The vacation rental business can be a tough one, even in the best of times. It’s especially challenging for smaller operations that lack the scale of larger competitors. If baseline occupancy rates are too low, a small rental business can become overly dependent on volatile seasonal demand. Worse, it can be rendered vulnerable to one-off events like economic depressions, geopolitical turmoil, pandemics, and similar catastrophes.
Fortunately, with strategic planning, smaller rental property businesses can sustainably boost their baseline occupancy rates, ensuring their long-term viability. Let’s look at some proven ideas for improving a vacation rental business’s occupancy rate—tips that you might also want to consider adopting for your own business:
1) Automate Key Processes
Using specialized vacation rental management software allows you to free up time and reduce errors by automating tasks such as reservation management, answering guest inquiries, and payment processing. The cumulative efficiency improvements that you’ll get by automating many of these key functions should allow you to dedicate more resources to improve and market your rental properties, leading to better occupancy rates along the line.
2) Build a Credible Website
Potential guests often form their first impressions of your properties based on what they see on your website. Given that websites are also key sales channels, it’s especially important to ensure your website reflects positively on your business.
To do this, invest in professional web design so that your site will be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and optimized for complete visibility and information accessibility. If you don’t have access to web developers and designers who understand your business, consider using a website builder designed for the rental property industry.
To further improve your credibility with potential guests, provide clear photos and videos of your property amenities, well-written property descriptions, detailed location maps, and an intuitive booking system.
3) Take Steps to Boost Your Search Engine Visibility
Maintaining a strong presence on Google and other search engines increases the likelihood of potential guests discovering your rental properties while also bringing down the cost of each guest conversion. While you can easily increase search visibility with paid ads, a more cost-effective way to do this is to implement a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
To start, incorporate relevant keywords in your website content and listings on third-party sites, paying close attention to local keywords. Next, make sure that your website’s technical elements are optimized for search engine crawlers. Lastly, claim and optimize your Google Business profile to improve your overall credibility and increase your visibility on Google Maps. If you have the budget for it, you can also consider starting a link-building campaign that prioritizes websites with high domain authority within the travel and hospitality industries.
4) Provide a Great Guest Experience
Positive guest experiences increase the likelihood of repeat business, referrals, and stellar reviews. To delight your guests, pay attention to details that matter such as cleanliness, amenities, and customer service. Happy guests are more likely to recommend your rentals to others and become advocates for your business.
5) Keep Your Prices Competitive
If you want to increase occupancy at your properties, you need to offer rates that make sense for the current market. Doing extensive market research and offering dynamic pricing that accounts for seasonal demand can enable you to draw in more guests while avoiding opportunity costs. To make your rental property more enticing without upsetting your pricing strategy, you can also consider value-added packages such as discounts for extended stays, complimentary services, and special promotions.
6) Hire Industry Professionals for Your Marketing
If you’re serious about increasing occupancy, you’ll want professionals with rental property experience in charge of drawing guests in. After all, it takes hundreds of hours of practice to efficiently craft targeted marketing campaigns, manage online platforms, and optimize pricing strategies. With expert help, you’ll be better placed to stay ahead of industry trends and navigate the competitive rental market.
7) Use Professionally Produced Visuals and Copy
As touched on earlier, always invest in high-quality visuals and well-crafted copy for your property listings. While it may seem trivial to focus on these given everything else you have to do, professional photographs, videos, and copy can significantly impact a potential guest’s decision-making process. Don’t forget to showcase the unique features of your property that set it apart from others in the area.
8) Update Your Site and Listings Periodically
To maximize the appeal of your vacation rental property, it’s imperative to keep your website and listings up to date, especially when introducing changes like updated decorations, additional amenities, or recent renovations. Potential guests can be deterred if the visuals on your site are outdated and don’t reflect these recent improvements. As such, make it a practice to promptly update your online content whenever there’s a noteworthy change in your property. This will help keep your online presence fresh and relevant.
9) Reply to Inquiries ASAP
Lastly, never leave your potential guests hanging. Quick responses can make a significant difference, especially in a competitive market where guests may be considering multiple options.
Thankfully, you don’t need to have a guest relations team on call 24/7 to address most inquiries. Good vacation rental management software will enable you to set up automated responses and notifications, maintaining engagement with potential guests and increasing the odds of positive interactions and conversions.
In recent years, the wider availability of technologies like specialized vacation management software has enabled industry players of all sizes to achieve better scale and efficiency. However, tech adoption alone will not guarantee success in the hypercompetitive vacation rental space. To succeed in the vacation rental business, you have to first understand longstanding challenges within the industry. Once you do, you’ll be better able to invest in tech and human-centered solutions that will boost your occupancy rates in a meaningful and cost-effective way.