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10 Ways to improve your vacation rental listings and increase bookings

Posted by Rachel Devitt | Sharing Economy

Guest post by CanadaStays

In today’s crowded travel marketplace, travellers have many different accommodation options to choose from. As a short-term vacation rental owner, you’re not only competing with other homeowners, but you’re  also competing with hotels and resorts vying for those same travellers.

Your rental listing is your number one marketing tool and the key to making your property stand out from the crowd. Improving the quality of your listing to give it more of a ‘wow’ factor, and keeping it up-to-date throughout the year can positively impact your booking volume.

Not sure where to start? We’re sharing some of our top tips to help make your property more attractive for travellers:

1. Keep your listings, calendars and rates up to date

Outdated calendars and rate inaccuracies can be extremely frustrating for travellers who are booking vacation rentals an average of 80-100 days in advance, or even as far as one year out. To make the most out of every booking opportunity, ensure your listings, rates, and calendars are ready well ahead of the next booking season.

As a general guideline, your calendars and rates should be set for at least six months in advance. Remember to keep your target demographic in mind. Families tend to start planning earlier, while young professionals can be more last-minute in their travel plans.

2. Ensure your pricing is competitive

At the end of the day, price and value play the most significant role in vacation rental decisions. Here are a few things you should ask yourself:

  • Is my pricing competitive against similar properties in the area?
  • Have I set up a discount for longer stays?
  • Are there ways I can add value to justify a higher price point?

Consider your vacation rental like you would a business and do some research to ensure your pricing is competitive in the marketplace.

3. Turn on Instant Book

No traveller wants to jump through hoops to book a vacation rental. The faster they can get a confirmation, the more likely they are to book. In fact, Instant Book is one of the most commonly used filters on CanadaStays. Instead of leaving a traveller waiting for 24 hours, you can turn every booking request into a booking by simply enabling the Instant Book function. You can set specific house rules to ensure you get the right type of travellers booking your property.

4. Optimize your images

If you walk away with one tip to focus on, photography should be it. Property photos are your #1 selling feature, yet they’re often the most overlooked listing piece. Think about your rental property as you would a home you’re listing to sell.

Strong property photos are staged to show the property in the best light, taken with a good camera in the daytime (aim for the the golden hour), and captured horizontally where possible. Photos should show all the key rooms and amenities, as well as your property’s best features. The goal is for travellers to feel like they’ll be missing out if they don’t book your property!

Exterior shots of properties perform really well as feature photos, and remember that your hero image should highlight the best features of your property. If you have an all-season rental, create an ‘evergreen’ listing that showcases photos of the property throughout the different seasons.

You can swap out your hero images seasonally to be reflective of the upcoming booking period, but your carrousel should showcase the benefits of booking the property any time of year.

5. Maximize capacity

There’s a reason vacation rentals have become so popular over the last few years – they’ve allowed families and friends to more easily vacation in larger groups. The average group size for a CanadaStays booking is five travellers, so optimizing your property for larger groups is key.

Whether it’s adding optional cots to your listing description, purchasing a pull-out sofa or adding a bunk bed that can accommodate an additional traveller or two, you can easily increase the value of your rental property by growing its maximum capacity.

Keep in mind that while capacity is important, your space needs to comfortably accommodate those numbers – don’t forget you’ll need enough linens, towels, and dinnerware for all.

6. Offer flexible check-out

Travellers love to take advantage of the last day of the trip (think lazy Sundays!). A late check-out option works well as a perk that can help generate great reviews. It also gives travellers that added value through maximum return on their vacation spend, which can translate to a lift in bookings, particularly during the shoulder seasons, when trips tend to be shorter in duration.

7. List all property features

Travellers choose vacation rentals because they provide the comforts of home, so including details about the smaller nice-to-have items like espresso machines or board games, along with bigger features such as hot tubs, saunas, and fire pits, can really make your listing stand out from the competition.

Consider your target traveller – are you looking to attract families, groups of friends, or maybe couples? Keep this in mind when you’re writing about the amenities and ensure you highlight those that would be most important to them in their search for the perfect rental.

Some often overlooked features you might want to mention include recreational equipment available for guests, energy-efficient property features, and smart home electronics.

8. Highlight proximity to outdoor activities

No matter the season, outdoor activities play a key role in Canadian vacation choices. Differentiate yourself from the competition by highlighting the location of your property. Is it minutes away from great hikes, lakes, or other outdoor activities? You can (and should) include everything from golfing, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing, and snowshoeing, to bird watching!

9. Spotlight top nearby food and drink spots

Food tourism is rapidly growing and your property should be part of that experience. Proximity to great restaurants, bars, markets, or food trucks should be highlighted in your listing description. If you’re located near great local restaurants, breweries, or in the heart of wine country, why not partner with some businesses in the area to offer a discount, or a custom experience for your guests?

It’s a win-win for all – the business benefits from more exposure and visits from travellers, while you can provide added value for your guests.

10. Curate a local experience

More and more, travellers are turning to vacation rentals as a way to discover local and unique experiences away from home. A personal touch can go a long way in creating that experience, whether you prefer to be very involved or more hands off.

You can offer a personal guided tour or build a list of tips and recommendations to help guests uncover the gems that only locals might know about, like hidden beaches and lookout points, or a secret room at the back of a cocktail bar. You can easily scale this for all your travellers with a simple printed or digital guidebook.

For a more elevated experience, consider offering activities on the property, such as yoga sessions, surfing lessons, or cooking classes, led by local members of the community. You can also easily create more of an immersive experience by leaving local gifts, like craft beer/wine from the region, or treats from the local bakery, to give travellers a taste of the area.

Simple changes to your listing can go a long way in driving bookings. By taking a little time to audit your listing to identify where you can make some enhancements, and checking back every few months to give it a little refresh, you can be better positioned to fill vacancies year-round.

About CanadaStays

CanadaStays is Canada’s largest marketplace of vacation rentals by owner, with over 250,000 vacation rental properties in 11,000+ destinations across Canada, the US, the Caribbean and South America. List your vacation rental for free.

Insurance options for CanadaStays property owners

Duuo is thrilled to be able to offer a short-term rental insurance option to CanadaStays property owners. Now with Duuo you can protect yourself and your home for just a few dollars a night. Here’s why having the right insurance coverage is so important…

About the author

Rachel Devitt
As Duuo’s Brand & Communications Manager, Rachel manages Duuo’s content, events calendar, and PR initiatives. During Duuo team trivia games you’ll often find Rachel racking up points as a result of her pop-culture obsession.