When you think about spring cleaning, you probably think about finally going through the boxes that have piled up in the guestroom, or taking the time to actually organize the garage. But what about spring cleaning your vacation rental – or even more specifically – the vacation rental listing itself?
Last week we published an article with a free, downloadable checklist that detailed every corner and crevice that would be in need of a deep spring clean. Deep cleaning your rental not only makes your more aware of some upgrades it may need, but also lays the foundation for a cleaner and happier guest experience.
In the spirit of freshening things up for spring we wanted to share some pointers for giving your property listing a little facelift as well. An outdated listing with a weak description and blurry photos will do more damage to your booking potential than you realize.
Your vacation rental listing is not something you can set and forget. New attractions are constantly coming to your area, new amenities or updates will be added to your property, popular restaurants or events may no longer exist. These things need to be updated – not just in spring, but throughout the year. Below are the different parts of your listing that should be updated come spring season, and revisited throughout the year to reflect the most relevant information on your listing.
1. Refresh Your Headline
The headline is the most important part of your listing because it immediately grabs your potential guest’s attention But your competition knows this too, so it’s important to make sure that your headline stands out. What can you do to make sure a traveler clicks on your 2-bedroom cottage over any other 2-bedroom cottage?
Mention upcoming attractions
“Walking distance to the slopes,” “Great location near summer Arts Festival,” “Minutes from the football stadium”
Mentioning popular attractions in your headline is always a good idea – especially if the attraction or event takes place near the time of booking. Knowing that a condo is near the ski slopes will only be attractive to travelers booking for the winter. For the spring, summer, and fall, make sure to switch out a winter headline for something that mentions its proximity to beautiful hikes or the nearby downtown area. Any popular and relevant attraction will entice travelers and encourage them to book your home.
This small update will not only increase your chances of getting booked, but will likely boost your rental toward the top of search results.
Mention new amenities
Foosball tables, hot tubs, pools – you name it. These types of fun and interactive amenities provide added value to your home, and are most definitely worth a mention in your headline. If you already mention a foosball table in your headline, but you recently installed a pool, you may want to consider mentioning the pool instead.
When updating your listing, remember to always go with the most attractive amenity. Most listing sites have a strict 50-75 character limit, so be sure to choose the amenity that travelers are most drawn to.
Adjust your word choice
Learn from your past guests – do they seem to fall into certain types of age groups or demographics? Is your home popular with couples over a long weekend, or perhaps a group of friends looking to party and enjoy the town?
Whichever pattern you see with your past travelers, use it to your advantage. If your guests are usually looking for a relaxing escape, talk about how quiet your neighborhood is. If your visitors are looking for nightlife, mention the exciting events in the nearby town. To liven up your vacation rental listing this spring, collect the information you can about your travelers, and utilize it to make your property more enticing.
2. Update the Property Photos
While property photos don’t necessarily need to be re-shot multiple times per year, it’s important that you make sure they reflect the current season – and the most updated amenities.
Match the season
If your rental is located in a place where the seasons change – and it’s obvious, then provide photos for each. Show how the snow blankets your front yard in the winter, or how the big maple tree leaves turn vibrant in the fall.
When travelers book a vacation rental – they choose the one in which they can see themselves having the best time. If they’re looking for a Breckenridge property to book for July 4th, it may be hard for them to picture themselves enjoying the sun when all the pictures show is a property covered in snow.
Keep summer and winter photos on-hand, and switch them out during the appropriate season to make sure that travelers can see your property in the best light.
Keep up with property updates
Have you recently painted your home with a fresh shade of paint? Did you buy a firepit for the backyard or install a washer and dryer?
These things need to be updated in your vacation rental listing description and possibly even your headline, but you also want to make sure they’re included in your photos. These updated property amenity pictures and detailed photos are relevant for two reasons: You could miss out on bookings if you don’t stress the fact that you added a gameroom or a pool, and also because guests may be confused about what your rental looks like if there’s a huge oak tree in the pictures, but it’s no longer there in real life.
Keeping your property photos relevant will not only increase your bookings – it will ensure a seamless check-in and help guests easily find your property when they arrive.
3. Renew Your Listing Description
So once you’ve attracted potential guests with your relevant headline and updated pictures, it’s time to reel them in with the rest of your listing.
Now that you’re looking at your listing with a fresh set of eyes, you might realize you need to rework your description to make sure the language is easy to understand. Maybe it’s time time to update your local attractions list to include seasonal events. Maybe you need to refresh the amenities section to include your new foosball table or bathtub.
While these details may seem small, they can and will be the reason why your rental doesn’t get booked. You need to make sure your listing includes all of the amenities you have – even if they may seem insignificant to you. A feature of your home that you take for granted could be the thing that convinces someone to choose your property. In addition, travelers tend to filter their search results by certain amenities – so if you neglect to mention everything you have, you may not appear.
For instance, if you forget to mention that you have wifi, and an identical property doesn’t, the travelers will be more likely to book your competitor instead of going through the trouble of reaching out to you to ask if you have wifi.
Walk through your rental property, take note of everything that is new – from the number of flat screen TVs to the number of DVDs supplied to watch on them. These details are important, and also let future guests know that you have taken the time to supply the extras for them. Even if you haven’t added any upgrades to your property since the last time you wrote your description, freshening up the text can never hurt.
What about your kitchen and bathroom? Do you stock your shower with shampoo and bodywash? Do you keep kitchen essentials ready for every visitor? Add these details within your vacation rental listing.
4. Go Through Past Reviews
Last, but most definitely not least – take this opportunity to go through your reviews on every vacation rental listing site, and make sure you’ve responded in one way or another. Your reviews are your reputation. There’s no better way for a traveler to know what to expect at your home. Reviews can be the sole reason that your calendar is booked – or the sole reason that it isn’t. From bad experiences and rave reviews, all responses from past guests need to be acknowledged in some way.
How to respond to a Negative Review
While negative reviews are never fun to receive, they do help give some insight into the minds of guests, and usually supply some good ideas on how to strengthen your future visitors’ experiences. It also gives you an opportunity to address their concerns and inform future guests that an issue has been dealt with. When travelers see a responsive host that takes their guests’ concerns to heart, they will feel more comfortable booking your property for themselves.
Responding to a negative review is never easy, which is why we’ve written a guide on handling a bad review. Once you’ve responded to the review, it’s also important to think through their complaint. What can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and how can you fix this problem so that guests always have a great experience at your property?
How to respond to a Positive Review
While it could be easy to breeze by a positive review without much thought – be sure to respond to them with some sort of acknowledgement. The guest took time out to rave about your property, and by replying, you show that you truly do care that they have a great experience while staying at your home. In addition, this type of communication shows future guests that you’re responsive, while showing past guests that you appreciate their business.
We’re not going to sugar-coat it. Keeping up with a vacation rental listing year-round is difficult work. From following language trends, to targeting demographics, to updating your photos – it requires a lot of time and attention that most homeowners can’t afford to give up.
At Evolve, managing the listing is just one of the many things we do for our homeowners. In fact, we have an entire team dedicated to making sure that every property has a listing that is crafted to rank well in search results for vacation rentals in their area.
We also help homeowners across North America book their calendar, increase their income, while saving their time. For just a low, flat fee of 10%, we provide a personalized listing, distribution on the five top vacation rental listing sites, and traveler support 7-days a week. Click here to learn more.