Monday, March 30, 2009

Broaden Your Base of Vacation Rental Sites to Get More Bookings



List on 4 vacation rental websites for 1 low price. Centrally manage your inquiries and bookings.

In the current economic climate, finding renters for your vacation home is tougher than it used to be. So now might be a good time to review how to broaden the base of potential renters for your vacation home.

In a recent survey, most vacation rental owners confirmed that they use multiple rent by owner sites, including both paid listings and free sites. But how you select those sites can make a big difference to the number of enquiries and bookings you receive.

Here are my five tips for getting more bookings by broadening your base of vacation rentals sites.

1. List on at least 3 and preferably 5 paid listing sites.

Most of your bookings will come from established vacation rental sites. Most of these sites (with the exception of free trial periods, which I will come back to) charge for your listing, usually somewhere between $100 and $300 per annum. Depending on the size and number of vacation properties you own, spending up to $1,000 per year on marketing is a reasonable amount that will pay back with increased bookings.

2. Choose vacation rental sites that are complementary to broaden the base of potential renters.

Different vacation rental listing sites appeal to different demographics. You should carefully consider the mix of sites on which you list.

For example, in my view, you should certainly choose at least one of the very large sites (e.g. Homeaway ). Being present on these large sites give you access to the many thousands of renters who search the vacation rental listings on these sites every day. Because these sites are so large, you may want to consider paying a premium to ensure you get the best placement possible. You also should make sure you understand how to improve your ranking in searches (e.g. Homeway allows renters to search by how recently availability was updated).

To complement your listing on such a large site, also list on at least one niche site that focuses on your particular geography or property type. For example, if your vacation home is in Spain, consider choosing a vacation rental site that specialises in Spain, such as Spain-Holiday.com. If you own a high end Villa, consider listing on a site that focuses on expensive Villas e.g. VIPVillas.com . Specialist sites such as these attract different renter traffic than the large sites and hence any enquiries you get are likely to be from a different pool of renters than the large vacation rental sites.

To further broaden your reach, consider adding a site that attracts renters from a specific geography. For example, if you have a vacation property in the US and are listed on Homeaway, you might also want to list on a site that attracts renters from the UK that are interested in travelling to the US e.g. Holiday-rentals.com .

3. Take Advantage of Free Trials

There are several sites that offer limited free trial periods, such as VacationHomeRentals or Rentalia . These are usually well established sites, but less well known that the very large sites. They hope that you will receive sufficient renter queries during the trial period to convince you to sign up for a full listing. From my discussions with owners who have tried them, the conversion rate is quite high, so, what have you got to lose by signing up for the trial? However, note that normally, these sites have sophisticated mechanisms to identify if you have already had a trial, so choose your timing well!


4. Take Advantage of Completely Free Sites.

There are a large number of free sites out there. Some of them, such as Vacationrentals411, are very well established and are a very good source of potential bookings. Others are new and offer free listings in order to build up the number of vacation homes listed with them. These may not offer immediate bookings, but could do so in the future.

I recommend that you list on at least 5 and preferably 10 free sites. Other than the time and effort to create your listing, there really is no downside. You can find a good list of free sites by regstering at COHR . Once you are registered, you will get regular updates on new sites as they occur.


5. Track the performance of the sites you are listed on


I would recommend that you keep track of the source of all bookings and enquiries that you receive. At least once a year (preferably around the time of renewal of your paid sites), you should rank and evaluate the vr sites you are listed on. My recommendation is that you change at least one site each year, just so that you can continue to find the best mix of vr sites for your vacation home.

Finally, if you are looking for new sites, you should check out the COHR home page.













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