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Troy McCasland's Top 10 Ways to Get More Rentals

By Troy McCasland
Published: 07/28/08 Topics: Comments: 0

With over 14 years experience marketing vacation rentals, and countless success, the team at Rental Avenue has formulated some fool proof tips to help vacation rental owners and managers increase their market share and successfully reach out to their customers. Troy McCasland, president of Rental Avenue sent over his Top 10 ways to get more bookings for vacation rentals. I thought readers would find it helpful.

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One of the main concerns for any owner or manager is increasing occupancy and more importantly increasing profits from their properties. Using our tips and ideas, you can build your vacation rental business and increase profitability.

1. Build a Virtual Domain Website (MauiParadiseVacation.com)MauiParadiseVacation.com - and or setup a Rental Avenue account. It’s really important to have your own website address, with ONLY your property(ies). Having your own website allows you to create a brand, and a place for past and potential guests to come and book only your properties where they are not distracted by your competitors. Make sure your website allows guests to make online reservation requests 24/7 so you never miss another booking. Your guests want to book vacation rentals online just like they book flights, cars and hotels. They are anxious to book and do not like waiting for an e-mail reply, playing telephone tag and spending hours going back and forth trying to find and book their accommodations.

2. Create a signature file for e-mails - Once you have a website put it in your e-mail signature file so that every e-mail you send to potential guest includes your website address. This way, they will be able to access your webpage and browse your properties. A signature file is simple to create, and once created it will automatically be added to each email by your e-mail client program. Check our FAQ on how to create a signature file with using MS Outlook or Gmail

3. Auto-Responders - Setup a special e-mail account for rental inquires that is used on all advertising. Configure an auto-responder or vacation responder for inquires that come from advertising using this e-mail address. The auto-responder is used to drive traffic to your website where potential guests can book your properties. One of the most delightful things is to wake up in the morning and see that an inquiry came in at midnight while you were sleeping, your auto-responder immediately sent out a message inviting the customer to your website, and then a short time later a reservation came through before you have even had your first cup of coffee. Check our FAQ for sample auto responders and how to setup an auto-responder using MS Outlook or Gmail.

4. Advertise Your Website and Online Reservation Capabilities Everywhere - Setup an advertising budget; track the results using Google Analytics and Rental Avenue. Keep trying to find new and more cost effective ways to advertise your rentals using reservation tracking reports. If your property is sitting empty it’s because of only one or two reasons; either it’s too expensive or not enough people know about it. Your advertising budget should be 7-10% of your gross target revenues. Everybody knows about VRBO and HomeAway, but there are many other directories which will produce traffic and inquiries also. Here are some other great places to market your property:

Free Directory Listings: CraigsList.com, Hutz.com, VacationRentals411.com, Licketytrip.com

Paid Directory Listings: BeachHouse.com, RealAdventures.com, RentJillsHouse.com, Rentals.com, PerfectPlaces.com

Local Directory Listings: Local Phonebook, Online Yellow Pages, Google Local Business Listings

5. Pay Per Click Advertising: Pay per Click advertising is available by Google, Yahoo and Vamoose. It allows you to create specific criteria, including keywords, location, price, and other specifications so that you can be sure your ads are meeting your target audience, and because you adjust the price to fit your budget, it is great for companies of all sizes. Google, Yahoo and Vamoose Pay Per Click advertising is an efficient way to drive qualified leads to your site. Using Rental Avenues integrated system, you can see which key words are generating bookings, and make adjustments where necessary.

6. SEO - Search Engine Optimization, the holy grail of all online marketing. Google controls 70% of the search volume and 70% of all travel research begins with an online search. Imagine getting tons a free traffic to your website where potential guests see only your property. Register for our e-mail newsletter by clicking here, for tips and tricks and to find out how VacationRentalsOnMaui.com got on page ONE of Google for the leading key words (Maui Vacation Rental and Maui Vacation Rentals), and how we knew this was the top keyword search term, and what this meant to VROM in terms of traffic and bookings.

7. E-mail News Letter to Previous Guests - Staying in contact with previous guests, is a great way to create customer loyalty. Reaching out to your customers and showing them that you want their business, is also a great way to promote your specials. You want to keep your customers coming back each year. You already know that they travel, so the next time they travel, you want them to call you for their accommodations, or spread the word about your property. There are plenty of Email Marketing Programs that can help you to manage your customer database and the monthly newsletters, other Rental Avenue customers liked using Constant Contact

8. Direct Mail - Another way of creating recurring customers & customer loyalty is direct mail. Sending out a yearly Christmas Card to past guests is a great way to remind them who you are and how to find you. Especially if they are going to spend the holidays with their families brainstorming their summer vacation! Other direct mailers which have shown positive results are notifying them of ongoing specials, or discounts. You can create and mail postcards to your previous guests for under 50 cents each using any number of online services such as PrintRunner. Using Rental Avenue you can easily download an excel spreadsheet containing all your guest data including both postal and e-mail addresses.

9. Join Trade Associations - Joining Trade Associations is beneficial way to increase local channel marketing. Most vacation destinations have a visitors association or bureau, chamber of commerce, and possibly more specific local associations. There are also trade associations such as the BBB, Vacation Rental Association (Vrai.org) which can provide support and resources to the vacation rental owner. Being a member of some of these trade associations will not only increase the perception of security, but it can also open your door to many valuable networking contacts and resources locally, and improve your search engine rankings.

10. Use Resellers like property managers, travel agents or other Vacation Rental Marketers. – There are plenty of companies founded on the fact that they help book other people’s properties. At a sliding rate, you can utilize Vacation Rental Marketers, travel agents, and property managers to increase your occupancy and to keep your property booked. This is a great way of reaching markets that you may not have been able to support. You can also seek out vertical resellers, people who are not primarily in the business of vacation rentals, but perhaps, local activities; you can drive business to you and your website, before the guest even begins to look for their accommodations.

Author: Troy McCasland, RentalAvenue.com
Blog #: 0084 – 07/28/08

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