As peak season for tourism approaches Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley, you might be wondering how you can get the most of your vacation rental property? I have spent the last few years managing our rental suite and I’ve learned a few things along the way that I thought would be useful to pass along.
Quality of Photos is #1. That’s how the guests choose to give your property a chance. They want to see a clear representation of where they are going to be resting their head. According to Evolve Vacation Rentals, and I fully agree:
“Photos are the most important selling tool for your vacation home!”
Professional photos are your best bet because a professional knows how to showcase your home to create a polished, staged version of your home that will draw travellers in. They also make your listing look more high class because you went out of your way to hire a professional for the photos and didn’t just slap together a portfolio with your iPhone. If professional photography is unavailable to you be sure to take photos with a high quality camera and try to make the photos bright and inviting.
Right after the quality of photos, the next important thing you need to consider if the number of photos! There needs to be enough photos to make the guest feel comfortable booking your space.
A study by FlipKey found that travellers are 83% more likely to inquire about property listings that contain over 20 photos.
Travellers want to be sure that they know what they are booking and that they wont get there and find that its something different than they expected. Be sure to highlight the details that make your space unique and include photos of any outdoor space that the guest will have access to. Also, be sure to show amenities that are available, ie. Hot tub, relax space to wind down with wine at the end of the night, kids toys or activities.
A study by FlipKey found that travelers are 83% more likely to inquire about property listings that contain over 20 photos.
After the photos, the next thing the potential guest is going to see if your title. You want it to stand out and look like the title of a story, the story of their vacation that they will spend at your property. So instead of using boring titles like “4 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo” try something like “Morning coffee with views of the water from your own private balcony”
“The biggest thing to remember here is that you’re not selling a house: you’re selling a vacation.”
You want the traveller to read your listing description and be able to imagine their journey staying in your rental. Be as descriptive as possible and make use of great adjectives so that they can really let their imagination run wild with all the great imagery of their fantastic vacation that lies ahead. Think of all the reasons why you love your property, or all the reasons you thought it was a great place to vacation and convey that to the reader. Try and make sure that your description is at least 300 words long and if you are really stuck you can look into hiring a professional copywriter to help you out, chances are it will pay off in the end.
Communication is very important. Keep in touch with your guests before and during their stay. Make sure that they have all the information that they need for a painless arrival and check in and that once they are there that they have everything that they need.
Make sure you are on top of your bookings and keeping your calendar up to date. Reply to guests ASAP and make sure that it looks like you were paying attention to your listing as you were making it. How soon you reply to their request to stay with you reflects on how you will tend to them when they are staying in your home. If they need anything or have questions they might feel like they wont have attention right away if it takes you a long time to respond to their booking.
Also, having an instant booking option will do you a lot of good. People don’t like to mess around. When they are in front of their computer planning their trip, most likely they just want to click “book” and be done with it. So if you have stunning photos it’s a good idea to give them the option to book while they are still enthralled by your images of your listing.
Once a guest has stayed with you it is important to request that they write you a review. According to Trip Advisor,
"travellers are 80% more likely to book a vacation rental that includes reviews from past guests."
It’s a good idea to send them a personalized thank you note for staying with you and in it request that they leave you a review. Even if there are minor negative reviews they can unusually work to your advantage by showing that if there is something wrong, such as missing towels or burnt out lights, that you are there in a timely manner to resolve the issue.
In order to help ensure that those reviews that you request are great and draw in more bookings there are a few things you can do. Make sure your locations and details are accurate. It's also nice touch to leave specific information about the area in the rental for the guests once they arrive. Guests find it valuable to have an abundance of information about Kelowna activities and wineries that are located throughout the Okanagan. Maps and magazines are always helpful or you can really go all out and create a binder full of restaurants, shops, beaches, wineries or activities nearby with a little review, maps of trails and even public transit information for those of your guests that flew into Kelowna.
Another way that you can increase your bookings is to make sure that you are posting it on multiple platforms, but be cautious because this can get to be a lot of work trying to keep your calendars up to date and accurate.
With these tips on how to run your vacation rental property you are sure to get more bookings while at the same time making your guests stay and enjoyable as they hope it will be. We are so lucky to live around Kelowna and be able to enjoy this beautiful valley, so lets share our home with travellers so that we can bring smiles to the faces of so many others!