One of the biggest misconceptions people have when starting a new venture, such as starting a business, losing weight, or hosting your very own vacation rental, is that if you fail, that means you should not continue. Making mistakes in a new venture is one of the most critical ways we learn and become more successful down the road, but through a little research, some can certainly be avoided. So, let us present you with:
Top 7 mistakes hosts make that we have seen, and how to avoid them.
Using bad pictures (insert good and poor picture)
A picture is worth a thousand words, so when we say your vacation rental photos are more important than any other part of your online listing, we are not messing around. A rental listing might be beautifully written by F. Scott Fitzgerald himself, but if the first thing your potential guest sees is dim lighting, awkward angles and only one photo to scroll through, they will, without taking a second to think about it, skip to the next listing. Some of the most important things to keep in mind when taking photos of your rental are:
- Bright lighting is key
- Vibrant colors will attract more people (this does not mean your whole house needs to be bright red and pink, but simply your whites need to be bright, your blacks need to be solid)
- Have multiple photos to showcase just how amazing your vacation rental is
A poorly written or incomplete listing description
One of the most common mistakes we see with a new host is that they get so excited about being a new host and making an extra income, that they cannot wait to get their listing live online, and they fly through the description writing process. It is so necessary to completely and carefully fill out your rental listing. This listing is going to fill in the gaps of what your photos cannot show, give the guest an idea of who they will be renting from, and really creating a connection with the audience. If your listing is rushed through, cold, and with little content, the guest will notice that right away and assume that you are not someone who they trust working with. But, if your listing is warm and welcoming, informative and clear, the potential guest will have no problem booking with you.
Setting the wrong expectations
This one goes along with writing your rental description. Along with it being completely filled out and clear, you also need to set expectations. We get it. You want more business, and a way to do that is having a stellar listing description, and when you get more business, that means more bookings, and more bookings ideally means more money in your pocket. What is truly more important than bookings is being authentic and realistic with your guest. When you are truthful and accurate in your listing description, you will not only still get bookings, but your guest will have a much higher overall feeling of satisfaction, which leads to good reviews, more exposure, and more revenue.
Not communicating effectively with your guest
This might seem like one of the most simple, straightforward tasks. You are probably thinking to yourself “obviously” but this is one that can be easily overlooked. For many hosts, being a host is a second job, a second stream of income, another hobby. Many of the vacation rental owners we talk to have a full- time job, a family, other hobbies and incredibly busy life, so a small task like communication can get lost in the mix if it is not urgent. Clear, consistent and quick communication will be a determining factor if your vacation rental is successful or not. From being left a stellar review, to calm and informed guest upon arrival, to emergency situations being handled promptly, communication can make or break your success in the industry.
So, your vacation rental is currently thriving. You are booked out every night for the next 6 months and you have hundreds of 5-star reviews. This is where you are probably thinking it’s okay to back off a bit. But, this is where many hosts get stuck… they get complacent. With any business, even though you have reached a certain income goal, that does not mean that you just stop and the business will take care of itself. You have to keep working to maintain you’re already amazing business, and hopefully expand it along the way. Just like any good thing in life, you have to nurture it.
Not asking for reviews
Do not be scared to ask for reviews. We know it might feel awkward at first, but not only is it part of the rental process but getting solid reviews will give you the boost to move you in the right direction. Guest will be much more likely to leave a review when asked, so it’s important to always put the idea in their heads. We hate to admit it, but even a less than average review can guide you in the right direction of where to take your rental, where you are doing an amazing job, and where you can improve.
Handling it all on your own
Professional vacation rental management companies exist for a reason. In our case, it started with a guy who was an owner, exactly where you are today, who was trying to provide a professional level of service while managing a full-time job and supporting his new family all at once. Management companies have been in your shoes before, so they know the good, the bad, and the really ugly. This is why they are here, to take tasks off your hands so you can get back to doing the things you love while still making an extra income. From professional cleaning, calendar, and systems management, marketing and guest services, your rental is in complete hands when you hire a management company.
What has been your biggest mistake as a vacation rental host?