22 Replies Latest reply: Jan 8, 2012 11:10 PM by devad58 RSS

    No bookings what am i doing wrong

    New Member

      Hye we have been listed since July have had a few inquiries but only one booking this month....Please help us with some pointers i want to make this work...Thanks

        • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
          Active Contributor

          Hi safe1hav, a few ways to address this problem:


          1. Your name: I think it's easy to overlook this part, but determining a great name for your vacation rental (your business) is really key. The difference between a rental with a boring name and a striking one is clear.

          2. Your listing: take advantage of the numerous "best practices" for optimizing your listing. Stuff like great photos (and lots of them), alluring title, video, descriptive text, good price point...etc.

          3. Your site: It's highly recommended you invest (can be as little as $100) in your own website. With a wordpress template and some DIY perserverence, you can be up and running in an afternoon. Let this be your homebase for generating bookings: FlipKey or HomeAway or VRBO should be used as compliments.

          4. Branding: Get your vacation rental name out there. Submit to journalists from big publications (www.helpareporter.com - free) and submit articles on your neighborhood to directories (www.ezinearticles.com), other blogs...etc. Submit your site to classified sites (www.craigslist.com - free), start a blog, submit some press releases (free), submit to Yahoo! Directory ($300) and DMOZ (free).


          In general, booking out your rental takes more than just signing up for a listings site. You've gotta work at becoming a useful resource in your area. Example: if you're located in Aspen, become the local expert for "weekend ski jaunts."  This draws people to you and adds value to your rental (instead of just being another place to stay).  Also, beef up your client testimonials so others can understand what makes your unit so special. If you post the link to your property, we can make some better suggestions...


          Matt's the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Secrets: 54 free and inexpensive ways to boost your occupancy over the weekend.

          • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
            lrbaldwin Active Contributor

            Where is your listing?  It might help for us to take a look at it.  Also, could you tell us what you perceive as you major market? Families, weeks vs partial weeks, reunions, wedding parties, etc.



              • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                New Member

                Hye Linda

                here is my vacation spot


                HomeAway 399774, VRBO 367647 i hope this is what you need very new to this. I am looking for couples mainly older looking for a peaceful vacation. I have listed no alcohol so we are not in to party holidays we live on the premises.Long or short stay, but we do not have a stove.  

                thank you


                  • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                    lrbaldwin Active Contributor

                    There are a few obvious (at least to me) problems here.  We are in our 60s and as probably most couples do, take very good care of places we stay.  You're small enough so there won't be parties or children.  Forbidding alcohol would be a deal breaker for us and just about evertybody we know.  We WILL have our cocktails or we won't be staying there.


                    You really need to get to work on a map.  You're the only listing in Hillsdale, and it's not at all clear what's truly available around you and how far away any ski facilities are.  A big problem, of course not your fault, is that you don't have any other vacation apartments to compare to.  Your price certainly seems fair no matter where you are. What else is there to do?  If there's hiking, how far is it to the hiking areas?  Are they walking distance?  How about restaurants?


                    I'm afraid I don't have any more time right now, expecting 2 dozen guests for our Chritmas party tonight.  I'll come back next week.


                    I think your place is lovely!




                • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong

                  Hi Safe1hav,


                  Your place is lovely and your photos are nicely done. I think your 2 primary issues are 'location' and your 'no alcohol' rule.


                  When I mapquest or google map your location, you are only 10 minutes from Mt Louis ski resort. If I were looking for accommodations to go skiing I would be typing 'Mt Louis' into my search, not Hillsdale. When you type Mt Louis into vrbo you get no listings. People who are not familiar with the area will likely not know how close Hillsdale is. Try putting Mt Louis and ski resort into your 'keywords' and 'heading'.


                  For example: "2.5 acre Modern get-away, just 10 mins from Mt Louis Ski Resort" or something to that effect. Try changing the first line if your description to: "Welcome. We wish to invite you to the hills of Mt St Louis, just a 10 minute drive to the ski resort". Let people know how close you are to the ski fields.


                  As for the no alcohol rule, if you are targeting older couples and your apartment is on the small side, you will likely not have many issues that can't be avoided by careful screening. Make sure you talk to each guest before they book with you and ask them questions about the type of vacation they are looking for. Advertising your place as a party-free zone will appeal to most couples wanting a quiet get-away and will deter the younger groups who are looking to party until dawn. However, stating 'no alcohol allowed' will also deter quiet, older couples from wanting to stay with you - a glass of wine in the evenings is something people look forward to when on vacation.


                  Best of luck to you.

                  • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                    marym Active Contributor

                    I agree with the other comments - your ad notes a fireplace and couples may just want to sit and enjoy it with a bottle of wine.  The bold statement of "no alcohol allowed" just sort of puts a damper on the holiday/vacation glee and excitement people feel when they look to book!  If it's near the skiing area, put that in your headline so guests will know they're close.  You may want to add other points of interest near to where you're located. You mentioned you don't have a stove, so the kitchen area is good for nibbling and snacks only.  (The continental breakfast is such a nice touch!)  However, the first thing I thought of is "Uh-oh - where will I eat?"   You may want to consider telling your potential guests how varied the restaurants are in the area and how easy they are to get to!  Your VR is lovely!

                      • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                        New Member

                        thank you for your great advice

                        • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                          anja Senior Contributor

                          Your place looks like a wonderful spot...seriously....one that I would chooe to escape to and fully indulge in nature, skiing and hiking in summers in Canada.  {I'll bookmark your place!}.  And, I agree with all of the comments made already. The 'no alcohol' is a hard one to pitch to renters. People may think that you are imposing your values on others...someone could take that wrongly.  I've been renting two units for 6 years...I do not have problems with people drinking much...but they do mix themselves a mai tai or have wine with meals. Don't ask them not to drink in your home. And, I wanted to know more about surroundings...as the other Owners here already stated.  I also believe that the "no stove" is a minus. Every one of my guests wants to cook...even if it's a simple one-pan meal....and microwave ovens are limited to heating up already prepared foods.  They will be so hungry and "boxed" meals for micro are not satisfying after skiing. Folks are hungry for real meals on holiday. I know someone with a small unit with no room for a range/oven  So, she bought a beautiful, double  "induction" cook top. It's modern/sleek. It sits on top of the counter, it plugs into a regular el. outlet... it is easy to operate...easy to clean {wipe with cloth}...and very effective. The cookware needed is "induction"...and the unit comes with a nice cook pan!  And, then...if you have some guests who do not care to cook anything, you just unplug the unit and store it in a cabinet. It's very easy to have "best of both worlds"...to please everyone. She also has a  nice, small el. oven that sits on a shelf...it can also be stored away, if not needed.  If you are interested, I can find the brand and perhaps even post a link. That is one way to "upgrade" the unit, and perhaps attract more people.  But, maybe you have a reason you don't want guests preparing meals?  No cooking and no alcohol is not inviting to guests. Your kitchen is very nice!  I can see myself cooking a simple hot meal there after a full day of skiing.  I have one more thing to suggest:  I just looked, again, at your VRBO ad and it is thin....you give no information about the area, as aleady stated. To get you started with improving the main text...you can take the details that you wrote in your "Owner Profile/benifits about renting the place"....and include those things, instead, in the main ad, at the top. Include info. on shopping, markets, {where do you grocery shop}, cultural places ...how far to drive?  It is clear that you did not think to include such detail because you do not want people to cook (?)....but then I am confused.  Do you consider your place to be a Bed & Breakfast? If so, then advertise that you are a Bed & Breakfast in the headline. Some people will not book a B&B....some people LOVE B&Bs!  You need to distinguish yourself because you are clearly losing one of thise target groups.  As your ad is now, it is confusing because you provide a lovely kitchen that no one can cook  in?  You are losing business because you are not permitting "cooking" in the kitchen you provide...so the vacation rental people do not book!  At least, B&B people do not expect a full kitchen...then you should state that it is a B&B with a "tea kitchen".  That is, for me, the biggest negative in your otherwise beautiful house, beautiful surroundings.

                        • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                          Active Contributor

                          Your unit is beautiful and I see nothing that needs to be changed.  I know nothing about your area and what it might offer in the way of restaurants right around the corner, but I must agree with Anja: I personally would not rent a unit with no facility for cooking.  We have at our own home an induction cook top and it is very efficient and responsive, easy to clean, safe to operate and uses much less energy than a stove or hotplate.  You do need to have "induction capable" pans, but only a couple would suffice.


                          Frankly, the no drinking rule is probably going to keep people away.  And be hard to enforce.


                          Wishing you all the best.  Happy New Year!



                          • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                            ttaylor0 Active Contributor

                            You asked for help in what might be keeping people from renting, so I am going to give it to you. Just remember that  even though you might not agree, it is given with the honesty of a friend.


                            First your title as stated by several. Change it and change it NOW! Quit thinking about it.  This is skiing season and you are just throwing that away. New title might be something like: Peaceful, Cozy getaway on 2.5 acres - 15 minutes from Ski Area.  I don't know the name of your local ski area so put that in.


                            Get your map much closer to your area. I don't know where you are at.


                            Several things in this paragraph would stop me from renting your place.

                            (Please note that it is a Non Smoking room and no pets are allowed but there is a dog on the premises.Also no alcohol is permitted on the premises. A cleaning charge of 40.00 will be charged if the stay is longer than 4 days. The elderly are welcome as long as they can climb the stairs to the apartment.We will allow babies as long as they have their own sleeping arrangements.One child can be accommodated.)

                            1st the no drinking rule...I don't drink and my wife does not, but other people do, in fact 93% of American adults. So you are cutting out 93% of your market. Reconsider this. We have never had a problem with over indulgence. And as another said, what are you going to do if you find a wine bottle after they leave anyway?

                              2nd, I am offended by your statement that the elderly are welcome if I can climb the stairs. Instead of that, why not state, "just a note, this is on the second floor and stairs will have to be used to get to the apartment. Or something like that where I can decide if I want to climb stairs or not.

                            3rd. What are you thinking when you say that my baby will be allowed if I can make their sleeping arrangements. Just sounds wrong. If you don't want kids in your house just say "adults only." A lot of people who are going skiing are without their children.

                            4th.  Don't say that you have a dog but they can't. Just say no pets allowed.



                            Get a photo of your wall mounted TV.


                            I'm little confused by your cleaning fee charge. One place says $40 and one says $38. Also if it were me, I would change two other things. One I would give a nightly price, not one of single or double. I would add on $10 per night to $95 and put in my advertising that I do not charge a cleaning fee which will save them money over the other rentals in the area. In fact you can check my rental that that is exactly what I say.


                            I would also change your payment to 50% of deposit 30 days before rental, remaining 50% 14 days out. Just giving checks time to clear. I take checks and knock on wood have never had a single one bounce.


                            You have some wonderful photos.


                            I'm homeaway 341147 and my title talks about ski area.  Good luck, and remember everything I said was to hopefully help in the long run.

                              • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                msdebj Senior Contributor

                                I'd like to chime in here. The one thing that jumped out at me was the fact that there are conflicting  facts. A Kitchen with all amentities should be a kitchen with all amentities ( that would include a place to cook meals), yet you offer a continental breakfast. It's coming across as a Bed & Breakfast, as opposed to a VR home rental.


                                We now offer a Pack and Play for small, wee ones, on request. ( We ask that they bring their own sheets, etc. for the baby) . It makes it easier for those travelling with a small one.


                                I'd nix the comments regarding elderly, steps, etc. Those are conversations you can have as you progress in the booking process.  I've found that my renters with family members who have trouble navigating steps tend to mention that in the inquiry. ( and, I've had quite a few guests who've brought "elderly" family members who managed well in our place, even though they had 10 steps to enter our home.)


                                If you want to market to skiers & only those who'll enjoy active winter sports you should market it that way.My hubby is 70 & still teaches skiing.


                                As for the No Alcohol comment I agree with previous posts. You can't enforce it, and potential renters will see you as being intolerant. Of course, you must have your own reasons for this clause, but it doesn't come off well.


                                The reason folks rent VR homes as opposed to hotels is so they can have a more intimate, homey experience., not have to "go out" to eat, etc. 


                                Best of luck to you! ( and yes,I think all of our inquiries/actual bookings are down this year- could be the economy, or it could be VRBO/HA new protocals).

                                Deb J 

                              • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                amyg Active Contributor

                                Safe1hav, please don't take this wrong but as someone who writes professionally I notice that you have copy issues.  Many words are capitalized that shouldn't be, plus punctuation mistakes and run-on sentences are found throughout your text.  Also the fact that you have very little copy on your VRBO page (compared other VRBO listings) leaves me with more questions than answers.  Don't make potential inquirers work--give them plenty of information so they can feel comfortable inquiring about your rates and availability. 


                                I agree with previous posters.  If you want more bookings, you need to make adjustments to your page as soon as possible.  There were some excellent suggestions by trace!, ttaylor0 anja and msdebj.  Every day that you wait (it's been a full week since you posted your question and your VRBO page appears to have had no changes made) you are missing out on potential inquiries.  If you take your bookings seriously, you need to take your listing seriously. 


                                Also depending on your area--meaning how competitive it is and how many other VRBO listings have 16 photos--you may want to purchase a listing with more than 5 photos.  Look at your dashboard and see what your listing rank is.  For example, if you're #186 out of 207 listings that's the bottom quartile and your chances of getting eyes on your listing are not nearly as good as if you had a full 16 photo listing and it bumps you up to #83 out of #207.  Those are just an example, but it would pay to do a little investigating to see if you could improve your listing's position.  Plus with 16 photos you can take more of those beautiful photos to entice people to your property.  With photos, more is better!


                                Good luck, Deborah

                                  • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                    New Member

                                    Thank you to all who gave advice.

                                    I have finally been able to update my sites. I hope they look better. i have used all the tips you have given me.

                                    • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                      otttoyboy Senior Contributor

                                      amyg writes>> Also depending on your area--meaning how competitive it is

                                      amyg writes>> and how many other VRBO listings have 16 photos--you may

                                      amyg writes>> want to purchase a listing with more than 5 photos.



                                      I would caution you about this approach.  Amy may have a good point that in certain areas more pictures will give you a competitive edge.  However, this is largely a HomeAway manipulation to get owners to purchase more pictures in order to "pay per placement" and to cause owners to compete with each other.


                                      It does not serve guests well (as it can potentially make properties that meet their requirements show up further down the list and those that don't meet their requirements as well up the list).  It does not serve owners well since the cost goes up for everyone. 


                                      My advice is to take all of the other advice of owners (in writing better copy, headlines, etc..) and observe the results first.


                                      Unfortunately, the fact is that since some owners have done this it forces more owners to do it to compete.   The web site is designed specifically to give advantage to owners to pay more $ for more pictures.  In other words, more pictures in and of themselves is not what makes your listing better, it is the way HA / VRBO manipulates the search results because you have paid more money that does that.


                                      Try modifying your listing first before feeding the machine.  Hopefully that will be enough.



                                        • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                          amyg Active Contributor

                                          I checked and in Deborah's case, she's the only property in her particular VRBO neighborhood/listing.  Makes no sense at all to "buy up".  Now that Homeaway has changed its model, I'd recommend she puts 16 photos up since it costs not a penny more.  I really thought her place was attractive and wished I could have seen more of it when perusing her listing. 

                                      • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                        Active Contributor

                                        I think you have done a good job with your heading as it now emphasizes the nearest ski area.  I did still notice some misspellings so may I suggest you get someone else to proof read your text.  Sometimes when you have written it yourself, you just don't notice.  That's true of me!


                                        Hope you soon have some bookings.



                                        • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                          anja Senior Contributor

                                          The headline is a little better. But, I do not believe that is enough to make the difference. Weaknesses were identified by experienced Owners....all of the problems  are easy to fix.  Just remember,  although many here are very experienced, we all are always learning...we all are always adjusting to the Travelers' needs and wishes.  It's not only about "the bed, the bath and the view".

                                          • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                            New Member

                                            The Vacation Homeowner's Guide on Facebook is a free app full of free information for managing and maintaining vacation home properties.  The content is contributed by fellow vacation homeowners and is simple enough for even a beginner to understand (but veteran vacation homeowners can learn plenty from the guide, too).  Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose.

                                            • Re: No bookings what am i doing wrong
                                              New Member

                                              Hello Safe1hav,

                                              First allow me to say I have been to your listing and think it is very appealing!

                                              Your price is inviting and your photos captivating.

                                              As a fellow Canadian (and neighbour...I live near Collingwood) I would say your biggest obstacle is location.

                                              I would guess there are very few people internationally who even know where Hillsdale, Elmvale, Orillia or even Collingwood is located. Many years ago I owned a home in Hillsdale so I am familiar with the geographical setting.

                                              I went through the exercise of searching for Elmvale, Barrie, Hillsdale and Orillia on Homeaway. Nothing showed up in any of those searches. Collingwood had only 6 listings.  Even Toronto which should be better known around our world shows only 111 results with a population of over 3 million.

                                              If I were you, I would look at advertising your beautiful retreat more locally rather than VRBO or Homeaway. I am confident that if you google Ontario Ski Vacation Rentals you will find a link to a more captivating audience.

                                              Best of luck and I wish you a successful ski season!