April 16, 2016

The 10 Worst Mistakes an Airbnb Owner Can Make

When done correctly, managing a vacation rental can be incredibly rewarding. Meet great people. Share your home with other. Earn rental income.

Treating the rental of your second home like a hobby, however, is simply not enough to create a successful and profitable vacation rental business.

To make the most of your vacation rental business, avoid these ten common mistakes:

1. Lack of multichannel distribution

This one is fairly simple. Reach more people by listing on more channels.

With OTAs (online travel agencies) like Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, Orbitz, and VRBO among the many available to guests, do not limit yourself to just listing on one. Amy Ochoa from LeisureLink, a channel management company for property managers, said, “Ideally, your vacation rental should be listed on multiple online travel sites, including the top OTAs (online travel agents)… This increases exposure, allows you to maximize the availability of your vacation rental, and keeps it booked during peak seasons and off-season.”

To read more on how a channel manager can help distribute on multiple sites, click here.

2. Not optimizing for “best match”

VRBO’s changing algorithms and fees have been on top of everyone’s mind recently. While many homeowners are understandably upset with the recent changes to fee structures, subscription levels, and search placement, it’s still important for homeowners to optimize their listings should VRBO be their primary source of guest inquiries.

While being upset over the new fees is understandable, trying to evade them will only hurt your business. We’ve recently seen homeowners try to do this by encouraging guests to book and pay off of VRBO’s site. While this may help assuage guest complaints about the service fee, remember that doing this will also heavily impair your likeliness to show up in search ratings. With poorer conversions and fewer guest reviews, your listing will sink to the bottom.

Instead, optimize your listing! By enabling instant booking, expediting your response time, and getting more reviews, you will push your listing higher in the search algorithms and get even more guest inquiries.

To read more on how to optimize your listing, see our Ultimate Guide to VRBO Instant Booking and Best Match.

3. Not requesting reviews

While beautiful photos, glorious descriptions, and great amenities will certainly help get you more inquiries, guests will always look to your reviews to see what past guests have said.

Not only will having more reviews help your search placement, it’ll also help you position yourself as a knowledgeable, experienced, and trusted host.

Likewise, make sure you take proper measures to prevent and handle vacation rental complaints.

4. Bad and/or insufficient photos

Vacation rental photography is evolving, and the best vacation rental photographs are getting even better. With select property management companies offering services like professional photographs, drone photography, floor plans, professional videos, and more for vacation homes under management, avoid taking cellphone snapshots or anything that might not indicate quality.

Tyann Marcink, one of the vacation rental industry’s best photographers, has helped clients see upwards of 39% in additional bookings just from having professional photographs! To read more on what she had to say about how to master photography, read her Star Wars-themed photography tips here.

5. Lack of dynamic pricing

Pricing your vacation rental home can definitely be one of the most difficult things for homeowners without sophisticated technology to do, and pricing according to “peak” or “off-peak” is simply not enough. Dynamic pricing services like Everbooked, Smart Host, Beyond Pricing, and PriceMethod can help homeowners determine exactly how much they should be charging in relation to guest demand, vacation rental home availability, local events, and more.

To read more about how dynamic pricing has helped hosts determine their prices for the Super Bowl, click here.

6. Lack of hospitality

Remember that being a host means more than taking reservations, bookings, and payments. Being a host or property manager is entirely about creating a memorable and positive experience for your guests.

Be the best host you can be – before, during, and after your guests’ stay. Promptly answer any requests (no matter the time of day or night), be there when your guests need you, and always be professional.

7. Not automating your home

Make your life as a host as easy as possible by automating your home and using the latest technologies. Remote thermostats will allow you to save energy, monitor energy usage from afar, and make any necessary adjustments.

Having a keyless entry will make it easier to ensure your home’s safety while eliminating the need for you to exchange keys in person.

To read more on how the Internet of Things can benefit your vacation home, read Parakeet’s post here.

8. Operating illegally

Sometimes it’s simply not worth the risk and legal trouble, so always be aware of your local regulations.

To help our homeowners track news on local regulations, we’ve recently created a tool that aggregates all news on short term and vacation rental regulations.

Follow and filter by your location to make sure you’re abiding by the law.

9. Not keeping up with the vacation rental industry

The vacation rental industry is rapidly changing, and you are a part of that whether you like it or not. Back in 2015, CEO of Rented.com, Andrew McConnell predicted that 2016 would be “The Year of the Customer” for the vacation rental industry, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen so far.

The industry is consolidating, converging, and becoming increasingly professionalized. From hotels joining and investing in the industry, to the largest property management companies becoming even larger, to VRBO seeming to align itself more with guests and property managers than the individual homeowners, the vacation rental industry is going to be rapidly changing in the next few years – especially for homeowners.

Stay updated on the latest industry news, and be prepared for the future of the vacation rental industry.

10. Doing too much

This all being said, hosting your vacation rental should be fun and profitable for you, so don’t try to do too much on your own. With some homeowners attempting to do it all without any external help and with others attempting to maintain control of the home while paying for professional services like dynamic pricing, channel management, professional photos, professional cleaning, etc., we see many frustrated homeowners who are simply doing too much to justify having a vacation home as a source of fun and pleasure.

And that’s why Rented.com is here for you. If managing your vacation home seems like too much work for you to do on your own, let us help you find a professional that will let you finally…

Relax. It’s rented.

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