Archives For Website

You know you should have a website for your vacation rental. What that means, however, is a little vague. What kind of content do you actually need to pull your website together?

Your website is, in most cases, your first and only chance to make a good impression. It’s also a critical way to communicate essential information to both potential guests and those who’ve already made reservations.

Try to get inside your guests’ heads and anticipate what they will want to know by considering the following content checklists. It will likely take at least a few hours to pull this information together, but ultimately this investment of effort is worth it; if you don’t make it easy to find essential information through your website, travelers will turn to a competitor who does.

There are three main areas people will have questions about:

  • Your vacation rental property,
  • The community they’re visiting, and
  • The business details of the vacation rental.

Continue Reading…

MyVR WebinarIn case you missed the recent HomeAway Community webinar I hosted on how to give your listings more firepower with a website for your vacation rental, you can watch the recording here. As promised, there were a couple of questions asked that I have answered here.

How do I generate more links to my website?

I’ve written a few articles on link building for your website here on the MyVR blog. The first is what to do after you’ve launched your website and the other is 10 free vacation rental listing sites to boost your SEO. You can also get a few easy links by posting your website on all of your social media profiles (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and getting listed on local directories like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Continue Reading…

For many vacation rental owners, the major listing sites like HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey are essential to your business. It’s no doubt that these sites are generating inquiries for owners all over the world – attracting hundreds of thousands of travelers to their sites every month. But as more and more homes are being advertised there, it’s harder for individual vacation rental owners to make their homes stand out.

One thing you can do is place a link to your vacation rental website within your listing. This is your opportunity to showcase your brand – your home’s unique characteristics and personality. Your website should have tons of photos, detailed information on the local area, restaurant and activity recommendations, and upcoming events. Every listing has the same template, so your website should be unique, give you a professional presence, and help you convert more visitors into bookings!

Here’s how to get a link on HomeAway and VRBO:

You can add up to 4 links, but all are subject to review and they must be appropriate for family viewing. To add a URL link to your listing:

  1. Log into your HomeAway or VRBO account.
  2. If you have more than one listing, navigate to the appropriate listing.
  3. Click the “Edit Listing” link on the left side and open the “Links & Video” tab at the top.
  4. Scroll down and enter the URL of your website.
  5. Click “Save.”
  6. Wait for HomeAway to review and approve your listing.

Read the full instructions on their help site.

HomeAway Listing Link

Your link will appear below the amenities and above your reviews on HomeAway.

VRBO Listing Link

Your link will appear below your rates and above the map on VRBO.

Here’s how to get a link on FlipKey:

  1. Log into your account.
  2. Click on “Account” on the upper left hand side.
  3. Click on “Edit Profile” and enter the URL of your website.

Read the full instructions on their help site.

FlipKey Listing Link

Your link will appear on your Owner Profile page after you click the Contact link on your listing in FlipKey.

 

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Passport International TravelerInternational travel is on the rise and awareness of vacation rentals is improving, making overseas inquiries increasingly likely for your vacation rental property. What can you do to help accommodate foreign guests and ensure they have a good stay?

International Travel Growing In The U.S.

International travel grew 4% last year globally, and the U.S. is angling to get a bigger slice of that market. “In the first half of 2012 alone, international visitors spent an estimated $82.2 billion… an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year,” according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, an effort that aims to double the travel and tourism business by 2021.

Where will these travelers come from? Over the next five years, visitors from other parts of North America (i.e. Canada and Mexico) will account for 42% of those visits, while people from Asia — and specifically China — as well as Western Europe and South America will comprise most of the remaining 58%. Continue Reading…

Firepower ExplosionReady to give your website an overhaul? Thinking about creating a new website for your vacation rental? Then this session is for you.

Owners who, in addition to using listings sites, use their own website to participate in further marketing efforts (such as social media) experience 40% greater occupancy rates than those who use listing sites as their sole form of marketing, according to a recent survey by Matt Landau.

These days, a website is essential for your vacation rental, yet many owners still don’t have one. Or, worse yet, haven’t updated their website since they stopped accessing the internet through a dial-up modem.

We’ll review the critical elements every website needs to be successful, looking at live examples from owners. Topics we’ll cover include:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Photos and videos
  • Comprehensive local guides
  • Integrating your HomeAway calendar
  • Inquiry forms and booking engines
  • Social media shareability
  • Keeping content fresh

Your website should be a living, breathing entity that showcases the personality of you and your home. A great website paints the picture of a dream vacation for the traveler, not just list features and frequently asked questions.

Join me October 25, 2012 at 12 noon PT for a free webinar hosted by HomeAway.

UPDATE: You can now watch a recording of the webinar online.

__________

Title: Give Your Listings Firepower with a Personal Website
Speaker: Erin Colbert
Audience: Vacation Rental Owners & Managers
Date & Time: October 25, 2012 at 2pm CST

photo credit: gunjan

Travel Concierge on DutyI think the 3rd most asked question I get from travelers after “What are your rates?” and “Is your home available for these dates?” is “What activities and restaurants would your recommend near your home?” We typically go back and forth via email, me asking them what kinds of activities they like, if they’re traveling with children, what type of food are they looking for, etc, etc. Basically, I’ve become their travel concierge.

I decided it was a lot easier to just start posting my recommendations, favorite restaurants and upcoming events to my website. You can do the same and save yourself countless hours by directing travelers to your website. Plus, a local guide will also help your vacation rental website get found more easily online. Continue Reading…

Bike Riding Niche Vacation Rental TravelTravelers have a lot of options when it comes to accommodation – vacation rentals are just one of them. Getting your property to jump off a page of search results is no small feat.

What if you could position your rental in a way that maximized your efforts and did a better job of attracting your ideal renter, while possibly increasing your income? Experienced marketers advocate an approach that does just that: Niche marketing.

A niche market is a distinct group of people within a larger group of potential customers. Many consumers aren’t even aware of the rental home market yet, which makes vacation home renters a distinct group of travelers already.

However, people are always on the lookout for accommodations and destinations that meet their particular needs. That’s your opportunity. Continue Reading…

You don’t have to live in a big city like Austin or San Francisco to take advantage of renting your home during local events. Homeowners in Ardmore, PA, a small town of 12,500 residents, are already starting to talk about how to rent out their homes for the 2013 US Open golf tournament just under a year away. But, in order to rent your home, you need to stay abreast of local events and get up-to-speed quickly on your local rules and regulations.

Lake Tahoe Local Event GuideWhether you’re renting your home for a one-off event, or marketing your existing vacation rental, it’s important to set up an informative website with plenty of photos, including rooms, amenities, and the surrounding area. Maintain your website with a local area guide, like this one in Tahoe, and list upcoming local events, happening now and months in the future.

Find out about local events in your area

  • Contact your visitor’s bureau. In larger cities, this might be a convention and visitor’s bureau (CVB). They should have a list of major events and conferences happening in your area.
  • Check out local event directories like Eventful.
  • Subscribe to your city or neighborhood newspapers and magazines.
  • Search for press releases or news. Set up a Google alert to get notified by email when new items are published to the web.
  • Contact local entertainment centers, theaters, and concert venues to obtain a copy of their calendar.
  • Follow event companies on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Plancast as they are most likely to promote their events through these channels.

While you may find renting your home during an event very lucrative and enjoyable, there are many things you should do before starting to advertise, especially if you’re renting out your primary home or new to managing a vacation rental. Continue Reading…

Sooner or later you are bound to receive a negative review or two. Yes, these will sting a bit at first, but in the end they can become a valuable tool to help you improve your business and hone your customer relationship skills. But how should you respond? What should you say, if anything?

Responding to negative guest reviews

Here are a few tips on how to respond to negative guest reviews:
Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Avoid Phishing

Jason Gruhl —  August 20, 2012

No PhishingWhat is phishing?

Phishing is an attempt by criminals to steal your online identity, typically by gaining access to your email account. Today, the losses due to phishing are relatively small, but stories like Sonia Guillaume, a traveler who unknowingly wired money to a scammer, are making headlines and bringing into question the security of the vacation rental industry.

In a recent post by Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway, he outlines why scammers and criminals target the vacation rental industry for phishing schemes:

  • It’s standard practice for travelers to pay large sums of money long before they stay, sight unseen
  • Not everyone understands safe and secure payment methods
  • Many people conduct business from email providers that have been repeatedly compromised
  • Cyber criminals are good at exploiting communities that rely on trust and a personal connection

How does it happen?

Usually the scammer will send you an inquiry posing as a renter in order to learn your personal email address. Now they send you a separate email pretending to be an official organization (i.e. your email provider) to induce you to enter your personal information into their fake website. With access to your email, the criminal can now intercept your inquiries and renters think they are communicating with the owner or manager. The impostor has access to your inquiry list and carries on with your business, attempting to charge potential renters, then steals the money. Continue Reading…