If not, now is the time to learn how you can achieve Rental Mastery:

  • Use psychology to convert more bookings
  • Turn guests into advocates
  • Know the vital few things you should do to achieve the best results
  • Be fully booked 90% of the time

I share with you how I took a brand new rental to 80% occupancy in 3 months.

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You also get our free eBook revealing my secret method for achieving amazing conversion rates.

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As the inexorable growth of Airbnb floods more and more owners into the market, the competition for Vacation Rental owners get harder and harder.

The growth in vacation rental listings continues relentlessly, as shown in the graph.

Global listings growth Airbnb / HA

Global listings growth Airbnb / HA

VR owners who had high occupancy rentals for years are finding themselves suddenly surrounded with double and triple the competition of previous years.  In some places like Australia, Airbnb growth has been around 100% pa!  It was no surprise that owners I spoke to recently have found their occupancy is being steadily eroded as more competitors come into the market.

What can an owner do in this environment?  Will you continue to be swamped?  Is it a lost cause?

It is not a lost cause, you can still thrive in the current world. 

Remember that the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb love the growth in supply and competition.  It drives prices down to make it more appealing for new travellers to book on their sites.  They don’t care about individual owners, they just want an easy choice for travellers.  Lots of similar low priced places to choose from. More revenue overall for the OTA owners.

In this situation the best solution is to stand out from the crowd – like this!

Stand out!

Stand out!

You need to do the same when you appear on the OTA listings – stand out!

You can stand out 3 ways:

  • Standout image
  • Standout name
  • Standout experience

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Looking back over the last few years since I wrote the first Holiday Rental Mastery stories, it is clear that several things have changed radically.

Airbnb domination

Airbnb, the big Gorilla has continued to rampage in the vacation rental market. Back in 2015 I admired its simplicity and its 6 layers of trust. Others thought it would peter out. I predicted it would dominate the VR market, and it has.

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There has been a gap of 2 years in our stories for readers, but we are back!  It has been, let’s say – an interesting few years.

Three disasters

In the past two  years we have lived through three terrible events that would shut down some vacation rental operations and yet my vacation rental has never been stronger!

As background, my wife and I live in a little village called Wye River, two hours from Melbourne on the glorious Great Ocean Road. Our vacation rental ‘Sea Zen‘ looks out to the Ocean and is in a highly seasonal summer holiday market where competitors are typically booked for less than 10% of days in the slow season.

We are surrounded by rainforest, rich with wildlife, but nature can turn nasty!

1 The Bushfire

The first  event was on Christmas day 2015, when a bushfire ripped though our town destroying 118 houses, a third of the town.  It was Australia’s worst bushfire for years.  The Great Ocean Road, our tourist supply route was shut for over a week.  Although Sea Zen survived, we also lost our second vacation rental ‘Treetops’, high in the rainforest, destroyed by the fire.  It was insured, but a bitter blow.

No one was killed in the fire, but the town suffered brand damage.  Folks stopped coming because they didn’t want to be around a blackened disaster scene.   Most vacation rentals stopped operating.

We had some cancellations and refunded several guests, but many of our loyal guests came back as soon as we reopened saying they wanted to support the town and support us.  Things picked up quickly and over the next six months we were back above 75% occupancy (days of the month occupied).

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You think it will never happen to you, but when it does, your rental world can change forever.

Ours was a rental operation at Wye River, a quiet holiday stopping off place on the ‘Great Ocean Road’ 200km south of Melbourne Australia.

But on a searing hot Christmas Day, our lives were turned inside out when a fireball ripped through the township destroying almost all in its path. It was a natural disaster of significant proportions, and 500 lives were at stake.

The story started benignly five days earlier. There was a lightning strike deep in the bush just 3km from our Sea Zen house and our Treetops rental.

‘No problem’, the fire Incident Controller said, ‘it’s quietly burning deep in a ravine and we are taking precautions. Enjoy your Christmas…’
But in the morning of Christmas day, an unexpectedly fierce northerly wind had ripped the fire from the ravine into dry forest and on a path to our little seaside village.

Deaths had happened previously

We asked ourselves – how many people would die that day? We’d had a briefing months before that reminded us that we were living in one of the worst fire risks places in the world. Bad things had happened as hot winds dried forests to tinder point. In 1983, ‘Ash Wednesday’ fires had killed 47 people in southern Australia and ‘Black Saturday’, just 7 years ago had killed 173 people in fires around Melbourne. Most died leaving at the last minute. After the briefing, they asked who would leave early in a fire? Many, not all would leave. Some might stay, but would they survive?

We had done our preparations. But we had guests in our Treetops rental and our Sea Zen rental.

Communications are difficult in our village, just one mobile carrier, but we were ready. The Treetops guests had our loan mobile and our loan wifi dongle.

The talk with our guests

The day before Christmas we’d had a talk with our guests. ‘The fire folks say all is OK, but we want you to be ready. There are emergency backpacks for you to take to the beach, but we want you to keep your mobile on and keep the FireReady app on to give you warnings. If they say leave, just go.’
‘OK, sure.’
We left for a family Christmas, 5hrs drive away, thinking all was well.

At 11 am on Christmas day, the fire broke out of the ravine watched by helicopters. My FireReady app went crazy. ‘Leave now.’
I rang Diane at Treetops. ‘Have you seen the warning? It’s time to go…. Now.’
‘Like we discussed? But should I pack my stuff?’
My answer would be costly, but one I never regretted. ‘ No, we’ll cover it, just go straight to the car and drive to Apollo Bay, OK’
‘OK, going now’
One down, one to go.
The other guests had had the same talk with me the day earlier and were also gone in seconds. All calm, gone.

The fire would totally destroy Treetops.

Treetops before 450

Treetops before the fire. A proud three story fairy tale house beloved by several thousand past guests.

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In a previous  article,  I explained that small vacation rental  owners can use email marketing to future proof  their business through repeat guests.  (Future proofing)

In this article I show you why email marketing works and how it works.

Michelle’s complaint – why email marketing works

Recently our friend  Michelle said she hadn’t been on holiday down our way for a long time.  It was 6 years since she had stayed at the nearby town of Lorne, Victoria.  Then she stopped and complained.  “Why didn’t they keep in touch?  I’ve forgotten all about it. I loved it.  If they kept in touch I would have come back.”

Email is remarkably simple. It is just keeping in touch.  Not selling or pestering, just keeping in touch.  And it works.

The Psychology of email marketing

If you have a typical vacation rental, most folks who stayed with you loved the experience.  Just look at your visitor book comments.  Chances are they said they loved it and said they will come back….. but then life just got in the way.

We are all bombarded with information.   An active social media user processes about 50,000 words a day.    To stay sane our brain helps us by deleting 99.99% of these images and ideas.  Holiday experiences are the same, covered over in the avalanche of information.  But holiday experiences create rich experiential memories, sleeping  just below the surface.  They can be triggered back to life by someone making contact, just keeping in touch.

An email marketing system is just a simple way of keeping in touch, saying ‘we are still here, here is what is happening and we have a current deal going for you’.

Does it work?

Yes,  it works.  Every time I send out an email to my past guests, the same things happen:

  • Someone takes the deal offered in the email
  • Several folks say thanks for the email, sorry I can’t take up your offer just now, but we are thinking of coming back
  • Several people say ‘put me on your last minute list’

Then there appears to be silence, but some on the list are already starting to plan their next [click to continue…]