Updated for 2016
We live in a “give me right now” society and we all like quick fixes. Here are 15 quick and easy changes you can make to your Orlando vacation rental and booking routine to increase your exposure and revenue this winter.
1. Update Your Photos!
I’m always baffled that someone will spend upwards of $100,000 on an income property but then won’t spend $1000 (or much less) on amazing professional photos of it. There is nothing worse than outdated, bad angled pictures on your property website. People will be booking your home solely based on the photos they see online. You only get one chance at this so make it count. The Flamingo thing to do would be to dip into your wallet a little and hire a professional vacation rental photographer like Tyann Marcink to come in and take incredible photos. It’s an investment that will pay itself off 10 times over.
2. Expose Yourself!
Don’t be afraid to put your home out there. There are over 50 websites you can list your Orlando vacation rental home on to get some owner booking revenue coming in. Consider the top three and take an ad out on those sites. Again if your pictures are terrible than don’t waste the money but if the package looks good than by all means get it out there!
3. Start a Blog
Yes, I just told you to become a “blogger”. This is by far the fastest and most cost effective way to start generating some exposure online. It’s free to start a WordPress blog and if you do it correctly can generate a ton of new business and stir up interest in your Orlando vacation rental. You have to be committed to it and be willing to stick it out for 6 months to a year before you start seeing traffic from it but speaking from experience, it’s a MUST. Need ideas on what to blog about? Be sure to subscribe to our blog, I have a huge list of ideas coming up for owners and I’m giving them all away for free.
Nothing speaks louder to a potential prospect than the voice of another satisfied guest. If you are not utilizing testimonials on your website/blog than you are missing out on a large market of people. Encourage your previous guests (the satisfied ones) to go onto your website/blog and leave you a testimonial on the testimonials page (which you should have in place already). In all of your online advertising link back to this page so people can read them. If you really want to take this a step further, ask them for a video testimonial. They can record it in less than a minute with their smartphone, email it to you and you can upload these to youtube. In your online listings you can add a link to your video testimonials page.
5. Love Your Competition
Who says you have to compete with the competition? There is more than enough business to go around for everyone and there is also power in high numbers (at least in Orlando). Get with other owners of properties in your neighborhood and link your websites up. What’s great is that they may have guests that are looking for specific dates that they already have booked but guess what, their “buddy” up the street has availability. Many Orlando vacation home owners have even started neighborhood websites where all owners within the community advertise their home and they market the site together. You could also start a group on Facebook for owners in your neighborhood and run the network on there.
6. Build Your E-mail Database!
This is huge! Your Orlando vacation rental property is a business and should be treated like one. Every person who contacts you in any way, shape or form is a potential booking. You should be keeping a database of every email address that comes through your inbox inquiring about your Orlando vacation rental property. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Utilize this database when you are running specials and want to tell people about it. You will be surprised how many people respond to specials that they may have not been interested in before. Make sure you are using a program like Mailchimp that offers an unsubscribe option in your emails. Nobody likes to be spammed. Need ideas of what to send to stay in touch with people? Subscribe to our blog for juicy freebies that I have coming up for savvy owners like yourself.
7. Automate Yourself
If you’re like me you have a life and a family outside of work. The last thing you want to be doing is be sitting around by your computer and waiting for booking requests to come in. The downside to that is people want immediate responses to their questions and will go elsewhere if they do not get one. The easiest way to solve this problem is to set up an auto-responder on your email and within that responder let the customer know you will be getting back to them before the end of the business day. You may also want to include a frequently asked questions list as well as some testimonials and a link to your site. Furthermore, offer them something of value as well that they can download and read until you’re able to respond. When you do respond, try sending a personalized 1 minute video addressing their questions in the email. Most people are NOT expecting this and they will love it.
8. Consider Allowing Pets
Say What! Animals in MY vacation home??!! I know it’s a big thing for many to allow owners with pets to stay in their Orlando vacation rental property BUT consider this: So many other owners feel the same way so imagine the amount of people who are looking for a place like yours that can’t find anything that allows pets. Often time the first vacation rentals to book are the pet friendly ones. The extra booking revenue you earn from this should far outweigh the cost of having your carpets steam cleaned once a year. You can also charge extra for pets and most people are willing to pay a small premium.
9. Game On!
Not everyone has a games room in their Orlando vacation rental home and it’s costly to add one but one thing you can do to increase bookings is throw in a PlayStation or a Nintendo Wii. This will appeal to families traveling with children and in Orlando, that’s mainly your target market. If you are thinking of putting a game room in the garage, be sure to check with zoning as this sometimes violates the fire marshall codes.
10. Stock Up on The Tea. . . and don’t be cheap!
This may seem incredibly obvious and even most hotels do this but having a nice selection of good tea available to your guests when they arrive is a big deal! Don’t scrimp on the tea and buy the cheap Lipton stuff. . . Stock up on the good stuff from places like Teavana and even some cool local spots like Dandelion Communitea Cafe or Infusion Tea room. It’s the small details like this that keep people coming back for more.
11. Offer Up Your Home To Realtors
Most Orlando Realtors who are vacation home specialists only work with out of town and country buyers. When they fly down for their buying trip they will need a place to stay. Offer your property up to their clients. If you get in with a busy enough office you can easily score an extra 5-10 bookings per year. That can really fill in those gaps! Talk to your Realtor who sold you your vacation home property and let them know your home is available to their guests! They will happily promote it for you.
12. Secure The Net
Make sure your guests have access to a SECURED internet connection when they are staying at your Orlando vacation rental. Many guests staying in Orlando on holiday are already paranoid and scared of getting ripped off. Some people, especially those traveling here form other countries, will feel much safer knowing they have internet access and it’s completely secured. I for one am one of those people and I can assure you that being a computer geek has it’s perks!!
13. Offer an Intro Video
Who knows your home better than you? Chances are that you’ve been to Orlando on holiday several times and stayed at your property. You know all the hot spots and by now should know many of the local spots as well. Create a video of you talking about all your favorite spots and giving them advice on what they can do once they’re here. Also making a list of all your favorite restaurants and even gluten free restaurants would be extremely helpful as well.
14. It’s All In Your Name
Addresses are BORING! You don’t want to market your property as an address you want to name your property just like you would your pets or your kids. It needs a fun name that will be remembered by just about anyone browsing the web. A name will make your property stand out from the others and almost instantly add credibility as an established vacation home. I remember one owner named her house “The Pineapple Palace”. I still remember that because it’s different and it’s fun and if I were searching the many listings on Airbnb I would click on that because it sounds fun and at the very least I want to see what this Pineapple Palace looks like.
15. Add a Hammock
This is about as black and white as it sounds. People loves hammocks, especially when in Florida on vacation. I love hammocks even when I’m NOT on vacation so buy a hammock and put it in your backyard or if you have a large enough front porch that works too. Make sure you take pictures of the hammock and use it in your marketing. Make sure there are no liability issues first though, check with your insurance company and management company. You can get some really cool swing hammocks at the Artegon Marketplace in the Festival Bay Mall. Hammocks rock! (Literally)
We hope to earn the opportunity of helping you achieve your investment property goals this year. To set up a free, no obligation investment property consultation with us please use our scheduling tool or contact us directly at 866-422-6191 and if you have enjoyed this article please consider subscribing to our blog and stay updated on future information.