5 Questions with an Evolve Listing Specialist — Heather Ward
Heather Ward is an Evolve Listing Specialist. She joined the Evolve Team in February 2012, and is helping change the landscape of the vacation rental industry! Learn more about Heather’s day-to-day life in the ever-changing world of the Evolve office…
1. What is your role at Evolve?
My role at Evolve is to produce high-quality listings to distribute on our website and other top performing vacation rental sites including HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, and TripAdvisor. I gather all the information on a property and combine it’s unique features with ideas on what to do in that location. Once a listing is up, I constantly monitor its performance and receive feedback from all members of the team on improvements that we can make.
2. What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love that I get to work with an amazing team every day. Each and every person contributes something unique that the company couldn’t strive without. Open communication allows me to feel fully involved in the company and reminds me of how important we all are in our success. Each day we are learning together and sharing individual successes as a victory for the entire team. The office is filled with passion and excitement on a daily basis.
3. What makes one listing stand out more than another?
The most important aspects of a listing are a catchy headline, great photos, many amenities, and a competitive price. Creating the perfect listing is tricky, as each traveler is looking for a different experience, so often the key is to offer as much as possible. The photos play a huge part in helping the renters envision themselves in the home. The more amenities a home offers the better, and price is often a deciding factor — so making sure your rates are competitive is a must. Amenities that get bookings include Wi-Fi, a full kitchen with cooking utensils, a hot tub and/or pool, and suitability for children. The description is another tool that can highlight the property’s unique traits and walk through an example of how guests may spend their day.
4. Can you give us some insight into the differences between the main listing sites, and how Evolve maximizes performance on each site?
We use performance metrics to recognize how different parts of the listing increase bookings. Based on how a listing is performing, we may decide to change the headline or thumbnail photo of a property. We can use the different distribution sites as an advantage to test changes and find out what gets the best performance. In comparison to a first-time renter’s guesswork, we are able to analyze every home and spend time doing research on the industry as a whole. Sometimes the amenities or prices just don’t stand up to the competition, in which case we will work closely with the owner or manager to educate them on our findings and work together to make improvements where we see fit. We also pay extra attention to reaction and reviews of guests. From positive reviews we may find new highlights, and negative reviews will be looked at as a notification on what to change (which we address with the owner and respond to promptly).
5. What would you recommend to a vacation rental owner listing a property for the first time?
First, I would recommend that they get their property on one of the top listing sites like VRBO or HomeAway. These well-known sites bring in much more traffic than a first-time renter would get by creating their own website. Photos are a significant asset and shouldn’t be skimped on. Aside from the headline, which initially reels renters in, photos are the quickest thing to glance at when travelers are wondering whether it will be a good fit for them. Providing amenities like WiFi, Cable/Satellite, cooking utensils, linens and towels will also bring in more traffic, as you meet the renter’s checklist of needs and offer some packing relief. Think of the description as the cherry on top — the one chance you have to really set your property apart from others. Talk about unique traits of the home that renters may not find at other locations and give them a reason to choose your home over your neighbor’s. Good luck!