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One of the drawbacks of owning vacation rentals is the constant need to find new guests.  Since turnover is high and stays are short-term, it’s easy to end up with an empty property.

Cancellations are one of the most frustrating and costly issues for owners of vacation properties.  To help you avoid cancellations, here are four clever ways to cut vacation rental cancellations in half.

1. Be Well Informed of Your Market

How well do you know your rental market?  Every once in a while, take the time to check out the competition.  What do they charge during low season?  High season?  What amenities do they offer?

Setting a competitive rate not only helps you attract bookings, but can also help you keep them.  The Internet has made shopping around for deals easy.  Many people will book a vacation rental, but may keep browsing in case they find a better rate.  If you have priced your rental appropriately, you’re less likely to have last-minute cancellations.

2. Focus on Repeat Guests

The hardest part of running a vacation rental is convincing guests to choose your property instead of your competitors’ (including hotels). 

Luckily, people are creatures of habit.  If they enjoyed staying at your property, they are more likely to come back year after year, or perhaps tell their friends about the amazing condo where they stayed and encourage them to visit.  Renting from you can be the path of least resistance – they don’t need to spend hours online hunting for a place to stay, and they already know what they are going to get.

To focus on increasing your number of repeat guests, ask if you can add them to your mailing list.  This allows you to remind them, every once in a while, about your great property.  You can also use this marketing tool to offer discounts and incentives during the off-season. 

Make it easy for returning guests to book another stay.  Provide a short form they can fill out to save their spot for next year.  A follow-up phone call or email also works well.

Another great way to encourage repeat guests is to always include a little something extra.  Consider welcoming them with a small gift or surprise, such as a bottle of wine and a thank you card.  Other possibilities include a few snacks, cold drinks, or a small gift basket filled with local treats.  Even a local guidebook, restaurant coupons or a map of the area shows you put thought and effort in their stay.

Encouraging repeat guests is a great way to cut booking cancellations.  Since these guests have already stayed there once, they are less likely to cancel if they book with you again. 

Vacation Rental Apartment in NYC3. Make Your Listing POP

The better your listing looks, the more your guests will want to stay there.  If your listing looks ho-hum, they might just jump ship if they find a gorgeous-looking ad elsewhere. 

Cut vacation rental cancellations by making sure your listing looks fabulous.  Post professional photos of your space.  Include indoor and outdoor shots.  If you have a great view, access to a pool, or other great amenities, include a few pictures to draw attention to them.

Always include a detailed description of your space.  List all relevant features, services and information.  Encourage potential guests to reach out if they have a question or would like more information, and be responsive when they do. 

Be careful to never over embellish though, as guests may feel cheated if your space isn’t what they were expecting.  Focus on making your listing professional and attractive, while showcasing your property as genuinely as possible.

4. Have a Clear Cancellation Policy

It’s important to treat your vacation rental like a business, which means having the proper policies and plans in place.  Most hotels and resorts have a detailed cancellation policy, and you should too.  Your policy should explain what happens if guests need to cancel their vacation.  List any fees they will incur, when they must cancel by, and how they must inform you.

Most owners require a non-refundable deposit.  When guests book your property, make it clear that their reservation will only be official once you receive their deposit.  During high-season, consider asking for a higher deposit amount to discourage last-minute cancellations.

Booking cancellations, especially last-minute ones, can be a big loss in revenue.  Although impossible to eliminate altogether, you can work on a plan to reduce them.  Less cancelations also means less stress, less waste of time, and more money in your pocket.

Vacation rental owners, do you have any tips to share?  How do you reduce vacation rental cancellations?

Related Reading:

Vacation Rentals as a Second Home: Tips for Actually Making Money

Common Mistakes of New Vacation Rental Owners

Considering Converting a Residence into a Vacation Rental?


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