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Common Mistakes of New Vacation Rental Owners

by Editor | ezLandlordForms

Vacation rentals are a great way to bring in income and are often the route many new landlords take to become better acquainted with investment properties.  Unfortunately, there are several common mistakes new vacation rental owners make.  Whether it is not listing the rental on the right websites or hiring the wrong consultants, these landlord landmines can make the vacation rental process much more difficult. 

1. Setting Unrealistic Rental Rates

The more competition there is in a specified rental market the more important it is for vacation rental owners to know their numbers.  What are the rates of competing rentals in the area?  What are the occupancy rates like year round?  Being unaware of these crucial factors may be an issue in pricing the vacation rental.  When potential guests have a multitude of property options to choose from they will compare listings to get the best bargain for their buck.  Setting rental rates that are unrealistic is an easy way to get overlooked by prospective guests.

2. Taking Too Long to Respond to Inquiries

This seems like a simple notion but being unresponsive to inquiries, or just taking too long to respond to inquiries, is a fast way to turn off potential guests.  It is likely that the guest contacted multiple vacation rental owners at the same time and will be most receptive to those that get back to them quickly.  Make a point to respond to potential renters in a timely fashion. If an email is received this evening, make sure to get back to them the following morning at the latest.  Travel planning is a lot of work, so guests will often book with the owners they hear from first.

3. Making Common Listing Mistakes

There are tons of websites that list vacation rentals which can be incredibly helpful to vacation rental owners, but it can be difficult to make the rental stand out amongst dozens or even hundreds of listings.  Some of the most common mistakes owners make when listing their vacation rental are:

  • Using all caps to grab the reader’s attention.  All caps tend to grab the reader’s attention in the wrong way tends to make them feel as though they are being yelled at, which no one likes.  Believe it or not, “BEAUTIFUL OCEANFRONT CONDO!! MUST BOOK NOW”  is not inviting.
  • Giving a lackluster description of the property. The headline should be approximately 70 characters and should clearly state the property type (i.e. villa, condo, cabin), highlight special amenities or features (i.e. hot tub, deck, BBQ grill, WiFi, etc.), and specifiy the distance to a nearby attraction (i.e. beach access, theme parks, ski slopes).
  • Posting amateur-looking photos or not enough photos.  If an owner is going to post pictures of a vacation rental (and they absolutely should), do not use amateur photos. The pictures posted will be the guests' first impression of the rental property and the professionalism of its management.  Stunning, professional-looking photographs will distinguish the rental from the next ten the visitor will review.  Another common mistake is not posting enough pictures. Often listing sites will allow owners to post five pictures and charge extra to post more; as irritating as it may be to shell out the extra money, be sure to post the maximum amount of pictures the listing site allows.  Also remember the first picture is often used as a thumbnail so be sure the picture is unique and shows the rental’s best feature.
  • Not updating availability calendar. Be sure to stay on top of the calendar and update it as guests book dates.

4. Stop Spending

When things are going well for business it can be easy to get complacent and stop marketing efforts.  It is vital to continue marketing so the owner should figure out what they are comfortable spending each month on marketing and stick with it.

5. Not Updating Listings

When posting the vacation rental on listing sites it is easy to feel like the work is done.  It’s not.  It is crucial to check on the sites where the vacation rental has been posted and make sure it is updated and stands out amongst the sea of rentals on the listing site.

6. Hiring the Wrong Consultants

Many owners have full-time jobs and have a difficult time keeping up with the marketing so they hire consultants or vacation property managers.  Nothing wrong with that!  But it is important to be sure that vacation rental owners are hiring the right help.  There is nothing worse than shelling out money for a marketing consultant and not seeing any results.  Do research on the consultant and be sure that the one selected is reliable.

7. Not Focusing on Long-Term Guests

This is a business and the goal is to build guest loyalty over time.  Keep this in mind when resolving any judgment calls or marketing decisions and the long-term vision is more likely to be realized.

8. Push off the Task of Building a Website

The idea of building a website is less than inviting to many vacation rental owners; however, many potential guests look for things such as websites to assure them of the quality of the property they will be renting.  Unfortunately, this is a time sensitive issue.  A website’s age contributes to its Google ranking and each day a rental owner puts off building a website they are losing potential guests.

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