In our 2018 State of the Vacation Rental Industry survey, we asked over 1,500 homeowners from all over the country to answer questions about their experiences with vacation rental. One especially interesting thing we learned was that 51% of homeowners admit they’re not getting enough bookings, while 35% told us they aren’t making enough money.
Marketing and advertising topped the list for the greatest challenges that homeowners are facing in today’s fast-paced vacation rental industry, and are the biggest reasons why homeowners struggle with bookings.
Here are some surprising stats from homeowners like yourself, and how you can use them to your advantage – boosting your property’s ranking on listing sites to getting it in front of the travelers who will most likely click the “book” button.
YOUR LISTING IS YOUR ADVERTISEMENT
1 ) 31.6% of homeowners said they spent four or more hours creating their listing.
Your listing is what makes lookers become bookers. It is what differentiates your property from others that are similar, and its contents are completely necessary to your success.
Your property listing includes the headline, the photos, and the listing description itself. It needs to be detailed, but not too long, and it needs to highlight the parts of your property that will be most important to your future guests. Because of this, multiple hours – and multiple days are required to get our listing in the right place.
When you write your listing, make sure you are tailoring it to fit the demographic of your most common guests. If you attract snowbirds, talk about the quiet neighborhood. If you are popular with young friend groups, mention the nearby nightlife. You can read more about how to write a 5-star listing in our article.
One of the best ways to invest more in your property listing is by getting professional photography. Which leads us to…
2 ) Just 43% of homeowners use professional photography
That means 57% of homeowners don’t use professional pictures, and that could be a huge mistake. But savvy homeowners like yourself can easily turn their mistake into your competitive advantage.
If a traveler is browsing properties and deciding between you and your direct competitor, who are they more likely to choose? What if you and your competitor are on the same street, offer the same amenities, same bedrooms, same everything – but your competitor’s home looks majestic in professional photos while the character of your property is hidden behind dimly lit iPhone photos?
They’ll choose your competition.
Professional photography is a must when it comes to outshining competitors. It doesn’t just show your potential guests the best views and angles of your property, but it shows that you have a certain level of professionalism.
GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE BEST TYPE OF MARKETING
3 ) 63% of homeowners reply to travelers within 60 minutes of receiving their inquiry.
Replying to traveler inquiries quickly shows potential future guests that you not only care about them, but care about their experience. Many travelers are used to staying in hotels and resorts, but are relatively new to staying in vacation rentals. As they venture into their vacation rental guest experience, they expect the high level of professionalism they have previously received from hotel staff. That includes fast response times, and a true consideration for their questions, comments, and concerns.
In addition, most of the major listing sites will rank your property based on how fast you respond to inquiries. The faster you reply – the better your ranking will be, and the more traveler visibility you will have.
4 ) 77.9% of homeowners admit that the only way they welcome guests to their property is with an email.
Going the extra mile to welcome your guests to your property is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve their experience and get a review. Not only does it show that you care, it might even help you get a review. One of the most popular and useful ways to welcome guests is with a personalized welcome book. In fact, we even have a Welcome Book template you can download (for free!) so that you can give your guests important information and details on your property in a professional and creative way.
Welcome books, small welcome gifts, and handwritten notes are a few of the best ways to give your guests a warm welcome. It’s becoming more common, so if all you’re doing to greet your travelers is sending an email, they may think that you’re not providing a high enough level of hospitality.
Going the extra mile to welcome guests and improve their experience will encourage repeat guests and strengthen your reputation. With more repeat guests and more reviews, comes even more bookings.
ENCOURAGE REVIEWS TO LET YOUR GUESTS DO THE MARKETING
5 ) 90% of homeowners told us they only reach out to guests via email in order to solicit a review, with 44% of homeowners saying guests leave reviews frequently.
From this data we can see that while an email is a common and easy way to ask for a review, it doesn’t always work.
Going the extra mile for guests from the time they book your property to after they checkout, and then giving them a reminder is a foolproof way to get a review. But email isn’t the only option.
Try calling your guests right after checkout to ask about their experience. Maybe even send them a handwritten thank you note in the mail. Personal touches are everything in the VR industry, and will most definitely lead to a positive experience and good reviews.
If you want to find more ideas and master the art of garnering rave guest reviews, check out our article.
THE MOST SURPRISING STAT
6 ) 4.3% of homeowners list their property on all six of these sites: TripAdvisor, VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, Booking.com, and Flipkey.
Choosing which listing site to advertise your property on is one of the most difficult choices for homeowners. There are laundry lists of pros and cons to each, with every site offering different services and charging different fees.
If you’re having trouble figuring out which listing site is best for your needs, you can click here to read our guide on the difference between TripAdvisor, VBRO, HomeAway, Booking.com, and Airbnb.
At the end of the day, though, if you want maximum visibility, you should advertise your property on as many listing sites as possible. There is no right or wrong answer, and no right or wrong listing site. It’s simple – if you want to put your property in front of the most travelers, you need to post it on multiple websites.
We pulled these statistics from the data we received after surveying over 1,500 homeowners about their vacation rental experience. If you want to see more stats and learn how homeowners like you operate their properties, you can sign up below to get a free copy of the full 2018 Survey Report sent to your email as soon as it is officially released.
With 7,500 homes and counting, Evolve helps homeowners across North America pack their calendar with bookings and boost their income, while saving them time. Click here to learn more about what Evolve can do for you.