This article, part two in a series, will help vacation rental homeowners learn more about marketing a rental property online. It’s important to understand that people looking for a vacation rental home are often looking for more than they can get with a brand-name hotel. They typically want space, privacy, laundry facilities, and almost always a cheaper rate than staying in a hotel.
The main difference between booking a private vacation home and a brand name hotel chain is that you know in advance what you will get when you book with a hotel chain. Also, if things don’t go quite right, you always have the manager available to fix things for you. 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 were getting.
The Internet has changed everything about marketing a rental property. Prospective renters can now visit a website to view pictures and read information about a vacation rental home before making a final decision, which means marketing a rental property online should be a top priority.
The benefits of marketing a rental property online
By marketing your rental property online, you have the perfect, affordable way to showcase that vacation rental home to the world. Online marketing can put you on an equal footing with the big hotel chains; in fact, it actually 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 inviting while assuring prospective renters that your vacation rental home will more than meet their requirements.
Plus, establishing a website for your vacation home rental gives you a global presence. While the vacation rental market in the United States may still be in its infancy, it is the norm in many other countries for families to stay in vacation rental homes rather than hotels. Marketing a rental property on the Internet can help a US landlord reach families from abroad and attract them to the home.
Put your vacation rental home online
There are several ways you can use the Internet to market your rental property:
- Create your own website
- List your vacation rental home with a rental property agent or 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 your rental property and will undercut 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, all of which are important to optimally market 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 front-of-house shot, while the other image may be 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 illuminated at night, which will certainly make the image memorable.
You will also need to write copy that will help you market your rental property. This step doesn’t have to be difficult, but you should take your time and give some thought to what you want to say. He wants to sell his house, not just state the facts. The text should help prospective tenants imagine relaxing by your pool with a cool drink while watching the kids splash around. Set the scene first, instead of starting with a list of the best things about your vacation rental home. Be descriptive and use your imagination to market your rental property in a way that will make the reader want to know more.
To get some ideas about what to focus on in the text, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you, your family and friends love about the vacation rental home?
- What do you like to do when you are there?
- Is there something you’ve found that you love but aren’t generally known about 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, images can make the difference between securing a reservation or losing it. Sometimes a potential guest will consider multiple properties with the same features and at the same cost. In this case, guests will undoubtedly choose the vacation rental house that they like the most. This means that quality images are critical to the success of marketing your rental property. Common faults are images that are poorly lit, shot from odd angles, pool decks and porches with no furniture, or have inappropriate things on display (wet towels, piles of paper, etc.).
Some additional things to consider when marketing your rental property with photos are:
- Consider using flowers. A vase of fresh flowers can be cozy, but don’t go overboard and don’t be tempted to move a vase of flowers while taking photos; it will look silly if the same vase keeps showing up in different rooms.
- Put 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 family dinner, with more casual cutlery, a pitcher of lemonade, etc.
- Make sure your vacation rental kitchen shines. It must be spotless, with a bowl of fruit on the counter. Basically, you’ll want to make the house look lived in and like it’s waiting for guests to arrive.
- Make bedrooms cozy by lowering the sheets, fluffing the pillows, and placing magazines and books on the 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’re not a photographer, you’re sure to come up with 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 ways to market your vacation rental home and its benefits to you.