Note: This is an edited transcript of Christine Karpinski's How To Rent Vacation Properties by Owner podcast.
Christine Karpinski: Today's question comes from a homeowner, Leah, who asks:
Q: "How do I covert inquiries into bookings? I seem to get a lot of inquiries, but very few bookings."
A. Well Leah, assuming that your ad is perfect, you've got wonderful photos, detailed descriptions, well researched rates, up to date calendars, there are a few things that you can do to help convert your inquiries into bookings.
However, first I think I need to tell you that you might have out-of-the-ordinary expectations. While there are the occasional people who just look around,and send inquiries to properties, most often when they send an inquiry, they are ready to book. Whether they book your property or someone else's, they're ready to book.
From my experience, I get from three to 10 inquiries for every one booking that I make. It varies a lot from from website to website. For instance, I find with HomeAway the inquiry to booking ratio is lower, meaning that it might only take three to five inquiries to get one booking; and on VRBO.com, it might be six to 10 inquiries to get one booking. So first of all, having the right expectations is really important.
The next thing is that you have to check your email often. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people only check their email once a day. Or, some people only check it once every few days, once a week. At minimum you really should be checking your email first thing in the morning, right as you get home from work, and right before bed. If you can squeeze in a little check your email during lunchtime, that would be great as well; because typically the first person to respond is going to be the first person to get the booking.
I also advise if you're at home and can actually call them, to pick up the phone and just call the renters, and engage in conversation with them. You don't want to necessarily make it so that everybody books your property because let's face it there may be some people who your property may not be the perfect property for. However, touching those guests early on will certainly help close the deal for the ones your property is the perfect one to for.
The other thing is that when you reply to your emails, you want to make sure to have your signature at the bottom. Make sure your phone number is on there, make sure your web address for your property is on there, so that they know when they can call you back or email you back.
Then if you've done all those things; if you've called your guest, you've responded to emails quickly and you still find that you're not getting bookings, I would say wait a few more days and then follow up with those people. People get really busy; they start looking for a property and they're excited when they're looking but then the kids have to go to soccer, or they've got to go to school; life gets in the way, a few days pass and they're like, "Oh my gosh, I forgot!"
By you picking up the phone and calling them and saying something like, "Hey, you inquired about my property a couple of days ago. Just wondering if you guys have made any decisions yet?" If they have made a decision and chose to go with someone else's property, ask them why. It could be really good feedback that can help you rent your place better to the next person.
So I really think you can convert the inquiries into bookings, again, as long as your ads are in great shape. You just need to respond quickly. Good luck!
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