compare your vacation home to competitors in the areaHappy New Year!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

We went to visit my husband’s family in upstate New York for Christmas, and we had a really nice time. I was very disappointed because I could not find a vacation rental to stay in, so we had to stay in a hotel.  (We gave up staying with family many years ago—not that they wouldn’t love us to, but it’s just easier for us to have some of our own space.)

Many of the vacation rentals in the area are closed down for the winter because, quite frankly, it’s not necessarily a winter destination (it’s bitter cold and snowy!). I did find a couple of homes that were open for the winter but they were pretty far off the beaten path, and the owners were charging their regular summer season rates. I’m sorry, but as a vacation rental owner myself, even I expect off-season rates during the off-season.

The hotels, however, were running great deals—we ended up staying at the nicest hotel in the area (where the rooms are generally $300-$400 per night) for $60 per night! So we splurged and got two connecting rooms so we could sleep in a king bed, and our son could have his own room. While I wasn’t expecting a vacation rental to be priced that low, I was not willing to pay summer season rates either.

But this all brings me to a point with vacation rentals—while admittedly vacation rentals offer so much more than a hotel room, our main competitors are the hotels. So this got me thinking—what are the hotel rates in the areas where I own? I got on the Internet and checked on some hotels in the areas where I own properties. Tennessee hotels seem to run the rock-bottom sale prices for rooms, but when you calculate two hotel rooms, my cabins are still a better value for the traveler. It was a good exercise to go through just to get a pulse on the market.

Now about my rental life—things are very good! So far in 2010, I have been getting a steady flow of inquiries and have even taken some spring and summer bookings. I just ran my end-of-year numbers last night, and I’m happy to report that overall 2009 was my best year on record! Whoda thunk? Especially since last year many of you blasted me when I said my The specified item was not found..

I’m happy to report that all but one of my properties had positive year-over-year (YOY) revenue growth. My largest gain was 21% YOY, and my biggest loser was -10% YOY. Overall, with all properties combined, I finished the year with +10% YOY total gross revenue. Admittedly, it was a lot more work this year to nab the bookings, but in the end it all worked out.

Happy Renting in 2010!