How to Market Your Vacation Rental Property
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John Larson: Hello. Hello and welcome to another edition of The Real Estate Cowboys. This is your host, John Larson. So this week I wanted to talk a little bit about vacation rentals, specifically how to market your vacation rentals. We are coming up on, obviously, we’re right in the middle of winter, coming up on the holidays. And this is the opportunity for you if you own vacation rentals here in the US or abroad to really start ramping up your marketing because this is the money season. This is where you’re going to be able to charge the most to rent out your vacation rental because it’s just that hot season. People are taking vacations at this time, they want to escape the cold. And so this is a great, great time for you to really start ramping up marketing and getting more leads. And the more leads that come in that want to rent your property, the more you can charge, right? So that’s the goal here.
So whether you’re a fractional owner of a vacation rental, like we’ve done down in Belize with our fractional ownership model or you have a full ownership vacation rental property here in the US, like I said, now is the time to take action and really start ramping up that marketing. So obviously when winter gets into full swing in the States, people are going to start looking for ways to escape the bitter cold. Okay, especially if you’re up there in Michigan and the Midwest, like where I’m from. I know all my family and friends are looking to take vacations right now. So you’ve got to strike when the iron is hot so to speak. People are generally going to look for places where they can bring their families to relax and bond and have a good time. And your vacation rental property is perfect for people like this. So now you just have to figure out a way to connect the dots.
And if you don’t have a property manager in place, you’ll need to be your own marketing manager. And really, yeah, there’s some good property management companies out there that do a good job with vacation rentals. But I think with a vacation rental it’s a little bit different than a single-family home. So I really do believe in kind of taking the reins on that and managing your own marketing. Okay. It’s really not hard to market quality vacation rentals and highly desirable destinations like Belize, but you still have to know what you’re doing. Okay. And so I wanted to give you some tips for marketing vacation rental properties, right.
And number one I think is, I’m just putting myself in the seat of a prospective renter. And I think the number one thing I’m going to want to see is a list of nearby attractions, right? The place looks beautiful, it’s in the destination I want to go. But we’re not just going to sit around at the property all day. We’re going to want to venture out and check out and see what’s around, right? So I think a list of nearby attractions is a great place to start. So within a mile or two of the property is probably where you’re going to want to kind of create this list. And I think the closer to the property the better because people don’t want to spend vacation just driving around in a car and things like that. Make a list of attractions that are close by to the property. Vacationers, they’re going to get annoyed if they have to spend an entire vacation day in the car, especially if they have to end up sitting in traffic. And so your online review might likely reflect that frustration too.
So maybe if you make a list of attractions you do, hey, here’s what’s a mile or two within the property. These are some close attractions. And then here’s some that are a little further away and just let them know, hey, this is going to be a half an hour drive to get to these destinations. And maybe just kind of split it up in two. But that’s definitely something that you want to include in your listing. And so you’re going to want to let people know where the nearest beaches are, secret coves, shopping malls. If it’s a place in Aspen, skiing destinations or like I said, back to like a warm-weather area, tubing, swimming holes, hiking trails, World Heritage Sites, guided caving, right, which we’ve done in Belize quite often. Animal sanctuaries, kayak rentals, boat rentals, museums. Those are all things that are really going to attract the vacationer to potentially choosing your property over others. How close are you to some of these different destinations? Right?
And then obviously you want to write an enticing property description. Photos really tell the story, but so does a really good property description. I can say I’ve been veered one way or another based on photos and the description, especially on like Airbnb. Whatever the host writes about the property, I really pay attention to that and sometimes it can sway me from one property to the other. So you’ll really want to write an enticing property description that really communicates the amenities and the feeling of the property, right. Make the person feel like they’re there, they’re sitting there. It doesn’t have to be overly descriptive, but it should at least list the things that are important to vacationers, like ample closet space, access to a boat dock, on-site bicycle, kayak or inflatable tubes, a fully stocked kitchen with basics, a grill, a fire-pit with firewood, a jacuzzi, a pool with a pool house. Whatever it may be, plasma televisions, high-def televisions, eat-in kitchen, so on and so forth.
Those are the things that potential vacationers are going to want to see as well. Right. What are the amenities within the property and on the actual property? Very, very important. You want to entice them with all these great things that you have. I remember one time, it was actually just this past summer, I rented a home when I went back to Detroit with a few friends. We did an Airbnb. We got a house and really I was specifically looking for a house that just had a nice backyard and a grill because I planned on grilling. It was over Labor Day Weekend and we wanted to grill there and things like that. So I wasn’t even looking for places that didn’t have a grill at the home. So that was very, very important to me. So simple little things like that is what made me choose that property over many others. And there were other properties that were actually nicer than this one but they didn’t have a grill. Okay.
And then obviously take quality photos. You’ll definitely want to take some high-resolution photos of the property. I definitely recommend hiring a professional photographer because they can make the rooms look larger, they’re really nice, they’re high definition. You can really see the property and photos are really going to tell the story of the property. And I think photos, in general, are what really sway people into actually renting one property versus another. I mean you can use an example of, you’d have a much nicer property with a pool and this and that. But if the photos were just off your camera phone, a low-resolution camera phone, I know the iPhone has taken from a really great high-resolution photos. But if you match those up to a professional photographer, it’s just not going to be the same, and you’re going to see other people rent that property with the high-res photos versus the photos that were taken on a camera phone.
Right, or taken by anything less than a professional photographer. Definitely, definitely take photos, take as many photos as possible and make sure you get photos of the exterior, the amenities, all the rooms, different angles of the rooms. Really let the person, let the photos tell the story to the person so they feel like, wow, I’m there. Right. And so you want to do closeup shots, distance shots. You just really have to start telling a story and giving the potential renter a sense of what the vacation rental property is like in person. Okay.
You also want to publish your property details. Now that you have all the pertinent information for your vacation rental property, you’re going to be ready to market it online and there’s dozens of places to list your vacation rental property, some free and some are paid. But here are some of them. Airbnb, obviously. VRBO, we use both of those. VRBO is probably our most popular one for our properties in Belize. You can list them on Craigslist, which is free, but you’re also going to probably be sifting through some less qualified people. I guess maybe if it’s just up there on Craigslist, but Airbnb and VRBO, I definitely recommend. Facebook Marketplace, you could do, Homestay and HomeAway. HomeAway is another one that we use that’s been really, really good. But I’d say VRBO, Airbnb and HomeAway are probably the three best that I’ve used personally for our properties in Belize.
Then also taking payments for your vacation rental, obviously very, very important. This is the final thing I would recommend. Be sure to use a payment processor that is reputable if you’re dealing directly with the renter and not going through a vacation rental platform. So PayPal and Stripe are two options that are commonly used in the United States. You could also offer to take checks, but that’s much more risky. Just be sure to allow enough time for the check to clear before the rental term begins and I definitely avoid direct deposits or wire transfers into your bank account with individuals you don’t know. I mean this is a method that some fraudsters have used, so just be really careful with that.
With a fractional share ownership of vacation rental property like we’ve done in Belize, you get a minimum of five weeks of occupancies. So it’s really cool. You don’t own the property outright yourself, but I think everybody would agree that’s listening to the podcast. I mean, how often are you actually going to use the vacation rental? Are you going to go there more than five weeks a year? Probably not. Most of the people that we have in our a fractional ownership pool, they use the property maybe two weeks a year. The other three weeks they’re renting that property out and generating some cash flow.
That’s why I really like the fractional model because all of the owners share in on all the expenses as well. It can be very costly to maintain a vacation rental property over the years. Things break just like any other rental. But then also if you offer a boat or kayaks or whatever it may be, those things can get damaged over time from the renters. So I like that fractional ownership model just because of the fact that hey, if you’re still working, you’re not retired. I mean how often are you going to be able to get away and use that vacation rental. And then also, they can be expensive to operate and there are going to be things that need to be replaced quite frequently. So it’s nice to have others that also own the property with you where you can share in on those expenses. That’s just my thought.
But with these marketing tips to go by, you’ll surely have no problem finding winter wary families who will appreciate the sun-drenched shores of somewhere like Belize. So if you’re interested in more information on potentially investing in a vacation rental, just contact us AREIUSA.com or RealEstateCowboysDFW.com. We still have fractional ownership options available down in Southern Belize and Placencia specifically. Or just, all we like to do is just put out good content, good information, good education. So if you are just a vacation rental property owner and own something here in the States, Myrtle Beach, Florida, wherever it may be, take these useful tips and use them to help bring in more cash flow. Keep your property rented more frequently and really have a successful vacation rental property. So I hope you found this information insightful. We’ll be back next week with more great real estate information, real estate investing information. But that’s all we have for this week. This is your host, John Larson signing off. And also remember, what’s your return on life? See you next week.
Announcer: All opinions expressed by the host of the show or the opinions of American Real Estate Investments, LLC, and do not reflect the opinions of guests or sponsors. No personal or professional advice heard on this program should be considered an endorsement to follow a real estate financing or investment strategy. Before acting on any information, seek advice from your financial, tax, mortgage or real estate advisor as the information is not guaranteed, and investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss.