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I am new to this industry and I don't know anyone to ask regarding what I am doing right or wrong. I have no way to judge how well I am doing except to say that out of 81 inquiries I have 21 reservations that seem solid. This is about a 25% booking rate (1 out of every 4 book). It seems low to me, but my calendar looks good through mid August. Is this normal?? Is this a good average and can I do something to improve?. I feel like so many people never respond after I give them the quote. I return a call if they leave a number and rarely speak to anyone, I leave a nice message and my prices are fair. I guess this is part of it. Can anyone tell me if there is a better system ? . I have had several people want quotes for the Holiday weeks and the Fall, but they never get back to me. I feel it may be too early to offer discounts now for the fall, but maybe I should?
I think you are probably doing well. You have to remember that some people send the same request to several different properties and then choose the one that fits them the best, whether larger home, more bedrooms, etc. OR, just that the calendar suits their vacation plans better in terms of actually booking. Don't get discouraged, if you are priced right you will continue to get bookings.
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suiteelevations, you are doing everything right in my book. If you're booking 1 in 4, that's an excellent ratio based on my own experience plus years of talking to other owners about their experiences. (We manage four cabins with 24 "rental years" between them.) Years ago, my success rate was much higher but now that HA has the email blast feature for travelers, I do a lot more quoting than booking. Plus comparison shopping for a VR is more the norm today than it was pre-2008 when the economy was buzzing along. I also find that very few people follow up with a reply to my quotes. When they do, I always respond with a thank you for their time and we'd love to have them as our guests in the future. Every bit of contact is valuable interraction.
I've found the same thing with phone replies--I usually end up reaching a voicemail and never hear anything back. I try to give the inquirer any specifics that I can (depending if they asked for any in their initial contact) plus let them know how and when I can be reached. Few seem to call back. Those who do are usually glad to hear from me and book right there. So don't give up on callbacks--they can pay off.
If your calendar "looks good through August" I wouldn't recommend any discounting for holiday weekends or fall. You are probably doing really well...you just don't realize it because you have no one else to compare to, or previous years to compare to. The best thing you can do is exactly what you're doing--ask questions and read all the threads that are relevant to you. I have been renting by owner many years but I pop on every week or two and it surprises me how much I learn here. Good luck with your new venture!
Thank You for the time it took to answer all my concerns. I have been anxious about our decision to invest in rental property, we spent our entire savings verses going into debt. so I am nervous that we will get some of it built back up. So far we are just paying for the monthly expenses and buying what we need for the house. I hope soon the out flow of money will slow down and we can build back our savings. I know the tax write off will be nice. And along the way we are building equity. You must like doing this because of the amt of homes you have and the years you have been doing rentals. I am hearing things that scare me a bit about it, and I hold my breath that someone will cancel. Oh well, it will happen sooner or later, I will get someone that complains. It is just part of it and I will learn soon enough. I just hope the good out weighs the headaches. We have no choice now but to see it through. Sink or Swim. Thanks Again!!! Leslie
Leslie, keep your spirits up...you will do fine! I do like the vacation rental business--it's gratifying when you have happy guests, positive cash flow and growing home equity. But not every day is a banner day. Most are good; a few are not. But all in all, I enjoy the process and roll with the punches. Give yourself some time and you'll feel more comfortable. Remember that so much of RBO is how you approach it. If you love sharing your VR with others, it will come through in your emails and phone calls. You set the tone for the entire rental experience, so keep it positive and engaging. If your guests have criticisms (I just finished answering an email from guests currently at one of our cabins ) don't be defensive. Many times they are just trying to be helpful and not necessarily twisting your arm for a refund. And enjoy those little victories when someone books your property. (I just got a text from our online reservation system that June 30-July 6 is now booked...yeah!) That's when it's all worth it.
I noticed in an email to someone else that you mentioned you have a home in the smokies, well that is were we just invested. I really would love you to look at our listing and give me any suggestions you can. Do you advertise with anyone other than HomeAway? Our listing number is 978688. Anything you notice, price , wording etc.. I would also love to see your listing as well. Thanks Leslie
I also took a look at your property. Your pictures are amazing. I assume they are professional! You are almost completely booked for summer! That's great! That means you are doing things right! I think everything looks really good except there are quite a few grammatical errors in the description and in the picture comments. Also, as amyg will probably suggest, you might want to change your title to really play up the fact you have 3 KING Suites with HOTTUBS!
It's a beautiful property!
Hi Leslie, welcome to the Smokies and congratulations on your new VR! I advertise on VRBO and vacationrentals, plus use our website and Facebook pages for additional marketing support. I've never had much luck with the Homeaway site for our cabins so I use just those paid sites. I'll take a look at your listing and be happy to give you whatever suggestions I can. You should join our Smoky Mountain Owner Yahoo group...I'll send you info on how to join. It's a great board.
Leslie, Sophie's right--you have some beautiful HDR photographs for your cabin. They are very nice and should be a huge help in getting rentals. Did you have someone do them for you? I'm taking photography classes at the University of Tennessee and someday hope to be able to do High Dynamic Range photos for my properties. I have a lot to learn so it will be awhile before I can produce anything like that.
I think your listing looks pretty solid. I would recommend that you beef up your headline since to include more selling points, like Sophie mentioned. Right now, it's pretty generic sounding and isn't as memorable as it could be. That's the only thing I that popped out at me, so that's good
The previous owners did the photo's , so I will find out from them who did them. Thanks for taking a look at my lisitng. It really helps. I will try to tweak it some more. I have had no luck on vacationrentals at all. I am on this site also. And not much on FlipKey either. All of these bookings have come from VRBO and HomeAway. I am thinking I will cancel Flipkey soon. Thanks Again, I did ask to join the group , can't wait to network..
Leslie, I'll look forward to seeing you on our Yahoo group once the moderator gets you approved. In addition to the daily postings by owners, there is an excellent database so if you ever need someone to cut trees, fix a roof or do other work, you have good recommendations. I think local groups like ours are the best resource RBOers could ever have. It's like an Angie's List for vacation rentals. Plus you get to meet some really nice people and sometimes get together for dinner
Your home is beautiful! Your photos are great. Your calendar is well booked. I think you would have a difficult time finding a calendar in our area that has more nights booked than you do. You really deserve a pat on the back! You have great prices and a lot to offer. We have 2 homes in the Pigeon Forge area. We are probably going to put one of them on the market in a couple of days. I think you will enjoy the yahoo group. You are doing a fantastic job!