Just a few years ago simply offering a vacation rental in a popular area, or better yet, a not-so-popular but beautiful area, was enough to launch a new career. The home-sharing industry was still relatively young, and the target market was interested and anxious to try this alternative to traditional hotels and bed and breakfast options.
Today, websites such as Airbnb and other sharing platforms are often a first-stop for vacation planners. The market has grown exponentially and so have the rental options. As a result, you may find that it's a little harder to maintain a steady stream of bookings through the vacation season and even harder during the low-demand periods.
Here are some tips and ideas to help you boost your bookings and grab the lion's share this upcoming travel season.
1. Appeal To The Senses
Bring your potential customer to your property through a well-done listing. Website technology is making it easier to communicate through suites of templates and tools. Use them to attract and draw in your audience.
Show the vacation seeker how beautiful your home and your property looks with professional photos or even a brief video tour. Highlight what makes your property special whether it's a new hot tub against a romantic sunset backdrop or a large basement area with a full bar that's perfect for parties.
Paint a picture of what a vacation could be like for your potential customer through your photos and images. Make your listing work for you beyond describing the basics.
2. Tell Your Story
Everyone loves a great story. Use your words carefully within your listing to not only accurately describe your property and its amenities but to tell the story of property. Most rental sites have quick and easy ways to list the most popular amenities; let these lists communicate the nitty gritty details.
Remember you have only seconds to draw your potential customer into your listing. Consider sharing the unique history of your property, the story of how you decided to embark on the vacation sharing journey or the traditions that have evolved in your neighborhood or community. Be sure the stories are worth telling, and keep them descriptive but short and to the point as well.
3. Be Flexible and Accommodating
Although most vacation rental websites allow you to set many levels of limits and boundaries, keep in mind that the more restrictions you place on your vacation rental, the smaller your potential audience becomes.
Obviously if your home is not conducive to particular events or party sizes or if you have health reasons to limit things like pets and smoking, but all means, use the filters provided to screen out particular types of guests.
However, the more flexible you can be, the wider you can cast your net. Consider allowing one-night stays instead of requiring two or three night bookings. Although there is more work to managing multiple turnovers, you can rack up reviews more quickly and get your place booked more easily.
If you cannot allow pets or smoking inside your home, consider welcoming guests and offering outdoor accommodations for animals or smoking areas. Think about increasing your flexibility on the number of guests for families with children. In many cases, kids are fine sleeping on the floor.
3. Maximize Your Social Media Connections
Everyone is on social media many hours of the day. Be sure to take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest and other social media channels as ways to advertise and publicize your listing. Provide links that are easy to share and show new, beautiful photos that can be discussed and passed along.
Word-of-mouth is still a hugely effective way to drum up any business and social media channels make it easier to pass along a great recommendation.
4. Simplify the Process to Close the Deal
Once you've got your audience's attention, be sure it's easy to finalize the details. Make it easy to make the reservation, accept payment, and communicate check-in specifics. Take the time to answer questions quickly and respond, especially at the end of the process. Making the last steps clear and efficient will help instill confidence in your customer as well.
5. Make a Personal Request for Reviews
Guest reviews, good and bad, may be the number one tool for increasing your bookings. First, more positive reviews help push your listing hiring up in search results. Second, reviews provide a window to illustrate how you as a host interact with your guests.
As the industry continues to grow, it becomes harder to encourage guests to leave reviews. It becomes one more thing that customers have to do in their already overbooked lives.
To increase your chances of getting a positive review, make a personal request instead of an automated one. If you had a chance to interact with your guests, bring something up regarding their family or their trip to show that you've connected with them on a personal level before asking them for a review. Take the time to provide your guests with a detailed, personal review as well.
If you happen to get a negative review, use the opportunity to publicly exhibit empathy, offer an apology if warranted, and show an effort to make things right. Illustrating how you handle conflict can go a long way in convincing potential clients to book with you.
Finally, make the review process as easy as possible by sending a direct link to the review site with a clear and easy-to-use template. Minimize the number of clicks and the amount of time someone must take to leave a positive review.
Although Airbnb management can be time-consuming, and it can be increasingly difficult to shine through the many rental options available today, it can be done. Get creative, be authentic and showcase how your property stands out above the rest for particular types of guests. If you can make your listing match those vacationers who are looking for a place just like yours and connect on a human level, you will successfully grab the lion's share of your particular market.