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The latest Take it From the Owner comes from John Lutton, who puts himself in the renters’ shoes when thinking about ways to market his Florida vacation home. He focuses on giving folks the best value for their dollars. Considering those budgets are strained right now, he dangles a pretty irresistible carrot: A whole house for $90 a night from Oct. 25 to Nov. 6. Any takers?
Q: Why did you list with VacationHomeRentals.com and what success have you found with it? What other forms of advertising have you tried?
A: I liked the VHR name, site layout, opportunity to get actively involved in marketing my property and the free trial – showing confidence I’d get bookings without risking money upfront. Most of my bookings have come through VacationHomeRentals.com, and I have no reservations about renewing my subscription. Having tried other listing companies and newspaper ads, both involving expense with virtually no return, I’m still very happy with the value for money provided by this site.
Q: Your listing is very mindful of the money stress Americans are under right now. What kind of interest have you had with your $90 a night special for Oct. 25-Nov. 6, and if it’s a success, will you offer more incentives like that to get renters in?
A: I always try to give good value for money in covering my costs, and this is particularly important just now when people want the very best deal for their dollars. I strive to offer attractive discounts and as many free features as possible, to encourage them to have that break they’re thinking about and to choose my vacation home. I haven’t had any take-up as yet for my current deal, but I’m fairly confident I will. If successful I’ll certainly offer similar deals in the future.
Q: Your information on the listing is deep. How often should property owners maintain and update their posts and what other general advice do you offer would-be landlords?
A: It’s essential to not only maintain your listing so it’s always up to date, but to keep trying to improve it. There’s a continual difficult balance to be struck between making it punchy and readable, yet at the same time comprehensive and informative. I probably update it most months, the triggers being a booking, a new deal, new photos, enhancements to the property, and a review because bookings aren’t going as well as I’d like. My main advice to owners would be to put yourself in the place of the renter. What do you put into your browser? How do you make your search on the VHR website? Are you looking for quality or value or both? What attracts you to particular properties/ads/owners before you part with your well-earned money?
Q: What has been your busiest month for bookings?
A: My busiest months for the American/Canadian market are November to March and for the UK market May to August.
Q: What tips do you offer renters when looking for a vacation home?
A: I sympathize with those renters who put in general inquiries and subsequently receive lots and lots of offers from individual owners. I’ve listed with websites that seem to operate mainly on this basis, with renters getting 50 or so offers with every inquiry. I much prefer a more targeted approach – choosing a website that narrows the search criteria so the responses are self-limiting, being clear about what you want and specifying what’s important to you, choosing a home that seems to offer that ( rather than simply the cheapest/dearest/or something in between ), asking questions of the owner to get assurance you’re actually getting what you want, building confidence that your owner is going to do business with you in a professional and understanding manner.
Q: What are the main selling points of your house?
A: In a saturated market with lots of good properties that are frankly much of a muchness, I think I’ve got a unique combination of features that make mine stand out: