Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vacation Rental Site Performance and Guarantees

I am often asked my opinion of which is better: the large vacation rentals sites, such as Homeaway , or the smaller ones such as Villa4Vacation .

Larger vacation rental sites will argue that they have the higher volumes of traffic from prospective renters, while smaller sites will argue that your vacation rental property will get lost amongst the thousands of other properties in the larger sites. Hence, you are better on a small site where you can stand out.

It reminds me of an article I wrote a couple of years ago about assessing the traffic to vacation rentals sites. The gist of the article is that you should try to calculate the expected number of visitors to your listing, using the tools available to measure website traffic.

Rather than just looking at the number of vacation rental listings, you should use an estimate of the traffic to the vacation rental site, together knowledge of the number of listings on the site, to calculate, on average, how many visitors a listing will get. Although the tools available (such as Alexa or Trafficestimate.com) to measure website traffic only provide approximations, at least it gives you some measure for comparison. You can find the full article here:

vacation rentals traffic

Of course, not all listings will attract the same number of viewings, and this is particularly true for sites that allow you to pay a premium for a more visible listing. Before paying for a basic listing on these sites, you may want to consider whether it is better to pay the extra for a premium listing.

In response to concerns about generating enquiries, some vacation rentals sites have started to offer guarantees. (In some cases, this if offered instead of the "free trial", which many of the more established sites have moved away from.)

For example, vrbo VRBO will guarantee that your listing will generate at least ten times your listing cost in the first year. If not, you get an extra 6 months free.

Other sites will offer a money back guarantee, although usually only when you specifically ask for it. A discussion on the Lay My Hat forum recently indicated that Holiday Rentals have offered such a guarantee on certain occasions in the past.

My advice is that you should at least ask about a guarantee before signing up with any vacation rental site.

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