The Top 10 Ways to Get More Holiday Home Bookings in 2019

In this article, CEO Craig Reid shares his top tips for getting more bookings for your holiday home in 2019…

1. Get Professional Photos

When it comes to holiday planning, it is all about visuals. Don’t kid yourself that your ‘snaps’ will be good enough! Professional real estate photos are surprisingly cheap: $2-300. You will get that back from one additional booking. Present the photos in this sequence: Hero (best) shot, living areas, kitchen, dining, bedrooms, bathrooms, garden and local area.

2. “Right” Pricing

The key to getting pricing right is to firstly understand your % occupancy (number of nights booked versus number of nights available to book). If you are within 3 hours of a major city and thereby your property strongly appeals to a weekend market, you should look at your occupancy for both weekends and weekdays. If your occupancy is below 90%, look to gradually drop your rates (e.g. $25 per night) until you see occupancy start to rise. As your occupancy gets above 90% it’s time to start nudging prices up. HomeAway’s Marketmaker tool is very useful to gauge the level of demand for properties and the average rates booked-but be careful to select your comparison set of properties as similar to yours as possible (capacity, location & facilities).

3. Embrace Technology

It’s the 21 st century, and guests expect unlimited wifi. You will lose around 20% of the potential market if you don’t have it. Don’t skimp by using wifi dongles; a proper ADSL or (even better) NBN connection is essential. In addition, Netflix is only $9.99 for the Basic plan of 1 screen ($13.99 for two screens or $19.99 for four). Don’t penny pinch by asking guests to log into their own Netflix account, and you should never charge the guest extra for wifi or Netflix. These are attractors which will move you to 90% occupancy.

4. Upgrade Amenities

Not only are guests’ expectations higher than ever but the booking platforms allow them to filter on amenities they are looking for. So if your property doesn’t have what they want, a tick in a box means they won’t even see your property. In addition to wifi and Netflix, here’s what to have so that guests don’t pass you by:

  • Linen and towels
  • Air Conditioning
  • Dishwasher
  • Espresso machine
  • Fully enclosed garden

5. Be Fast

Speed of response is a competitive differentiator. If you can respond to a customer quicker than anyone else (we recommend within 30 minutes using a professionally crafted template) your conversion rate will dwarf your competitors (conversion rate = number of bookings divided by number of enquiries). Conversion rate is one of the most important factors of rank calculation on the booking platforms. High conversion rate equals greater rank, greater rank equals greater visibility, and greater visibility equals more bookings.

6. Write Experiential Descriptions

You need well-crafted words to transport the guest into your property. A photo can show the whitest sand in the world, but the words needed are: “Wriggle your toes and watch your feet disappear into the sand! Doesn’t it feel great?” A photo of a person in a hammock doesn’t connect as well as saying: “Just try and stay awake as you watch the clouds pass overhead.” If you don’t have the skills to create a compelling description, it is worth investing in having your description professionally written. Online services such as Guesthook will do it all for you for a fee.

7. Lose the Rules

Excessive rules in a property description are a sure-fire way to make a guest bypass your listing. A few simple rules (2-3 is ideal) won’t scare your guests away. Common rules such as whether you allow parties or pets can be toggled on or off within the booking platforms and do not have to be stated as text in addition. Other rules that are specific to your property should be added in the rules sections on the platform, not the description itself. Investing in an online guidebook system (such as Hostfully.com) is a great way of letting guests have access to information about facilities at the property without bombarding them with instructions and rules.

8. Switch on Instant Booking

Many owners are scared of using instant booking because they want to carefully vet guests. However, if you clearly specify in your rules the criteria for the guests you accept (without being too onerous) you have protection from the wrong kind of guest booking your property and you can cancel without penalty. Instant booking not only receives higher exposure on the booking platforms but appeals to guests who don’t want to wait around for confirmation 24 hours later.

9. List on booking.com

Booking.com isn’t just for hotels anymore. The number of holiday homes is growing at an incredible pace – as are the bookings! Booking.com does not have an option where you can review the guest prior to accepting the booking, so all bookings are effectively “instant bookings”. However, similar to instant booking on other platforms you can request cancellation without penalty if the guests have breached your rules.

10. Never Cancel Bookings

If there is one thing that will sink your property listing faster than a stone, it is canceling bookings. Now let’s make one thing clear here. If a guest breaches your rules when booking and you are entitled to cancel the booking and you should always request that the guest cancels the booking, not you, just to be on the safe side. Be diligent and make sure you never get the price wrong or have a double booking. Cancellations have a negative impact on your rank (visibility) which can be catastrophic. If you have cancelled more than one booking in the past twelve months we’d recommend that you delete your listing and create a new one.

If it all sounds too hard or you’re tired of dealing with guests and want to get more bookings, why not contact us to see what we can do for you? We guarantee you’ll make more money with us or we’ll refund the difference.

Hear our CEO Craig Reid’s tips and tricks for success on the world’s #1 holiday rental podcast

Our CEO Craig Reid was featured on the number one vacation rental podcast in the world this week! (Heather Bayer’s vacation rental success podcast). He talks about the benefits of outsourcing and other holiday rental tips and tricks: https://www.cottageblogger.com/vrs245-how-to-outsource-and-other-vacation-rental-tips-with-craig-reid/

Safe Guests, Happy Host. The 7 Essential Ways to Protect Your Holiday Home from Risks.

Good news! You’ve just insured your holiday home with the best quality protection if something goes wrong. But how do you prevent things from going wrong in the first place? In the following guide, award-winning holiday home owner and Professional Holiday Homes boss Craig Reid share his seven tips to protect your holiday home from risks.

Risk #1 – The “Wrong” Guests

Getting a call from your neighbours asking why it sounds like an AC/DC concert is next door is the last thing that hosts ever want to hear. And even worse, with AC/DC comes beer, and with beer comes destruction … and before you know it you’re calling the cops and submitting a claim for accidental damage…

How to avoid it…

  • Set strict limits on the number of adults allowed in your property in each party.
  • Vet guests by asking for further details about why they wish to stay and what the ages of guests are.
  • Always charge a bond (also known as a security deposit) – this doesn’t have to be huge ($300-500 is recommended) but it is a very effective deterrent to careless guest behaviour!

Top Tip: Read the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct to understand your obligations as a host.

Risk #2 – Poor Payment Practices

Risky business isn’t just a movie with Tom Cruise in it – it’s what holiday home owners engage in when they take payments outside of online booking systems. Guests that ask if they can “pay cash” or send you a cheque should start alarm bells ringing immediately. By indulging in these payment practices owners do not have the protection of terms and conditions and also have an increased chance of being scammed.

How to avoid it…

  • Only process payments via online booking systems.
  • Don’t accept payments directly to your bank account.
  • Beware of scams (where the guest offers to pay by cheque).

Top Tip: Even online payment systems such as PayPal are not foolproof. Disgruntled or duplicitous guests can dispute transactions or initiate chargeback requests resulting in money being withdrawn from your account with no recompense!

Risk #3 – Not Communicating Rules

Whilst no guest likes to be forced into obeying a large list of draconian rules, a few simple rules can relieve host stress and reduce the risk of problems or damage occurring.
How to avoid it …

  • Stick to 5–10 memorable, simple rules – anything more will be ignored.
  • Include rules in your instructions sent to guests at time of booking.
  • Include the same rules in a prominent location in the house (such as inside the kitchen cupboard where you keep the mugs!).
  • Include your rules within terms and conditions in all of the booking platforms you use so that guests have to agree with them as a condition of booking.

Top Tip: important rules often relate to smoking, fires, property security, guest numbers and noise

Risk #4 – Getting In Safely

We all have an image in our heads of guests cheerfully arriving at our properties in sunshine filled days and throwing open the door and jumping onto soft filled beds in fits of incandescent joy. But what about those times guests arrive at night in driving rain or even snow?! Slippery, wet surfaces or even simply darkness itself can represent a risk to guests.

How to avoid it …

  • Install lights to illuminate paths, driveways and doorways that guests will need to navigate to access the property.
  • If access areas are likely to get wet, ensure that surfaces have treatments to make them slip free.
  • Always have doormats to mop up excess water from guest shoes to prevent slip hazards – especially if you have smooth flooring such as wood floors.

Top Tip: LED sensor lights are cheap to run and can be bought from a local hardware store such as Bunnings. They also make it a lot easier for guests to get keys in the lock!

Risk #5 – Not Protecting Guests

When guests enter your property, you have a duty of care to keep them safe. Not having the right equipment in place or ignoring safety regulations could quickly land you in hot water!

How to avoid it …

  • Ensure that fire precautions are in place – this includes having smoke alarms in living areas and in each bedroom.
  • Have a fire blanket and fire extinguisher readily available in the event a fire occurs.
  • Provide clear instructions and fire guards for use with any fires.
  • Any devices that could be dangerous should be clearly identified and clear instructions provided
  • Have a first aid kit available (and easy to find).

Top Tip: Have emergency contact details for fire, ambulance, police and local hospitals readily available, especially if you have international guests who don’t know to call triple zero!

Risk #6 – Little People

Little kids love holidays too, and they love nothing more than to get their sticky little fingers into places they shouldn’t! And if anyone is going to use Aunty Beryl’s priceless Dolphin Ornament to dig holes in the garden it will be them …
How to avoid it …

  • Firstly, Aunty Beryl’s ornament shouldn’t be in the house. Anything of great value (even if sentimental value) is best kept securely away from guests.
  • If you don’t want it touched, put it above shoulder height. Even little folks know how to climb on chairs.
  • Install hot water temperature limiters and circuit breakers to keep kids safe from harm.

Top Tip: anything remotely dangerous should be kept in the highest available cupboard – think matches, sharp objects or anything that could be a lethal weapon in the hands of a 5 year old!

Risk #7 – Hazards!

Arya Stark’s comment of “stick them with the pointy end” is great advice if you’re playing the game of thrones, but not so good if you’re hosting guests. Even if you think they add a certain “derelict” rustic charm, broken glass, sharp fences and rusty outdoor furnishings have no place in today’s holiday rental property. And if you have stairways where you can slide into oblivion or steps as effective as booby traps then here’s what you need to do …

  • Ensure that anything that could cause harm is clearly identified. This could include steps that are difficult to see, a narrow staircase that could cause a slip, low head heights, high drops or any kind of body of water such as ponds, rivers or pools (particularly if children are regular visitors to the property).
  • Check outdoor areas on a regular basis (particularly fences) and put in place maintenance schedules to ensure that everything is kept in risk-free condition.
  • Have a list of tradesmen that you can contact immediately in the event of an issue. Getting problems resolved quickly is critical.

Top Tip: Have your cleaners conduct safety inspections as part of every clean in order to identify hazards that need repair or replacement.

Putting in place these few simple precautions can help dramatically reduce your risks – providing you with the peace of mind that your guests are safe and happy at your holiday home.

When Appliances Go Wrong (and Right)

When Appliances Go Wrong (and right)!

I’ve had a nightmare of a week. Do you want to know why? Dishes! That’s right…dishes! Because I don’t have a working dishwasher. What a nightmare!
Imagine if this happened at your holiday home. If it did do you have an emergency response service if an appliance decides to go cactus? Think about the guest experience. If the dishwasher, fridge or air-conditioning breaks down do you have processes and systems in place to be able to respond to that quickly so that your guests don’t get upset?
But also, do you actually have a dishwasher, air-conditioning or all the facilities that guests expect these days? A holiday rental is “not just a holiday rental”, it should be of the same kind of standard that you’ve got at home.
Think about the things that are going to elevate your property a little bit above the rest. Do you have a dishwasher, an espresso coffee machine or air-conditioning in the bedroom that is going to keep them beautifully cool on those hot summer nights? Do you have Wi-Fi, DVD players or games consoles? What can you do and what can you add to get yourself a little bit ahead? These things can upgrade your property to make it just that little bit better than the competition – that could be all you need to get the booking that they don’t…

How to stop guests trashing your holiday home!

This is a classic example of not vetting guests correctly and is so easily avoidable. Now we have another instance of an article about party houses in the media because, let us face facts, articles about millions of holiday makers having a nice peaceful time over the weekend doesn’t unfortunately make the headlines. So, what can you do to prevent this?

It’s a very simple case of… are you actually allowing people who you don’t want in your house to come into your house. It’s as simple as this if you don’t want under 25’s or large groups of under 25’s coming into your property, specify it in your property descriptions and specify it in your rules so that you don’t have them inquiring in the first place.

Secondly, if you can sense that you have a larger property and it’s going to be occupied by large groups of people put extra additional steps in place such as getting photo ID and also (the biggest deterrent of all) make sure you get a massive security deposit from them. I’m talking a $1000 $2000 or even $3000. If you’ve got a multi-million dollar property and you want to protect it make sure you’re charging a significant sized bond if you’re going to be putting yourself at risk of that happening.

There are a few other things that you can put in place to prevent things like this occurring as well. There are devices out there like NoiseAware that you can install for a couple hundred dollars that will alert you in the event that something is going wrong such as a party or a disturbance.

You can also stalk your guests on Facebook or LinkedIn to get additional information about them if you think there might be a risk that they’re going to have a party in your house.

The other thing that you can do as well is making sure that you’ve got adequate insurance in place. If the worst does happen and someone does cause damage to your property it’s really important that you have a policy that covers you for accidental damage and also malicious damage. But as I always say, prevention is the best form of cure. Put steps in place where you’re not letting these kinds of people into your house.

Plumber

The 5 Key Staff That Holiday Rentals Need

Unless you live close to your property, you will require some staff to maintain and clean the property for you. If you do live close to the property and are planning on doing this yourself, be mindful of the amount of work required to both clean and maintain the property and whether it is worth your time to do so. Cleaners remain one of the lowest paid occupations.

Agreements & Contracts – Whatever staff you engage it’s always best to have a professionally written contract or agreement specifying the terms of the engagement. This doesn’t have to be a legal contract drawn up in triplicate-it just needs to set out expectations and fees clearly.

Cleaners

The most important resource you will have are your cleaners therefore it is vitally important that you select the right one. So what should you look for in a cleaner?

1.Ask the cleaner what experience they have and ask them to supply references. Anyone can become a cleaner but not everyone does a good job at it!

2.Ask them how many holiday homes they clean in the area. As a rough guide an average holiday home (3 bedrooms) will take 3 hours to clean. If they are cleaning more than 20 holiday homes they may be overloaded and standards may start to drop.

3.Ask them where they live. The closer they are to your holiday home the better. That way they can assist with any last minute issues that guests may have.

4.If you are supplying linen and towels be sure to ask how much they charge per bed or per bundle of towels.

5.Walk them through the property showing them where you keep supplies and linen. If you can’t be there in person provide them with access via your key safe and ask them to call or skype you so you can walk them through it (you can always change your key safe code afterwards).

6.Many cleaners will also mow lawns, keep gardens tidy and perform maintenance – ask them what other tasks they can perform. It can be more convenient to have them do all of the jobs and it means less invoices to pay.

7.Ensure that they have an email address that they check regularly. With online property bookings the norm, it will be simpler for you to forward booking emails onto them rather than having to text or call them. Also ensure that they provide their mobile number(s).

8.Ask them if they have a checklist that they follow-many may not have this but if you find a cleaner that employs a checklist it is a good sign that they are focused on quality.

Whether they have a checklist or not you should always document what your expectations are with regard to cleaning tasks. Make clear what you required done at each clean as well as cleaning tasks performed weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually (again, refer to Appendix A for an example)

Try to meet prospective cleaners in person and walk them through the property to explain what you expect to be done. If you can’t be there in person set up a call via Skype and do a virtual tour of the property.

Try to avoid the complication of hourly rates and different prices per clean by agreeing set fees per clean and set prices per set of linen.

An owner says…
“We got into a difficult situation with a cleaner who was on an hourly rate. She was spending so much time at the property that our cleaning costs started to skyrocket. Upon further investigation, we found out that she was performing excessive and unnecessarily cleaning tasks to try to improve her income. We created a checklist clarifying exactly what was required per clean and switched her onto a fixed fee per clean which resolved the problem.”

Gardener

If your cleaners don’t look after lawns and gardens then be sure to find someone who does. Make sure that their brief includes wowing lawns and edges as well as trimming and bushes and taking care of weeds.

Be sure to set up a regular schedule for mowing. Guests turning up to an unkempt garden is not a good first impression. If you want to keep costs down, you could ask your staff to send you a photo prior to mowing so that you can give the ok as to whether the mow is required but over time you will get a feel as to what mowing or maintenance frequency is required.

An owner says…
“We hired a gardener to do our lawns and edges and whilst they did a great job they didn’t consider weeding as part of their job! After finding our garden beds and paths covered in weeds we decided to find someone else who would do everything for us.

Handyman

When that curtain rod falls down or a door handle falls off you’ll be needing someone to fix it quickly so that you can minimize the impact to guests. When selecting someone to do this, get them to provide a list of things that they can assist with. Whilst maintenance is not generally a large ongoing expense you will have small repair jobs that will need to be done over the years.

An owner says…
“Some of the repairs that we have had to do include replacing flyscreens, fixing door handles, repairing sticking windows, fixing loose screws on chairs and roller blinds that no longer roll. Maintenance isn’t a large expense at our property but it is important to fix things as soon as there is an issue with them.”

Plumber

Plumbing problems are likely to be infrequent, but blocked drains, dripping taps, faulty toilets or a failed hot water system can ruin a guest’s stay. Again look for a plumber that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7. You may also wish to have a backup plumber in the event that your first plumber is busy.

Electrician

Electrical repairs are uncommon but they do happen. Guests sitting in the dark are not something that you even want to think about! As per plumbers – look for an electrician that is close at hand and who is readily contactable 24/7.

When first setting up the property you may find that you need extra sockets behind beds for lamps. You should also look to install a circuit breaker, particularly if you have young children staying at the property.

Property insurance

Essential Insurance for Holiday Rental Properties

What many holiday homeowners don’t realise is that general insurers often do not cover holiday homes, and if they do the insurance is more than often inadequate.

Having tailored holiday home insurance is essential in order to protect both you are your guests. If you fail to have adequate cover you are exposing yourself and your guests to unnecessary risk. Here’s what a good holiday home insurance policy should include.

Building & Contents Insurance

As per your usual home insurance you should make sure that you have both building & contents insurance. You should also check that your contents insurance covers malicious damage in the unlikely event that someone willfully causes damage to your property. Don’t worry-this is very unlikely!

Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance provides protection for you in the event that something should happen to a guest on your property. It is your legal protection if you are found to be responsible for personal injury to a visitor at your property (including both guests and others).

Rent protection

In the event that your holiday rental property is unavailable for rental due to an insured event (e.g. flood, fire, etc) rent protection cover will pay for the loss of rent that you incur up to a specified amount.

“We have a holiday home insurance policy that provides both the standard building and contents insurance as well as the public liability insurance. In addition, we have $20,000 coverage for loss of rent in the event that we have to close the property for a period of time.”

An owner says…
Mistakes of Holiday Rental Owners

The Top 10 Mistakes of Holiday Rental Owners

Time and again I see holiday home owners making critical mistakes that are limiting their holiday home’s growth. In the following article, I name and shame what I believe are the top 10 mistakes.  Responding too slowly or not at all!

Possibly the most common problem for holiday home owners are either responding too slowly (greater than 12 hours) or not responding at all. Obviously not responding at all is a sure fire way not to get a booking, but the reason for not responding at all is typical that the owners’ calendar has not been updated when they receive a booking and therefore they see no point in responding to the enquiry. This is a very frustrating experience for the customer who may send several enquiries and receive no response! Speed of response is also a competitive differentiator. If you can respond to a customer quicker than anyone else (we recommend within 30 minutes using professional templates as well as a phone call) your conversion rate will dwarf your competitors.

Getting pricing wrong

There are many factors to pricing (which we will discuss later in this section) but there is nothing more frustrating or off-putting for a customer than to check a price on the system and then receive a totally different price in the quote from the property. This is typically the result of disorganized owners who struggle to understand how to put pricing into booking systems.

Arguably worse than getting the pricing wrong is when a holiday home owner prices the property too high or too low. Pricing too high is often an ego driven response where the owner thinks their property is better than competing properties and leads to extremely low enquiries and conversions. Low priced properties run the risk of making themselves look like budget properties thereby attracting the wrong standard of clientele. Whilst these properties are likely to book out, they are missing out on tens of thousands of dollars in rental income due to underpricing.

Poor photographs

Photographs are the lifeblood of a holiday rental property listing. Whilst guests may choose not to read the property description text, they will always look at the photos. Why then, do so many owners post fuzzy, amateurish photos on their listings? The fact of the matter is that they underestimate how impactful professional quality photos are. Whilst taking photos with a smartphone or digital SLR will give you photos that are “good enough” to list, having professional quality photos elevates the property to an entirely new level of appeal. For an incredibly low investment (Typically $1-200 dollars) professional photos represent one of the best returns on investment you can make. Given that every real estate agent in the world has access to a professional photographer you should have little difficulty finding one!

An owner says…
“We took photos with our digital SLR and we sat back, smugly admiring how good we thought they were. When a special offer for professional photography came along through one of our channel partners we decided to give it a go, more as an experiment than anything else. We were gobsmacked when we saw the quality of the photos compared to ours (which suddenly looked dark and uninviting in comparison).”

Poor Descriptions

There is a reason that websites today have tightly written professional text that conveys what they are offering in a few sentences. It’s because of the incredibly short attention spans of customers. As a result, descriptions of properties have to convey the required information to the guest quickly before they lose interest (usually only a few seconds). Typically property owners will write too much than too little, resulting in duplicitous paragraphs of text that swim in adjectives, rather than conveying the basic information that guests are looking for. Property descriptions should always be short, snappy and give the guests the basic information that they need such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, number of beds, facilities and distance to local attractions.

Using a manual process

Rather than using online payment systems many owners still favour a laborious process of replying by email to guest enquiries, sending bank details, making guests sign numerous forms, waiting for payment to clear then sending them instructions. A manual process takes up a lot of time for both the owner and the potential guest who is looking for a simple online booking experience where they can pay and book instantly! These manual processes are an irritation to guests and owners utilizing them are at risk of guests putting them in the “too hard basket” and going to their competition.

A Guest says…
“We booked a holiday home that was managed by a real estate agent. When we agreed to book we were asked to complete 3 A4 sized forms then pay the deposit and the final payment in two separate transactions. Even when we did the real estate agent refused to send us any details about the property until 24 hours before we checked in. It was a tedious process and very frustrating given that the website we had enquired through had a very easy to use online booking system (that the real estate agent refused to use).”

Not listing on effective websites

There are a multitude of websites that holiday home owners can list their properties on. Not all are good – in fact it may surprise you to know that very few are! Now when we say “good” what we are referring to is the ability for these websites to not only to generate inquiries but to be able to accurately depict your property. Holiday rental websites typically fall into two categories: 1. Those that charge an up-front fee (often with gold / silver / bronze pricing options) and those that charge a % of the total guest rate (sometimes split between guest and owner, as with Airbnb & Tripadvisor).

An owner says…
“In our first couple of years of having our holiday rental property we were somewhat naive and signed up for almost every new holiday rental website that came along-usually for some sort of $99 special upfront payment. After seeing a few of these websites come and go with no return on investment we decided never again to list with a website that charged an upfront fee. We now only list out property with those websites that offer a success based (percentage) fee structure.”

Taking “the budget option”

We often hear people say “Oh it’s just a holiday rental, just get some cheap furniture, some lino on the floor and you’ll rent it out no problem”. And we agree…if you want to receive under $100 a night and to be competing with cheap motels with sticky carpets. Sadly many owners fall into this trap thinking that guests will “trash” the furniture and not respect the property. Out of this thinking, the owner goes out and picks up second-hand furniture and cheap items from discount stores. Taking the budget option leads to a budget price point. By investing in better quality fixtures, fittings and furniture the increased price point that you can charge will pay for the better quality furniture and provide you with increased income. Pitching your property as a budget option is a false economy.

Not gathering reviews & feedback

Without an adequate number of positive reviews from guests, a holiday home lacks credibility. But today even popular holiday homes struggle to get guest reviews. Today’s guests have busy, time-poor lives. They are being assaulted on all sides by social media, advertising and overflowing email in-boxes. Amidst this noise of the modern age holiday home owners need to be prompted, reminded and even provided incentives for leaving reviews. Few holiday home owners follow up with guest and ask them to review their property and even fewer have guest books at their properties. Whilst guest books made be seen as a little “old school” they re-enforce a positive customer experience when guests read them. Also, photos can be taken of guest book entries and used as marketing collateral.

Note: it’s not acceptable (and in some countries illegal) to bribe guests to leave positive reviews!

Aside from gaining positive reviews to boost the property, guest feedback is critical to improving. Guests should always be given the opportunity to provide feedback outside of the review process as often guests feel uncomfortable about suggesting small improvements in a review. A good way to obtain guest feedback, but to focus on what’s important is to email your database of guests an annual improvement survey (using an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey). This can also be used as a marketing tool to encourage future bookings by providing the guest with a discount voucher for their next stay upon completion of the survey. The important thing is that you must act upon the feedback you receive!

Poor maintenance & cleanliness

An absolute no-no for any holiday rental property is a lack of cleanliness. If a guest’s first impression of a property is a lack of cleanliness, no matter how good your property maybe it is a difficult hurdle to overcome. Guests don’t want to arrive at a property and suddenly be cognisant of previous guests. Hair in showers, stained carpets, dog hair on floors and smelly bed linen are just some of the factors that may have your guests running for the door or worse, leaving a negative review. There is no margin for error when it comes to cleanliness.

These issues can be overcome by carefully selecting your cleaning staff and by having quality standards checklists in place. These should also be formalized in agreements with your cleaners.

A guest says…
“We enquired about a property who responded to us and said that we could clean the property ourselves when we left for a reduced fee. We were aghast! We didn’t feel that guests were capable of cleaning a property to the standard of professional cleaners. We imagined turning up at the property to find it had been cleaned poorly by guests and that was enough to turn us off from staying there.”

Buying in the wrong location

Sometimes guests have an “if we build it they will come” approach to holiday rental properties. That is, they buy a property in a remote location with no tourism drawcard. They think that because the property is an attractive or special property that guests will come there just for the property itself. The reality is that most guests come to stay at holiday homes because they want to visit a particular area or attraction, rather than the home being the central reason for their stay. Of course, there are “destination properties” which are exceptions to this, but those kinds of homes (think multi-million dollar houses or castles!) represent a tiny minority of holiday homes. Unless the property is located in a holiday hotspot where guests tend to stay for a week or more and where guests are willing to fly or drive long distances, the majority of holiday homes are best located within a 3-hour drive of a major city. Above 3 hours, guests will think twice about driving there for a weekend.

A Guest says…
“Because most properties have a 2-night minimum stay, to go away for a weekend means that we have to stay on a Friday and Saturday night and return on a Sunday. As we are at work until 5 pm we can’t leave until about 6 pm on a Friday night. This means that we are restricted to properties within a 3-hour drive otherwise it is too exhausting to drive late into the night.”