Tips, Hacks and Strategies for Property Managers to Grow their Business:
(Includes strategies for more vacation rental units + more bookings)
1. Make short videos about what makes your market unique: Interview local restaurants, best surf spots, best hiking trails, local hang outs, surf shops, best sushi place in town and all points in between. Promoting these hot spots will drive traffic to your site and also result in more units and more bookings.
2. Connect with your local service providers: The local HVAC company, painters, pressure washers, independent cleaning companies, and contractors know the owners of your local vacation rental units as good as anyone. Network with these valuable service providers and develop a referral program with them.
3. Target your marketing efforts to the owners that have out of town addresses: These are typically your best targets for possible vacation rental home owners.
4. Make Customer Service a Priority always.
5. Foster Positive and Lasting Relationships with residents and owners. Always be thinking of ways to surprise or bring a smile to your owners.
6. Referrals from local restaurants.
7. Email Campaigns.
8. Monthly Newsletters: Mail these out to the target database of potential vacation rental home owners. Don’t make the focus of the newsletter obtaining their business, rather make the focal point as things to do, local places to see, real estate updates, and local news. Weave in your services but don’t make it the only focus of the newsletter.
9. Host Events: These are great ways to connect with possible local vacation rental owners in a relaxed, social setting.
10. Have an Exceptional Website: Building a terrific website includes having great information, spelling out why your company is different than the competition, and why an owner should rent their property through your company. Also include great content for those looking for a great rental property. Include things like: local content, things to do, videos, local blog, in depth detail on all your units and things that perhaps might go unmentioned by your property manager competitors.
11. Focus on the long tail: Your competitors focus on the BIG things like general information about your city, big festivals and basic skiing or fishing information. Focusing on the “long tail” means capturing those small handful of travelers that want to come to your vacation rental destination because of a specific high school Summer baseball tournament, destination wedding, bird watching group, or even treasure hunters. Having a page of great, TARGETED, content could pay big dividends for your company.
12. Invest in a web-based property management software that has great training and great support. Super important!
13. AMAZING photos of your properties: Spend the extra money and get professional photographs of all of your vacation rental listings for your website and other media where you market. This is super important if you want to run a company that not just thrives but survives.
14. AMAZING photos of your area: Commission a local photographer to take unique photos of your area. Remember, to win the war at Google, its just not about the written content. People search buy websites, video, news and now pictures. Include lots of beautiful pictures of your area and this drives visitors to your site to book rentals or owners to have you manage their places.
15. Always feature up to date listings on your properties: If there has been a renovation or the house was painted, get the listing updated.
16. Build a Great Online Reputation: Encourage vacationers to leave a 5 star review if they had a great experience.
17. Do Online Paid Advertising: This is a great way to drive traffic to your site.
18. Long Tail advertising: When doing online advertising, don’t just focus on the expensive “real estate” (aka “insert town name” vacation rentals). Focus on the search terms that might only get 25 to 50 search inquiries per year, but create a huge list of these “long tail” terms. In aggregate, these can drive a lot of traffic to your site and also be fairly inexpensive.
19. Build Landing Pages to track new leads: Create pages on your website to target the specific audience. Create subdivision specific or beach specific pages to target owners or vacationers to specific parts of your vacation rental destination.
20. Respond to new leads quickly and set an appointment: Speed is the key to getting bookings. Those who respond quickly get the booking.
21. Use yield management software: Yes, the science is real folks! It’s time to invest in this part of your business to ensure you maximize your company’s results.
22. Work with Realtors to refer vacation rental properties to your company. Typically, there are many local real estate brokerages in a given area, and in most cases, not all participate in vacation rentals. Build relationships with those real estate brokerages that don’t have vacation rental divisions and build a referral partnership with them.
23. Meet with Home Owners Associations: Building great relationships with these influence makers can deliver a treasure trove of new possible owners for your vacation rental company.
24. Have an owner portal on your website: This is a must in today’s competitive landscape. When picking or switching to a new vacation rental management software, make sure you ask about their “owner’s portal” too.
25. Join VRMA (Vacation Rental Management Association).
26. Meet with Investor Organizations: A major portion of the local vacation rental inventory may be owned by a group of investors. Find out more info about these groups and market to them as it might equate to multiple units, not just one here or there.
27. Establish yourself as a professional business: Just the basics, but you would be surprised how many new entrepreneurs forget to incorporate, get the proper licenses, secure a great domain, or trademark your company name.
28. Offer Travel Protection to your guests.
29. Develop a presentation that you give to all prospective clients: Develop a great “pitch deck” that talks about the many reasons why owners should pick your company over others.
30. Have a professional, visual presentation that covers your advertising strategy, marketing strategy, tenant screening process, financial reporting, fee schedule, eviction notice, and all other items that you cover.
31. Start a Blog on your website with valuable content for both vacationers and owners.
32. Offer modern payment options: Give your guests the ability to pay online, pay via ACH, pay in multiple payments and even as a group (multiple parties for one booking).
33. Attend a Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) Conference to learn more about your industry and ways to improve your company.
34. Use rent comparison tools to help you analyze rental prices in your market.
35. Automate as many processes as possible: You are going to grow and when you do, you are going to want as many processes in place so you can scale your company.
36. Have a FAQ section on your website: Create one for both owners and one for vacationers.
37. Ensure your company’s website is mobile and tablet friendly: More and more travelers are searching via their mobile device or tablet. If you don’t have a mobile friendly site, your business will be impacted negatively. Create a GREAT mobile experience!
38. Offer online signatures where allowable for e-lease agreements.
39. Provide an online portal for owners to make maintenance requests.
40. Create/offer a guest experience app: These are great ways to stay connected with your travelers, offer them suggestions on great local experiences and also give them the details on their vacation rental unit.
41. Make communication a priority with your owners and guests.
42. Offer Damage Protection (instead of a security deposit) to your guests.
43. Remember to stay friendly, personable and helpful in all your interactions with guests and owners.
44. ALWAYS show your staff how much you appreciate them: Your team is on the front lines and always be doing things to thank them for their hard work.
45. Build relationships with outside vendors and local law enforcement.
46. Make sure all of your owners have proper liability insurance in place for vacation rental activities.
47. Consider local print options for advertising.
48. Start Accepting Credit Cards: You might think this is a given, but some property managers don’t accept credit cards. Always a good idea to give guests many ways to pay.
49. Educate your owners to offer better amenities in their properties: By adding a hot tub, pool, pool table, outdoor fire pit or air hockey table, you can grow your bookings. Also don’t forget to market these new amenities on your property listing.
50. Prioritize on building more value for your customers. If you deliver the best bang for your buck, both owners and travelers will turn to your services for years to come.
51. Bookings come easier and more often when value outweighs price. Focus on making your properties the best they can be.
52. Offer rental properties that are accessible for those that may have a disability.
53. Make sure your properties are focused on comfort and interior design. Nice furniture and relaxing settings equate to more bookings.
54. Be easily available, accessible, and open to communication. Those who communicate best, typically win in the vacation rental business.
55. Publish your general reservation emails, phone numbers, and rental agreements online for review. Make this information accessible for your guests.
56. Make a good first impression with your guests.
57. Hire reservation agents who are happy, positive and like to smile. It really does make a difference.
58. Ensure everything in your properties are in proper working order.
59. Offer A Memorable Guest Experience.
60. Offer quality toiletry/soap kits, dish/cleaning products, towels and linens. Its all about the details.
61. Properties should ALWAYS be in pristine condition upon guest arrival.
62. Provide complementary chocolates and other sweet treats upon guest arrival. It’s the small things that matter.
63. Have quality coffee or a fancy espresso machine at guest check-in location. Always good to include these in the vacation rental properties as well.
64. Provide orientation/rule guides that help your guest find their way around the home. Also include this information in the guest experience app.
65. Leave hand-written thank you notes at the properties.
66. Have welcome guest books at each property that encourage guest to sign their names and leave a few sentences about their favorite part of the trip or about the home.
67. Have your staff call the guest to make sure everything is to their liking within a few hours of check in.
68. Your properties description should command the traveler’s attention throughout and speak to why its unique.
69. Leave a welcome gift basket at each property to leave a lasting impression.
70. Provide local activity/restaurants guides with coupons and discounts.
71. Give a video tour of your properties: This is a growing trend and starting to become a competitive “must have”. Guests want to understand the property they are renting, and this is a great way to tour your vacation rental units.
72. Share travel tips with your guests via social media. Promote your local area, not just your rental properties via social media and your website.
73. Number of photos: Potential guests are more likely to inquire on listings that have over 20 photos. More photos = more bookings.
74. Be careful to not misrepresent your properties. Put properties in their best light but stay truthful and honest about the property.
75. Advertise EVERYWHERE: online, print, email and social media.
76. Use a toll-free phone number forwarding service for after hour answering too.
77. Always advertise a phone number when possible.
78. Accept online bookings: I know it should be a given, but companies that accept online bookings obtain sometimes more than 50% of their bookings from the world wide web.
79. Build your own professional brand: Have a great memorable logo, create your company’s personality and don’t be afraid to be different.
80. Your website should be built and designed in a way that is search engine optimized.
81. Your website is an investment, with a REAL purpose of increasing your bookings.
82. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Hire an expert in this field to assist you.
83. Strengthen your online presence with social media. This should not be just a once a week type of thing, but a long term financial and time investment. The bigger the audience you build via social media, the more successful your property management company will be.
84. Use Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter in your online strategy.
85. E-invoices make the payment process simple, transparent and easy.
86. Delegate or contract out work that you shouldn’t be doing…time is money.
87. Consider major listing sites like HomeAway, VRBO, Airbnb, Evolve, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com to promote your listings. You can also hire outside channel managers to assist in distributing your vacation rental properties to hundreds of outside websites.
88. Offer discounts and bonuses on open rental weeks to get them booked.
89. Analyze your competitors. Understand what they do well and incorporate your findings into your own company.
90. Determine your multiple target demographics and create a strategy around each one.
91. Sponsor local events with your town Schools, Community, Chamber, and Charities. Invest in your community.
92. Provide a link to the reviews page on your listing.
93. Maintain live, real-time rates and calendars on all of your properties.
94. Add drone videos of your vacation rental properties. All videos should point back to where the guest can book the property.
95. Add drone videos of your local beaches, golf courses, hiking paths, and ski slopes. All videos should point back to your company website.
96. Cater to Pet-Friendly vacationers… provide dog treats at check-in and multiple pet friendly units.
97. Have a checklist for inventory before each guest arrives.
98. Provide instructions for sound systems or the Apple TV. Make sure the instructions are laminated and easy to follow.
99. Offer concierge services for local activities. This is a great way to differentiate yourself.
100. Provide an after-hours emergency phone number.
101. Create direct mail campaigns for previous guests.
102. Use Google AdWords and Facebook ads.
103. Provide access to added services such as a personal chef, baby sitter, or grocery delivery.
104. Work with Travel Bloggers to better promote your properties and your local vacation rental destination. Many of these travel bloggers have huge audiences and this provides a great way to reach many new guests that may not know about your company or your area of the world.
105. Start doing Influencer Marketing: Connect with those that have large followings on Instagram or Facebook. Offer them a discount on a property in your area in exchange for a spotlight article on your company or vacation rental area.
106. Track your marketing results so you continue to improve year after year.
107. Network with other property management companies from other areas to learn best practices.
108. Be unique and have fun! There are many industries you could be involved in around the world and you get the opportunity to work with those that are on vacation!