Boost Your Holiday Rental Income

April 20th, 2007

“New owners often ask our advice on how to generate high levels of bookings” says Richard Speigal of espanabreaks.com, “and we have come to know very quickly which properties will do well – and which won’t”.

The good news is that attracting lots of renters isn’t rocket science. If you follow a few key principles, you should make money from rentals year after year. This article explains the key strategies to make you a successful holiday home owner.

1. Advertise carefully
Advertising holiday homes online is the accepted norm for most owners. It’s cheap, easy to set up and produces good returns. Most owners will advertise on several wesites, spending anything up to £500 per year.

You should expect an advert to generate at least 30 enquiries per year and you should be converting at least 30% of these enquiries into confirmed bookings.

Doing the maths on a typical apartment costing say £250 per week, this should produce at least 10 weeks booked per year – or rental revenues of £2,500. An excellent return on your advertising cost!

Some rentals websites include statistical tools telling you how many people are looking at your advert. A well constructed, attractive advert should see at least 2-3% of visitors turning into enquirers. So for every 100 visitors, you should get at least 3 enquiries. Tips 2, 3 and 4 (below) will help you achieve this.

2. Create a visual WOW factor
Creating good pictures of your property is more important than anything else in attracting renters. It’s also something many owners get wrong!

If you insist on taking pictures yourself (a pro photographer is better), then spend time to ensure they look their very best. The fuel of photography is light – so open the curtains and turn on lamps. Tidy up before you start and prepare the scene before shooting: place towel sets on beds, lay the dining table, etc.

Never take pictures of the toilet (regardless of how nice the bathroom is) and never include people in your pictures. Renters want a blank canvas to work from.

3. Create a visual WOW factor
Let’s repeat again: TAKE GREAT PICTURES! It will make or break your advert.

4. Prepare an enticing write-up
If visitors like your pictures, then they’ll take the time to read about your property. A good description is ideally 3-4 paragraphs, totalling no more than 300 words. This should be enough to be interesting (without being boring) and the right length to read quickly.

Concentrate on describing the property, giving a room-by-room walkthrough and overview of the features and facilities. By all means talk about the surrounding area but this should not be more than a paragraph – you are not writing a tourist guide, you are selling your property.

Finally always check your spelling and grammar and NEVER USE ALL CAPITALS – it looks like you are shouting!

5. Set inclusive pricing
As an owner it can be tempting to have your prices match your costs e.g. by charging a supplement for pool heating or a welcome pack. However renters hate supplement packed pricing, in the same way we all hate surcharges on flights!

Always try to set a price that includes all the things most renters will want. It’s easier to follow and it won’t look like you are penny pinching.

6. Check your contact details
If you add your telephone number, e-mail or website address to an advert always check it carefully. A surprising number of adverts have incorrect contact details – check everything twice.

7. Answer enquiries by phone
Most online services will let you know you’ve had an enquiry via e-mail or SMS text alert. This doesn’t mean you should reply electronically!

Always phone enquirers as soon as possible: it gives both you and them a chance to get to know each other and hammer out the finer details. A speedy telephone response will boost your conversion rates more than anything else.

8. Don’t hide your availability
When people search for holidays online, they get used to searching by date for flights, car hire and hotels. Therefore they expect to see your availability on their chosen dates.

It can be tempting to hide this but you will lose enquiries to owners who show their booking calendars and you’ll receive more wasted enquiries for dates you already have booked. Most websites allow you to add an availability calendar – always use it.

9. Avoid adding restrictions
Every owner should have restrictions and booking conditions to protect their properties but an advert isn’t the place to explain them – remember this is a sales opportunity! Explaining your restrictions too heavily on an advert makes it look like you don’t really want renters. This is something you should tackle with enquirers at the point of booking.

10. Smile at all times
Always be friendly and personal in all dealings with renters, both via e-mail and telephone. You are the sales person for your property and every new enquirer is potential revenue so be cheerful and informative at all times. Good customer service generates more bookings.

About the authors: España Breaks (espanabreaks.com) specialise in advertising holiday villas in Spain and offer a low cost, commission free way for holiday home owners to publicise their property for holiday rental. A two month free trial is available for Spanish property owners to try out their services.

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