Encouraging last-minute bookings at your vacation rental property is a great way to ensure that you are consistently booked year-round. Cancellations, a poor economy and off-season slumps can lead to fewer bookings all around, so giving potential renters extra incentive to book last minute could be the ticket to drawing in more travelers.
In addition to last-minute trips that unexpectedly spring up, budget travelers and special event travelers to Colorado often wait until the last minute to find accommodations because they are seeking out special deals. Offering your rental property at a discounted rate or with a special offer is a much better alternative to not having anyone at your property. Follow these tips ensure smooth sailing with last minute bookers:
- Make Specials Stand Out: Put special deals in the headline of your property rental description so that it catches the eyes of those browsing booking website listings. Even if someone was not planning to stay in a particular area, your offer could sell them on the location, and your rental property.
- Offer Incentives: If you are not particularly thrilled about deep discounts for open weeks, you can offer other incentives to sweeten the last-minute deal. Offer a gift card to a well-known local restaurant, a gas gift card, or free passes to a nearby amusement park or attraction. Travelers will love the extra mile you are going by making their vacation more enjoyable.
- Up Your Response Time: When last-minute travelers are searching for accommodations, every minute counts. Be sure to check your email and phone messages often so that you don’t miss out on an inquiries. Chances are that if you hesitate in responding, the last-minute traveler will move on to another property.
- Be Prepared: Always keep your vacation rental stocked with enough toilet paper and other offered toiletries so that you won’t be caught off-guard by a last minute booking. Also make sure that the house is cleaned immediately after each renter leaves so that the house will be ready for any new renters to come in at any time.
- Be Guaranteed Payment: The only way to receive guaranteed payment last minute is to accept credit card payments via a secure site like PayPal. Avoid Western Union transfers, cashier’s checks and money orders. You can also have your housekeeper or property manager collect cash from a renter if this is agreed upon ahead of time.
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Travelers booking vacation rentals are sold on the idea that they will experience the comforts of home while on vacation if they stay in a vacation property rather than a hotel. Help meet their expectations by providing them with the little comforts and amenities that you would want to be present if you were traveling. Keeping your vacation rental stocked with a few minor things can really increase your renter’s satisfaction with the property and their experience at your vacation rental. This means that they will be more likely to leave you positive reviews, stay at your vacation rental again, or recommend it to their friends and family.
While it is not necessary to provide every little thing that a traveler could need, providing some key essentials will go a long way in making a great first impression on your renters. Always have at least one roll of toilet paper, hand soap and one roll of paper towels available when your renters walk through the door. Additional supplies that you can provide include shampoo and other shower amenities, a box of tissues, a starter pack of coffee, salt and pepper, trash bags, a deck of cards and potholders. These items will help guests feel at home, and also reduce any initial stress upon arrival. Often times, renters will first survey a vacation home to see what is available and what they need to go and purchase. Providing several essentials will ease their transition into your vacation rental property.
If your vacation rental is in the mountains or at a winter hot spot like Vail or Aspen, Colorado, you may want to also stock your vacation rental property with extra blankets and pillows. Pillow protectors and mattress pads also give your vacation rental an appearance of cleanliness. Alternatively, if your vacation home is in a more temperate location you may want to consider providing fans in each room, especially if overhead fans or reliable air conditioning is not available. Put yourself in the shoes of the renter and stock your vacation home with any products that you would like to have if you were the one renting the property.
If you are going to be investing time and money into a second home to rent out as a vacation property, choosing the right property can be a very important decision. To ensure your happiness, as well as the happiness of renters who will be paying to stay at your property, choosing a location is the first hurdle that you will have to overcome. Research where vacationers spend their time and choose a location that matches the desires of travelers, as well as your desires. Afterall, the hope is that you will get to spend significant amounts of time at your vacation rental as well, and potentially even retire to the vacation property in Colorado. The location and type of house that you choose may also very well be influenced by your budget and other factors, so spend enough time researching housing markets and vacation patterns to make an educated decision on where to buy.
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When handling vacation rental inquiries, the most important tip is to respond to the inquiries quickly, professionally and effectively. Responding quickly shows your interest in the potential renter, and also your level of responsibility in managing your property. Inquiries from potential renters that go unanswered for a day or two only increase the chances that the renter continued to search around and contact other property owners in Colorado. Check your email often, especially first thing in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon and before going to bed. By being the first property owner to respond to an inquiry, you’ll have a better chance of securing the booking. Touch base with potential guests early and often to show you care about their vacation and getting them into your vacation rental.
Always be professional when communicating with potential renters. Nothing will scare them off more than a bad first impression on the phone or via email. Reply to any questions they may have about the property honestly and promptly. When replying via email, make sure that your email includes a signature with your name, phone number and website address if you have one. Remember that even though this renter may not book with you immediately because the property is not what they are looking for at the time, they could book with you in the future, or recommend the property to their friends and family.
After the initial contact has been made, wait a few days before following up with the potential renter again. Call or email with a quick inquiry about their interest in your property to gauge whether or not they want to continue with the booking process. If they decide not to book with you, feel free to ask them why they are not booking. If it has something to do with the ad or the property, you can use this feedback to make improvements if possible. If they decide to book the property, or show genuine interest in booking when you follow up, send them the rental agreement so that they can look it over and get back to you.
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