Lake Tahoe—known as the nation's largest alpine lake—is an iconic tourist destination.
I'm one of the many Americans with memories of vacationing at this destination during my childhood. A family friend owned a vacation home in South Lake Tahoe, and we'd do a vacation home trade at least one or two weeks per year with this family. They'd stay at our vacation home while my family would make the long drive—often in the midst of a snow squall—to their mountain retreat.
The Lake Tahoe region's year-round population is 53,000, but during peak season, the local population can top more than 300,000. Annually, more than 3 million tourists vacation at Lake Tahoe. For context, this is just slightly less than the tourism numbers for Grand Canyon National Park, which sees 3.2 million visitors annually, and just slightly higher than Yellowstone National Park, which sees 2.7 million visitors annually.
Winter tends to be the most popular season amongst tourists, who flock to the region for skiing and snowboarding. But even the summer months are wonderful, as this area is perfect for fishing, hiking, mountain biking, water sports, boating, and beach activities on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
I have some incredibly fond memories of Lake Tahoe, so when I had an opportunity to buy a home in South Lake Tahoe a few years ago, I jumped at the opportunity. But little did I realize how competitive the tourism industry is in this region, even with the area's tremendous popularity.
Now, as a vacation property owner, I can fully appreciate the challenges Lake Tahoe vacation homeowners and property managers face as they market their property. Your rates need to be competitive, but at the same time, your goal is to maximize your bookings and income. So how do you achieve this fine balance for your South Lake Tahoe vacation home? Well, I consulted with a few top property managers to come up with the following recommendations.
Highlight the Precise Location of Your Vacation Home
Lake Tahoe is a large lake, more than 21 miles in length, so it's important to showcase precisely what's available in your exact location. Most focus on the obvious, like the fact that your house is located on the southern shores of Lake Tahoe. But it's also important to mention other features, activities, and attractions.
With most ski areas in the northern region of the lake, South Lake Tahoe is a fair distance from many of the most popular ski areas. But you can use this to your advantage! The southern region of the lake tends to be a bit quieter during the winter, making it ideal for those seeking a quiet getaway, but you're still just 20 to 30 minutes from lots of incredible ski slopes.
That's just one example of highlighting the local offerings. Your property manager can offer lots of insight into the most popular activities among your guests. You can also work with your property manager to ensure that he or she mentions these attractions when speaking with prospective guests, allowing for a consistent and compelling “pitch.”
Once you know precisely what your visitors prefer to do, you can showcase these activities on your website and in your marketing materials. For example, if there's a specific trailhead just five minutes from your doorstep, showcase this fact! If you're located down the street from one of the most popular South Lake Tahoe restaurants, mention this too. If one of the popular Tahoe boating and scuba diving excursions departs from a location just a quarter mile away, highlight this point.
Sell More Than Accommodations—Sell an Experience
What is it really like staying in your vacation home? Take this experience and convey it to your prospective guests.
Here's an example: You could simply list off the features and amenities available at your vacation home. And while this is recommended, since you'll provide a quick, at-a-glance overview of what's available, a list does little to sell an actual experience.
You need to take it a step further and paint a picture so you can sell an experience. How do you do this? Well, let's say your vacation home has a fireplace and a hot tub. Instead of saying: “This home has a fireplace and hot tub,” you might say something like: “After a long day of downhill skiing at nearby Heavenly Mountain, you can soak those sore muscles in our six-person hot tub while taking in an incredible view of the mountainous terrain. Oh, and keep your eyes open and your camera handy, as the local deer and moose love to frequent the grounds to snack on our deer and moose-friendly foliage. Then, head inside to relax and unwind in front of our two-story stone fireplace, while you sip vino from the Truckee River Winery.”
See how this prompts the reader to envision an experience in their mind? This is what sells. This is what makes your vacation home memorable and even more appealing, even when compared to another similar property.
You can also work with your property manager to ensure that he or she uses this same strategy when speaking with potential guests. In a conversation, the storytelling element doesn't need to be quite as elaborate. But it can make a major difference if your property manager says, “We have a six-person hot tub so you can relax after a day of skiing or hiking,” instead of, “There's a six-person hot tub.”
Showcase Your South Lake Tahoe Vacation Home in a Memorable Way
There are websites that feature hundreds or even thousands of Lake Tahoe vacation home listings, so as you can imagine, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. Take measures to feature and showcase your vacation home in a unique and memorable manner.
We tend to be more apt to choose or purchase something that stands out in a positive way. Make an effort to be distinctive. You can achieve this goal in a number of ways. One approach involves creating a brand identity for your home. But you can take it a step further with other measures, including:
- Performing home staging prior to your vacation home's photo session.
- Hiring a photographer to capture a professional photo. Getting a professional writer to write compelling, SEO-friendly website content and great marketing content.
- Hiring a firm to create an interactive virtual video tour of your home.
- Capturing an aerial drone video of your vacation home and the surrounding area, which can lead to some stunning footage of your home.
These are just examples of how property managers are using technology to capture images and video (link to technology post when ready) for some unique and distinctive marketing materials for your vacation home.
To get additional ideas, browse through some of the dozens of Tahoe vacation home rental listings online and get an idea of what's typical and what's not (this tends to change from season to season). Pay attention to what stands out to you personally, then, make an effort to understand why those particular homes captured your attention. If your property manager has experience in the realm of marketing—and most do—he or she can offer lots of useful insight in this area as well.
Also, remember to highlight some of the less obvious activities. Most tend to focus on the things that Tahoe is known for, namely, skiing and snowboarding, boating, fishing, hiking, and gambling in the casinos, which are a relatively short drive away. But this region is home to so much more in terms of activities and attractions, like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, mountain biking, gold panning, tubing (on water and on snow), sledding, backcountry skiing, ATV riding, paddle boarding, zip lining, hot air ballooning, and scuba diving and snorkeling.
Oh, and don't forget those unique events that tend to find their ways to the Lake Tahoe region, such as the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, the Wanderlust Yoga Festival held at Squaw Valley, and the iconic Concours d'Elegance. These are all great things to mention on your website and in your marketing materials for your South Lake Tahoe vacation home. Your property manager can offer up additional ideas too, as locals have unique and valuable insight into the best events, happenings, and activities.
If you still haven't teamed up with a property manager to oversee bookings, maintenance, repairs, and other happenings at your South Lake Tahoe vacation home, then you could be falling woefully short of your full potential. That's where Rented.com can help. We have a unique platform where you can connect with and get offers from some of the region's top property managers.
Many property managers Rented.com works with offer a guaranteed revenue model, so in place of a traditional percentage-based model, you can opt to receive a set monthly amount that's paid out regardless of bookings. To learn more and to start connecting with some of the top vacation rental property managers, join Rented.com today. It's free and signing up only takes a few moments. It's the first step toward maximizing your rental home's full potential.
Lead image:Flickr CC user Trevor Bexon