Below is a fun, light-hearted, psycho-analysis of the different types of travelers who might inquire about your home
How to nab her: To seize Victoria, you have to act fast! Respond to her right away! If you don't get back to her within in 24 hours she's moving on to the next owner.
No-Fuss Fredo Fredo doesn't care about the details. He wants to find a property and book it right away so that the process is over and done with. He'll hit a site like HomeAway, VRBO or VacationRentals.com and scan over listing pages until one looks good. Once he finds a winner, he'll call the owner and will want to give his credit card number to book right away.
How to nab him: Fredo makes it tough to screen him because he's so ready to book, but try to make some small talk and find out more about him. Don't be too frustrated with Fredo; after all, if he's ready to book, then heck, let him!
Last-Minute Larry Larry and his three sons have decided that they need to get away-- fast. They're looking for a condo within driving distance that is near a golf course and accepts credit cards.
How to nab him: Last-Minute Larry is often an easy renter to commandeer. Have a detailed description, great photos, and most importantly an up-to-date calendar on your ad and he'll call you. Another tactic is to add a Special Offer that will likely catch Larry's eye.
Bargain-Shopping Barb Barb has chosen to rent a vacation home for her family of six because she knows vacation homes are less expensive than renting two or three hotel rooms. When she browses the sites, she is looking for one thing: Which is the least expensive property that is close to where she wants to be?
How to nab her: Bargain-Shopping Barb will hone in on your property if you run a “special.” To capture the Bargain-Shopping Barbs of the world, consider structuring your rates portraying some sort of special deal such as “Rent 6 nights, get the 7th night free,” or emphasize the free items you include in your rental rate such as free Internet, free long distance phone calls, free HBO, etc. Take advantage of the “special offer” feature offered by sites like HomeAway or "deals" from VacationRentals.com that make your listing easier for the Bargain-Shopping Barbs to find.
Snowbird Sven Sven and his wife Flo call Minnesota home but like to migrate to the Sun Belt for the winter. They're looking for a place that rents by the month and boasts the conveniences of home like a full-size kitchen, a bathtub, and cable television. Since Sven and Flo aren't particularly Internet-savvy, they prefer to communicate via the telephone.
How to nab him: When the Sven's of the world send an inquiry, they expect that you will call them rather than email. So the rule of thumb is…if the renter puts their phone number on the inquiry form, call them back.
Going to Be Some Work
Newbie Nelson Nelson has never rented a vacation home before and is uneasy about the whole process of renting a home found on the Internet.
How to nab him: You'll have to spend more time with him comforting his inhibitions. You could point out some of the positive points that prove why your vacation rental home is legitimate, such as how long you have been renting and the fact that you collect and pay sales taxes, or better yet, that you accept credit cards.
TMI (Too Much Information) Tammy Tammy will tell her whole life story before even asking about your property. In the first five minutes of the conversation, you'll know about her beef with her mother-in-law, her affection for George Clooney, and her inability to lose those last ten pounds.
How to nab her: Everyone who has been renting their vacation home for a while has had a TMI Tammy call them. It's amazing what renters will tell you about themselves. While it might be annoying, especially if you get TMI Tammy on the phone as you were about to sit down to dinner or walk out the door, just remember that the TMI Tammys of the world generally make some of the best renters. During those long conversations, you'll get to know her better and she feels as she though she knows you, too. She'll likely remember “you” when she stays in your home and will treat your home with the respect it deserves.
Detailed Darla Darla wants to know everything about your property to the Nth degree. No question is too trivial (What are the exact dimensions of your rooms? How many footsteps to the beach? Does the local grocery offer organic fruit?).
How to nab her: Unless you want to write a book as you respond to her questions, the Detailed Darlas are usually best acquired as renters when you take the time to call them on the phone. And the more time you invest with the Detailed Darlas, the more likely she'll end up renting your property
Divorced Dell Dell is divorced and only gets his kids for two weeks during the summer. So when he's searching a listing site, availability is his most important driver. When he decides on a property, he won't be able to definitively book right away--- he has to double-check with the ex-wife to make sure he can have the kids that week.
How to nab him: Capturing the Dells of the world can be a bit tricky. You don't want to “hold” time because he might never get back to you, and in the meantime you could be turning away some serious renters. What you could do is take down Dell's home and cell phone numbers and tell him that if you get another inquiry, you will call him and give him the first right of refusal.
Could Be a Long Shot
How to nab him: From your perspective, there's no way to tell if Browsing Buster is toward the beginning or end of his quest. To catch Browsing Buster as a renter, the best thing to do is respond right away to his inquiry and to send a follow-up email a few days later to remind him about your property.
Reunion-Planning Rita Rita has quite a task upon her shoulders: For her family reunion, Rita has to find a large house (or several smaller homes) that will sleep 25 people and has enough amenities to keep everyone happy for an entire week.
How to nab her: The Ritas of the vacation rental world are going to be some of the harder renters to book. Since she has many people to consult with, it's likely going to be a long, drawn-out process. The best thing is to give Rita a link to your always-up-to-date calendar. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Rita to call back because likely one of the 25 people in the group won't like your home for some reason or another.
Another approach to consider: An alternative approach would be to help Rita find other properties near your rental with availability. By doing some of the legwork for her, you increase the likelihood that she will book your property. But remember, you could spend a lot of time helping her and could end up not getting the booking.
Might Not Be Worth Your While
Why you may want to pass on her: If your home is advertised as “no pets”, it's not a good idea to waiver on your policies, even just this one time. This could cause some problems with future guests who, for allergy reasons, specifically look for properties that do not accept pets.
Another approach to consider: Consider accepting pets into your property. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, more than 29 million Americans took trips of more than 50 miles with their pets during the past three years. By not accepting pets, you are narrowing your spectrum of potential renters, which means that you may have to work a bit harder to attract the renters that you do want to rent your second home.
Spring Break Sally Sally and her college pals would like to go to Florida for Spring Break. They've considered booking a hotel, but would prefer to rent a house on the beach. She promises that she and her friends will respect the property as if it were their own and is willing to have you talk to her mom to prove that she would be a great renter.
Why you may want to pass on her: Renting to Spring Break Sally may or may not be worth the trouble. While Sally and her friends might very well be great guests, it's usually not the Sallys that you have to be concerned with. What happens when Sally meets those cute guys on the beach and invites them back to “their place” for a drink? There are typically enough families traveling for Spring Break who you can rent your home to instead.
Low-Balling Lester Lester sees you have dates open on your calendar for an upcoming week and sends you an email saying, “I'd book your home for $X.” Of course X is a ridiculously low price for those dates.
Why you may want to pass on him: Renting to Low-Balling Lester might not be worth the liability of letting him into your home. Each time a guest crosses the threshold of your home, there is the potential for liability. The Low-Balling Lesters of the world may just not be worth your trouble. If you do indeed want to get those dates booked, feel free to counter back with a more reasonable price that you would be willing to take.
What to do if he inquires: Trust your instincts. If an inquiry sets off your spider senses, it's probably a scam. Forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and to the customer support department of the site from which the inquiry originated. Whatever you do, DO NOT REPLY.
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