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28605 Views 68 Replies Latest reply: Jan 21, 2013 11:47 AM by evan RSS
patti.merillat-smith New Member 21 posts since
Jan 26, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 26, 2011 11:42 AM

What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

I have a condo in the Smoky Mtns.  It seems I have been getting alot of inquiries but not that many bookings.  I understand that this is the slow season in the area and I have adjusted my prices accordingly.  I am however located close to the only Ski Resort in the area.  This is my 1st winter season so I am trying to learn the process.  It really does seem that when my prices were higher I got more bookings but of course was a busier season.   Any help would be appreciated.

  • New Member 7 posts since
    Jan 26, 2011

    Patti, we're in similar circumstances.  We also have a cabin in the Smoky Mtns. and this is our first winter renting ourselves.  Overall we are booking 18% of our inquiries, or rather 1 guest for every 5.28 inquiries. 

     

    I may be fooling myself, but I think this is a pretty good ratio.  I, too, have noticed a bit of a slow down in bookings over the past couple of months, although the inquiries are pouring in.  Take a look at when your inquiries are actually for, though.  For me, I'm not getting a lot of inquiries for the winter months.  Most of my inquiries right now are for summer and holidays throughout the year.  I keep thinking that a lot of those people are just putting out feelers right now and might not actually get down to booking until it gets a little closer to the season.

     

    I do have the numbers for last winter from the rental agency that was managing our cabin at the time.  Although overall our bookings have been better through vrbo, we are a small percentage lower for this time of year, vs. the same period last year.  I'm trying not to get too bent out of shape about it b/c although my booked nights might be a bit lower, I'm also not paying them that big whopping 40% anymore either!

     

    I would love insight from anyone else in the area that might have more experience and can tell us what to expect.

    • Contributor 27 posts since
      Jan 26, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 26, 2011 10:39 PM (in response to cswomack)
      What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      We get 200-300 inquiries a year and book about 30.

      • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
        Dec 10, 2010

        Patti, I'm part of a Yahoo group for Smoky Mountain owners and we're all lamenting the same thing you mentioned.  Inquiries have slowed quite a bit since MLK weekend and most everyone is getting two night requests for Jan/Feb--a 3 nighter if you're lucky!  Thankfully like cswomack, cabin owners are seeing more interest in spring and summer so those bookings are starting to help fill calendars and improve our attitudes.  March is historically a good rental month in the Smokies so there's hope in the air

         

        My inquiry-to-booking ratio varies between 5:1 and 7:1 depending on our properties. 

         

        One thing I've had success with lately is when people ask for a 2 night stay (which is the majority), I provide pricing for a 3 night stay as an option.  I was able to convert some guest stays into 3 night rentals because people saw the value in staying 3 nights with no cleaning fee as opposed to a 2 night stay with the $65 extra fee.

  • Contributor 14 posts since
    Jan 7, 2011

    Hi everyone,

     

    I'm the HomeAway product manager for this community site. Since there are a few of you here with properties in the Smokies, I thought you might be interested in the Groups area of the site.

     

    Creating a location-specific group lets you get into detail about the nuances of your area. A few location-specific groups have been created already.

     

    We realize there are already existing vacation rental groups around the web, but there are a few benefits to starting a group on this site.

     

    You can create an open or private group about your area with the ability to invite other people to your group (from this site and off the site), you can have discussion threads and add content. And when you want to join discussions that aren't specific to your area, you can just jump over to the general discussion threads.

     

    Whichever route you choose, we hope this site proves helpful to you.

  • tansy Active Contributor 395 posts since
    Feb 15, 2011

    Wow guys - I didn't realize there are so many time wasters out there... my ratio has always been 1:3 - in fact this weekend I took 6 inquiries as an example my ratio is -

     

    2 confirmed bookings (HomeAway (Sweden) & Fewo direkt (Germany)

    1 hasn't cleared dates with boss & can't til March - have sold the week now (Germany)

    1 from unknown source - we are fully booked (6th June week) (USA)

    1 from an ancient site I'd forgotten about but we've sold the property! (UK)

    1 from an American asking all sorts of questions about travelling from Paris - I replied in length & have heard diddly squat from him Holiday Lettings/ TripAdvisor... have sent 2 messages to him.

     

    Maybe it's an American thing - you've lots of dreamers or are they sending out bulk inquiries... the sites will have to answer that for us...

  • New Member 10 posts since
    Jan 11, 2011

    I am not in the Smoky Mountain area but I too receive many inquiries but only a few bookings.  It is nice when a potential renter says why they did not choose my home so I know if it is something I need to address.  You have to realize that many inquiries are just "fishers"  I do think the economy has a lot to do with it.

  • spoonbill Contributor 105 posts since
    Feb 24, 2011

    I rent my beach house in Galveston, TX and I save every inquiry but have not calculated the ratio.  I am just completing my first year of renting.  I find there are a lot of people that are either looking for a bargain or kids looking for a prom night, winter ball, spring break, etc.  If they sound like that is what they are looking for I point to my renters must be 25 or over to have them move on.  As for the bargain hunters, I tend to hold my prices for several reasons.  The first is I try and maintain a premier property with a lot of extra amenities and it is pretty upscale for a beach home so I want a certain class of clientele.  I find holding prices a little higher encourages the better clients to book.  I offer repeat guests a discount coupon once they have checked out and I find all went well and I tie it to their submitting a review to encourage them to give my property a favorable review.

     

    I had a good 1st year and so far bookings are going very well this year.  In fact I am way ahead of last year.  I have set up boiler plate responses to the fishing crowd so I don't waste a lot of time.  You can spot them because they ask questions like availability when the information is on the web site and the dates they are asking about are already showing booked.  They just go look at the pictures, fill in the minimum information and send the inquiry.  They don't even bother to type a query, like you are supposed to read their mind an know what they want to know.

  • sapphiresteve Active Contributor 505 posts since
    Dec 16, 2010

    FWIW, although I don't have an actual count, my impression is that about five or six enquiries yields one occupancy. From the other posts, this deems to be a pretty typical ratio.

  • lrbaldwin Active Contributor 755 posts since
    Feb 16, 2011

    I have received 57 inquiries and have 10 weeks booked (from 9 renters). So that's between 15.7% and 17.5% depending on whether you count renters or weeks.  Our situation looks to be somewhat different from those I've seen here.  We're in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we generally rent only during the summer months, a couple weeks in the spring, and about 3 weeks in the fall.  It's a family oriented vacation area, and most owners do not rent to groups of singles.  We state clearly on our listing that we rent only full weeks, no partial weeks.  We get a great number of inquiries from school kids for spring break or end of school which we turn down immediately via email.  The clue here is anywhere from 6 to 10 adults, 0 children, had 18 of those.  I don't really consider these legitimate inquiries, so that lowers the number from 57 to 39.  Further lowering the number of inquiries I have to fool with is those 12 who have requested anywhere from 1 to 4 days, so now we're down to 27 inquiries on which I follow up with a phone call. That brings us to one booking out of every 3 inquiries or over 33%.

     

    I'm curious, do you folks in other parts of the country have inquiries that you just have no interest in?  If so, what are the clues in the original inquiry? 

     

    Thanks,

    Linda

    • Contributor 27 posts since
      Jan 26, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 24, 2011 12:44 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
      What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      Our contract states  " We will not rent to vacationing students or singles under 25 years of age unless accompanied by an adult guardian or parent." That goes out to them after they've booked. It is also on the website but would be easy to overlook as there is so much on there. People could still try to get away with it though. And how do you know? If they call, I can gauge it from their voice or things they say or I ask what brings them to the area. But most of our business is done by email. If I see a group of adults & no kids, it may just be couple friends traveling together. That happens alot. Now if it's New Year's eve or spring break, then I try to delve into it more.

       

      Sue

    • New Member 10 posts since
      Jan 11, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 24, 2011 1:01 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
      What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      It sounds like I am in the minority but I do rent to younger age guests as long as they are at least 18 (legal age to sign a contract) and, so far, have not had any problems.  I have rented to a high school prom group but made sure that my conversation was with one of the parents.  I had the parent sign my contract to take financial responsibilty for the home.  I had no problems with the group and they left with the house in as good of shape as any other guests.  The prom group even rented the home a second weekend about two months later before they all went off to college. 

       

      As far as questionable inquiries, the only ones that I doubt are legitimate are ones that just don't "fit." Meaning, I have an 8 bedroom sleeps 18-20 and I get a request from "2 adults, no children" or "what is your price for a month's rental?"  My property is clearly for large parties in a ski area so rental periods should be a weekend or at most a week.  After your initial inquiry, if guest says "my company is paying for my trip and I need the following information" and then gives you a form to complete with your name, address and about six other questions, I have found those to be a scam.  Other questionable inquiries would be ones with super poor grammer and many spelling errors (I no that not everyone is perfect in those fields but you can usually tell) or if the say "my dates are flexible"  While some may have flexible dates if they say "what do you have open" it is probably leading to a scam.   

      • Contributor 27 posts since
        Jan 26, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 24, 2011 8:40 PM (in response to djhering)
        Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

        We have a 4 bedroom that sleeps 8 but have had times it was rented to just 

        a couple and I never thought twice about that. It's a unique property, 

        historical, and I figured they just loved the looks of it and were willing to 

        pay. We don't charge less for fewer people. I think when you do that, you 

        encourage people to lie about how many there actually are. They'll say less

        to  get the lower amount and then sneak people in.

         

        We've also had inquiries for a month to a 3 month rental period and didn't 

        think that was odd either.

         

         

         

         

        In a message dated 2/24/2011 4:47:36 P.M. Mountain Standard Time, 

        community@homeaway.com writes:

         

                 

        (http://community.homeaway.com/) Seek Advice. Get Answers.  Optimize your

        Vacation Rental  Business.

        Re:  What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

        created by djhering (http://community.homeaway.com/people/djhering)   in

        Interacting with Guests - View the  full discussion

        (http://community.homeaway.com/message/1987#1987)

        • Contributor 24 posts since
          Jan 20, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Feb 24, 2011 10:27 PM (in response to sjde)
          Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

          our condo sleeps up to 10-    when we have couples wanting to rent we know they will be inviting family-    our rate is the same for 2 - 10   but would charge more for more than that-    and did find out via guest book that someone booked saying 10 people and had 18 in the unit.............said they were all very comfortable........lol

      • Contributor 24 posts since
        Jan 20, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 24, 2011 9:35 PM (in response to djhering)
        What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

        we had the scam issue as well due to my putting one of our condos on craigslist-     actually about 9 emails out of 10 were scams from that site-    continued via email with one fella just to see what the deal was-     deal is ,    he sends you a bogus cashiers check for like 1200 more than your rental is for  and wants you to keep 100 for your time then western union 1100 to his travel arranger to make his flts for him...........lol-

        i reported his email address-    told him the check was bogus and he replied okay.......got another email from him a week later about had i gotten his check yet and would i please let him know when i had sent money to his travel arranger...........lol-    i deleted that one-

         

         

        who knows how many he has taken advantage of?

    • spoonbill Contributor 105 posts since
      Feb 24, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 28, 2011 10:27 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
      Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      Even though I specify in my policies that I don't do prom nights and other similar events I still receive a ton of these requests.  Some of the clues are 1 night even though my policy clearly says 2 night minimum during the off season and 7 nights during the peak season.  Emails from parents telling me how good their kids are and it will only be X of them, or it is for a small party of 50 guests.  At the rsik of insulting some renters If I think the request is suspicious I mention the must be 25 to rent policy.

       

      If I lived close by I might take a risk when I have spoken to the parents and I know they will be there but since I live over 1500 miles away I can't risk my expensive home for a few hundred dollars.

  • New Member 20 posts since
    Feb 24, 2011

    My condo in Florida has a lot of competition and I could probably get better results if I did the negotiation myself instead of relaying to the rental agency.

    Still:

    Conversion rate on American websites are approximately 5%.

    Converison rate on European websites varies between 10-25%

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Feb 27, 2011

    Patti -

     

    It is good that you posted this question out there, thank you!  I have often wondered myself about the experience of other vacation home owners. 

     

    I have a beach front aparment in Puerto Rico.  Last year I had an inquiry to bookings ratio of 3.7:1.  This year, however, I already have had as many inquiries as last year (we are only in the middle of February!), but have not booked less than half as many.  This year, my booking ration has decreased to 9:1, but there are many bookings out there which should come through (hopefully!). 

     

    Any other Caribbean renters out there that can share their booking ratio?

     

    I have also twice been approached by would be scammers.  Same situation, sent me a check for an amount higher than the deposit required, wanted me cash the check and then to return the difference to them.  I did not.   The reservation was then cancelled.  They passed themselves off as "missionaries".

     

    I also have a problem with another type of "scammer", since I am not in Puerto Rico, i have an administrator clean the apartment and receive guests.  Most of our renters are "extremely pleased" or "very pleased" with the aparment (I have a follow up survery).  However, I have had a couple of guests who have complained inmensely about the apartment, and used vocabulary threatening to post negative reviews online...  I offer a couple of nights off, and they are fine...

     

    Has anybody else has encountered this situation?  how have you dealt with it?

     

    all the best,

    • tyann Contributor 222 posts since
      Dec 28, 2010

      rentinginpr -

       

      To avoid the problem guests who complain about everything and try to get money back...what I do is call my guests about an hour after they arrive. I ask if they arrived safely and if everything is good at the house. They then have the opportunity to tell me if anything is wrong, and I can send my housekeeper or maintenance provider over immediately.

       

      This also gives them my phone number on their cell phone, even though I have my number in the house. It also opens the communication between us that if something does go wrong during the stay, they know I am just a phone call away and are comfortable calling me since I have already initiated the contact.

       

      I know when they arrive because my Schlage Link lock sends me a text message and email when they enter their code.

       

      Tyann Marcink

      www.vacationhomeinbranson.com

  • sapphiresteve Active Contributor 505 posts since
    Dec 16, 2010

    RentinginPR, you made me feel a lot better. We have a beachfront unit on St. Thomas and my informal impression is that I got one booking for every five or six enquiries. The past week I must have received at least a dozen inquiries, but not one booking! One enquirer want me to drop the rate fifteen dollars a night to match an offer she received for renting a unit whch I am quite sure that she knew was considerably inferior. Another wanted a fifty per-cent discount for a six-week rental!

     

    I think that the probem that we are seeing is, at least in part, due to increasing air-fares.

     

    We have not yet had any scam attempts, but I would like to point out that the second problem that you desribed is not a "scam" it is "extortion" and is a felony. This is one situation where there is a "right" solution and an "easy" solution. I wish that you had taken the "right solution". First try to get as many favorable reviews on TripAdvisor as possible. This can be difficult because most people will not bother to write a review about a good experience. Then if you receive an extortion attempt your respons can be: (1) Go ahead, then I'll request TA to remove it, (2) even if they don't, no one will believe it anyway because of all the good reviews that have been posted, and (3) As soon as it is posted, I will persue legal action whether TA removes it or not.

     

    If you "give-in" to this type of thing it will only encourage the perpetrators to do it to others. If they see that it not only won't work, but could cost them dearly, they will think twice before trying it again!

     

    Steve

  • New Member 2 posts since
    Feb 28, 2011

    Hi Patti,

     

    I own a vacation rental in Grand Haven, Michigan and I recently blogged about this issue.  I list on HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, and VacationRentals.com and determined the rental's inquiries-to-booking ratio and cost-per-booking on all three sites.  You can see the detailed results here.

     

    Our overall inquiries-to-booking ratio is 5.5 to 1 (5.5 inquiries to every 1 paid reservation).

     

    Hope this helps!

     

    -David

    • New Member 5 posts since
      Feb 26, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 28, 2011 7:34 PM (in response to shortsouth)
      What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      Hi David

       

      I've been intending to complete an analysis like yours but have not found the time yet but now that I have a comparison there is all the more incentive.

       

      I guest I feel very fortunate, my conversion rate is about 2:1, and the majority by far come from VRBO.

       

      Mike Miksis

      University View House

      Seattle, WA

      • New Member 2 posts since
        Feb 28, 2011

        Thanks for the reply, Mike.  I'd be interested to see your results, as well.  VRBO.com certainly provides our highest quality inquiries (4.2 to 1 ratio).  I was very suprised, however, that VacationRentals.com (the smallest of HomeAway's websites) generated the most bookings and by far the most inquiries.

         

        -David

        • New Member 20 posts since
          Feb 24, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 1, 2011 12:54 PM (in response to shortsouth)
          What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

          It's too early to get a real truth from just one year.

          2009 I had the most inquiries from VRBO but a higher conversion rate with the most nights rented via HomeAway.

          This year VRBO had equal conversion rate and more nights.

           

          We rent a minimum of 3 nights and the longest rent we've had is 56 nights (the tenants are interested in even longer 2012) with an occational monthly booking.

          Therefore it isn't just conversion rate that is interesting but also converted nights.

           

          Right now we have a lot of spam inquiries for March and April which is showing as booked in the calendars, but I tend to include them in my conversion calculation at the end of the year.

        • New Member 5 posts since
          Feb 26, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 1, 2011 5:56 PM (in response to shortsouth)
          What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

          Hi David

          Here is my summary

          Overall 4:1  (I was a little over optimistic in my earlier post)

           

          My Website       17/11 (total inquiries/bookings)

          Airbnb                2/0

          Craigslist           2/0 (I only posted a few times)

          VRWD               1/0 (its free)

          VRBO                48/14

          VacationRental   4/1

          HomeAway         16/0

          FlipKey               21/3

           

          HomeAway is not looking too good, we will see how this year goes.

           

          Mike

          • Contributor 33 posts since
            Mar 8, 2011

            Wow, that really surprises me. Homeaway.com is my main booking site. All the others I've tried give me maybe one in a year.  Homeaway is about 10 inquiries and one or maybe 2 reservations.  There are 785 listings for my city on Homeaway.com and this probably affects me too.

            • sapphiresteve Active Contributor 505 posts since
              Dec 16, 2010

              I have no relation with HA or VRBO, but if you would like more action, I suggest that you also list with VRBO. I have not tried VacationRentals, although I might, but the others that I have tried have been a complete waste. One booking a year if I was lucky.

               

              Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2011 17:35:32 -0600

              From: community@homeaway.com

              To: stevenirafein@hotmail.com

              Subject: Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings? - Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

                                                                                              Seek Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                                                                                              Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

               

               

                  created by karen.simmons in Interacting with Guests - View the full discussion

               

               

               

              Wow, that really surprises me. Homeaway.com is my main booking site. All the others I've tried give me maybe one in a year.  Homeaway is about 10 inquiries and one or maybe 2 reservations.  There are 785 listings for my city on Homeaway.com and this probably affects me too.

               

               

                   Reply to this message by replying to this email -or- go to the message on Community

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  • Contributor 62 posts since
    Mar 1, 2011

    Not sure my exact numbers...

     

    A lot depends on how fast I email and call them back. I try to respond within an hour at the longest. If I do that a lot people book. Seems like the early bird gets the worms in this biz.

  • sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
    Mar 4, 2011

    For 2 properties, on average I book 1 for every 3.8 inquiries on VRBO & Homeaway.  For Tripadvisor, I book 1 out of every 10 inquiries.  Both houses are completely full with back back to bookings during on season and stay 1/2 full off season. My own personal website is the best with nearly every inquiry turning into a booking, but only gets a handful compared to the vrbo & HA.

    • tansy Active Contributor 395 posts since
      Feb 15, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 13, 2011 10:10 AM (in response to sophie)
      Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      Sophie - that's interesting re TripAdvisor... I'm closing 1:3 with HA & have just joined Flipkey/TripAdvisor - anyone else got things to say About FK & TA?

      • sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
        Mar 4, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 13, 2011 10:33 AM (in response to tansy)
        Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

        My renewal is up this May and I am seriously re-considering spending the money for TA.  That's a lot of email work to only get 1 booking out of 8! The exact #'s were 3925 impressions, 88 inquires and 11 bookings.  (1 cancelled after booking) which is actually is 1 booking for every 8 inquires, not the original 1 out of 10 that I thought.  Still not as good as vrbo or ha.

        • Contributor 27 posts since
          Jan 26, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 13, 2011 10:37 AM (in response to sophie)
          Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

          We've been on flipkey 20 months and won't be renewing.  With vrbo we get about 14,000 page views a year with 200-275 inquiries and about 25 bookings.

          Flipkey--about 2500 page views a year,  37 inquiries and got 1 booking.

          Also, our ranking moves all over the place for no apparent reason. We'll be at the top of page 2 for awhile, then go to third place on page 1 for a few weeks, then went to page 4 (of 9 pages).When questioned, they told me the system is still evolving.

           

          Sue

          • tansy Active Contributor 395 posts since
            Feb 15, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Mar 13, 2011 11:11 AM (in response to sjde)
            Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

            Ah - we've just had our free trial with no enquiries whatsoever - they reckoned it was because we had no reviews... so get a review & they'd extend another month is what they offered... so have got 2 reviews up and still nothing... maybe won't bother to pay and stay.

            • Contributor 27 posts since
              Jan 26, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Mar 13, 2011 11:24 AM (in response to tansy)
              Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

              We've had 7 reviews. Didn't seem to help.

               

              Sue

              • sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
                Mar 4, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Mar 13, 2011 11:26 AM (in response to sjde)
                Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

                How did you get 7 reviews with only 1 booking?

                • Contributor 27 posts since
                  Jan 26, 2011
                  Currently Being Moderated
                  Mar 13, 2011 11:33 AM (in response to sophie)
                  Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

                  I asked some guests who had found us through vrbo to post a review on flipkey. (Since I needed them more there). And one was our grown daughter, who stayed with her in-laws.

                  • Contributor 33 posts since
                    Mar 8, 2011
                    Currently Being Moderated
                    Mar 13, 2011 12:45 PM (in response to sjde)
                    Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

                    Since this question is getting so much action, I thought I'd do an actual homeaway.com count.  This year, 2011, I have had 80 inquiries on my 2 homes and 18 reservations. So that mmight work out to roughly 22% booking rate. Better than I initially thought. In the past year,  the total hits for both homes combined was 15,875.

                     

                    I also use Alwaysonvacation.com, but will not renew. Most inquiries come for already booked dates -even when my calendar is up to date. I have had 22 inquiries this year and not one reservation.

                     

                    I tried Rentalo.com for a year, because that was a site I often used. I got one booking in a year.  I had flipkey for a trial, got some inquiries, no bookings.  I also have had about 3 other things, that I don't keep a calendar for because I have never even had one inquiry. I really hestitate to spend money on any other listing site. Homeaway.com has proven to be the best for me. I've heard VRBO is good, but another renter from my same city, Cape Coral started listing this spring and she said she gets a lot of inquiries from VRBO but most reservations are coming through homeaway.

          • New Member 1 posts since
            Jan 19, 2013
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jan 19, 2013 8:08 PM (in response to sjde)
            Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

            Hi! we are new to this as at July 2012. We started out fine for three months and then nothing from VRBO or Homeaway since late October. We also use Travel Rental Network - no inquiries, also FlipKey with 15 inquiries in the last month, one booking. We seem to be having a problem with VRBO since HomeAway took it over. I'm trying to figure out how/where does one locate the page views?

  • rentallect Contributor 43 posts since
    Mar 1, 2011

    My Beaver Creek Colorado condo typically receives 400 to 450 inquiries per year, and has roughly 40 bookings per year -- so call it a 10:1 ratio.

     

    The lions share of my leads seem to come from VRBO, but I receive many from HA and many from my personal site as well.

     

    Like you, I frequently ask myself questions about which channels are producing the best ROI, and where I might need to adjust to increase my success.  As a result...

     

    ...For those who may be interested, I'm creating analytics software that will automate the gathering and rendering of many of the items discussed here.  If you'd like to convey your needs/wants for tooling such as this, we'd love to hear from you.

     

     

    Curt Tudor

    President & Founder

    Rentallect, Inc.

    Vacation Rental Software

    www.rentallect.com | Blog

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011

    We are in NJ, so our high season is from June 20-Labor Day. I do find that the high season is no problem to fill, and we have less people bargain hunting. But I do feel that this year I am answering a lot more inquiries to fill the time on the calendar. The people who rent in the middle and low season are the ones that seem to want even more of a discount. In the low season I never give a discount, because it is not worth it by the time I pay the cleaning people, etc. Seroius renters call and email very early, and book very early. The closer it gets to high season, the more bargain hunters I get, but I am booked and many times don't even respond if my calendar is updated.

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Jun 13, 2011

    Great topic for discussion and very re-assuring to me. I was feeling as if I was responding to lots of e-mails but getting a low percentage of bookings. I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong or something missing from my responses to inquiries. I haven't kept track but suspect my ratios are similar to others who've responded to this question. Many times the advice given is to call the person making the inquiry but the few times I've done that, the person was surprised (and not in a good way) and the conversation was strained. Since the potential guest is contacting me by e-mail (although my 800 phone number is given), it seems that they prefer to have contact in that way so I no longer call unless they request that. Good to know that my unwillingness to call is apparently not the cause of the poor inquiry to booking ratio.

     

    Jan

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011

    Over the past few years I have found that my ratio has definately changed to more inquiries/booking. Along with more inquiries come more bargain hunters. I never reduce my rate unless I am running a special and advertise it. The one time I gave a discount when someone asked for it, I happened to have a cancellation and was looking to fill in quickly. Well their friends all called and asked for discounts, when I refused they all said "well you gave so and so a discount". They weren't satisfied with the explanation that I was filling in a last minute cancellation. I think the economy has had a definate effect on the vacation home rental market, but thankfully because we are in an area with a limited amount of rental homes, we are always rented for the high season, and most of the mid season.

  • paradoxlaker New Member 6 posts since
    Jan 20, 2012

    Well, every year we get a few cancellations after the renters receive our rental forms.Excuses, such as our daughter has to go back to college early.....My mother can not join us....sudden death of a relative, or we found another place , no gas on the lake -sorry-we have a big boat..Most of the time over the years  we accepted the story.. Some we know were just Bull... But we always had another renter come along and book that week or we called our back up list  and filled in the week . 2012 proves to be different. after they received the rental contracts [ we had 12 cancellations] lucky for us we filled them in a few hrs. or days.Maybe the renters thought they would have a frat house for party time and when they READ black and white the guidelines and rules  it sinks in .of course we still get" We only have 5 dogs and 12 adults and 4 children" for our Max 2 dog 6 person homes. We definitely feel the economy has had an Effect on vacation rentals. Now we feel it still is a 60 % kick the tires crowd and 40% are sincere

    • spoonbill Contributor 105 posts since
      Feb 24, 2011

      Because I do on line booking I present my contract at booking time.  I clearly state my no cancellation policy and offer to sell them either travel insurance that allows them to cancel and be reimbursed from the insurance company with a legitimate reason or a cancel for any reason policy that allow shtem to cancel and receive back 75% for any reason and 100% for a covered reason.  I do allow cancellations up to 60 days prior to checkin but they only get remibursed when it rents and there is a charge to cover my credit card processing costs and my labor.  The result is that in three years I have not had a single cancellation that was not covered by inusrance and only 2 of those.

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 862 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011

    5 inquiries always produces one rent for me.  Unfortunately these days I am not getting many inquires.

  • scottr Contributor 204 posts since
    Aug 14, 2012

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    After one full year on HomeAway, I thought I would share some of my data. 

    Some Explanations first:

    - From Sept 2011 through April 2012, we also used a Property Manager.  The data only shows the bookings we did through HA so the real booking numbers are a little higher.

    - We took our property off HA in April 2012 (thus all the low #s) and put it back mid-May.

    - We upgraded to HA Bronze in mid-July.

    - I used the booking month as the month of the inquiry, not the month of the actual booking

    - Note the scale change on the first graph.  Views uses the scale on the left.  Inquiries/Bookings use the scale on the right

    - My rental area draws a lot from surrounding popluation areas (2-4 hr drive), so has a lot of shorter and week-end rentals. 

     

    Some numbers:

    - 249 inquiries and 25 bookings, or about 1:10

    - 6800 Page Views and 249 inquiries, or about 1:25

     

    My Analysis:

    - The Bronze upgrade likely produced inquiries, but hasn't translated to more bookings

    -  We are starting to get inquiries for dates further out in the future than we used to  This isn't reflected in the data, just an observation. I expect that if I do this analysis in another 3 months, the bookings will have trended up slightly.

    - Activity is definitely trending up.

     

    This should answer a lot of questions for new owners.  I'm sure each area has it's own quirks, but from why I've read this data isn't too far from average.

     

    Scott

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 862 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011

    Great information Scott.  While I was close to getting 1:5 up to July I now seem to be hitting 1:9 or numbers close to you.  I got 39 rentals for the year.

  • sapphiresteve Active Contributor 505 posts since
    Dec 16, 2010

    Thank for posting your info and analysis.

     

    I agree that your inquiry to booking ratio is not at all unusual.I also found it extremely interesting that the bronze upgrade correlated with an increase in both views and inquiries, but not bookings.

     

    In a sense, this makes the upgrade counterproductive, as it meant that you had to process more inquiries, with no benefit to you.The bottom line in this game is "days rented per year".

     

    I also believe that the number of page views is meaningless VRBO/HA likes to emphasize it because it gives the impression that some sort of result is being achieved, but unless they translate into bookings, they are worthless.

     

    I suspect that any evening, there are people killing time just looking at listings. Maybe they have a laptop on their lap, and a TV  in front  of them, and they look at listings during commercials

     

    Thanks again for your post.

     

    Steve

    • scottr Contributor 204 posts since
      Aug 14, 2012

      Thanks to both of you.  I also think the increase in inquiries can also be attributed to the changes HA made when they presented similar properties to guests. Views and Inquiries are the only metrics that HA can provide for all owners, since most don't use RM.  You are correct, it is only days booked that really matters (and avg nightly $).  Due to the seasonal nature of our area, I was told to expect about 100 days booked, and that 120 was extremely good.  We ended up at about 110, which I was very satisfied with, but I think we could easily do 120 or 130, at a slightly higher avg nightly rate.   

      • evan Active Contributor 664 posts since
        Jan 12, 2013
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 20, 2013 9:10 AM (in response to scottr)
        Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

        I was about to start a new subject on this when i saw it. in 2013 so far i've gotten about 40 inquiries and booked 3 . So it seems like most on this board its about 10.1 inquiries to bookings. Its interesting how i can get 4 inquiries in 2 hrs then none for 2 days.Out of all my inquries this yr i;ve had no one ask for a discount yet and i raised my prices for the spring and summer so i'm monitoring how thats affecting my bookings as if i stall on my bookings i'll go back to last yrs rates.

  • ttaylor0 Active Contributor 425 posts since
    Apr 1, 2011

      The question that we should be asking now is how many ligament inquiries are you getting for every booking.  After HA changed to the format where a potential renter could send out mass emails asking if I was available, my inquires shot up tremendously.  I had written in a previously forum last year that I was able to turn 1 in 3 inquires into a actual stay at my home.  I think that I can still do that today on the ligament inquires, but the problem is that I get so many that simply sent out a mass mailing and I don’t think they even looked at my home description or calendar. I got one just a few minutes ago that asked for a date that is already booked and shown as such on my calendar plus they stated there are 16 of them when my add states that 12 is the most that I will take. And many ask, “Now which property is yours?” because they have sent out so many request that they don’t have a clue who you are.

     

    So, to answer your question, I still turn 1 in 3 of the true inquiries into a renter. Oh, I personally call everyone that I get within a few minutes of receiving the notice. Most of the time they tell me I am the first to respond and I think that is what helps me with my numbers.

    • evan Active Contributor 664 posts since
      Jan 12, 2013
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 20, 2013 11:24 AM (in response to ttaylor0)
      Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      So you're saying that you still converting 1 out of 10 as 7 of them are bogus? I can usually tell 90% of the time if they are mass sprayed out. You must be calling the ones back that mention your vrbo specifically. I used to follow up on every single lead in 1 to 2 days and after 100 or more times doing that i got zero bookings that way. yrs ago i even left my calendar open and tried to convert people to other dates and that was waste of time. now i just respond to all inquiries and if they like my home they book. i have all response in templetes so easy to respond. In the end i know that as the weeks go on and bookings in my area fill up there choices are limited and thye'll find me. Its like a whirlpool. . They all get sucked down threw the hole eventually

  • ttaylor0 Active Contributor 425 posts since
    Apr 1, 2011

    Evan,

    Yes, I am just responding by phone to only the inquires that stay something about my house or the area; therefore I know that they have actually read my listing and are interested, such as "we have always wanted to stay in a log cabin or we have always wanted to stay on the golf course.  I am renting to about 1 in 3 of those calls.  The inquires that you can tell are just a mass mail out, such as “we like your house, how much for 7 days,”  My listing breaks down the total cost of a daily or weekly stay including all taxes, etc. There is no need to ask the cost as it is listed,  I will hit the reply button that it is available and type a little note saying if you are still interested please call me to discuss the details of the rental.  I don’t think, but I cannot say for sure that I have ever received a call from those who I thought were a mass mailling and had asked them to call me.

  • ttaylor0 Active Contributor 425 posts since
    Apr 1, 2011

    One more thing, Evan I just read again your post and noticed that you said you respond in 1 to 2 days on every inquiry. I respond in 1 to 2 hours, if not minutes to the ones I feel are truly interested and are asking for dates that are open on my calendar Most often I am the very first person to call them and I think that makes a difference. You can have HA/VRBO send you a text every time you get an inquiry.

    • evan Active Contributor 664 posts since
      Jan 12, 2013
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 21, 2013 11:47 AM (in response to ttaylor0)
      Re: What is your ratio of inquiries to actual bookings?

      Taylor i wrote that wrong. I respond to 90% of my inquiries within 30 mins to an hr as my email on my iphone alerts me just like a text. The 1-2 days i mentioned is following up on my email that i already sent. I didn't get one rental from following up saying i sent them my prices is there any interest. They all would say they choose another one.Also i have called many like you and i saw zero difference over emailing. You have to be careful as theres a fine line between being too over agressive as it scares them away. My rental is $2850 in the summer and theres no way to push. They must want to stay there. I rented my house for 8 total months in 2012 which is incredible so i must have donw something right.I've now got mine pretty automated to easily send back responses for all phases of the rental process.. it still takes about 5-7 hrs a week in the main booking season .

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