This article, part two in a series, will help vacation rental homeowners learn more about marketing a rental property online. It is important to understand that people looking for a vacation rental home are generally looking for more than they can get with a name brand hotel. They generally want space, privacy, laundry facilities, and almost always a cheaper rate than if they were staying in a hotel.
The main difference between booking a private vacation rental home and a branded hotel chain is that you know in advance what you will get when you book with a hotel chain. Also, if things are not going quite right, you will always have the manager on hand to fix it. On the other hand, vacation rental homes are almost always privately owned and operated, and in the past you could never be sure what you would get.
The Internet has changed everything about marketing a rental property. Now prospective renters can visit a website to view pictures and read information about a vacation rental home before making a final decision, which means that online marketing of a rental property should be a top priority.
The benefits of marketing a rental property online
By marketing your rental property online, you have the perfect inexpensive way to show that vacation rental home to the world. Online marketing can put you on an equal footing with the big hotel chains; in fact, it gives you an advantage. While your sites will be practical and informative, you can take the time and care to make your site warm and welcoming while assuring prospective renters that your vacation rental home will more than meet their requirements.
Plus, establishing a website for your vacation rental home gives you a global presence. While the vacation rental market in the United States may still be in its infancy, in many other countries it is the norm for families to stay in vacation rental homes rather than hotels. Marketing a rental property on the Internet can help a landlord in the US reach families from abroad and attract them home.
Putting your vacation rental home online
There are several ways that you can use the Internet to market your rental property:
- Create your own website
- List your vacation rental home with a rental agent or property manager
- List your vacation home on one of the many vacation rental sites
While all three options for marketing a rental property have their place, creating your own website is essential. Having your own site gives you full control of how your vacation rental home is displayed to potential renters. If someone contacts you to rent your house, do you really want to send them to a site that contains other houses similar to yours? Remember, there are always other landlords who are also involved in using the internet to market their rental property and will undermine you just to get the rent. Listing sites can help you reach more people, but in the end you want a tenant to see your individual site.
Creating your own site for your vacation rental home
Your website should consist of the following standard pages, which are all important to optimally marketing your rental property:
- property description
- Photo gallery
- Visitor Information
- Contact information
The home page is probably the most important part of your strategy for marketing your rental property, as it is the visitor’s first point of contact with your home. Make sure your home page design is simple, clean, and uncluttered. Consider adding two images instead of just one to make your site stand out from the competition. One image may be the traditional shot of the front of the house, while the other image may be of something that sets the rental property apart – a great view, a beautiful sunrise, a poolside scene, etc. You can also consider taking a photo of the house lit up at night, which will surely make the image memorable.
You will also need to write a text to help you market your rental property. This step doesn’t have to be difficult, but you should take some time and give some thought to what you want to say. You want to sell your home, not just state the facts. The text should help prospective tenants imagine how to relax poolside with a cold drink while watching the kids splash around. Set the scene first, rather than starting with a list of the best things about your vacation rental home. Be descriptive and use your imagination so that you are marketing your rental property in a way that makes the reader want to know more.
To get some ideas of what to focus on in the text, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do your family and friends love about the vacation rental home?
- What do you like to do when you are there?
- Is there something you found that you like but that is not generally known in or near your vacation rental home?
- What special features does your home offer?
- What would you like to know if you were to rent this property?
General image ideas
The use of good quality images of the exterior and interior of your home cannot be overstated for the successful marketing of a rental property. In a highly competitive area like Florida, photos can make the difference between securing a reservation or missing one. Sometimes a potential guest will consider multiple properties with the same features and at the same cost. In this case, guests will certainly choose the vacation rental home they like. This means that quality images are critical to the successful marketing of your rental property. Common flaws are poorly lit images, taken from odd angles, featuring pool decks and porches devoid of furniture, or having inappropriate things in view (wet towels, stacks of papers, etc.).
Some additional things to consider when marketing your rental property with photos are:
- Consider using flowers. A cool vase of flowers can be cozy, but don’t overdo it and don’t be tempted to move a vase of flowers while taking pictures; It will look silly if the same vase keeps popping up in different rooms.
- Set the tables. In the formal dining room, open a bottle of wine, fill wine glasses, light candles, and use napkins. In the kitchen dining room, set it up for dinner with the family, with more casual silverware, a pitcher of lemonade, etc.
- Make sure your vacation rental home kitchen shines. It should be spotless, with a bowl of fruit on the counter. Basically, you want the house to appear inhabited and as if you are waiting for your guests to arrive.
- Make bedrooms cozy by lowering sheets, tucking pillows, and placing magazines and books on nightstands.
- Photograph the bathroom at night. Fill the tub, add lots of bubbles, light candles, have fluffy towels, and maybe a glass of red wine on hand to set the mood.
- Use a digital camera so you can take hundreds of photos of your vacation rental home. Even if you are not a photographer, you will surely get some good ones that you can use to market your rental property.
Marketing a rental property with your own website can be part of a strategy that uses many other techniques, from print ads to online listings on real estate marketing sites, allowing you to attract more tenants to your property. Future articles in this series will explore additional avenues to market your vacation rental home and its benefits to you.