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So you purchased, or are thinking or purchasing a STR (short term rental) vacation home in Davenport or possibly Kissimmee.  By now you’ve probably done the math and figured that a huge chunk of your expenses are coming from the property management company you are hiring to book it out and maintain it.  You tossed about the idea of how you could cut them out of the equation and save yourself money but you just don’t  know how you would get enough bookings to make it worth cost effective. I’m here to tell you that it’s possible.  You can get your own bookings BUT it’s going to take work, dedication and creativity on your part.   In order for this to benefit you be sure that you are either self managing the property or you have negotiated with your management company to not pay them anything out of your owner bookings (a cleaning fee is unavoidable).

  1. Create detailed descriptions of the property and location with tons of photos.  You can never have too many photos.  You NEED photos!!! Describe every bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, pool, patio, furniture etc.  Make sure you give as much detail and information as possible.  People love details, include room dimensions and how many it sleeps as well as the quality of linens and furniture.  This is important to people. I cant say this enough. . . INCLUDE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. Upload your photos with detailed descriptions to your favorite online photo hosting site.  For those of you not familiar with hosting photos online there are a number of site you can use to upload them.  Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket are just a few. This will create a place you can refer people to view the photos and you can also link to them.
  3. For the love of all things vacation home, please please please order a virtual tour.  This the web 2.0 era and consumers have much higher expectations these days than they did 20 or even 10 years ago.  You need to be able to compete with your competition.  If you’re not sure how to get a virtual tour for your Florida vacation home here is a site you may want to check out Obeo.
  4. Set up a property website. Godaddy has some very cost effective options as well as Hostgator. Be sure you include your contact information on your website and a valid e-mail address because most of your inquiries will come through e-mail.
  5. Once your website is up you can then start submitting your listing to vacation rental sites.  One of the biggest and most popular sites is  HomeAway Vacation Rentals. From here you can upload your listing (for a fee) and create a booking calendar to show availability.  You may want to make sure you keep it in sync with what ever bookings the management company has for you so you don’t make the mistake of double booking.
  6. Be sure you place ads on Craigslist.org classifieds at least once a week.  Some other great free classifieds sites are: Pink Flamingo Classifieds,  Ablewise and US Free Ads.
  7. Network with real estate companies that fly buyers in from out of the state and country.  Tell them they can rent your villa for their buyers and offer them a great deal.  If you get in with the right office you may have a small gold mine on your hands.

The most important thing to remember when getting your own bookings is that it’s quality not quantity.  For management companies it’s the opposite because they deal in volume but only get a very small portion of the revenue because of overhead expenses.  You will be collecting 100% (after taxes) of your nightly revenue so what you may earn on 10 booking could easily add up to what would be 20 bookings through your management company. That means less wear and tear on your home for the same type of income.

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