You might be wondering why I haven’t posted an article about social media rccently.

It is because I haven’t seen much hard evidence of social media working for actually getting bookings for VR rentals, nor much hard evidence at conferences for high-volume sign-ups from social media. Many folks out there offer their social media services, but I’d be cautious about investing too deeply until you see hard results.

My wife and I have experimented with Facebook and found a very low payoff in bookings for a lot of time spent. I would go further and say it seems a low value-add use of your time. You will certainly get bookings from your loyalty newsletter, but you just might get the odd booking from Facebook. [click to continue…]

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We continue with our series on optimizing your performance on the big listing sites – this week HomeAway.  It has similar opportunities to the others, but a whole arsenal of extra tools to help you improve.

Best match search

The algorithm assesses guest preferences from past behavior, e.g. prefers detached houses to condos. It then shows guests properties that match their preferences as well as specified dates, bedrooms, etc. These are ranked on various other factors listed below. This all means that ranking is complicated!

Ranking factors

Reviews, declines and cancellations, response rate, instant book, calendars, price, and appeal.

Many of these are reported back to you in your dashboard, so you can see how you are performing. There are few guidelines on most of these, whereas Airbnb gives implied guidance via eligibility criteria for superhost status.

Reviews

You should have at least 12 reviews, preferably recent, the higher the score the better. HomeAway has found properties having over 20 reviews will have 80% better performance than others. Clearly, asking guests directly will get you more reviews, and rating the guest will prompt them to review you. Clearly, giving them a great experience will score you higher. [click to continue…]

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Last week we looked at Airbnb.  However this week, we see that  Booking.com is a very different business to the other Online Travel Agencies.  It is almost entirely designed around a convenient guest experience, which has been a big factor in its market leadership for hotel guest bookings.

The high volume of bookings, particularly for the European market make it attractive to hotels and even VR owners. For many, the advantages of extra bookings outweigh the disadvantages.

Challenges

However, the booking.com system is not designed to make it easy for VR owners! The challenges for VRs are:

  • ALL bookings are instant book.
  • There is no dialogue with guests prior to booking, and no way to decline a booking once you get to know the guest
  • The system encourages the ability for guests to cancel at the last minute without penalty
  • All listings are written by the booking.com description writers. You have no say in what they write and no way to promote special experiences during the guest stay the way you can for other Online Travel Agencies. However, they always do list the name of your VR.
  • The contract with the property owner usually requires price parity, forcing the owner to not advertise a lower price anywhere lower than the price on the booking.com listing.
  • The owner takes all payments
  • Credit cards are often declined in the weeks and months after the original booking is made

[click to continue…]

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How do you get listed higher in the Airbnb search results?

Airbnb doesn’t publish its ranking algorithm, but in general it rewards hosts who do the kinds of things that guests appreciate.  Mostly it is common sense.

Guests appreciate things like: good reviews, accurate description, clean property, accurate calendar, up to date, quick to respond, no cancellations, able to book instantly, accept most bookings, able to stay 1 night, easy cancellation, ability to stay with a superhost.

Tactics that Airbnb likes for ranking

Flipping this around gives the kinds of behaviours that get hosts rewarded by a higher search listing.

Good reviews.

The average host review score is 4.5 out of 5.  You need to get a consistently high review score.  To do that you need to give your guests a good experience.

Accurate description

Guests are asked in reviews if the experience matched the description.  If not, you will be marked down. [click to continue…]

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The Vacation Rental Mastery Handbook is due for publication in December 2018.
It is currently with the copy editor, and in a few weeks it will go to the layout editor for typesetting.

Here is an advance peek at the TABLE OF CONTENTS  MSdocx

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