Five Insider Secrets to Profitable Vacation Rentals

This guest post was written by Kris Getzie, Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo. She is a vacation rental expert and author of the recently published Vacation Rentals For Newbies.

I've talked to many vacation rental owners and managers over the years and have noted key secrets separating average properties from great ones. It's pretty obvious that those who maintained consistent success (high occupancy and profit) have a great number of repeat visitors.

Insiders have shared five of their favorite secrets that contribute to distinctive success:

1. Competitive rental rate

Tripping.com allows travelers to search across all rental sites effortlessly. Potential guests have already put in a lot of time comparing amenities, reviews and prices and are quick to call-out any rentals that are priced too high so it's critical to remain competitive. Fully occupied owners are acutely aware of their competitors and ensure their property offerings are more appealing than those at similar price points.

2. Consistent guest experience

Before the days of online reviews, people typically stuck to brands they were familiar with. Hotel chains ruled the hospitality industry because they were able to master this seemingly small, but very important, task. Not only does there need to be a consistent product offering (your home amenities, condition and cleanliness) for every guest, but also consistent communication, brand, and booking processes.

3. Marketing strategy

The best vacation rental owners do more than list their homes on a few listing sites (such as Tripping, Airbnb and VRBO) and wish for the best. While you can probably achieve a seventy percent seasonal occupancy rate by doing just that, the best managers view their home as a business, not a hobby, and drive a ninety plus percent annual occupancy.

Your occupancy directly affects your ROI, so it's critical to have a robust marketing plan that is evaluated often. A great way to analyze your marketing sources is to divide the cost of each source into the rental revenue obtained. Listing sites also have insights into the number of times your listing is viewed and provide inquiry demographics. Compare these numbers to have a firm understanding which sites are working best, how adjustments made to your ad (and marketing) impact traffic, and who your guest is.

Lastly, team up with local businesses! You are a community and local businesses can also benefit from increased occupancy. Successful vacation rental owners don't hesitate to call nearby restaurants, parks, music venues for discounted (or free) coupons to add to your vacation package.

4. Hospitality Best Practices

This topic is congruent with mastering a consistent guest experience, but is different enough to speak to specifically. Luxury hotels have, for decades, mastered the art of receiving guests and making them comfortable throughout their stay. As modern travelers opt for vacation rentals over hotels (due to practicality, affordability and the desire for more authentic experiences), real estate investors have the potential for a lucrative business.

The most successful vacation rental owners are well acquainted with hospitality best practices and willingly accommodate their guests at every step of their stay.

5. Authenticity

Modern travelers want to feel connected to an authentic experience. These travelers are booking vacation rentals over hotels and owners are in the perfect position to feed this desire. The most successful vacation home investors willingly share insider knowledge of the local community with guests through their home 'guide', website FAQ and personal communications.

In addition to fluidly implementing these five secrets, I have learned that the most successful vacation rental owners have also built a solid business foundation. The industry is getting more competitive each day, but if proper attention is given to the details from the start, you will build a profitable vacation rental business.