, are some of the services you could provide. Offering a ‘Get you in’ pack of groceries for visitors arriving late or by air, is welcomed by guests and is a valuable added-value service. Take a look at your competitors and see what they are offering and think about what you could do better.
Improve the Sleep Experience
The quality of beds and bedding are high on rental guests’ wish-lists. Beds that look good in photos are the primary draw, but if you can also describe high thread-count linens, Egyptian cotton sheets, silk duvets or Scandinavian style quilts, these become even more attractive. One of the best reviews you can get is a comment on the quality of the sleep your guests experienced, and the linens you put on the beds can contribute to that.
Create Relationships Using Social Media
Sometimes, it’s really tough to stand out when all your competitors are upgrading and adding value in their listings. You can get the edge over them by creating a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and by blogging. Connecting on a personal level with your potential renters can make a big difference. Use these platforms to find out what your prospective guests want, to show them your knowledge of the area, and to create a relationship with them. This can be remarkably effective.
Applying any one of these ideas can make a difference in the time people spend on your listing and the potential for an inquiry to convert to a booking.