Do you want to scream, throw something or roll your eyes when someone tells you that you need to put heads in beds? You KNOW you NEED to do that, but the real question is HOW do you do that?
For average hoteliers the answer is simple, rent your rooms. For legacy timeshare properties the answer is much harder between fixed inventory, mixed-use, owner usage and exchanges these properties have to figure out how to fill the space in between and typically the answer comes down to two options: resales and rentals.
This month I’m going to cover some tips for amping up your rental and resale programs to generate additional income for your resort.
Tip #1: Don’t slack on the visuals.
As corny as it sounds, a picture really is worth a thousand words. That doesn’t mean hire a skilled photographer and photoshopper to take misleading photos. That honest photos that properly highlight the property and update them often. New furniture – update. New appliances – update. If your photos are honest and visually pleasing guests are more likely to be pleased with their stay. Photos that are too promising lead to disappointment and poor reviews. At Beach House Resort in Myrtle Beach, an upload of revised photos to Expedia resulted in 6 bookings within 24 hours.
Tip #2: Respond to your reviews.
All across the internet, from TripAdvisor to Facebook to Google to Expedia, people are writing reviews about your property. Respond to the positive, the negative and the neutral. Show that you read it and show that you care. People are more likely to do business, both resales and rentals with a business that cares.
Tip #3: Writing matters.
We’ve become so visual that some places stopped putting an emphasis on writing, but it still matters. The National Bureau of Economic Research completed a study about listing language and uncovered the types of descriptive words that get the best prices. In the study, they found that specific descriptive words such as “granite” and “maple” were more effective than “superficially positive” words such as “clean” and “quiet.”
So, pay attention to the writing on your websites and online listings. Hire a copywriter if you need to. The way you describe your property has to perfectly showcase just what people will get when they visit, without overselling it, but being descriptive enough that they find what they are searching.
Tip #4: Post Listings.
Trust me, I know you don’t want to give a percent of your rentals to Expedia or Booking.com. No one does, but the truth of the industry is we all need each other. These online travel sites need your inventory and you need their reach and advertising dollars. So, if you have any inventory available for rent and you aren’t using these platforms then you should be. Using them and solely relying on them do not have to go hand-in-hand. Use them, but build your own website that promotes bookings. Let people use these sites to find you and then book directly. Yes, some will still book with the website and cost you a percentage, but some will find you there and book direct – giving you the benefit of billions of worldwide advertising dollars they spend.
Tip #5: The Price is Right.
One of the most important pieces of any business is setting the right prices. Prices too low make your product lose money along with creating a cheap and undesirable appearance. Prices set too high scare off interested buyers and renters. So, how do you set the right prices? While there’s no perfect formula the best strategy requires research. Lots of research and ongoing research. Pricing, especially in vacation rentals can never be a set-it-and-forget-it model. Your competitors are constantly changing rates based on demand, season, events and more. If you don’t keep an eye on these things and adjust accordingly you’re not doing your properties revenue streams justice.
Tip #6: Internet Did Not Kill Customer Service.
In the age of digital marketing everyone wants tips, knowledge and technical details on how to win customers with Facebook ads and websites, but while those can be effective, a bad business cannot rely on them. As a digital marketer, this is hard to say, but digital marketing cannot work magic for a bad business. Digital marketing cannot overturn poor customer service. Digital marketing cannot make your vacation ownership resort successful. Can it accelerate results for a resort? Absolutely. But, you can’t forget your customer service. A digital presence means more online visibility so if you don’t put customer service first that visibility will be painted with negative comments, poor star ratings, and your digital efforts will actually hurt you more than help you.
Rentals and resales are hard. The travel industry itself is unlike any other industry in the world and the segment of that which is legacy timeshare is even more in a world of its own. These weird circumstances don’t make them impossible to be successful, they just make them require more work, more research, and more expertise. Keep working at your rental and resale programs and as long as you stay on top of it the heads will come to those open beds.