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Posts tagged ‘Listing a property’

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

The iPad Mini finally found its vacation rental home! And the winner is…

Twilight house in Paraty, Brazil

Amazing villa in Paraty, Brazil that featured in Twilight Saga episode

Vacation rentals inventory at Rentini just got even better, thanks to your participation!

All of us at Rentini would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! Our iPad mini giveaway promotion has been a great success with submissions coming from as far as Brazil, Italy, France, and Indonesia, among other places. We are happy to welcome many beautiful properties to our pages. Special thanks to the owners who went beyond listing and gave us some buzz on social networks.

We are pleased to present your amazing properties at Rentini. Our success in 2012 wouldn’t have been possible were it not for your generous support.

 and the winner is….

Everyone who participated in the promotion was entered into a drawing to receive an iPad Mini. The winner of our drawing, chosen at random, is Peggy Yelland from Canada. With no fewer than eleven amazing homes – all with great photos, informative descriptions, and her own template-based website – we extend a warm congratulations to Peggy: http://escapesolutions.rentini.com

Vacation rental management website powered by Rentini


http://EscapeSolutions.Rentini.com , a template based website created by Peggy Yelland for her 11 properties

Peggy’s properties are located in various locales from Hawaii, to Spain, Mexico, to her native Canada. From a beach condo to a winter cabin, Peggy has what you’re looking for. Anyone would feel at home in these beautiful homes:

Spanish oceanfront villa in sunny Costa del Ameria.

Unobstructed views as you are enjoying your morning coffee from the Spanish patio. Accommodates 6.

Oceanfront condo at Halii Kai in Waikoloa, Hawaii

Gorgeous Halli Kai Resort on Big Island in Hawaii with 2 BD, 2 BH, accommodates 5

Sunset on the Big Island in Hawaii

Beautiful sunset on Halii Kai, Hawaii from the oceanfront condo by the golf course

Oceanview condo in Kaanapali Shores, Hawaii

Beautiful ocean view from both the living room and bedroom in Lahaina, Hawaii. Convenience and tranquility guaranteed

Sidney Waterfront Condo in Canada

Waterfront condo located on Vancouver Island near the beautiful city of Victoria, Canada

Condo in Ski station in Mt Washington, Canada

Mountain side condo located on Mt. Washington,Vancouver Island, Canada. One of the few truly ski-in/ski-out locations

Canadian waterfront condo among trees

Beautiful, newly renovated, oceanfront condo located in the picturesque area of Yellow Point in Canada

Oceanview condo on the golf course in Cabo

Oceanview condo on the golf course in Cabo, Mexico, steps to the white sand beach

Big Island Hawaii

Imagine gazing across the beautiful Pacific from your living room and spending your day watching whales on the Big Island, Hawaii

Having participated in our contest you’ve given your rentals greater visibility.

We’re all winners!  Rentini promotes properties to travelers via social networks, our website and blog, and various advertising channels.

Please join us in congratulating Peggy and invite your friends, homeowners, and guests to participate in our latest offerings:

http://www.facebook.com/rentini/app_320511614729177

Introducing Last Minute Deals on Vacation Rentals by Homeowners

Don’t give up on upcoming vacancies, we’ve got a solution!

It’s never too late to make some memories, or money when it comes to being a vacation rental owner. That’s why we have created a last minute deals program that allows our homeowners to offer travelers last minute discounts on vacancies for their vacation rentals.

Fill vacant dates on your calendar
Each week on Tuesday at noon EST, registration for our last minute deals page will open. There you can let us know your desired last minute dates and rates. We will then publish the new rates for travelers the following day (Wednesday) along with spreading the word about your great deal across as much of the internet as can.

Blog about your last minute deal

If you want to take your deal (and overall listing) one step further, we are accepting blog posts from our homeowners regarding their vacation destinations. Take a look at these posts to get some ideas. Notice how we talk about the culture, activities and overall lifestyle of the destinations. By attracting travelers to the destination itself, your property will be featured as the perfect accommodation for travelers to go and experience everything for themselves. This is done through linking keywords and photos to your listing, as well as simply culminating your post with a “Where to stay” sort of ending.

So feel free to submit your own to blogger@rentini.com and we will review it for publication.

Customize Your Cancellation Policy

Rentini has implemented the option to create a customized cancellation policy in addition to our template-based options Lenient, Moderate, Strict, and Very Strict.

Now when a homeowner selects Custom a empty box appears where owners can type or paste their own policy.

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

Homeowners can select their cancellation policy on step 2 of listing:  https://www.rentini.com/en/owner/properties/new

We are designing another customizable policy where the owner selects time frames for eligibility of a refund, and other necessary fields. Before we release it we want to get your feedback! What do you think is necessary for a cancellation policy? The terms have to be easy to select and essential.

Share your thoughts below.

Why Social Media Marketing for Vacation Rentals is Important

Major Social Networks

Social media has become an enormous part of today’s society. It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation without there being mention of a story that happened on a major site like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. This is because of these astonishing statistics found by online travel studies done by The Social Skinny as well as Google:

  • 62% of adults are now active on some social media websites.
  • Not only are they active, but these websites account for over 22% of the time that they spend online.
  • More specifically, 85% of travelers rely on the internet to get travel information.
  • About 40% of those users were influenced to actually book their trip because of online sources, making the internet the leading source followed by word of mouth.
  • 50% of travelers who came across some travel ad, article or video started dreaming of a vacation.
  • Of those, about 70% ended up actually choosing a destination and making the trip.

Utilizing these communities that travelers are scouring everyday makes sense. Let’s be real here, who isn’t browsing the web in search of everything they want and dreaming of getaways they hope to have? That makes every one of these users a potential traveler. Everyone is captivated by the beautiful, high quality images being posted all over Pinterest, Facebook etc. Of course you can list all your great amenities on your rental page, but these visuals are what really make your property stand out against the rest. Having a properly managed social presence can act as both a marketing billboard for your vacation rental, as well as a customer service center where you can connect with travelers.

This all sounds great but you don’t have time, right? Don’t worry, no need to hire an intern! There is a reason these websites are so popular, and that is because of how simple they are to use. After setting up your pages, which should take no more than 10 minutes, posting and sharing content can be done anytime, anywhere (if you have a smartphone) and within a matter of minutes. Simple posts and photos with the proper tagging/hashtags can bring you the traffic you need to fill your rental calendar.

Follow our social marketing series to find out more on how you can promote your vacation rental through each major social network. Also get involved in our Pinterest contest where you can win a spa package or professional photo sessions for your property just for getting started with social media marketing!

Your Property Heading…Means More or Less Clicks.

Tommy Taylor's large luxury cabin

A luxurious getaway in Colorado

I do not want to take total credit for all of the following information.  I have combined a couple of suggestions from other property owners along with my own opinions about the true importance of your property heading.

Property headlines are the most valuable real estate you have on any listing site.  If your listing’s heading is not compelling enough to draw someone in to click on it, your headline is your weakest link.  It won’t matter if you have great photos, copy and fantastic rates if no one clicks through.

Do not use the headline for the property name because those characters could be used for something far more important to the traveler.  You need to think like potential guests–they want features and benefits that match their needs/wants.  If you put “TreeHouse Hideaway” in my headline/title, you have used up 18 characters that could have said something much more valuable to the traveler:  “WiFi – Hot Tub – Jacuz…” would fit in the same space.

I feel that you should not need to put number of beds/baths in your headline, unless you have 3 bedrooms and all have a king bed.  I would definitely say “3 King BRs” in title.  Three couples traveling together would be thrilled to know that they don’t have to flip a coin to see who gets the 1 King BR and the others get the Queen BRs, or even the room like mine that is bunk beds.

The most visually distinct part of your headline is the last few words.  When you scan down the listings, it’s the tail end of each listing that sticks out because there’s white space (negative space) at the end.  So the last thing in your headline should actually be one of the most important aspects of your listing.  It could be “April $135/night” or “Pets OK” or “WiFi”, mine, (http://rentini.com/en/properties/luxury-log-cabin-on-golf-course),  starts with the word “Luxury”, and ends with the words  “On The Golf Course.”   Whatever you choose to put at the end gets extra visibility by virtue of its location, so think twice about what might be most interesting to potential guests.

Finally, if you can and have the space…put a call to action or urgency in your headline. Phrases like “Booking Fast” or “New Photos!” or “July 7-17 Now Open” may encourage a click thru.

Good luck and remember to review your headline/listing title every month to make sure it’s not out of date and look for opportunities to freshen it up when needed (new season, announce improvements, specials, cancellations, etc.)  Make your headline work for you!

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