Vacation Rental Sites Like Airbnb

Vacation Rental Sites Like Airbnb – What You Need to Understand

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb are great. I love them and I’m sure you do too. They bring in bookings for a small commission. Lots of bookings.

I won’t discuss here how many bookings or how high is that commission. Or what exactly you are paying for when you pay it. Today I want to talk about something else.

Listing sites like Airbnb or Booking.com are losing importance as more and more people understand that NOT relying on them is the winning strategy.

The big picture

The big picture people always seem to forget when doing a vacation rental business is the business part of it. And I don’t mean accounting here. I’m talking about business strategy.

First of all, you have a brand to look after. If you’re serious about doing vacation rental long term. Sites like Airbnb or TripAdvisor will not help you with that.

Thousands and thousands of apartments. Scroll, scroll, click. Scroll, Scroll, click. As a result, it’s so easy to get lost in the noise. The entire property I mean. The brand you are trying to grow is lost whatever you do.

Your own website or a newsletter can offer more help with this. Your own website is actually crucial for this.

And I don’t have to stress out in this article how crucial it is for a long term business to have a strong brand. It builds trust, it’s recognizable and most of all for vacation rentals it brings in repeat business.

Guests that love to come back

Returning guests is a strong fundamental principle for any vacation rental business.

Offer a good service, communicate in a nice manner, and offer an overall pleasant experience at the correct price and people will love to come back.

Bookings coming from listing websites have a lower chance of converting into repeat business. bookings coming from your own website or social media a higher one.

For instance, the strategy I started with was to generate bookings from OTAs and as they check-in grab as much contact info they would give me.

After I would keep in constant contact with them throughout the year. Not trying to be annoying. In our business, a good email sent every 3 months is enough to do the trick.

From those emails, I would redirect them to my website and run remarketing ads for up to 2 or 3 weeks. And it paid off.

In conclusion, I’m not saying this is the only way, but it’s one strategy I tried and it worked.

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb – Instead of a Conclusion

I know it’s hard letting go. They bring constant business. On top of that, with a good channel manager and reservation system you probably managed to automate the entire thing.

But take a step back. Do this exercise for me. Try to think about the amount of money you are spending on commissions. Do an average and see how many returns visits you had. Maybe put just these 2 metrics on paper and see if your business could benefit from a different strategy.

And these are just to list a few KPIs. Should I tell you that booking from other sources usually stay longer and have a higher average price per night?

Vacation rental sites like Airbnb will slowly lose importance. Not this year or the next but long term as vacation rental businesses move away from owner management to a more professional approach.

Complaining vacation rental guest

7 Facts About Vacation Rentals Guests That Will Make You Think Twice

A lot of people joined the vacation rental bandwagon. And it’s great. The more the merrier. Plus, every new voice brings with it a new opportunity for us to get our message across. Vacation rentals are a better, more personalized, and more affordable way to travel. But as you can imagine not everything is happy – happy – joy – joy. The experience is most often amazing for all the people involved. On some rare occasions though it can get really bad for both you, the vacation rental manager, or for your vacation rentals guests. Today I’m focusing on you and how you can learn to protect yourself.

1. Not so pleasant guests.

Even if you can’t believe it they do exists. They walk among us. And they don’t have to be terrible either. Just a bit off to ruin your day. For example, missing the check-in time by 50 mins can turn your day upside down (if you haven’t yet moved to self check-ins).

Some of these people do it intentionally. From my experience, they act peaky or displeased to get a discount or some other perk. You shouldn’t take it personally. Most likely there is no smell, the towels are not dirty, the glasses did not have any spots.

2. The rude guests.

These guys don’t have a reason behind their attitude. That’s just how they are. And you get used to it. I’ve met and talked to more than 1000 vacation rentals guests. Some had a bad trip so far. Others had a bad day. Some just received some bad news. Some are annoyed with something else and they put it all on you. And some are just rude.

For me, the secret is to keep calm. I lower your voice a bit and talk as slowly as I can. Most often they try to focus on what I’m saying and leave the attitude aside for a second. If this doesn’t work I breathe in deep and just remind myself that there is really nothing I can do to fix this and I have to move on.

3. The dirty vacation rentals guest

These ones are the worst for me. Usually, our guests leave the apartments as they found them. Some of them even make the bed. Others do the dishes, some don’t. But overall there aren’t any big issues. And then there is the “filthy guest”. You know them. We all had to deal with them.

When you first meet them they seem like a normal family. You have a pleasant discussion and you let them enjoy their stay. A few days pass, their holiday is done and the cleaning time comes. BOOM! Not just the dishes, or the bed, or the bathroom. Actual mud on the walls. A footprint on the wall. 16 towels which now look brown for a 2-night stay. Garbage on the nightstand and bed linen on the floor is some sort of puddle.

The first time this happened to me I got mad. By now I got used to it. It doesn’t happen that often and I count it as the cost of doing business. The thing that still amazes me, after all this time, is the fact that there is nothing hinting towards this. They seem like absolutely normal people. Well, I guess this style of living will remain a mystery to me.

4. The “one more question” guest

These guys are funny at the beginning and only a few of them have the tendency to go too far. You know I like to do the check-ins in person, and one of the reasons is the chance to talk to people and answer their questions about the city and the neighborhood.

There are some vacation rentals guests, though, that take this too far. And they have … one more question. You don’t even know it and an hour has passed. And it can get even worst if they start calling during the evening.

Don’t get me wrong. I meet amazing people and have great conversations. That’s the reason I still do it. But that one more question sometimes is too much. And it could have been oooh soo good without it.

p.s. If you’ve found yourself on the other side of this part of the story, be gentle with your host. They will be polite and try to answer everything, but they are not there to replace google searches. We know hidden restaurants for example but we shouldn’t know the opening hours for the zoo.

5. The underaged vacation rentals guests

I only had two of these in my entire history as a vacation rental owner. And I can tell you it’s a weird sensation. It’s not really illegal to travel if you are under 18 here, but sometimes you are soo under 18 that it rings some bells.

The first guests were a couple of guys. Maybe one of them was 15 and the other one might have been 13. Initially, I didn’t know how to react. They pulled out the PlayStation and said the new FIFA game came out and they just could not have the peace and quiet at home to enjoy it. I smiled and let them be. The second case was a bit more tricky and I had to notify the parents in the end.

I think guests like these require a judgment call on the spot which could be tricky. But in the end, they’re not that common to become a problem Maybe just a nuisance from time to time.

6. The party animal

I met this guy only once in my life. Not getting into details, but it involved police, neighbors screaming in the middle of the night. Crying babies and the fire department. My insurance covered most of the costs. I had the chance to find out I am liable for very little as the property owner, but that the neighbors will hold you accountable for quite some time.

7. The “rule breaker” guest

I tell them the heating is always on and they can just adjust the temperature as they please. Oh, but can they have it turned on. They don’t think they’ll use it. Usually, the neighbors close the main gate to the building at 10:00. After that, they have to use the key. Oh, but maybe they can leave it open until eleven, just in case they lose the key.

We have a special compartment in the hallway for wet umbrellas. Just to make it easy for everyone. Oh, but they prefer to leave it in the hallway, in the common space. They’re sure the neighbors won’t mind. Parking is on the other side of the street and it’s free for guests. Oh, but they just left it on this site, just for a second, a minute, an hour. Just enough to get a fine.

It’s not any big thing. It’s all the little things. And you can see them coming a mile away. Once the first little things need to be in a certain way that’s when all of them have to be in another way. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it causes issues with the neighbors. At times I let them be. And sometimes I try to explain and educate.

Being a vacation rental owner has some downside as well. Tricky vacation rentals guests are part of the story. Don’t forget to smile, breathe, and to remember all the joy you get out of hosting people. At the end of the day, that’s what will keep you going.