5 Insider Tips From Successful Vacation Rental Owners

It's clear from talking to owners of vacation rental homes that those who have real success with their rentals have more returning guests and fewer issues with problem renters.
What do they do that sets them apart from the competition? Why is it that some properties rent earlier and achieve higher occupancy rates over a longer period of time?

There seem to be some common factors that contribute to greater success so here's some tips to kickstart your rental season and help you attract more rentals.
1. Evaluate your marketing strategy regularly
Successful vacation rental owners have a robust marketing plan that is continually updated. They say it is not sufficient to simply list a property on a couple of web sites, sit back and hope for the best. The important thing is to monitor how effective the advertising is. Your listing site should provide you with statistics on how often the listing is viewed, and will have a contact form so you can identify where the queries come from. You can then evaluate how the site is working for you.
Extra Tip: If you divide your rental revenue from each marketing source by the cost of the advertising, you’ll have a number to compare.
2. Be responsive even if you are already booked
After your high season weeks have been booked, you'll continue to receive email requests for availability and information, even if your calendar shows you are already booked.  It’s important to be as responsive to these inquiries as you are at the beginning of the season when you are eager to fill the weeks. If you respond quickly, even if it’s with a 'sorry, fully booked", people are more likely to will remember you and your property.
Extra Tip: Always make another suggestion – perhaps they could choose another week or you could encourage them to try an out-of-season weekend to 'test drive' your property.  The key is to be as enthusiastic as if you were able to book them the week they wanted. You'll get bookmarked in this way and they may come back to you earlier next year.
3. Create a professional booking system
The media often portrays vacation rental as a choice beset with scams and potential fraud so guests are pre-programmed to be wary of privately rented properties unless they feel confident their money will be safe and that the property will be as advertised.  One way of nurturing confidence is to create a good booking system with a series of consistent and professional looking documents. This starts with a well written rental agreement that is followed up with an acknowledgement of a deposit; final statement once the balance is received, and prompt dispatch of a property information pack.
Extra Tip: Create a nicely presented Frequently Asked Question document that includes an explanation of your booking process. You can also utilize the VacationHomeRentals.com FAQ section within your Owner Home.
4. Offer a competitive rental rate
Before a guest gets to a booking he or she has probably looked at dozens of similar properties.  People do a lot of research on different sites, check out reviews and compare amenities and facilities.  They are quick to pick up on rates that are set too high and will want to know what they are getting for the additional fees.
Extra Tip: Being competitive means knowing the market in your area; checking out what your competition is offering within their rental rate, and making sure your property is more attractive in terms of the features and facilities you are including.
5. Stage to create desire
The art of beating the competition is to create desire in visitors to your listing.  You want them to look at the photos and read the description and really want to stay there, to be so disappointed if they can’t get the week they want, they will change their vacation dates.  At the very least, they will book ultra early next time to ensure they get in.  Use staging techniques to ensure your photos are the best they can possibly be.  Critically look at each one and ask yourself, ‘What is there about this photo that is irresistible?”
Extra Tip: Don't hide your extra value features in a listing. You need to make these prominent by putting them right at the top of the text. Capture fast-moving rental surfers this way.