Posts Tagged ‘How to get more bookings’

Why to Encourage Guest Comments for your Vacation Rental

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Trial and Error or Advice

Recently I was booking a hostel in Barcelona for one weekend of November. I visited many websites, saw countless hostels but after a while they all seemed exactly the same and I still had no idea which one to choose. All I wanted was a clean place in a central location, but all of them stated they were close to the center and extra clean. So which one to choose? Then I noticed one great feature of one of the websites – guest comments! According to others, a hostel I was thinking of choosing was not very clean and located near a very noisy street! Of course, I ended up booking the one which had the highest number of positive guest comments.

They Judge, we Buy

Opinions, comments and reviews have become omnipresent elements of the purchasing process. We prefer to buy products with high ratings and recommendations, the ones other people used and had experience with. It eliminates disappointment and gives us guarantee that a product we just bought will be working perfectly, just like it did for others. What’s more, we don’t need trusted experts to tell us their opinion anymore. We can simply listen to other consumers, real people just like us.

Guest Comments and Vacation Rentals

Today’s marketplace is full of well educated customers, who enjoy comparing products and make informed buying decisions. That’s why opinions and guest comments are essential also in a vacation rental industry. Travelers want to trust property owners when they say their house is perfect, but to be really able to book with confidence, they obviously prefer to relate to experience of others.

Being a Good Listener

So how can you encourage your guests to write a review of your vacation rental? I think there is only one recipe. If you provide your guests with an excellent service and go the extra mile to make them feel at home, you will surely hear about it.  Also, let your guests know that you always strive to meet their needs and value their opinions. It only shows you care and are committed to maintaining high standards. Where can guests write their reviews? Here are some examples:

- Guestbooks. Keep a guestbook book in a visible place in your vacation rental and ask travelers to write about their favorite experiences. If they do so, ask them for a permission to include those on your website or Rentalo listing.

- Internet. Encourage your guests to post comments and feedback on your private website or Rentalo listing. Such real testimonials are very valuable for travelers.

- Welcome letters. Leaving your guests a welcome letter is a nice detail and at the end of such letter you can have a space for comments and feedback.

Two Sides of the Coin – You Always Win

However you gather comments about your vacation home, always listen to what guests have to say and value their feedback. Whether the review you received is positive or negative, either way you can only learn. Good reviews are like a reward for you and only assure you, you are doing your job the best you can. Bad reviews though, are even more useful than the positive ones because a constructive criticism can only help you become a master. If you are afraid of bad reviews, it means there is probably something you should improve.

I really encourage you to gather feedback and include travelers’ comments in your property descriptions in Rentalo. After all, it can only complete information about your rental and create more trust of your potential clients.

Marta Olszewska

How to Boost Bookings for your Vacation Rental During the “Low Season”

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Even though the autumn is looming, you have to step into the scary low season fully armed with powerful marketing strategies which will help you attract travelers and keep your vacation rentals booked.

I believe one of the most important things to think about is your main audience during October, November and December. You need to answer yourself the following questions: Who are they? What are they looking for? And how can we meet their needs?

The “who question” is fairly easy as it’s proven that this slower travel season belongs to savvy travelers who love bargains, special deals and discounts. There can also be families with little children who want to avoid crowds and are not tied with any school schedules yet. You may also expect outdoor enthusiasts who find autumn the best season for hiking, hunting or fishing.

Knowing who you should cater for will help you define your marketing and action plan. So how can you entice all these audiences and make them want to spend vacation in your rental, even if it’s gloomy and rainy outside?

First try to think about possible upgrades of your amenities or new features that are especially great in autumn/winter time. It could be a hot tub or a Jacuzzi – travelers will love spending time with friends enjoying your beautiful mountain views. You could also offer a wide movie collection for long evenings. Ideas are simply infinite.

It is also equally important to communicate all those attributes to travelers. Remember to update your property listing. There are several options you could change.

Change your photos. Add seasonal pictures of your vacation rental during fall. Your house surely looks different covered in colorful leafs.

Update your property description. Highlight all the unique features of your place such as fireplace, central heating, cozy living room with DVD player, Jacuzzi and more.

Promote cultural events. Inform travelers about special events and festivals going on during this time of year.

Give them what they want. Make sure savvy travelers fishing for great deals find your property so add special offers to your Rentalo property listing. Maybe you could also run specials for families with young children.

Lure outdoor fans. Introduce travelers to your area at this time of year. Talk about great hiking trails, fishing ponds and golf courses.

Target history enthusiasts. Inform them about interesting sites in your area that are ideal for fall season such as museums and galleries.

Use upcoming festivities. Talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas to lure those who are planning their trip during this holiday.

I think there is a large room for creativity here and it’s actually fun to plan all this.  It takes your mind off the fact it’s not the best time of year for bookings and keeps you focused on the best results. If you have any other ideas on how to prepare yourself for the low season, I would love to hear your suggestions as well!

Marta

What Travelers Want & Why to Have your Property Listing Fully Edited

Friday, September 19th, 2008

In the couple of previous posts we’ve been consequently pointing out the importance of having a fully edited property listing. We will continue to repeat it for one good reason: A complete property listing with a high quality description, prices and photos is absolutely necessary for you to receive booking inquiries. Although it may seem trivial, our internal analysis shows that a good number of our property owners do not have the minimum information provided in their property listings!

In today’s world we business people and service providers have to deal with extremely demanding clients. In fact a group of brilliant trend spotters called our economy “an economy that is inhabited by well-informed and experienced consumers who have a long list of high expectations that they apply to each and every good, service and experience on offer”. Those new-age consumers don’t have time to waste and they DEMAND high quality information as soon as possible in order to purchase a product.

As a response to this new trend, countless services appeared to help consumers compare offers. Looking for good flight fares? Visit seatguru.com.  Want to buy a cheap digital camera? Try pricegrabber.com. Examples go on and on and every day include more and more services and products. Today we can become experts and find the best offer available within couple of clicks. Obviously we will choose the best described product with good pictures, reviews and additional information.

Now imagine an average Rentalo user, a young woman between the age 25 and 34. She logged on to our website to find the best deals in vacation rentals and wants to leave knowing which is going to be her next vacation home. This young traveler doesn’t have time to look at each and every property we have in particular location. She will refine her search and choose those vacation rentals that have the best description, high quality pictures, prices and updated availability calendar.

For those of you who have low quality photos, poor description, no prices and empty availability calendar (and believe me when I say, it’s the case of many), do you really think you can compete with owners who have fully-edited property listing, rich in information? As I mentioned before, in our business it’s all about good content. If your website, or in this case, property listing doesn’t have a high quality content, then do not count on good results.

Even though you pay a subscription fee on our site and others you advertise with, you shouldn’t expect your vacation rental to rent by itself. Vacation rental directories like ours provide you with the best tools to promote your property online. But to make sure you rent your property, it’s essential for you to provide the best possible pictures, informative and sophisticated descriptions, catchy titles and complete pricing information, not to mention special offers, excellent customer service and much more.Ask yourself: How do I keep my property booked? Make sure you provide your potential customers with complete and useful information! As simple as that.

Now, the only thing left for me is to invite you to edit your property listings.

Marta

Writing a Copy that Sells – How to Create a Good Property Description

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

In the online industry it is all about content. High quality and relevant content that entices readers and makes them visit our website and buy our product. This simple rule also applies to the vacation rental industry where the more captivating description of your property you provide, the more attention you will get.

As Frank pointed out in the previous post, the first step to get visitors to your property listing is by uploading high quality and professional pictures. We all judge by the cover, so you should make sure your “cover” sells. After viewing your photo gallery, travelers usually want to find out more about your place by reading your description.

How to make them read it all and how to convince them to book your property? It all starts with a powerful title that just cannot be missed. Take some time to look at the competition in your location and make sure your title is original and stands out. Try to avoid generic titles and think of features that distinguish your vacation rental from others (For ex.: Affordable Beachfront Italy Villa Ideal for Family Getaways).

Now comes the toughest part, writing a compelling description. I gathered some tips that might be useful for you during the process. Remember to aim for 400 words or more, it’s the optimal length for a description.

1. Think of unique features of your place and use them as your most powerful weapon. Is your villa waterfront and offers gorgeous sunsets? Is it spacious and sleeps large parties? Write down all the attributes and elaborate on them in separate paragraphs.

2. Use details. Travelers like to picture their future vacation house and plan what to pack and what to leave behind, so be specific and provide a short description of each bedroom, amenities and extras (ex.: beach towels, bikes, linens).

3. Write about nearby attractions as well. Most travelers like to plan their vacation activities and they greatly appreciate such information. Provide them with a mini guide of things to do in the area. How close it is to the beach/hiking trail? What other great attractions can be found nearby? (Ex.: Amusement Parks, nature trails, museums and art galleries).

4. Add a personal touch to your description. Don’t be afraid to show emotion and inject a little feeling to your text. Let travelers know who you are and how long you own the house. Also, relate to the experience of your previous guests, for ex. “Our guests love watching sunsets from our lakefront deck and watching movies from our wide DVD collection”. Emotion sells.

5. Last but definitely not least. Keywords, keywords, keywords! Think of the keywords that travelers use to search for vacation home in your area. What would you put in search box when looking for a vacation rental? You can also use numerous keyword research tools that are available on the internet for free. Make your list and try to insert keywords to every paragraph of your description. This will help travelers find your property better in search engines. Examples of keywords are: Orlando vacation rentals, Orlando condos, Orlando accommodations.

I hope that you found my mini guide useful. Remember that the bottom line is to convince travelers that your place is the one they are looking for. With this in mind, the creativity will follow.

Marta Olszewska

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