Tuesday, February 28, 2012

4 Tips for Converting Vacation Rental Enquiries into Bookings

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Many renters are now planning their summer vacations and hence most vacation rental owners will see a big increase in enquiries during the March - April timeframe.

However, how you handle these enquiries can make a big difference to the number of enquiries that actually convert into bookings for your vacation rental.

Here are 4 tips to increase your "conversion rate" of enquiries into bookings:

1. Respond quickly: it may seem obvious, but the quicker you responsd, the more likely that the renter will consider your vacation rental property. (Some time ago, Rentalia completed a survey which showed that only 25% of owners on their site responded within 48 hours.) By responding quickly, you get a head start in capturing the attention of the renter and agreeing a booking with them.

2. Phone the renter: Most owners respond by email and there are some good reasons for this. However, if you take the time to phone the renter, not only can you immediately answer their questions but you also have a chance to make a personal connection with them. This will make your vacation rental property stand out from other responses, giving you a higher chance of taking a booking.

3. "Sell" your rental property in your response: Whether your response is by email or phone, you should take the opportunity to re-enforce all the good reasons why the renter should choose to rent your vacation rental property. I am amazed at the number of owners who simply respond with "Yes, my property is available for those dates for $xx." Your response to an enquiry gives you a chance to make your property stand out by highlighting the unique features of your property, whether that is location, unique amenities etc etc. This is particularly important given that many of the vacation rental sites offer renters the facility to easily enter the same enquiry to multiple properties. You want to make sure that your response really stands out.

4. Be flexible on price: Particularly in the current environment, renters want to feel they are getting a good deal. The absolute price might not be the final determinant as much as whether the renter feels they have negotiated a good rate. I have noticed that I have a higher conversion rate if I indicate in my initial response that I am offering a special rate. Also, if the renter asks for a discount, I usually try to offer something, either a discount or a free extra night. Hence, I set my "list price" rates slightly higher, with this in mind. This give me the flexibility on price for cases where this will help secure the booking.

Best of luck with bookings for the coming season!


Anonymous said...

Thank you
It is always helpful to hear how other owners deal with guests.

How to you propose the "special rate" in your email without seeming desperate or give the potential guest the feeling that you were being deceptive with your original rates.

Do you say
.....it will last for a certain period of time
....do you offer a percentage or a flat amount off of the rental
....do you only discount slower seasons or do you offer the discount in peak season

Kevin said...

It's a great point. I think it is important that you specify the reason for the discount.

For example, if they are requesting longer than normal, I offer a discount. For example, I recently had an enquiry for 15 nights in April and I offered a discount on those grounds.

Limited time offers can be effective, although you need to be careful that the renter does not feel you are putting undue pressure on them. I usually only use this where I am responding to a specific request they have made.

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