67 Replies Latest reply: Nov 10, 2012 1:12 PM by tpowell RSS

    We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.

    New Member

      We advertise on only one website VacationRentals.com, and have had almost 50 requests.

      I started by emailing responses with details, and offering to send the Agreement to be signed. 

      The rates I quoted were the same as on our ad.  The emails were very professional and

      edited and correctly worded, etc.  Did not hear back from anyone.  I started calling

      them and most of them had already booked with someone, none had replied to me.

       

      Now I am trying to call them first instead of emailing them, and even that has failed.  I

      called one person 3 times (got voicemail the first 2 times and left message or paged)

      and found out on the 3rd time that they had already booked somewhere that morning.

      I had followed each call with an email, so I don't know what is going on here.

       

      The only people who come close to wanting to rent are college spring break kids that want to

      pack the place with sleeping bags and party.  When I tell them "no partying allowed",

      they don't call back.

       

      One guess is that there are more rentals than customers (more supply than demand),

      possibly to do with the economy when people bought up foreclosures to rent out, and

      now there is a surplus of rentals just as there is a surplus of homes for sale.

      Another guess is that some homeowners are offering immediate price-breaks once they get a bite,

      and are not giving potential renters time to respond to us.

       

      Any suggestions or advice?  What are all these nice potential customers doing?

      We also prefer families and couples.

       

      So far, the money on advertising has gone down the drain.

        • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
          Contributor

          I can certainly understand your frustration. Where is your VR located? I would try other ad sites like vrbo or homeaway. Most VR's have good luck with these. Are you priced competitively? What do you offer that is unique to your competition? Is your location a family based travel destination? or a spring break party spot?

            • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
              New Member

              Thank you very much for your quick and interesting reply.  We are  located in Huntington Beach, 1 hour south of L.A., close to the ocean  and not far from Anaheim (Disneyland).  Our prices are very competitive,  but I get the feeling other homeowners are offering their places for  less than what they are advertising them for.  We offer a beautifully  landscaped large back yard with grill and lounging area.  Most places in  H.B. have very tiny outdoor areas where they plop down a grill.  Your  last question was the key:  it does happen to be a spring break party  spot, my downfall.  Being close to the beach and Disneyland would be the  "family destination" aspect of it.  Which other website would you  highly recommend, I don't have tons of money to drain on advertising.   Also, it seems all these websites are owned by the same company, so what  makes one website "better" than the other?

            • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
              New Member

              I have experienced the same problems. Lots of requests but not lots of deposits. I think you are right. The economy has flooded the market with low cost rentals. For us the biggest problem is the negative media for Mexico.

              I have noticed once I started pushing for reviews there were more requests. I am giving it a year to see if it improves.

              • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                New Member

                Well, not sure but we have plenty of renters. I don't ever call but I do respond to e-mails fast via my iphone or e-mail - I would say within 1 hour but most of the time asap. I pretty much always answer my phone and I would say that aboout 95% of people pay immediately. We started to be more successful when we offered credit card payment. I take credit card info, process and it's locked. Only then I send out agreements. I break price down, send short e-mail in response to inquiries. Just saying we are available, break down price and say in one sentence why they should rent our place instead of the others. I would also check prices with your competitors to ake sure you are not overpriced. Also, consider offering flexible dates instead of a set week say from sat to sat. That made a huge difference for us and we rarely have a dy or two in bewteen rentals. People are pretty flexible but they do require flexibility on your part as well. I booked my first rental within 2 weeks after we advertised and now after a year I really don't have any problems getting renters. Good luck, you will get a hang of things and find out what works what not.   

                • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                  tsvr Contributor

                  I have 3 rentals on HomeAway, all in the same geographic location. One of them  we started renting last year and it is booked  thru the whole summer. The other 2 we just started with this year and I have had a few bookings on one and none on the other. I think there could be lots of different reasons why you may be starting off slow... how much competition does your rental have...meaning is your rental a lot like others in your area, same amount of bedrooms, amenities, etc. Does your rental offer anything special, if not do you offer any thing to attract renters.

                  Our rental that is booked for the summer is a large rental and sleeps almost 20 people. It attracts extended families and large group vacationers. With the way the economy is, people are not flying off to vacations, they tend to stay closer (and cheaper) to home. The second rental is quite similar to others in the area so we are trying to push some of the great amenities that it has. The third one is very large also but the rental rate may be too high  and it doesn't have the draw of being on the lake. We may need to lower the rate this first year and/or get very creative with the amentities.

                  Try the  suggestions from the person above and some of mine and see if that helps. Don't give up...just see if you need to be more creative or if you may need to lower your rates the first year. You seem to be doing what you need to be as far as contacting inquirers ect.

                   

                  Message was edited by: Lin

                  • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                    Contributor

                    I have tried quite a few other advertising sites, Homeaway is by far the best.

                     

                    Try offering a start up special just to get someone in there. Or lower your price, I always feel that something is better than nothing when I have bills to pay.  You need to have something special that very few others are offering. We have a TV in every bedroom and a 50 inch in the family room. How about bikes, or put in a spa in the back yard. Make sure your pictures are attractive. Show as many pictures as possible.  When you reply talk up the special aspects of your property. Is there any way to provide discount tickets to Disney, maybe as a part of a yearly pass you would buy from Disney? Be as friendly as possible in your replies.

                     

                    Some people only do phone calls, I only do emails, unless renters call me. Whatever works best for you.

                      • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                        Contributor

                        Hi SC,

                         

                        first off -- your advertising money isn't down the drain -- there are two things you need to realize.

                         

                        1. You have received 50 inquiries -- these are potential future customers -- don't delete their contact info, as they are pre-quallified renters -- they TOOK THEIR TIME to fill out a request, so they are 100% more interested in your property than people that only VIEWED your ad.
                        2. You are receiving feedback by the simple fact that you haven't gotten a single booking.  That means there are some lessons to be learned here...

                         

                        Karen is absolutely right, you need to make sure your photos are the best possible... In my opinion, while your photos aren't bad, they could be better....consider hiring a pro, or investing time to learn / play / experiement / figure out better angles & times of day for better light -- remember you are competing with everyone on PRICE & FEATURES, BUT, it's the PHOTOS that help get your would-be customers attention FIRST and makes them interested enough to read all of your details.

                         

                        Second, don't be afraid to ask would-be customers who didn't rent for feedback.  Put together a quick (& simple) multiple choice feedback form on FormSpring or some other free service.  Entice your would-be customers to respond by letting them know that they can provide feedback anonymously, and if they're want to provide their email address in the feedback form they can win a 50% off stay-coupon (to be given away at random). 

                         

                        Come to think about it, why not create an email list, and in that survey offer to send them an update with new amenities (available at your property) and coupons (which you could limit to low-season less busy times anyway) 2-3 times / year?  You could tease that in the email asking for their feedback as well.  People always want a deal, especially "in this economy" ...

                         

                        Customers are looking for signs that build trust, that you've thought about all of the details and that a particular property (or location) is going to give them the best bang for your buck.  I'm not saying you need to go out of your way to cater to them to the point of dumping rose petals on their bed and leaving chocolates on their pillows (unless, maybe, you're targeting honey-mooners) -- but prompt responses via email, answering the phone (& never let your voicemail inbox fill up) etc. show you care and are customer-centric.  It shows that you're on top of your game and you're willing to help address issues in a timely manner (if anything shows up).

                         

                        Make sure your ad (or, if you create an independant web site, which isn't a bad thing) goes over the thoughtful details that will make the stay more enjoyable.  Highlight the positives, and do whatever you need to do to get a good renter or two in the door & get a testimonial out of them!  Heck, give your neighbors or a close family member a free stay in exchange for a testimonial for your web site. 

                         

                        There are a few of my ideas...

                         

                        Cheers,
                        Jeff

                        Jeff Freeman Photography, Portland OR

                          • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                            Contributor

                            Oh, and one more thing -- INQUIRE about some of the other neighboring properties -- play the part of the renter, study your competition and see HOW they are handling things.  Let them know you're price-shopping and see if they come back with un-advertised specials.  Ask them if they have any last-second specials, to see if they are relatively busy, or empty and desparate to get "anyone in there" ...

                             

                            This will give you even better feel for how the market is without directly asking / tipping them off that you're a competitor ...


                            Jeff

                              • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                tsvr Contributor

                                Our first VR home was a very large home and was a big investment (but we use it whenever it's not booked). Because we were unsure how everything  would work out, we intentionally made our rates a little lower (we actually had a few renters tell us we should raise our rates) until we could get a feel for how this was going to go. We thought the same someone else up above did...booked at a little lower rate is better than not booked at all.

                                That is not to say that you should make your rates a lot lower than your competion...after all there is the the old addage "you get what you pay for" and if your rates are too low perspective renters may wonder what is wrong with the property. I don't know how your rates compare with others in your area, but this is one suggestion of something to try.

                                Also, Jeff had some great ideas. Some of them we had thought of to try and get more of our off peak months booked.

                          • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                            bha Contributor

                            We've got two vacation rentals, both seem to have very seasonal swings.  Our codo on the Oregon Coast tends to book fairly solid during July & August... primarily just weekends the rest of the year.  Most renter's tend to be from the Oregon/Wash area and don't book very far in advance.  Our other condo is an Ocean Front condo in Kona, HI.  That one tends to book heavy in Jan-March, almost empty June - August, and fairly well the rest of the year.  Renter's for this come from around the world.

                             

                            We've been running vacation rentals for several years now.  Seems you will start out slow... what seems to make the difference is getting renter's to post reviews on the sites.  People tend to trust your rental more if they can see what other people have written about their stay.  So to get your first "review" have your sister or other relative stay there and write a review for you (hopefully, they will give you a good review).  Once rentals are over, invite your renters to leave a review... send them an email with a link so they don't have to hunt for it.

                             

                            If your just starting out.... beware of the scam rentals...  maybe we need another thread and just post examples of what to watch out for.

                             

                            At this point I don't take cash... I have no one on site to collect it.

                            I don't accept Bank or Cashier's checks... #1 source of scams

                            I do have a merchant account and accept Credit Cards... people's trust level is much higher if they can use a Credit Card for their rental... you also won't have to deal with as many bad checks.    Refunds go back to the card they were charged from... no exceptions... no payments to any third party ever.

                             

                            Ok,,, I got a bit off target here...  Try and get some reviews on your site...  If you're not set up to take Credit Cards consider a PayPal account... that worked well for me until I got my own merchant account.  I believe the HomeAway/VRBO family has a Credit Card option you could use also.

                            • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                              New Member

                              It sounds like you're doing everything right.  You just need to add vrbo to your mix.  Make sure your pictures are terrific and show your property at its best advantage.   For instance: for our profile picture, instead of showing a picture of our home, we show one out by the hot tub where it is beautifully landscaped.  Try to focus on something that makes you stand apart from your competition. Hope your phone starts ringing soon.  And that's another thing...when the phone rings, 99% of the time they want to rent YOUR vacation home...the inquiries on email should always be answered,  but you have to realize a lot of them are sent to ten properties or more.   A lot of the time these prospective renters are price shopping.  Try not to drop your price or bargain with them.    

                              • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                New Member

                                I suggest putting an ad on HomeAway.  We advertise on both HomeAway and VRBO, and there are pros and cons to each.  Since you are already on one other site, go with HomeAway, as they give you a lot more pictures for your money.  Also, check out their tips for owners regarding how to take the best pictures.  I found them very helpful.

                                 

                                When we first started renting, we planned to use our cottage for a summer week that wasn't booked, i.e.  take what's available.  Our cottage neighbor (who also rents) suggested blocking off some time for our own use on our rental calendar.  Although it's unpaid, it is a "booking," and sometimes just seeing that someone else is using a property makes it more appealing to prospective renters.

                                 

                                First seasons can be slow, which is certainly frustrating, but eventually it will improve.  Good luck!

                                • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                  New Member

                                  Everyone already gave the right advice above. I will add my experience.

                                   

                                  My  under a year old rental is booked all summer & most of spring now! But...it took months of a lot of marketing (vrbo,HA,VR) to get to this point. You are in a great beach town HB, but you are inland and do not have a pool - on the other hand it is less expensive. My place is a mile from the beach (also cheaper than beachfront)and I tell inquiries it is quiter than the rowdy beach rentals. Also ALWAYS email back ASAP - within 2 hours with the rate & any helpful information (google map with ALL useful local food, shopping, etc.). Then follow up with a call 1-2 days later, most will not answer but leave a message and this is all you can do!

                                   

                                  In a nutshell (in order of importance):

                                  1. Advertise on vrbo (the biggest by far) - it will cost $400-500 with 8+ pics but one booking pays for the whole year!

                                  2. Then homeaway (2nd biggest)

                                  3. Add 2-3 reviews from friends and family who have stayed at your home before.

                                  3 Pay for regional placemant on homeaway

                                  4. Put up deals on vr.com - free!

                                   

                                  You will get bookings for June-August, the rest of the year takes work, patience & dealmaking.

                                   

                                  Buona Fortuna!

                                  • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                    New Member

                                    Aerial w logo.jpg

                                    http://www.vrbo.com/229936

                                     

                                    Thanks for posting the question, we can relate.  When we initially posted our island property for rent it was seemingly futile; we, too, went a couple of months without a booking. There are many, many inexpensive rentals here and we were higher.  We then changed our marketing direction and most importantly our photos.  We are now in our second year of booking this property with great results.  (We turn down more bookings than we accept).  We now market with "service" to the client in mind.  We also raised our rates, effectively "pre-qualifying" our client base. We utilize local web sites and Facebook.  Our rates are posted; if they are out of a potential clients financial comfort zone, they don't bother to click. We have added TripAdvisor/FlipKey to our marketing efforts and this three tiered method has been wonderfully effective for us.

                                     

                                    As Jeff pointed out; you've lost nothing at this point, but gained a considerable degree of inquires that are a potential mine field good information for you.  We, too, keep a data base on each of the sites we're posted on.  We review our competition weekly, we ask those that inquire where they "got us from", and we stay on top of this.  It is a business, and we try to address it and operate it like one. 

                                    • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                      New Member

                                      Hi,

                                       

                                      We advertise only with vrbo and have been doing it for 7 months and we are booked 90%-100% of the time!  It's always a work in process, though...

                                       

                                      In addition to all the great feedback you got from the previous replies, I noticed a couple of things on your add:

                                       

                                      1. I think it's best to NOT include yourself (or people) on the pictures. Similar to the situation when you sell a house, you want people to be able to imagine themselves there, and having personal pictures takes away from that.

                                       

                                      2. It seems you don't have a calendar with availability readily set up (renters have to contact you, if I'm reading correctly).  I really make an effort to have our calendar updated and even go in and make 'tentative' reservations when there are long periods in which I don't make reservations.  These tentative reservations don't show up on the vrbo site, but it shows that I updated the calendar.

                                       

                                      Good luck with your rental!

                                      Eva

                                      • We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                        New Member

                                        I try to look through the eyes of a potential renter and imagine what they might be looking for.  Since the cottage is at the beach, I punctuate it's proximity as well a photo of a child enjoying him/herself.  In the ad I stress the relaxed nature of the cottage, the quiet neighborhood and nearby attractions.  Of course I use positive descriptive words regarding all of the rooms, gardens, cedar shower, etc.  Most people taking a vacation at the beach have been someplace similar earlier in their lives so I use phrases that conjure up positive memories of the past.  When you mention beautiful views, salt air,  and clam chowder it creates a picture of vacation few can resist.  I get inside people's head and I'm ALWAYS rented.

                                        • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                          kailua520 Contributor

                                          Here is what I did when I first posted our new rental.   I blocked off several weeks through out the year so it looked as if there were rentals. I do belive that some people will think 'it has no bookings, what is wrong with it'.    As the other bookings started coming in, I released those dates.  I use HomeAway/VRBO and Vacationrentals.com   I had almost the entire summer booked and regularly looked at competing rentals in the area and most did not have half the bookings I did.   I had put it up on TripAdvisor/Flip Key and VacationHomeRentals.com - neither has generated any rentals.  I think it has a lot to do with making sure your pricing is competitive - go $10 a night lower than your toughest competitor..next year you can raise it, but get the initial bookings in there and get repeat renters (we've had a house in Maryland for 10  years rented and 75% are repeat renters!).  Also lots of good clear photos, - making it look clean and comfortable; like epv said, no personal shots, no people - but I do have local wildife on there!  Also giving lots of details and having rates posted and an updated calendar and responding fast.  I always respond within an hour - I have an alert on my phone!

                                           

                                          Ive been doing this house since April    and so far so good - and Ruidoso New Mexico isnt exactly a hot spot of tourism! But its a great place!

                                          • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                            New Member

                                            I've been in a position before where we would list a number of properties on rental websites and found that:

                                             

                                            Potential guests would email a number of properties which met their criteria - up to 10.  (so we would get the same lead for multiple properties, they didn't realise the properties were all amanged centrally)

                                             

                                            Therefore a fast response is critical.

                                             

                                            By virtue of the fact they have contacted you, means that they think your property meets their criteria in terms of size and location.

                                             

                                            Hope the situation has improved since the initial post was made.

                                            • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                              New Member

                                              I'm not sure why you'd list only on one of HA Inc's lesser sites, I think they always use those mostly as part of the search engine game. If you're serious about VR'ing you need to suck it up, pay twice, and and be on HA & VRBO (also don't go thinking their basic price levels are worth squat). Otherwise, have you tried dropping your price 10-20%? VR's are very price sensitive, $10/nt let alone $20/nt makes a big difference. Maybe drop it more than 20%, "buy" some bookings to make your calendar look busy and get those first reviews in, then raise the price again, the market won't be slow to let you know if you go too far. Remember, it's an occupancy game, you want to be busy. Also, like others have mentioned, reply quick, keep it simple & make it easy to pay.

                                               

                                              As regards other (non HA Inc. listing sites) I like basic website traffic stats like those at siteanalytics.compete .It used to let you plot 3 sites at the same time which was great for comparing HA, VRBO and whoever else you're considering but now you got to do 1 at a time. VRBO consistently has about twice the traffic of HA, despite all Houston's best efforts, hence HA Inc get away with hiking VRBO's rates every 2 minutes, and charging double what they do for HA. Interesting is that for the first time TripAdvisor's flipkey is getting respectable traffic, though how they get away with charging the same price for what's still half the traffic is beyond me, and the site mentioned above (vacationhomerentals) is knotching up decent stats, though I guess HA Inc won't be long "consolidating" them.

                                                • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                  Contributor

                                                  i and several of my friends from Cape Coral, Fl get far more reservations 

                                                  from Homeaway than any other site. I've personally never used VRBO because

                                                  my  friends said they don't get as many inquiries nor as many

                                                  reservations.They have  dropped their VRBO listings. I've tried Flip key, alwaysonvacation,

                                                  and a  few others. None generated reservations like Homeaway.com does. I am

                                                  still  paying the classic advertising rate as well. 

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  In a message dated 2/29/2012 7:36:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, 

                                                  community@homeaway.com writes:

                                                   

                                                           

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

                                                  Vacation Rental  Business.

                                                  Re:  We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a 

                                                  renter.

                                                  created by vranto39 (http://community.homeaway.com/people/vranto39)   in

                                                  Listings - View the  full discussion

                                                  (http://community.homeaway.com/message/18195#18195)

                                                  • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                    marilyn Active Contributor

                                                    I disagree with "buying" some bookings. You might buy weeks tenants are looking to rent.

                                                     

                                                    Marilyn

                                                    www.hamptonhouseproperties.info

                                                    • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                      New Member

                                                      You can think of "buying" bookings in different ways, maybe as trying to find the right price level and starting under rather than over your best guess. Or from the guest's point of view, your listing has less perceived value if no-one else has rented it yet, or reviewed it positiively, ie why should they risk their vacation time being your first adopter without some incentive. When I've added new rentals I've set the initial rate low and been able to bring it up quickly enough, not by much though, San Francisco is competitive.

                                                       

                                                      It is interesting how people's experience differs of the HA Inc. sites. As a guest I find them both frustrating, there's so many listings to trawl through, you can't filter VRBO in any useful way and you can't sort either site by price. Sorting by price would sink the whole "selling the listing position" business proposition of HA Inc, so every guest has to wade through dozens of listing that are irrelevant to them. I suspect this effect helps drives the HA enquiries up, ie there's just less pages to wade through.

                                                       

                                                      With 3 years experience of them both I find we get about 60/40 VRBO/HA enquiries and they convert to bookings at about the same rate as each other, also it's more important to buy your way up VRBO's sort order than HA's. For us, VRBO delivers more US enquiries and HA more non-US, they dovetail a bit as the US enquiries are great for filling gaps 'cos they book later, HA's Eu enquiries are great cos they book further ahead and for longer. The $1m question, or at least $500/yr anyway, is do the same people go on both sites so there's no point paying twice? I don't see it, and my feel from talking to guests is they very often don't, VRBO has the US mindshare and HA's brands have it in Eu, also very often people get recommendations for which site off friends etc, not from googling.

                                                       

                                                      As kailua520 says, you have to respond to enquiries fast, if you don't have your email on you especially Sunday & Monday you're not in business. Little things help too, say less rather than more in the description (people really don't read), skip the checkboxes for is there a toaster, nail polish etc, it makes your listing too long to read (see above) and don't look cheap, ie swallow the credit card fee in your rate - getting paid now makes up for it. Also, furnish the place as a VR not the place you used to live in (it doesn't have to be all IKEA, CL is very useful), and yes the cat has to go.

                                                    • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                      kailua520 Contributor

                                                      I've been renting on Homeaway, VRBO, TripKey, Vacationrentals.com    I get most reservations from Homeaway.com by far, over 80%.   VRBO, now and then, Vacationrentals.com probably 15%.  TripKey - rarely so that one is going away as soon as the listing expires.   I think one of the issues with VRBO is that the calendar is not right in your face like on Homeaway.  most of the inquiries I get from VRBO are last minute for dates that are already booked.

                                                       

                                                      Additionally,  I checked out the competition with like amenities and priced my home just a few dollars lower.   In our area, the cleaning fee is listed separately.  I charge $10 less for cleaning and $5-$10 a night.  Its perception.  And I also offer a 10% discount to Military (we have a lot here), police and firemen.  5% isnt much but again, its perception and frankly, those families deserve a little break.  I respond to all inquiries within a maximum of an hour (except when Im asleep!), but usually within 5 minutes if during the day.  I keep my tablet with me and send out the quote or give them a call.  We had 100% occupancy over the summer, 100% from Dec 15 - Feb 25th and the rest of the year its holiday weeks and long weekends, and Im very pleased.

                                                       

                                                      Photos should be clear, make the house look clean, comfortable and spacious.  Decorated nicely, but not a lot of 'stuff' that can be broken by kids.

                                                      • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                        New Member

                                                        This reply may not be welcome on this website but we advertise our rental on vrbo and airbnb and have gotten most of our bookings through airbnb now. Same amount of requests, significanlty more bookings. Also, they offer free professional photography for your space, the listing is free and they handle all your money aspects and hold the deposit for you and return it if there's no claim. It's super easy for the host and the renter and a lot of bookings come from international guests too. I feel like the homeaway family sites are more popular within the US. Just give it a try. Works very well for us and it's growing like crazy

                                                         

                                                        Good luck!

                                                        • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                          New Member

                                                          If it makes you feel better, I listed on Homeaway for four months before I got my first rental. Started listing in Jan. 2011 and first rental agreement was in Apr. 2011 for a Sept rental.  I had about 15 inquiries by April and one rental. Or home is in a very remote area.  After giving it some thought I lowered my price of  $1,250.00 by $150.00 a week so I was just under the market by a little.  Justification was my listing was new and no one knew the house.  It worked.  From Sept 2011 to now I have booked nine new clients which actually started in January. Now we have commitments for repeat and continue to get listing inquires.  Two things:  I have slowly moved the rent back up and I NEVER lower the listing price. I believe the lowering of the price helped me get in the market.  Good luck!!

                                                          • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                            New Member

                                                            Aloha

                                                             

                                                            you have some good feedback here.

                                                             

                                                            I looked at your website and here are my suggestions:

                                                             

                                                            Your photos of the interior of your place are dark.  They do not show it to its best advantage.  You may have a problem with backlighting during the day.  That leaves you some choices. Use flash.  Photograph on a dark day. 

                                                             

                                                            Everything that is strictly your rental should be absolutely as nice as the photos of the surrounding area.

                                                             

                                                            Also, you have no prices shown.  So it could be that when people hear your prices they do not compare favorably with others in the area, so they do not choose you.

                                                             

                                                            So...  to jump start your rental:

                                                             

                                                            take beautiful photos full of light where your house looks very inviting.  Use photo editing on your images or get a friend to help you with this part. 

                                                             

                                                            Include in your photos some warm and welcoming touches, like maybe a photo of the bed with the linens turned down and a box of chocolates or salt water taffy there, with a pretty shawl drape and maybe a book.  Put flowers in a vase and make sure they show up in a lovely way in the picture.  And make sure when your guests arrive the flowers and candy and shawl are there....

                                                             

                                                            Post your prices and then in the title of your offering, offer 3rd night free for next 60 days.  Make sure somewhere obvious in the body of your pricing page you give exact dates offer is good for.  This will bring you renters.  Then you can adjust your price and drop the special, or keep it awhile longer.

                                                             

                                                            Good luckj!

                                                              • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                kailua520 Contributor

                                                                Agree.  I know if prices are not listed, many potential guest will just pass right through because the assumption is it is over priced and you don't want to show it.  One suggestion on taking shots, along with the good light, is stand a few steps up on a ladder or chair and take it from a downward angle.  Always gives the room a better look.  Open all window shades, turn on all the lights, pick up anything and everything laying around, remove all clutter.   One nice thing that can be added inexpensively now days is a $25 dining certificate - use restaurant.com.  "Rent for 3 or more nights, receive a $25 dining certificate"  Works very well for me.

                                                              • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                New Member

                                                                Glad this post got resurrected. There is some great advice for all owners here, for sure. It starts with a great listing, photos, etc. I think that has more to do with it than price, although price does play a part at some point.

                                                                 

                                                                It's encouraging that you already got 50 inquiries. To get those 50, even more people had to see your listing, so you do have some visibility. It becomes a numbers game, where some percentage of inquiries will turn into customers.

                                                                 

                                                                What is that for people? Does anyone want to share that?

                                                                 

                                                                I'd love to hear back from the original poster. It's been a year now, what's the update?

                                                                 

                                                                Matt

                                                                http://vrhelper.com

                                                                • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                  lce0606 Contributor

                                                                  Who are you?? Do you work for hotelsvshomes.com?? My guess is that you do because they are *terrible.* I got talked into giving them a try and after 6 months have not gotten ONE inquiry. Part of the sales pitch was that I could advertise prices 25% higher than on VRBO and HomeAway. Even without doing that, I have not had an inquiry. I do not believe they have any traffic whatsoever let alone "sharing hotel traffic."

                                                                  • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                    Contributor

                                                                    diversify your internet marketing to multiple sites.  Here are some good options to get free exposure: free-vacation-rental-listing-sites

                                                                    • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                      New Member

                                                                      We advertise on VRBO, FlipKey and VacationRentals.com (also United in Uniform - big mistake)

                                                                       

                                                                      80% of our bookings come from VRBO; the balance from FlipKey. Nuthin' from VacationRentals or the United in Uniform.

                                                                       

                                                                      How do I get rental reservations? By answering very promptly. Within minutes or an hour. I make it personal with information about our place, our grounds, and how we love to have guests. Also, I send them the link of our website (made free with Weebly), where we have more pics and more information.

                                                                       

                                                                      Guest reviews are critical. I ask most renters that seemed to really enjoy their time to place a review on the site that they came thru. Most are very gracious, and I've heard from other prospective renters that the reviews made the difference. I ALWAYS reply to the reviews too.

                                                                       

                                                                      Like I've read here, I did place a few ghost bookings in the calendar to show that it was a desirable place. Then a month later, I remove the booking that I made and place it in a different month. Even with this, about 40% of my inquiries are clueless as to my calendar. They simply ask "is it available". I don't let that get under my skin. My reply is always friendly and outgoing.

                                                                       

                                                                      We're booked for most of the weekends for the summer. Yea to VRBO!

                                                                      • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                        kailua520 Contributor

                                                                        I did not renew Flip Key.   We get 75% of our rentals from HomeAway.com,  the rest from Vacationrentals.com, VRBO and VacationHomeRentals.com in that order.  I'm not sure why some sites are better for one and not as good for the other, but I do belive responding fast, having good photos and fair pricing is the best way to get rentals.   Also as others have said, reply to your reviews. I have a lot of reviews, all good, except one who complained about something so minor (no wash cloths), I was able to respond with how it has been remedied (simply because our cleaning crew forgot to put them out).   But if you have good reviews, you'll get rentals. We've been booking for less than a year and we've already got most of this summer booked and part of ski season.

                                                                        • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                          New Member

                                                                          Hello,

                                                                           

                                                                          I own this vacation rental in Portugal, Quinta do Bento Novo, http://www.quintabentonovo.pt/ or http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p82319

                                                                           

                                                                          The thing is, the fist years I have worked with Homeaway it worked really well and we had a lot of foreign good renters.

                                                                           

                                                                          But lately we had almost no inquiries.

                                                                           

                                                                          I don't think I'm overpriced, we have advertised in several websites, and even with more competitors, I believe we have good quality, and we surely have some good reviews.

                                                                           

                                                                          Do any of you know a company or someone who could analyze "Bento Novo" vacation rental and tell us what can be happening, or give us some piece of advices?

                                                                          Thank you very much!

                                                                          Paulo Barros

                                                                            • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                              moltened Contributor

                                                                              Well my business is impacted here in southern California by the economic crisis in Europe and yours would also have to be impacted as well.  I think that people are taking a wait and see attitude that is effecting early bookings... however my last minute business is doing well.   I'm not getting bookings 6 months in advance like I did but 1 to 3 months is working for me.

                                                                               

                                                                              I'll give you my two cents on your listing anyway because I don't think its presented as well as it could be.

                                                                               

                                                                              Beautiful place but there is no color or playfulness in a lot of the pictures. There is no artwork on the walls.  There are no colorful pillows anywhere; on sofas or beds.  White table clothes miss the chance for some color.  Bathroom is missing colorful towels.  Spectacular outdoor shots but no place to sit anywhere to enjoy it... seems absolutely barren.  Shelves seem devoid of reading material or interesting tchotchkes.  Even the flowers in that vase are seemingly colorless.   

                                                                               

                                                                              Some outdoor shots are begging for tall colorful ceramic pots with or without flowers.  I could come up with 10 different camera angles for that kitchen shot that would be more flattering.  Lets see the table top with a vase of the purple flowers from the garden and a loaf of bread and cheese... its certainly not inviting as is. 

                                                                               

                                                                              There's got to be a better way to present and describe that pool other than as 'granite tank'.  Is it spring fed with fish or chlorinated water? How is it not stagnate? How about a table pool side with umbrella or chaise loungers with colorful towels and pool toys.  Show me the nearby town you describe.  You have some duplicate pictures as well.

                                                                            • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                              loscuatrotulipanes Community All-Star

                                                                              We feel your pain!

                                                                               

                                                                              But southerncaliforniarental, one of the quick realizations new owners get when they start renting is that travelers won't just line up at your door to stay. In the same breath, listing on one or two or even five paid sites like VRBO or HomeAway or FlipKey is relying on something out of your control. (You can read many posts in this forum by owners who suddenly, after years of successful renting, have suddenly gone empty due to increased competition, increased prices of paid sites, yatta yatta yatta.)

                                                                               

                                                                              My message to disgruntled owners big and small is that you need to take control of your lead flow. The longer you rely exclusively on external sites to book your rental, the longer you are avoiding the ultimate premise (let's say, 10 years down the road) when it's nearly impossible to get a booking on paid sites due to a ultra-saturated and bloodthirsty competitive rental market in your community of Huntington Beach.

                                                                               

                                                                              The solution? Get in the drivers seat and begin working on the things you CAN control. Things like a prominent and well-thought-out website, good international press, a fine-tuned process for turning a lead into a booking, developing yourself as an expert (tours, restaurants, activities, nightlife...etc) in the Huntington Beach area, soliciting 5-star reviews, perfecting your last minute offers (good call moltened), hiring a photographer for professional photos...etc. The list goes on and on and I highlight the top-performers in my Boost Occupancy Report.

                                                                               

                                                                              The point of my post: signing up for listing sites is an easy (and sometimes very effective) one-time effort to promote your vacation rental. But owners need to get realistic and realize it takes more work than just spending an hour publishing a listing. If you are really serious about making money, you need to get more proactive. This is not necessarily synonymous with "start spending money" since there are tons of free tools and creative alternatives to, say, paid press releases or expensive PR firms. This is also challenging for those who have additional full time jobs. But it is a mentality (I blog about this constantly) I think every new owner could really benefit to embrace.

                                                                              • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                                New Member

                                                                                Hello,

                                                                                 

                                                                                There has been alot of excellent advice mentioned above. I would like to offer an additional option, an Interactive 360 degree Virtual Tour.

                                                                                 

                                                                                80% of people who bought or rented a vacation home in used the internet in house hunting. That means at least 60% of your marketing dollars should be spent optimizing your listings and company online.

                                                                                80% of internet shoppers say Great Clear images are imperative when deciding to buy or use a company’s product or services. (2006 Pew Study)

                                                                                84% of all buyers and 87% of first time buyers use the internet as an information resource during their search for a home. In the 25-44 age group this number jumped to 91% of all home buyers!

                                                                                54% of home buyers who are searching for their next home on Realtor.com will not even look at a home unless there is a featured tour. (NAR, January 2006)

                                                                                Images are one of the biggest reasons Internet marketing has become so popular.
                                                                                (2007 NAR profile of home buyers and sellers)

                                                                                Home Buyers who used virtual tours spent an average of two weeks with a Realtor® looking at homes, compared to those who did not use the internet, who spent an average of seven weeks looking for their home. (2008 RIS Media)

                                                                                By August of 2006, over half of American adult internet users (61%) had taken virtual tours of a location online and on a typical day, more than six million people are taking virtual tours in cyberspace. (2006 Pew Study)

                                                                                According to the 2007 NAR home buyer and seller profile, for the first time ever the Internet tied with the agent for most important informational source used in home searches (84%) and by the end of 2007 65% of agents had their own web sites.

                                                                                79% of repeat buyers & 84% of first time buyers use the internet to search for a home. (2006 NAR Survey)

                                                                                Reach a higher income demographic. The median income of Internet searchers is much higher, about $86,900, compared with buyers who did not use the internet to search for a home, about $50,400. (2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers)

                                                                                96.2% of travelers use the Internet as a source of information when planning a trip or move. (2006 Pew Study)

                                                                                Home buyers use the internet slightly more frequently (66%) than real estate agents (64%) and much more frequently than newspapers (17%), home magazines (10%) or television (2%).

                                                                                A site with a virtual tour and interactive media will receive 38% more views than a competitor’s site that is lacking media. (2006 Pew Internet Life Study)

                                                                                Only 1% of homebuyers did not find the internet useful and 100% of those that use a real estate agent take two weeks to search on their own before contacting their real estate agent. 64% of all home buyers used the FIRST agent they contacted.

                                                                                33% of all buyers are now using social networking sites with 19% using them at least a few times per week.

                                                                                Daily costs for print advertising can top $66-$150 per day, and usually has a shelf life of only 30 days. Print advertising has a limited market penetration and does not allow the consumer to interact or engage with the home or product. The average cost of an online interactive virtual tour is about 27 CENTS per day -- and has a shelf life of 365 days with WORLDWIDE penetration.

                                                                                A compelling use of interactive media and virtual tour technology keeps visitors on your site, and keeps them coming back...

                                                                                If you would like to learn more about this service please call me at 309-502-0638. I am located in the Panama City Beach area and I am willing to travel anywhere, anytime I can. If you would like to look as some of my work, please visit www.facebook.com/qc360

                                                                                • Re: We have been advertising for over 2 months and have yet to find a renter.
                                                                                  New Member

                                                                                  I have been in sales for 15+ years and when I am not able to close many inquiries for my product there is ultimiately a reason why which is usually my price. My experience using VRBO is there are many inquiries and there are many reasons why these don't convert to rentals. Sometimes the issue is my price, other times is my reply was too slow and the potential renter submitted inquiries to tons of properties at once and there are other reasons as well. Do you follow up with any past inquiries to see why they decided not to rent from you? It is very helpful to hear this feedback at times. Another thing I would do would be to list my rental on additional vacation websites like http://www.FVRA.com, Airbnb, Vacationrentals and others. Best of luck, don't give up.