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Archive for the ‘Homeowners Guide’ Category

Are Men or Women More Active on Social Media?

Today I came across this great analysis by Neil Patel about differences in demographics on social media. Because vacation rental business is a very unique niche I thought it’s very important to understand where your prospective clients spend most of their time.

A couple of years ago I read another study about who is doing all the prep work for an upcoming vacation. Although in our family all travel planning is done by me I wasn’t surprised to learn that in most of the cases it’s actually the opposite. Women take care of this task.

The infographic below gives you a clear picture of the best channels to market your vacation rental. Well, as long as you know who your clients are:

Who is more active on social media? Men or Women?
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal: HomeAway’s Trademark Infringement Suit Against AirBnB

Homeaway sues AirBnB for trademark infringement

News of HomeAway’s trademark-infringement lawsuit against AirBnB has left many customers of both companies wondering what to think about the whole thing.

“Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal.” This famous saying, most often attributed to Pablo Picasso, pretty much summarizes how the creative process works in any media. And Silicon Valley is no different.

If you’re good enough at making high-quality copies, people will admire you for your skillset. You will earn some respect and even a decent amount of money. Still in all, it doesn’t matter how good the replica is. It will be overshadowed by the original creation.

A creative genius, Picasso was never interested in copying things. His creative process began with ideas from others, which once absorbed, took on a new life in his own image, and on a different scale.

Oftentimes, these ideas came to him via the great masters, and sometimes from his fellow artists. Throughout his career, he mastered his “art of stealing” like no one else.

While a teenager, Picasso became fascinated by the work of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. This resulted in a series of works that made the originals look pretty outdated. One of Picasso’s greatest contributions to the art world, Cubism, was also influenced by Ingres.

Turkish Bath Picasso vs IngresTurkish Bath by Ingres (1862) – left and by Pablo Picasso (1907) – right

This is how things get done in the realm of genius. Ideas inspire great artists to create a new art form that didn’t exist before, and is often regarded as revolutionary.

Whether you borrow or steal in the world of business, the consequences are vastly different.

On December 16, 2013, AirBnB launched a new advertisement campaign, “Home to You.” The Home to You ad campaign centers around a video showing artisans recreating 50 Airbnb vacation rental listings in the form of miniature birdhouses.

Yes, birdhouses. This is what all the fuss is about.

Here’s how AirBnB describes the idea behind the movie on their YouTube channel:

No creatures on earth travel quite like birds do. They soar the skies, then land in new places. They see the world from a different perspective, one to which all real travelers aspire. This film is a celebration of our passion for travel and the kind of hospitality that makes people feel at home anywhere.

How could a story like that not touch the soul of an aspiring traveler?

But, apparently, it can also touch a copyrighted image: the “Birdhouse Mark” which happened to be a protected trademark of AirBnB’s biggest competitor, HomeAway, Inc. HomeAway’s logo prominently features a birdhouse, and the company uses birdhouses as its sort of “mascot.”

According to HomeAway’s argument, Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of AirBnB, paid multiple visits to HomeAway’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. This said, it’s probably safe to assume that the giant birdhouse replica in the middle of their headquarters didn’t pass unnoticed.

Birdhouse by HomeAway in their headquarter

We will leave it up to history to determine whether AirBnB’s national campaign is a complete steal or just borrowing. It certainly visualizes an especially poetic perspective on travel.

One thing, though, is crystal clear to Brian Sharples, CEO and Chairman of HomeAway.

“We do believe it is a fairly deliberate attempt to confuse the marketplace,” Sharples has said. Chesky “has been to our downtown offices several times. He has stepped into our giant birdhouse. I don’t think that anyone could argue that this was a mistake on their part.”

So, what now?

Should we consider it as a formal announcement of the war between two competitors? Was HomeAway fed up with AirBnB breaking more and more into the market for traditional vacation rental homes?

Although they are clashing over the same market niche, HomeAway and AirBnB are very different animals when it come to their respective cultures, founders, and backers, and the demographics of their hosts, guests, founders, and even haters.

It’s even safe to say that AirBnB and HomeAway are completely opposites any way you look at them. This is what makes this clash so fascinating.

Let’s look back at the history of two companies and try to understand what may arise from this.

HomeAway, Inc, nowadays a publicly traded company under the AWAY ticker, was founded in 2005 by Brian Sharples and Carl Shepherd. Within six years,  they managed to bring the company to its IPO, generating a sixfold return on investment (based on the post-IPO figures).

Their runaway success was mainly attributable to a clever way of cherrypicking and acquiring market leaders in the vacation rental industry around the globe, and monetizing their existing customer bases.

Some of HomeAway’s most notable acquisitions included VRBO.com and VacationRentals in the US, Arbitel.fr in France, and about twenty additional websites in different time zones, languages and hemispheres, the most recent being the Australia-based Stayz, for $198M. HomeAway often called themselves a startup, but it’s pretty unusual for a startup to begin operations with $49M on hand, with another $500M deposited by VCs within the first couple of years of operation.

AirBnB was founded in 2008, by two designers,Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, and an engineer, Nathan Blecharczyk. For a few months they tested out the idea of renting an airbed in their San Francisco loft to conferencegoers. Packaged with a small meal, the accommodation was dubbed  Airbed and Breakfast (later shortened to AirBnB). They made a few attempts to replicate this model in other cities, but that didn’t help with their flat revenue graph.

Forced to think outside of the box as their fledgling company struggled to become profitable, the founders began to offset their losses by selling repackaged cereal as “Obama O’s” and “Captain McCain’s.” The cereal story, a hit during the 2008 election, later became a trigger point for Paul Graham to take these guys seriously. In the winter 2009, the founders were invited to participate in YCombinator, one of Silicon Valley’s first and most respected startup accelerators. From this very moment, AirBnB’s growth was phenomenal. The amount of funding they attracted over the course of couple of years reflects their rapid market expansion. Starting from the $20K coming from the YCombinator fund, they quickly accumulated $326M in funding from their first tier investors and celebrities. Being pioneers of the shared economy, they inspired a lot of controversy, viral press, and tidal waves of support from all around the globe. It’s fair to mention that over time the website became for some a reliable source of income—and for others, some sort of a travel religion. People started referring to AirBnB’s brand as a foundation of a new phenomena: the shared economy. Inspired by their success, dozens of other startups adopted their business model to different markets: AirBnB for CarsAirBnB for Dogs, you name it! Finally, the AirBnB founders came up with their own new version of AirBNB … for birds.

BirdBnB.com became their first national ad campaign calling for bird houses. Notably, the campaign cost AirBnB no less than $2M.

“We promise you’ll never look at birdhouses the same way — and if you stay in one of these remarkable homes around the world, you may never look at travel the same way again too,” the website states. (At the time of this article, BirdBnB.com is redirecting to the main website AirBnB.com)

This is where their march has been stalled by a lawsuit from HomeAway.

Homeaway Birdhouse logo

“Defendant and HomeAway target and provide services to an overlapping class of Travelers for their respective services, through overlapping channels of trade,” the HomeAway suit states. “On information and belief, Defendant, has long targeted the tenants in landlord owned apartments in major cities (such as New York, Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, etc.) as its major supplier of listings.”

“However, Defendant [Airbnb] has recently increased its efforts to attract business in traditional vacation rental markets (such as the Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountains, Provence and Tuscany), in which HomeAway has long been well-established.”

Embedded in the culture of HomeAway, Sharples said, is the birdhouse logo, designed by downtown Austin advertising firm McGarrah Jessee and chosen “because it symbolizes what we do.”

AirBnB’s creative genius has served them pretty well on many occasions. It will be interesting to see how things will unfold this time.

Shall we expect an open-field battle between competitors, a massive settlement or M&A talk?

What are your thoughts on this?

6 Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Going away on vacation may be the time we all look forward to each year but for the security-conscious individual it can also be a time of concern. Leaving your home unattended for long periods of time can significantly increase the risk of a chance break-in that goes unnoticed or a more organized attempt based on lack of activity around your property.

Fortunately there are a range of common-sense steps that can be taken that will significantly reduce the chances of your home suffering criminal attacks in your absence.

Check Your Insurance

Before you leave for your vacation, ensure that your household insurance policy is in good standing. This should ideally protect not just your property itself but also contents insurance so that any items that might get stolen or damaged can be easily replaced on your return.

For extended vacations, it may be a requirement for you to inform your insurer of your absence so they are aware of the increased risks involved.

Tell Your Trusted Neighbors

Do you live in a neighborhood with a “community” feel where you know and trust many of your neighbors? If so, having a frank discussion with them about your absence can be a wise move.

By alerting your neighbors, should any activity be observed in or near your property in your absence, neighbors will be more likely to raise the alarm and help to keep your home safe and secure from criminals rather than just assuming it is you or your family moving about the property.

Third Party Security Checks

Another beneficial tip is to leave a key and contact telephone numbers with a friend or family member that you trust. Ask them to be the first point of contact for any emergencies and provide their details to your immediate neighbors.

Furthermore, asking that individual to visit your property for a quick inspection twice a day (morning and evening) – or even house-sit while you’re away – helps to not only encourage activity around your home but also to spot any issues that may arise quickly.

Timer Switches

A range of different timer devices are currently available and can help give the impression that your home is inhabited even while you’re away enjoying the sunshine.

For example it is possible these days to not only have lights that turn on and off randomly during the hours of darkness but to even make noises such as dog barks from time to time. All can serve to dissuade crime when a potential criminal is led to believe that your house in inhabited.

Mail Deliveries

One tell-tale sign that can out you at a disadvantage when away is a potential build-up of mail. Depending on the design of your home, this pile of letters may be visible from outside, suggesting that the occupants are away and so break-ins may be easier.

There are a number of options available to avoid this issue. Firstly consider asking your trusted friend to move your mail to a hidden part of your home on their regular checks.

Secondly, the postal services in some countries will actually “hold” your mail at the post office which you can then collect on your return.

Lastly, a simple tool that can work well is to create a simple “screen” that camouflages post as it is dropped through your door. In one example we saw recently, the occupant had red curtains fitted over the inside of their door.

By placing a piece of red cardboard up against the window inside the property, mail that was delivered fell behind this cardboard but in front of the curtain. From the outside of the property – looking through the frosted glass of the door – mail was completely hidden from view as the cardboard “screen” perfectly camouflaged in front of the curtain.

Home Alarm Systems

Finally, for greatest peace of mind, you may want to consider installing one of the many effective yet low-cost home security systems. These systems can not only arm your home with a powerful alarm system should anyone try to gain entry but more so many of them also come with a number of CCTV cameras.

In the case of a successful break-in, these cameras can be tremendously helpful to the police both for identifying the criminals and for proving the legitimacy of any insurance claim you may make.

The best systems will even let you access them remotely from your laptop or smart phone, so you can rest easy while away being able to keep a close eye on your home even when you’re hundreds of miles away.

Ben Smith is an expert in home security and recently started a new blog at Home Security Geeks.

The Features That Kept Us Busy for a Year

One year and counting - Rentini anniversary Time flies. It’s has been an incredible year-long ride since we officially launched our new website last year.  Not only have we  learned a lot, we’ve also realized that customer feedback is a huge source of inspiration. Thank you for contributing your time and efforts to becoming a valuable part of the Rentini community.

Do you remember some of these milestones and new features we’ve developed along the way?

We Are In 70+ Countries and Counting

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a single platform could be a common marketplace for people from such diverse cultural backgrounds. We are all in the same business and our love for the vacation rental experience is without boundaries. Who wants to stay in a cookie cutter hotel with their entire family? No wonder vacation rentals are becoming more and more popular for travelers across the globe.

You Told Us, We Listened

The most exciting part of building a vacation rental platform is that all of you, our great customers, are also seasoned entrepreneurs. You are smart, experienced and full of fresh ideas about improving the business. We took many of your ideas and developed them into useful tools that will help you run your business even better. Below we listed a few features that came out of your valuable feedback. Keep pouring it on us, we do listen!

The Lowest 2.4% Credit Card Processing

The lowest 2.4% credit card fee for vacation rentalsI hope you don’t miss out on this one! After negotiating with our merchant bank, we secured a 2.4% credit processing rate, which is a better deal than PayPal or VRBO. Paypal charges approximately $30/month plus 2.9% – 3% per credit card transaction. VRBO charges somewhere in a range of $400-$1,000+/year and 2.5% per transaction. We are so happy to save our clients on credit card fees with a low 2.4% flat fee on Visa, Master Card and Discover credit card payments.

Calendar Synchronization Tool

calendar synchronization tool

This is an awesome tool we launched last year. Recently redesigned, today it is even more user-friendly. No one wants to update their calendars on the zillions of vacation rental sites manually. This tool takes the headache away from busy owners/property managers. Synchronize Calendar with Homeaway or VRBOJust copy/paste a link from HomeAway / VRBO and never worry about double booking again.

Reservation Confirmation: Accept, Reject, Discuss More

Accept, Reject, Discuss function within the homeowners inboxEveryone has his or her own style of running a vacation rental, but after regular feedback, we realized one thing is for sure: Homeowners and Property Managers want full control over the situation.  In response, we developed a better way to handle reservation requests. When accepting or rejecting vacation requests, no word is final until homeowners or property managers say so and there is a 24-hour time frame to do so.

Automatic Damage Deposit Processing

Automated Damage Deposit ProcessingNo longer do you have to refund damage deposits manually.  Now it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Just check it out:

  1. Two days prior to check-in, the guests’ card is automatically authorized for the amount of the damage deposit.
  2. The owner will then get an email confirmation and issue check-in instructions for guests.
  3. 48 hours after check-out, the damage deposit will be refunded to the guest’s card if no damages have been incurred.

Pro Plan: Links And Direct Contact Info

Rentini started off as a transaction-based platform on which we charged 1% commission plus a $5 reservation fee. Quickly, however, we learned that some of our users were not happy to pay a commission for each payment processed via Rentini.  In order to accommodate our homeowners and property managers, we began charging a small monthly fee of $9/month and, in return, we list all their contact details in the ad. This way, homeowner & property managers are able to use their normal reservation flow. This change has been awesome for Rentini and it has also been great for the homeowner & property managers who are pleased not to have to introduce a new element to their existing business procedure.

Pro Plus Plan: No Commission And Unlimited Listings For A Single Monthly Payment.

It couldn’t get any better for property managers and homeowners who have multiple listings. List all 20 properties and pay no commission to Rentini for payment processing. Every Pro Plus subscriber gets all of this for a flat $20/month fee along with access to many exciting features on the Rentini platform not accessible under a free plan:

Testimonials

New feature Testimonials Based on the research done by TripAdvisor, guests’ reviews are the second most important thing after photos that travelers rely on while making their selection. At Rentini, all reviews are verified. We also added a Testimonials feature that is an easy way for new listing owners to improve their credibility.Request testimonials from friends and vacation rental guests This feature also allows homeowners and property managers to contact their previous guests or personal friends to solicit testimonials.

Last Minute Deals

Last minute deal promotional banner for rental property This could be the most celebrated new feature of the year! Last minute gaps are not easy to fill, especially because travelers are accustomed to getting a deal on last minute bookings. At the end of the last year, we introduced a feature to promote properties with last minute availabilities on our homepage.  As a result, we received a great return on new bookings and lots of happy customers.

Hints And Videos Are Added

Read hints to avoid confusionThe first few months after our official launch were tough. Many features that looked obvious to our engineers were not as user-friendly as we thought. As a result, we included a short explanation next to each entry field. If you are ever in doubt regarding what a field or sentence means, just roll your mouse over the question mark icon and the hint will pop-up. The same goes for video tutorials.  After adding a video tutorial on every page, we managed to improve our conversion rate by 45%.

Custom Cancellation Policy

Homeowner have templates they can choose from or create their own - customized - cancellation policy

This was one of the most requested features in the early days. Originally, we had 4 pre-designed cancellation policies, but we learned that homeowners and property managers didn’t want to fit into cookie cutter solutions.   After realizing we needed to be more flexible on this topic, we allowed homeowner & property managers to upload his or her custom policy.

Reply To Inquiry From The Email Inbox

Another thing we learned about homeowners and property managers’ business challenges is they all want to simplify the inquiry reply process.

At Rentini, we developed two ways to reply to messages from a potential guest:

Whether you reply via email or the Rentini messaging page, all communication is stored in your Rentini account. The only trick to remember is that when you reply via email, the recipients address is encrypted for privacy purposes. But, don’t fret.  We know how to deliver your message to your guest.  Just hit the Send button!

Craigslist Ad Generator

Your Craigslist Vacation Rental Ad Generator Many homeowners and property managers have a love /hate relationship with Craigslist. Many say that there are a lot of scams and others don’t want to deal with low-ball inquiries. Despite its issues, Craigslist can still be a very effective advertising platform for your vacation home. With 60+ mln unique visitors per month Craigslist is one of the most visited classified sites on internet. At Rentini, we developed a simple tool to generate a professional Craigslist ad in a few clicks. It’s a great way to promote your last minute availability or just improve your ad’s SEO in the long run. More visits to your ad page means more love from search engines.

We Love Our Unique Properties From All Around The World

The beauty of our vacation rental business is that all the properties are very unique.  Whether it is a stunning villa in Paraty, Brazil, a private boat in Barcelona, or an agritourism villa in Tuscany, Italy, they are all inspiring…and your personal touch is what makes your guests enjoy it so much!

There are many more features being developed,which are great additions to our core functionality. Thanks again for your patronage during the last year!

Do you have a feature in mind you know could be useful for your vacation rental business? Share it with us by leaving a comment below or by sending us an email at feedback@rentini.com.

How to spend less than 30 minutes per day on social media [INFORGRAPHIC]

Social media for vacation rental in 30 minutes a dayA crush course to social media

Whether we want it or not but social media takes more presence in our personal and business lives. How to get it under control and use more effectively?

Our friends at Pardot put together an awesome infographic to help you determine which tasks are most important, and how much time you should ideally be dedicating to each of your social channels. Your strategy will likely differ (and should!) slightly from the infographic below, but the import thing is to identify your key channels, plan for a set number of tasks, and allot yourself a set period of time and stick to it!

Let’s have a look:

Rock Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day [INFOGRAPHIC] - Pardot Infographic

Embedded from the Pardot Blog

What is your strategy in social media? What social channel works better for your business?

2 simple ways to update your vacation rental calendar

Vacation rental availability calendar reservation blocking

Don’t Wait to Update Your Vacation Rental Calendar: Time Blocking and Reservations

Like many of my neighbors and fellow owners in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe, I love surfing, skiing and snowboarding, so why would I own property anywhere else?  It comes as no surprise that, like me, most vacation rental owners buy homes in the places they like to visit themselves.  And they visit a lot.

During my first year of owning a pad in Maui Kamaole, Hawaii, I visited 5 times. I stored my two surfboards in the closet, bought an annual pass on ATA airlines and eventually realized the importance of manually updating my vacation rental calendar.

In my previous post I talked about a very simple way to setup automatic calendar synchronization, once and forever. Here we discuss how to update your calendar manually.

At Rentini we have two options for updating calendar:

1)   Create a blocking – an easy one step process

2)   Create a reservation  –  a two step process which requires you to record payment.

There are multiple ways to add a reservation or time block to your calendar. The most intuitive would be by following navigation tabs:

  • Rentals >> Blocking >> Add Blocking
  • Rentals >> Reservations  >> Add Reservation

Another way of adding a time block or reservation would be by opening the monthly calendar page from the Dashboard or on Edit Listing page.

Select a month and roll your mouse over any date until an Update button appears. Click on the Update button or anywhere in that cell. A new window will pop-up, which will let you choose a type of action. Available options are:

  • Add Blocking
  • Add Reservation
  • Add Rate

We will discuss how to add different types of rates in future posts. For now, let’s just focus on blockings and reservations.

Time Blocking

Rule of thumb: Use blockings to mark dates unavailable.

To block, choose your start and end dates and hit the Update Calendar button. You can also put in a note for future reference, such as “My last minute getaway!!!” or “Uncle Sam promised it’s his last trip this year

The process is a bit more complicated with reservations as there are a few different scenarios worth considering.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the dates on your calendar will not become unavailable until payment is submitted by the guest or the homeowner marks the reservation paid manually.

Reservation on Guest’s behalf: You are Expecting Payment

You may create a reservation on guest’s behalf and assign a custom rate to it (optional).  Let’s say someone calls you and says, “I would like to rent your place. How do I proceed from here?”

All you need is their name and email address.  Just open Rentals >> Reservations and click Add Reservation button. Select the Yes option for email notifications. This way your guests will receive an email invitation to pay the required amount as well as all future reminders. This is convenient, as you do not need to remember important dates to remind your guests about payment dues. The system sends out reminders automatically.

If you do not want them to receive automatic reminders,  just select the No option for email notifications.

Reservation on Friend’s Behalf

If a friend of yours wants to visit and you only want to charge them a cleaning fee, they may leave a check for the housekeeper or pay in advance.

To facilitate the pay in advance option, just click Add Reservation and enter $1 into the Custom Rate field (sorry, the system doesn’t allow to enter $0).  Select the Yes option for Email notifications and then hit Update Calendar. An email invitation will then be sent to your friend so he/she can pay online. Once they complete the payment process, the dates will be marked unavailable.

Reservation Payments

If a guest calls you and wants to submit a payment, you may accept credit card payments over the phone. However, it is important to note the recent PCI compliance standards, which do not allow keeping your guests’ card on file unencrypted.

Protecting cardholder data is also good for your business because PCI security prevents stolen customer data, and:

  • Prevents lawsuits
  • Saves you money

Rentini payment portal becomes handy when you need to accept payments and stay PCI compliant. We incorporate all the latest standards, which could also be another selling point for those guests who are concerned about Internet fraud and unauthorized credit card abuse. Working in IT data security for 13 years taught me to keep my hands away from sensitive information wherever possible. When a vacation rental guest offers me their credit card over the phone, I politely refuse to accept it. Accepting payment via a PCI compliant online system gives you the piece of mind that you won’t be liable for any data breach.

If you have any suggestion on how to make our reservation system better, please leave your feedback in comments!

Happy rentals!

6 Simple Reasons to Love Your Vacation Rental Website

Escapesolutions.rentini.com , A template based website created by Peggy Yelland for her 11 properties

Don’t Wait to Reap the Benefits of Your Vacation Rentals: Get your own website!

In the past we discussed the importance of a vacation rental website and were delighted to see how this topic struck a cord with our readers.

Drawing from my own experience managing vacation rentals for the last 9 years, here are 6 reasons why I have a vacation rental website:

1) Website name is unique

Your vacation rental website must have a unique domain name if you want to make an impeccable first impression.    You can’t rely on the random ID number assigned to your listings.  Just think about it — who would remember those six digits a month later?

Names like http://www.WaipouliBeach.com or http://www.HeavenlyCabin.com are memorable.  Numbers are not.

You may even want to take it a step further by printing business cards.  You never know where you will meet prospective renters! Some guys will even print them overnight.

2)   No competition

While I have befriended many of my fellow homeowners, I understand that those residing in neighboring locations compete with me for renters. Therefore, it is best not to give your potential guest a link to a vacation rental listings site with zillions of other choices. Instead, you want to lead them to a place where no other competition exists – your own vacation rental website. Once your client is on your website, it’s your job to convince them that your rental is the best and that they should proceed with booking immediately.

3)  A Call to Action with a Book Now Button

In online marketing, every page or message should have a Call To Action. But, now you may be wondering what a Call to Action even means.  In simple terms, it is a quickest way to make a sale.  For example, ‘Book Now.’  This will increase your conversion rate, a term that describes how many users buy vs how many users visited your website. You can also increase your conversion rate if the Call to Action is in the right place, of the right size and in the right color.

The ‘Book Now’ option is also something that world travelers are so used to. Airline websites have it, hotel websites have it, restaurants have it, even activity desks providers will give you an option to book a tour right away.  Somehow it’s not that common in the vacation rental industry. Influential bloggers like Matt Landau think that 2013 will change this for good. I hope so!

In my particular case I rent out short term rentals. I want my users to come to my website and rent my property. Then, I want them to have a great time during their vacation, visit my favorite restaurants and experience things that I love to do when I visit my rental.

4)  Stay in Control with Real-Time Calendar

First thing’s first — I don’t consider a vacation rental booked until I got money in my pocket. I hear a lot of whining from fellow homeowners after they’ve come across an unreliable customer. The guest promised to send a check but the check never arrived.

If you agree to keep your rental dates on hold for a week until a guest’s check arrives, you are giving up control of your own business while giving your potential customers the time to find a better deal.

Make your guests compete for your place.

For example, If I have three inquiries for the same time period, I never give the same quote. The first customer to inquire receives the lowest quote, the next one receives a higher rate and all others the highest rate possible. I tell everyone that dates could be booked anytime by anyone. When people are aware they may lose your deal, they tend to act faster. Often times the highest quote I give triggers the payment first. So it’s a double win. I get a booking faster and it’s sold for more.

5)  No limit on the most essential things:  Photos, Reviews, Calendar

I hate when someone limits my abilities in anything. 24 photos limit on my listing? Who came up with this magic number? What if I have a nice shot #25 from my best customer and I would like to upload it? Do I need to remove one of my nice looking photos? The magic of your own website is that you are in full control of everything. Not only can you upload numerous photos but you can add long activity descriptions on the guests’ toDo list. And all these things combined work well for converting your visitors into paid customers. Research shows that 30% of travelers make their booking decision based on photos and reviews. You as a homeowner should have full control over these marketing tools.

6)   Organic Google Search Traffic – Yours Forever!

This one is not very obvious at all. We advertise our vacation rental properties on zillions of different websites. We put our time, sweat and money into making it look better, while not always realizing that we are improving a vacation rental listing site and not our own. At some point, when we have to discontinue advertising service, all our previous efforts become wasted. Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc., work day and night crawling and analyzing the great content of the world web. Once your ad is shut down, it’s gone for Google. Put all your efforts into making great content on your own website and let Google discover and index it. This is a real asset that will stay with you as long as you want it to. Over time, it only becomes more valuable!

and of course, the social!

I almost missed out on one of the most important item – social engagement! It’s so big with latest changes in role of social signals in search algorithm. It will require a separate blog post. So stay tuned!

Do you have your own vacation rental website?  Let us know your success story!

In case you would like to create a vacation rental website, you can do it in 3 simple clicks at Rentini.  Here are some of the Rentini’s templates (remember it could be your own domain name or a subdomain of rentini.com) :

ModernLakeTahoe.rentini.com

WaipouliBeach.com

ItalyMountainCabin.com

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