Which Amenities Should Vacation Rental Owners Invest In?

It’s normal for any vacation rental to need time to develop—it’s a living organism, so to speak, that must adjust to the demands of the market. Additionally, managing a rental can be daunting for newbie owners, as they must assess the amenities of their competitors’ properties and then evaluate what they can reasonably afford.

With that being said, I often get asked by vacation rental managers which amenities can help drive maximum profit (by way of increased rates), regardless of the owners’ duration in business.

Our friends at Tripping.com, the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals, provided us data taken from ten cities in the U.S. to get a better understanding of this question. In general, a hot tub and killer outdoor space, conducive of al fresco dining, add the most value per night (per room).

Tripping Graph 1

Why These Amenities?

“Kitchen” in this data set refers to access to a private kitchen, which logically, is a huge selling point. Travelers often choose to book a vacation rental instead of a hotel to have kitchen access. It’s a mandatory feature and often the focal point in the most successful rentals.

kitchen-island

In addition to a kitchen, which allows guests to prepare and share food without having to eat at a restaurant, guests look for space and amenities that help them relax leisurely- something that outdoor space, pools, and hot tubs all do.

A Closer Look at These 10 Cities

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If we look at the ten cities independently, we see that the amenities contribute to a different value add, depending on the location. For example, we see that a hot tub is a great investment in Miami Beach and New York City but not in Chicago.

Although a pool on average drives the lowest increase, it provides the highest value increase when compared to the other four amenities, in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Which Amenity is the Best?

I think this data is a great gage, but ultimately, owners need to understand what will drive connection (between your guests in your home, to your home, and to the location), comfort, and enhance the overall experience you offer your guests.

If you are outside of these ten cities, research what your competitors offer in your local market then determine if your findings fit into your “brand”. Instead of choosing an amenity because it seems like a cool idea, think of such additions as an investment that should support your overall business strategy to get the highest return.

I’m also a fan of leaning on the hotel industry—they obviously have a bigger research budget so research amenities at those targeting your guest demographic in your city. Borrow the information as you see fit and can afford.

Lastly, don’t underestimate good ‘ol common sense. In addition to considering your guests’ needs, it is important to consider the weather and also the logistcs and costs associated with maintaining these amenities.

8 Tips for Repeat Stays: Family Edition

This post was written by Volo for Dwellable.

Catering to families is probably one of my favorite vacation rental niches. Not just because I have two kids that travel with me a lot, but because of the connections that deepen and the memories that are created during those times.

That is what this industry is (or should be) about! Connections to something, someone, somewhere.

Most vacation rentals that are “family friendly” are actually pretty generic; generally a larger home (3+ bedrooms with a couple of bathrooms), are central to tourist draw of the given area, and may offer a few recreational activities.

While a foosball table and pool are great to have, there are many more opportunities to take a thoughtful approach to creating a family-friendly experience and making your rental a magnet for a specific guest.

“Obsessively specialize. No niche is too small if it’s yours.” Seth Godin

First, start looking for gaps. Who is catering to families in your market? What type of property are they offering? What’s missing?

You don’t have to have a large home to build a killer family experience. Understand what type of family you are catering to (or that needs to be catered to); a large, extended family or a young one with a toddler or two? Or maybe you have the ability to cultivate a family experience by appealing to an ethnic group? All can cater to families, but are extremely different experiences.

Regardless of the experience, there are some mandatory basics for “family friendly” rentals; safety items like a pool gate (if you have a pool) and hard-to-travel-with items like a portable crib, highchair and basic linens.

If you want to crush the competition, you have to step up your game from the basics. Even if you are on a tight budget, your guests will love the thoughtfulness. They will talk about it and probably even post pictures on social media (be sure to provide the appropriate links to be tagged). Some ideas:

Arrival snacks: I love my kids dearly but sometimes they can become pretty annoying after a long day of travel. Especially when they are “hangry.”

Taking into consideration that most kids, of all ages, are a hot mess by arrival, providing an assortment of healthy and kid-friendly snacks is an amazingly warm welcome for parents and kids alike.

Kids Welcome

Depending on the ages you attract, a fruit assortment with some juice boxes or Horizon milk singles is great. Complete the care package with a unique itinerary and small toys for kids to play with during their stay.

If you’re short on ideas, Pinterest never fails! ☺

Games! There will always be down time at your rental for guests. Some of it by choice, other times because of illness, fatigue or because of inclement weather. Additional activities are key when disaster strike.

Books, DVD’s and toys are great go-to’s. We turned one of my clients’ lofts into a rainforest themed Lego Land. Décor was complements of Ikea, so it was awesomely inexpensive. The walls were painted in chalkboard paint, classic books covered the shelves, and beanbags littered the floors.

When parents presented rental options to their kids, do you think this house was at the top of the list? Never underestimate the power of a child’s opinion.

Above all, I’ve found that the best activities are board games! Risk is quite possibly the best game in the history of the world, in my opinion, but be sure to include games suitable for all ages. I particularly love those that engage an entire family and create a good ‘ol fashioned connection.

Extras: Paying attention to details and being ample with extras are what make a good vacation rental great. Especially if there are kids! Kids are messy, they get sick, and they have different needs. More often than not, families need a true home away from home:

a. Linens: Provide extra sheets as no parent wants to wash a load at 2am if someone gets sick. Same holds true for towels, throw blankets, and pillows. Complimentary detergent (and other cleaning supplies) is also a plus if you can fit it into your budget.

b. To-do lists: have unique itineraries available! Both for nearby attractions and those requiring a small/medium length drive. You know the area best (hopefully), so share it along with tips and tricks you’ve picked up being a “local” (buying discounted passes, for example).

c. Kitchen: Stock your kitchen so a family can cook, and eat, a proper meal. This is one of the foremost reasons for choosing a vacation home. Unfortunately, so many kitchens I visit are devoid. If you’re going to spend money on one room, make your kitchen amazing.

This post was written by Kris Getzie.

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

5 Reasons To Love Being A Vacation Rental Host

5 Reasons To Love Being A Vacation Rental Host was written for Tripping by Volo.

1. Giving Money to the Local Economy

There are many studies that prove buying from independent and locally owned businesses have a compound effect on the communities in which they exist and their tax base.

The reason is that a substantially larger portion of your money spent is then used to make additional purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farmers (which will also reduce the environmental impact!).

Even if you aren’t a full-time resident where your vacation rental is, when setting up your business, think local and buy local when you can. It will enhance your business by way of a stronger and more attractive community.

2.Supporting the Preservation of Beautiful Locations

Cities that make efforts to preserve historic structures tend to be pedestrian/environmentally friendly (because of the time of their design), sustainable, and hold a high esthetic and economic value as they are places people want to live, invest in, and travel to.

They evoke a connection and are just good for your soul.

St. Augustine, FL, for example, was founded in 1565 and has structures dating back to the 1600’s- it’s considered one of the oldest cities in America. In 1999, Florida’s Department of Transportation deemed that one of America’s most unique bridges here was structurally unsound. An easy fix was to tear the bridge down but leaders and preservationists put forth a $77 million dollar effort to save the bridge as historic structures are a core value to residents and huge draw for tourists. Kudos, St. Augustine.

If you are looking for a new vacation rental, I wholeheartedly suggest buying historic or in a city that prioritizes tax funds to preservation and its natural resources.

3.Unique Experiences

“When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust.

Tourists want to feel local, albeit for a temporary amount of time.

One-of-a-kind vacation rental homes and service providers are what make locations distinctive and full of character. Small businesses (and your home!) have the ability to choose products that create a special experience, based on your own interests and needs of your guests; not on a national sales plan.

One of the best reasons to be a vacation rental host.

4.Local History

History is what grounds us and helps us better understand the world. So, seduce your guests with your town’s dynamic past! You don’t need a museum quality history presentation; opt for historic pictures throughout, blurbs of the famous (or scandalous) patrons of your home or street, and a sense of its story.

5.You Have a Profound Impact On Guests’ Lives

Think about it, most people are overworked and disconnected. They are just trying to make it through the chaos of life with one week of vacation being the yearly opportunity to check-out.

This business can provide additional income and eventually more life flexibility for owners. For guests, it provides a spectacular opportunity to connect with a location and those most important in your life.

The most successful owners are invested and truly care about creating an authentic experience, something unobtainable at a hotel chain (only you can show people around your home and town, your way).

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

How Far Should You Go For Your Guests?

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.com

In the hospitality industry we often talk about the importance of helping guests. Really, helping anyone inclined to inquire about your home, or with questions on your area.

The justification to do so is usually two-fold. First, it feels good to give knowing you probably just made their vacation the most memorable they’ve ever had. Also your kindness will not be forgotten, creating a repeat and high referral guest base.

I’ve had friends probe me on my varied ways of giving. “You just sent that guest to another house! They were ready to book with YOU!” Or, “Why spend a lot of money on gifts? The house is already great.”

For me, it’s about making sure someone’s vacation is perfect. It brings a little bit of light to people and gives them a well-deserved break from working long hours. I’m appreciative that they trust me and my home for their vacation, giving me the freedom to pursue my own independent work. Helping is the least I can do for them.

The Importance of Give and Take With Your Guests

Being probed prompted me to do a little bit more research on the impacts of giving, to which, I stumbled upon Give and Take, by Adam Grant. It’s an incredibly interesting book, grounded in research of why giving (i.e. helping) can have a more significant impact on our personal and professional success than taking or matching.

Giving, taking or matching are “reciprocity styles,” or way we relate to each other. Givers tend to have a relating style that is more concerned about creating value for others, than claiming value for oneself. Takers, on the other hand, seek value for themselves (in sometimes an insincere way- by pretending to be a giver) and matchers (most of us) desire equal giving and taking.

Through his many examples, Adam aims to prove that not only do givers perform the worst (compared to matchers and takers), but that givers also tend to outperform them to a higher degree, consistently. I tend to have a great disdain for labels, but I challenged myself to read this book with an open mind and to understand how my tendencies, according to his behavioral indicators, may impact my future growth in hospitality. I also didn’t read this book unquestioningly; “givers are great, therefore I will always give to my guests.” That would be silly.

Guests are not always right, and should not be given into, especially if there are malicious and disrespectful actions towards you or your staff.

I’m especially protective of my teams and have asked guests to pack their bags immediately. Of course, I help said guests by suggesting vacant places to rent, and offer a refund, but what matters more is that my team knows I have their back; it builds trust in me, our business, and the stretch goals we may place upon them.

Like me, many of you also move between giving, taking and matching in life and in your hospitality career. This book provided stories, research, and insights that were very interesting and applicable to our work as vacation rental owners and prove how giving (i.e. genuinely helping) can exponentially grow you and your business.

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Your Vacation Rental Name Can Impact Search

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.com

With over five million vacation rentals around the globe, and only three seconds to capture the attention of potential guests, the importance of creating a dialed brand is critical. A brand should quickly and clearly define the experience or product, with the actual name being very much central. For example:

Apple: Think Different

De Beers: A Diamond is Forever

Nike: Just Do It

There are a lot of great blog posts online providing clear tutorials on naming your vacation rental business and the subsequent impact on bookings. In short, a name should be memorable, unique and representative of what you offer. It should be easy to connect with.

“Coral House”, for example, is much more appealing than “5 bedroom, 5 bath Caribbean beachfront rental”.

Recent property branding and naming exercises got me thinking about some words of wisdom from a particular client. He built a fortune (billions) creating and branding products for his many diverse companies and also happens to own $500M+ in vacation rental real estate globally.

He’s absurdly brilliant, humble, and arguably “the most interesting man in the world”. So naturally I asked him how he does it. His reply was to simply consider everything. Everything? Okay.

He’s not joking. He’s created success by paying attention to (and researching) consumers idiosyncratic habits and desires throughout the product purchasing and consuming cycle. Every behavior, from holding, smelling and sipping a beverage, for example, to every word and punctuation on a label. Everything matters.


Consider Property Type When Naming Your Vacation Rental

Heeding his advice when devising clever vacation rental names, I started considering the importance of the property “type”. Often used in the actual property name, types can range from a loft, castle, to cabin. Are these just catchy naming additions or can one be strategically used increase your bookings by way of more search yields? According to Tripping.com’s data, I’d say so.

chart1

Villa is remarkably the most searched property type. By definition, a Villa is a large and luxurious country home, particularly in Europe, but the term is often used for beach homes as well which may account for the large volume difference.

Of course, just because villa is the most searched property type doesn’t mean you should call your home one when it is clearly a mobile home. Your business name needs to be an honest representation of what you offer.

When we look at more data, however, it does make sense to tweak the type, when fitting. For example, you should brand a mountain property simply as a “cabin” instead of “log cabin” or “mountain home” to yield more views.

chart2

Perhaps the most difficult feats for owners, particularly those dependent on listing sites, is to be reasonably ranked in search results. Putting aside premium packages and featured listings, property type could be the biggest factor in helping owners overcome the ‘searchability’ barrier.

From here, you just need to ensure the rest of your listing ad is dialed (and on-brand) to drive conversion!

This post was written by Kris Getzie

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Dwellable Q&A

This Q&A was for Dwellable and can be found here.

1) How did you get into this business?

My parents have owned and operated vacation rentals and boutique Inn’s for nearly twenty years, so the industry and it’s transformation have always been a huge part of my life.

After establishing my individuality, career and finishing grad school, I knew it was time to make the transition into this industry full-time. First by taking over the operations of my parents businesses and consulting on the side, then buying my own.

In a way, I was destined to be here. Not just because of my parents (they aren’t into free rides), but because of a deep interest in economic development. Responsible and sustainable tourism provides significant means for lesser developed countries to address their fiscal, environmental, healthcare and education situations.

I’ve also spent time working with a variety of organizations and governments addressing these issues as a hospitality consultant… It’s completely rewarding.

2) Tell us a story about the absolute best or absolute worst vacation rental experience you’ve ever had.

My friends and I were in Culebra, Puerto Rico, at my parents VR, when we met a retired couple who regularly hosted guests on their catamaran. They were locals (kinda) and offered us a trip. We hopped onboard.

I’d never sailed prolifically before, so that was a great experience in and of itself… But the way they hosted us forever shifted my perception of what a great VR experience should be.

They let us into their lives; showed us how they prepare for a trip, how to cook on board, drink like sailors (literally, Sailor Jerry—the rum—was a flowin’), tie knots and brought us diving at amazing little islands we would have never visited otherwise.

Of course, they had the details of their stay perfected and I still remember the smell of their sheets. Literally, one whiff of sea salty-butter-pineapple and I immediately want to be on that boat (talk about a retention strategy).

They were entertainers. They shared fantastic stories about their experiences sailing, history of mariners and took us all out of our comfort zones. A decade later, the girls and I still talk about that trip!

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3) How is the rise of mobile devices changing the vacation rental business?

Mobile strategy often refers to developing a mobile website that enhances the overall vacation rental search and booking experience.

I think it’s important to embrace this. But with 68% of smartphone users sleeping within two feet of their phone, it’s equally important think beyond the mobile website as devices have the ability to enhance guest engagement on a more personalized level before, during and after their stay.

Integrating an app, for example, provides guests with an easy way to control their experience.

They might buy mountain lift passes, a spa package or view a virtual tour before arrival. During their stay they might want to request additional maid services or book a dog walker. All great ways to drive ancillary revenue, by the way. I also think most owners could benefit with an app after departure by continuing engagement. Not stalking! But to say thank you, invite them back and ask for a review.

Mobile devices are also great for face-to-face interaction if you can’t be there physically. I had a guest FaceTime me because he couldn’t figure out the ski rack. Within two minutes I was able to guide him through the problem. It was super easy and it was nice to cyber meet in our PJ’s 🙂

4) Word of advice to VR owners?

Always be authentic.

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The most successful VR owners I have encountered consistently show their personality and have an ability to connect their guests to the local culture, in their own way. Consistent VR industry standards are obviously important (in terms of cleanliness, communication and so on) but the one thing no one can ever duplicate is your authentic and unique presentation of an experience.

I love what Vayando is doing. Once they are established, I hope to see them connect with vacation rentals to enhance the overall travel experience!

5) Insider tip for travelers in your area?

Regardless of what brings you to Park City, collect locals as your wingmen. They are guaranteed to be interesting people and will give you a fantastic day-in-the-life tour!

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They’ll bring you to backcountry slopes you’ll never see otherwise (maybe not via snowcat, but you’ll get there), insane bike routes (mountain or road), sketchy food trucks with delicious grub, or random concerts outside of Park City (Twilight Concert Series, for example, features the likes of De La Soul, Beck, Thundercat and local artists… for $5!).

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Kris Getzie is Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo, a hospitality consultancy, and she loves to help her vacation rental and boutique hotel clients crush with an amazing brand and dialed operations. She is obsessed with chocolate, learning, random adventures and getting her two kids out to explore the world.
Follow her on Twitter @volovantage or at www.volovantage.com.

Guest Communication: A How To Guide

This post was written by Volo for Tripping.

The vacation rental industry is about people and guest service. Aside from constant attention to the details of your vacation home, effective guest communication before, during and after your guests stay is the easiest way to exceed expectations and gain loyalty. The success of any vacation rental business is up to each owner to ensure the entire process is worry free, fun and that guests leave excited to recommend your home to others.

According a J.D. Power study on guest satisfaction, the number of interactions guests have significantly impacts their satisfaction and loyalty. In hotels, the overall satisfaction among guests is the highest when they interact with four or more types of staff after check-in. Vacation rentals are not hotels and certainly don’t have “staff” but I think we can discern from this study that guest communication should not end after check-in. Guests want more than a key, so pay attention to how and when you interact.

Guest Communication Tips

  • Be Genuine: Your experience offered will distinguish you from your competitors. Don’t be afraid to engage the real you into your business, albeit professionally.
  • Be Prompt: Guest inquiries, questions and requests need to be handled with a sense of urgency every single time.
  • Smile! As cheesy as it sounds, it’s easy to hear a smile in some one’s tone. Your pronunciation will be more clear and your guests (current or potential) will be more engaged in your experience even if you are not speaking with them in person.

 

Comfortable modern bedroom with a fireplace.

Prior to Guests Arriving

Listen: Don’t just listen to the actual words guests are verbalizing, ask additional questions to get to know them. Read between the lines and make attempts to personalize their vacation rental stay. As a single mom of two young kids, nothing is more helpful than arriving to Frozen in the DVD player, milk in the fridge and banana’s on the counter for a snack (next to a shot of local whiskey for me). My kids travel often and are ridiculously well behaved, but these small gestures help immensely and allow us to settle quickly.

Help: Even if the guest hasn’t booked your home, help them with the details of their vacation if it’s possible. By making their trip better, more memorable and more authentic, you will likely remain a piece of their experience. Chances are that they will book with you next time, or refer a friend!

Eliminate Concerns: Independent vacation rentals don’t have the brand recognition hotel chains do (in terms of what to expect), so owners have to be diligent about anticipating potential concerns with effective guest communication.

A stress free process will not only distinguish your vacation rental from competitors, it will make your guests happy.

Top concerns, in my experience, have involved uncertainty of the homes quality, location and what will happen if disaster strikes. Disaster, to some, may be a malfunctioning dishwasher. To others, where they will stay if the entire house burns down (I’ve been asked about house fire contingency plans before).

Provide clear and updated images, video tours and information on your emergency contacts and procedures. Hopefully you have stayed in vacation rentals prior to starting your business, so put yourself in their shoes and provide any information that will give them peace of mind.

During a Guests Stay

Warm and welcoming: You never get a second chance at a first impression. Your door should open with a sense of ‘welcome home’ and the transition in should be seamless and comforting.

Check in: I call my guests within 24-hours to be sure they are settled, have everything they need and gain insight into their plans. I like to followup after 12 hours, but under 24, as it gives them time to acquaint themselves. I look for ways to personalize their trip during this call.

Give guests space: Let them enjoy their trip but always be willing to engage further, should they like.

After a Guests Stay

Say thank you: I’m still surprised at the number of vacation rental owners that don’t thank their guests for staying. It’s simple and an easy way to build repeat guests.

Feedback: Ask for feedback in your thank you note. Their input is the best way to continually enhance your homes experience. Also provide a link so they can easily review their stay.

Engage: Ask for a picture during their vacation and permission to use it for marketing or offer a discount for their next stay. Don’t end your relationship when they walk out the door.

This blog was written by Kris Getzie, Hospitality and Vacation Rental Consultant for Tripping and can be found here.

Kris Getzie Hospitality Consultant

Want Independence From Listing Sites?

From discussions on-line in vacation rental boards, with clients, to my own personal thoughts, I’ve noticed an acute desire for owner independence and more control than what traditional listing sites allow.

Unless you pay a premium fee, your vacation rental may not see top search result placement on the big vacation rental sites. Airbnb, for example, lets their algorithm determine if you are featured on page 1 or 100 (which is largely undisclosed but does include ad completeness, photo’s and reviews).

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The arguments for independence are based on incorrect information regularly provided, inadequate brand and business control, lack of home visibility, and fee’s. Commissions per booking are increasing across the industry, which hurts owners. Booking.com charges 15%, for example.

Despite the conversation around this topic lately, I don’t think these companies are bad. They help me book a lot of nights! There are certainly opportunities, but many are run by great people who are receptive of feedback. I love the folks at Tripping and I love the way the executive team from HomeAway communicates with owners on platforms like Linkdin.

I do understand the want/need to establish some independence (or complete, for certain owners).

I have developed brand-on websites for my rental homes, in conjunction with marketing on large vacation rental sites. Because of this, I have been able to achieve 100% occupancy during the SLOW SEASON; I urge my clients to do the same.

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For those without the budget for customized website design, WebChalet has great templates, built in reservation and payments options and is owned by two great people! Did I mention they only charge $15/month?

The problem therein lies the issue of traffic; you are just one property in a very big crowd of competition.

If your brand isn’t exceptionally attractive, you don’t have a base of guests and/or if you don’t have a detailed marketing plan, you may have to rely on big vacation rental listing sites at first, or continually, for traffic.

Sunshine-Coast-SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) can surely help your independent web site’s Google placement (think key words in URL/descriptions and blog for frequently updated content), but is becoming increasingly more difficult as competition grows.

Due to the nature of this task, I’ve heard a lot about ‘marketing co-ops’, if you will, for vacation rental owners.

Essentially it’s hyper-local rental site, or directory, that links travelers to independent website of homes with a consistent standard.

The co-op is for vacation rentals NOT those represented by a manager. Strictly homes that are run by owners who desire to create a marketing network that draws more traffic, a business standard in the industry and ultimately shares the best of the area. I think it’s an interesting idea for Park City.

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Maui Owner Condo’s does a great job of this and My Palm Springs Getaway is off to a great start, too.

Managers have an advantage; they refer guests to a different home should the one of inquiry be booked. A local co-op allows owners to run their business successfully, on their own terms, and also become comfortable referring (and receiving) guests from our competitors.

I’ve literally emailed home owners (with similar properties to mine) when I have been booked. 80% of the time I get zero responses back. I was handing them a booking!

Why would I do that, you might ask? I’ve met up with said owners, at later dates, and they asked!

I’ll tell you; those guest will come back to me because I was helpful and integral in planning their vacation… long-term profitability in this business is about being hospitable from the start (regardless if they are your current customer or not). This has proven itself over and over for me.

Any way, a co-op network seemingly also creates a platform for on-going discussions about the local industry between owners; trends, problems, wins and how to improve our guest experiences overall. In the end owners are all on the same team- all wanting to create exceptional guest experience, interaction and have a profitable hospitality business.

Do you want to be independent from listing sites? If so, would you consider joining a local marketing co-op for vacation rental owners? I’d love to hear what you have to say!

 

Branding Your Vacation Rental

This post was written by Volo for Tripping

 

With hundreds of thousands of vacation homes available, owners can get overwhelmed trying to stand out from competitors… or to even start their business for fear of failure.

That being said, niche branding is one of the most important, and intangible, assets any vacation rental home or boutique travel experience can have to stand out and maximize profits.

It’s important to keep in mind that while branding is about you, it really is NOT about you. It’s about the people in your niche.
No business can be all things to all people. The more you can define your niche (who your guests are and what they want), the more you can exceed their expectations and gain repeat visits. Follow these steps to position your vacation home for success:

Anderson Cabin

Make a wish list: Who do you want to stay at your vacation property? Tap into the reasons you purchased your home (location, nearby attractions and so on) to help identify your ideal guest.

Research: First, find out everything there is to know about your local market. Then, to help narrow your niche, define what your property is and what it isn’t. Is it a secluded ski-in/ski-out mountain chalet or a cottage in town, near mountain access?

Develop a Position: You may already have an idea of who will desire your property. But if your market isn’t clear, or is saturated, try to find a unique solution to needs that aren’t being addressed. For example, if most vacation rentals prohibit dogs in an otherwise dog-friendly area, allow dogs (with additional deposit) and create something special for them.

doghouse

Okay, this dog zen-zone is extreme (thanks live.pant.play for the idea!). But something this creative would be memorable for guests, that’s for sure! Other positions to consider are: accommodation size, handicap accessible, honeymooners, and so on.

Brand Definition: Once you’ve found a niche that fits both you and your business, understand what your guests need. Writing a brand definition will help you articulate what you offer, why you offer it, how it’s different, better and unique. If you already own a vacation rental business, read your past reviews to understand what guests desire.

Develop your name, logo and tag-line: Together they represent your property and what makes it unique. The name creates a brand image, logo is the actual symbol of your brand and a tag-line, or slogan, is the memorable phrase that provides insight into the experience.

Manage and leverage your brands: Continuos management is the step that leads to a strong, healthy, resilient hospitality business. “Just like good parenting, good branding management can be summed up in a single word — consistency.”

Rebranding: You can (and should) change how your brand is presented occasionally to keep it relevant to your market.

With the vacation rental industry at a record high, in terms of traveler interest and inventory, success is contingent upon your ability to capture travelers attention and set clear expectations of your experience with a well conceptualized brand.

By doing so, your home will appeal to those best suited for it, they will return and you will have fewer negative reviews!

 

When/How To Work With Volo

Like most business decisions, those that are thought out, and not reactive at the last minute, yield the best results. The same holds true with vacation rentals!

I’ve gotten a surge of emails in the past week (in regards to Park City income properties specifically) asking when the best time to reach out to Volo is… so I thought I’d give provide some general time guidelines.

But first, please do email me with more specific questions and/or if you are interested in working together. I give all potential clients a free 30 minute consultation (in person, phone or Skype) to understand your needs and the scope of your project. We’ve actually solved client issues during this initial consult! Some ‘fixes’ are super simple, just not often thought about. It’s not my goal to cost clients hard-earned cash, if it’s not necessary.

Back to project timing:

In general, vacation rentals are booked 3 month out from the start of the season but start seeing inquiries 6 months (or more) in advance. In Park City, our season kick-off is really at Christmas (but there are definitely early season visitors!). My local vacation home, Casa Blu, is already fielding Nov-Dec inquiries and booked the first December guest.

With that being said, it is my recommendation that we begin scheduling out projects related to the ‘selling’ of your rental early (defining your market and guest, name, logo, tagline), website/listing site (the writing of your ad, photo’s, etc); 6-7 months out. This ensures maximum exposure with a great presentation.

Not everyone needs help setting up an entire VR business. In fact, a lot of clients need help with small projects. Examples, the writing of a house manual, creating a simple and efficient guest experience (from booking, communication and checking in/out), to understanding how to create memory moments and upgrading furniture). I love these projects! And they can often be done closer to the start of the season… but please do reach out soon to schedule.

My work for local clients has already begun (working on some cute Park Meadow homes with week!)… but let’s face it, it feels like the season just ended!!! No problem if you haven’t thought about it yet. There is still time. But I do recommend you schedule the larger projects to be completed from June to October for sure.

For those of you with income properties in summer destinations, fall is a good time to start working together with Volo.

Kris Getzie

Vacation Rental & Hospitality Consultant