Creating a New Vacation Rental Listing


    houses vertical copy.gifWhether you're creating your very first listing or you're adding a new listing to another site, you may not realize (or you may have forgotten) how time-consuming getting your ad up and running can be. Keep this checklist in front of you to quickly move through the process and minimize computer snafus  you know how your computer likes to crash just as you type in your best line.

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind when tackling a new listing:

    Keep important information handy.
    Most vacation rental listing sites require some specifics about your vacation home in order to register. You may not remember your second home's square footage, address, or even the zip code off-hand. Gather some basic information about your home ahead of time so you don't have to look up information (or call your spouse) while you're trying to register.

    Keep track of your homes' amenities.
    Similarly, keep detailed records about your home's amenities. If you own multiple properties or haven't visited your vacation home in a while, it might be easy to forget the size of the TVs, whether you have a blender or a juicer, or which bedrooms have ceiling fans. Track these amenities in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. By using a spreadsheet, you can categorize amenities by room, property, or anything else you can dream up. Taking plenty of photos should also help with any lapses in memory.

    Research area and logistical information that would be useful to travelers.
    Some listing sites have sections dedicated to location information, and if they don't, you should try to include it in one of the free text fields. Therefore, you should know the distance from major airports and metropolitan cities, along with upcoming events that you might want to promote to travelers. You should be able to quickly find all of this information on Google Maps. Also, pay a visit to your Convention and Visitors Bureau website to find out about local happenings.

    Write all your text out first in a Word document...and be sure to SAVE!
    It's pretty safe to assume that almost every vacation rental listing is going to have some kind of title and some kind of description. If you write these sections while you're in the middle of the sign-up process, you could easily lose your hard work if the site times out, if you accidentally press the back button, etc. It's best to save your work in a Word document so you can always come back to it when you're ready to update the site. Plus, it's easier to check your spelling, which may not be possible on some listings sites or Web browsers. That being said, spell check plug-ins are available for some browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox.

    Create several variations of headlines and descriptions.
    And, while you have your creative juices flowing, write a few versions of your headline and description that you can switch out every so often. (Just remember to take note of the site's character limits before you write an entire novel about your vacation home.)

    Choose your photos ahead of time.
    If you're like many vacation rental owners, you've probably taken hundreds of photos of your vacation home. If you keep all of these photos in one place, it can be pretty daunting to try to sort through them. So before you sit down to actually upload the pictures, go through these photos, and create a separate folder on your computer of what you consider to be the best shots.

    Assign recognizable names to your photos.
    Once you've narrowed down your choices, rename each of the photo files. Your camera probably uses default file names, and it can be pretty difficult to find the photo you're looking for when they're all subtle variations of some letter and number combination. Photos with titles like “Exterior of Cabin – Winter” or “View from Balcony” might make more sense as you're trying to upload. (Note: To rename a file, highlight the file name, right click, and select Rename. A cursor should pop up where you can enter the desired name.) Assigning accurate photo names will also help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts.

    Organize your photo choices for each listing.
    You may even want to create separate folders for the specific photos you choose for each individual listing. This way, you can also get them in the right order before you start uploading. It's probably easier to move the photos around in the folder where they're saved rather than trying to adjust the order once they're uploaded on the site. (Remember, the order should make sense to the traveler and should help guide them through the home.)

    Create options for photo captions.
    It's probably a good idea to save these descriptions in a Microsoft Word document as well, perhaps with a few variations to switch out periodically.

    To sum up, here is a brief checklist of everything you'll want to have on-hand before sitting down to create your vacation rental listing:

    • The address and square footage of your vacation rental.
    • Details about the amenities in your rental home(s).
    • Location information and upcoming events.
    • Several headlines and descriptions in a Word document that can be saved, edited, and switched out.
    • Your best photos separated into their own folder.
    • Obvious and identifiable photo file names.
    • A specific photo folder for each site on which you are listing.
    • Photos pre-sorted in the order you would like them to appear on the site.
    • Photo captions for each of the photos you will upload.
    • All free text components of your listing spell-checked.

    By taking advantage of these tips, you will likely save yourself some time and frustration when posting a new listing. By doing some extra work ahead of time, you'll be thanking us when you're ready to update your descriptions next month.


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    Updated: April 27, 2010