Internet savvy now crucial for vacation rental success
Alfred Glossbrenner & Emily Glossbrenner
According to the National Association of Realtors, there are 7 million vacation homes in the United States, and 16 percent of them - 1.1 million - are offered as vacation rentals at least part of the year. If you're one of these homeowners and you're not getting as many bookings as you have in the past, the Internet could be the reason. That's because instead of poring over classified ads or browsing the glossy catalogs put out by rental agencies, people all over the world now search the Internet and use vacation-rental Web sites to look for properties.
The fact of the matter is that if your vacation rental isn't online, those prospective renters will never find you. In order to successfully rent your vacation property you need to create effective listings for your rental property on the Internet.
In a nutshell, what follows is several tips to help to make sure you do it the right way on the right Web sites:
Study the competition
Go to a site like www.vrbo.com, where you'll find listings for more than 22,000 vacation properties, organized by geography. Pretend you're a prospective renter looking for a place to spend your vacation. Print out the listings you find most appealing and use them as a model for creating your own listing.
Take the time to shoot really great photos
Don't be lazy and pick any old pictures you have lying around. This is sales! Consider hiring a professional photographer. The better your online pictures, the more likely it is that your property will be chosen over others.
Write a wonderful description
Why do you love the place? The location? What joys will your renters find there? Put some personality into your property description to set your place apart from every other "2BR/2BA Condo w/Ocean View."
Join a leading vacation rental site
In addition to VRBO, other good choices include A1Vacations, CyberRentals, FindVacationRentals, and GreatRentals. Pick one and create your initial property listing. Once you're happy with it, you can use the same information for listings on other sites. You'll probably need to be on at least three or four, for a total annual cost of about $400 to $600.
Join your local visitors bureau
Member benefits often include supplies of attractive maps and area guidebooks you can provide to your renters, as well as listings in printed and online directories.
As a homeowner looking to rent your vacation property, becoming Web savvy can improve the number of renters you get from all over the world. You can also reach audiences you might not reach otherwise.
It is possible for you to handle everything yourself, improve your rental income, and pocket more of the money you're now paying out in rental and management commissions.
Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner are the authors of over 60 books. Their most recent book is "How to Make Your Vacation Property Work for You!: The Quick & Easy Guide to Advertising, Renting, Managing, and Making Money from your Second Home." They can be reached at www.fullybookedrentals.com.