10 Tips to Maximize the Return on Your Vacation Rental

10 Tips to Maximize the Return on Your Vacation Rental
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An owner of a professional property management vacation rental business is well positioned to address the ever-changing world of the vacation rental industry.  Clearly, the market is in a state of disruption from the technology with explosive growth from $40 Billion back in 1999 to a projection of more than $285 Billion by 2025.  Therefore, a vacation owner should be prepared to a continuing change within the marketplace with competition.  PMI Gulf Coast offers great opportunities for those that desire to position their vacation property business strategy properly within the market.  With all the changes in the fragmentation of the market with the availability of technology to private homeowner and the need for the creation of a clear “BRAND” that consumers can build TRUST is essential. The brand will need to have a clear differentiation strategy that parts from the sea of listing that are part of the channel marketing that now floods the internet with poorly developed vacation/short term rental to that of those that will fit the needs of true vacation traveler.  This will be a branding that merges the hospitality aspects that are within the hotel industry to that of the private vacation accommodation rental industry.  The ongoing issues with local government ordinances and community concerns compound the complexity for a vacation property owner.  Therefore, owner decision should not only be based on cost, but on their property management companies’ ability to adequately communicate with consumers, set expectations, and manage the end-to-end guest experience for bookings coming from its multiple marketing channels.

It’s no secret that many of these factors are driving many property owners are turning to professional property management within the vacation rental market. is experiencing an explosion of competitive properties. If you don’t keep up with the experiences and amenities that your guests seek, you won’t see the financial benefits you should be expecting. Whether you are a seasoned vacation rental owner with years of experience or you’re just starting out, the following helpful tips will guide you in turning your vacation rental home in the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast area into a highly profitable source of income.

Always Position a Value to the Customer!  Bookings come easier and more often when value outweighs price. Many have heard the expression “Great products sell themselves,” This is true to a certain extent but obviously everything needs a little push to get it going and standing out from the competition. It is a lot easier said than done but the fact is people are more inclined to commit to something when the value outweighs the price. This is true with vacation rental properties as the more offered to potential guests, the easier it will be for you to attract bookings through its marketing efforts.

There are three main ways to build value for your potential guests;

1)  Property Owners should have properties that are friendly in interior design for comfort and take pride in ownership.
2) Quality of service from the reservation system to checking out of the property.

3) Give your guest GREAT guest experiences!

1.  Build Value by Upgrading your Interior Design

Guests booking a vacation rental home are looking for a resort-like feel. You need a quality product that people want to stay, and your property IS your product. It should go without saying, but if your decor is outdated and in obvious need of an upgrade, you’re going to have a hard time attracting bookings. Shoddy patch jobs, unmatched furniture you’ve got stored in your garage, cheap linens, thin used rag towels, etc… All things you’d probably never want to see in your own home and should NEVER be part of your rental’s decor. That kind of product creates the 1-2-star reviews that’ll crush your business even before you get started.

Updated furniture & electronics, fully stocked kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, the works. You want to offer the beautiful & comfortable environment that potential guests can really see themselves enjoying, and then actually loving the comfort during their stay. New furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. You can literally perform miracles with a little paint and a small budget.  You may need to hire a professional decorator to elevate your interior design or you can consult with a vacation professional who is able to insure your home has that soothing, comfortable, and stylish feel. Reduce clutter, knickknacks and personal items to help guests feel at home. Consider the area, too— guests traveling to Southwest Florida are looking for a luxurious, “beach feel” to their rental home. Think bright accents, plush clean linens, and comfortable king-sized beds. Overall, not only will these kinds of improvements help make you generate more bookings, but they’ll add a lot more value to your property too. – It’s win-win.

2. Update Your Kitchen and Baths & Offer Amenities

The truth of the matter is that kitchen and baths are what people remember and they make the best impression. Any discerning guests will tell you that the most important rooms are the kitchen followed by baths. Update your appliances, install granite countertops, and re-tile baths to give them a spa-like feel. A quick way to give your bathrooms a fresh, polished look is to replace the fixtures. Choose gleaming faucets and shower knobs with a clean, classic feel. If you have new appliance, most other facts about your property is not remembered. Also, have lightning-fast Wi-Fi, a full-service cable TV package, and multiple, flat-screen smart TVs are just a few amenities that many vacation guests are expecting. Provide elegant but durable dishware and glassware, a top-of-the-line coffee maker, and high-quality pots and pans. Quality toiletry/soap kits, dish/cleaning products should all be replenished, and it should go without saying but rooms should be in pristine condition for guest arrival. Stock your kitchen pantry with coffee filters, seasonings, extra paper towels, and any little touches that go a long way to adding comfort and personalization to your guest’s stay.

3. Build Value with Great Customer Service

The updated interior helps to attract new business, but great customer service is what closes the deal. One of the biggest differences between our industry and the hotel industry, is the genuine personal nature of our business. Which as you know, has both its benefits and its downfalls.  First, guest know they’re renting from a private residence and owners. They place their trust with branded property management a private vacation property does not have the expected luxury of instant trust that comes with multi-billion-dollar brand recognition. Unlike the Ritz Carleton, you must earn their trust.  The best way to do so is through transparent and personalized customer service. Publish your reservation emails, phone numbers, and show travelers that you are easily available, accessible, and open to communication.

Online booking acceptance is rapidly becoming the norm across the industry, with most new listing sites not even offering any other way for transactions to occur.

Simply put, travelers like the convenience of instantly confirming bookings and the protection that comes with it. And to deny it to them this capability, is to deny bookings.

Also, be flexible on those key dates on the calendar.  If you’re like most people, you bought a vacation rental home at the beach because you love it here— and you want to visit! But we encourage you to leave your home wide open to renters from December to March. This is when you will see the highest return and it’s important that you don’t take up those primetime rental months for personal use.

4. Consider Allowing Dogs

If you’re hesitant, think about this: industry research shows that vacation rentals that allow pets book $6,000 more per year on average than homes that don’t allow pets. That’s an impressive jump! If you’re worried about damages, add a non-refundable pet deposit to your rates. Most pet owners are expecting this fee when they travel with their pet, and few will mind paying for it if it means they get to travel with their beloved Fido.

5. Optimize Property Descriptions for Maximum Conversions

Believe it or not, listing headlines and property descriptions can also make a world of difference in the amount bookings your marketing can convert which is often overlooked. Your property title is the second most important aspect of your vacation rental listing. It should strong enough to build interest & emotion, which can also help convince more travelers to click through and view your listing.

Headlines should be:

  • Specific.
  • Clear & concise.
  • Focused on your biggest & most unique selling point.

Keep things like the number of rooms or special pricing out of it. That kind of stuff has already been filtered in their search and won’t help them find what makes your property a better choice. Make is about 500 words with lots of breaks between paragraphs.

A great property headline won’t just generate more click throughs to your listing, it will also set a clear and strong precedent that will help your overall booking conversions.
Remember, your property description is your long sales pitch. Your pictures and headline got them on the hook, and now your description should be reeling them into your property. A great description will maximize your property’s true value; command the traveler’s attention and have one specific, and very strong call to action.

6. Professional Photos are a Must!

This is probably the most important and misunderstood thing that can be done while marketing your property. The fact is that professional photography will showcase your property so much better. They make better use of the light and colors. They use better angles to show a more attractive & realistic view the space and finally, they’re sharp.  Professional pictures show commitment, better value, & professionalism. All of which translates into more bookings for you. There have been experts that have quoted that professional pic results were an astronomical in their increase in bookings. Hiring a pro can cost as little as a couple hundred bucks and the return on investment is probably one of the highest, and quickest you’ll ever see in this industry.  A minimum of 25 gorgeous, well-lit, perfectly framed photos of your home will increase your income significantly. If your photos are dark, blurry, or done at a bad angle, potential guests will click on by. Make sure to add short captions to your photos, too.

7.  Build Reputation & Value Offering Memorable Guest Experience

The design brings people in. Customer service helps seal the deal. But it’s the quality of your guest experience that sparks referrals, repeat clients, and 5-star reviews. For years, the best vacation rental managers have been charming their guests with consistently great guest experiences that their most loyal clients have come to rely upon.  Even the simplest of things can go a long way. Things like complementary chocolates upon arrival, quality coffee for the fancy espresso machine, and even orientation/rule guides that help your guest find their way around the home.

– Think personalization. Hand-written thank you notes, welcome guest books to sign their names, greeting phone calls to make sure everything is to their liking, things of that nature…. maybe a welcome gift basket if you’re feeling especially generous?

– Think local. It shouldn’t be too hard to find local activity/restaurants guides with coupons and discounts. Tennis, golf, surfing lessons? See if you can try to make your own by partnering with local businesses that are looking to attract new business. Whatever your guests might be interested in, try to see if you can put together something attractive for them.

– Think long term. There’s always something you can add to your guest experience. Every little bit helps.  But the real key is striving to give your guests the absolute best experience that you can. Just OK sucks. Be unique. Be GREAT!

8.  Analyze Rates Regularly

Ever wonder how vacation homeowners determine their rental rate? It isn’t easy. In fact, hundreds of factors go into accurately pricing the nightly rate for a vacation home. It’s called dynamic pricing, and it optimizes your rental rate to give you the best ROI. Your top professional vacation property management firms have the technology that accounts for seasonality, local events, proximity to popular attractions, timing, market rates from third-party sites, and more. Our rates are continually adjusted ensuring that every home is priced to maximize its booking potential.

You may not have the sophisticated software that a professional property management company, but your nightly rates you charge should not be fixed. The competition will be influenced by hundreds of factors and tend to vary widely based upon weather, the time of year, local trends & events and other historic trends.  If you choose not to work with a company that provides dynamic pricing, you will miss bookings and additional sources of income. This is because top companies use sophisticated software to predict how the vacation rental industry functions, it would be impossible for you to price your home the same way. Review your rates and compare them to other vacation rental homes like yours on a monthly basis. Pay attention to your booking calendar, be flexible, and adjust you pricing accordingly.

9. Pay Attention to Reviews

Vacation traveler’s do read the reviews and like social media, it’s important to engage with the online reviewers of your home. Professional property management will ensure to be appreciative of positive reviews and deal with any concerns in an efficient and professional manner. If they leave a positive review, thank them for their stay and let them know you are looking forward to their return. If your home gets knocked with a negative review, make sure to respond in a courteous, thankful tone and assure them that all their issues will be addressed. This will build trust with that reviewer and any potential guests who will be reading.

10. Hire a Professional Vacation Property Manager

Understand that some companies are primarily focused on real estate brokerage sales and they do property management to drive their sales. Meeting your personal goals for your vacation rental investment is so much easier when you have a professional management company that is focused on vacation management by your side. Whether you choose to have a great rental property with additional revenues to reduce your cost or as an investor, you want to maximize your return on investment, PMI Gulf Coast is the company that you should consider managing your vacation property.

With PMI Gulf Coast, our dedicated, knowledgeable of the vacation industry will allow you to maintain the best-managed property on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast vacation rental market. PMI Gulf Coast not only our profession, but it’s also our passion. Our number one priority is making sure our owners are satisfied and we have “Exceptional Properties…Extraordinary Results…Memorable Vacations!

Our comprehensive property management program includes:

  • A multi-faceted marketing plan
  • A dynamic pricing platform
  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Professional photography of your home
  • Local offices with top-of-the-line customer service
  • Professional housekeeping and maintenance
  • Enhanced technology to protect your property by electronic door locks, noise control and wi-fi signal detectors offers maximum protection for your investment.

The Bottom Line
If you own a vacation rental home than you are a business owner— it’s as simple as that. Understandably, building a value proposition of being the professional vacation property manager means taking the extra steps toward product, service and customer experience. Taking the time and effort to improve your property, providing excellent customer service and ensuring a memorable guest experience might not necessarily be the most heartened of tasks. Just the same, all three are absolutely required if you’re looking to maximize the returns from your always yield a positive ROI.

Embracing that you need to run your rental property like a profitable company will help you reach the maximum return on your investment. Perhaps contacting PMI Gulf Coast is you next best step!

Call PMI Gulf Coast at 239.643.3444 or email us at info@pmifulfcoast.com.