Renting your property out to short-term tenants has the potential to provide you with an incredible stream of income that you did not know was possible.
However, your ability to maximise your property’s potential is directly linked to your marketing efforts. Placing your listing in prominent locations on several top short-term rental websites can help you keep your vacancy rate to a minimum, and maximise your rental gains throughout the year.
There are hundreds of booking websites that potential renters may search through, and most of these websites have numerous other listings that you will be competing with. To be truly successful with your marketing efforts, you must find a way for your listing to stand out in this crowded marketplace and get the recognition it deserves from potential renters.
By focusing your attention on these key points, you will help your property stand out on booking sites, meaning lower vacancy rates, and inevitably more rental income for you.
Let’s take a closer look.
Craft a catchy, yet descriptive headline
With most short-term rental websites, potential renters will initially see two things about your listing. A single colour photo and your headline.
This means that your short headline should immediately grab the renters attention. You can come up with a catchy headline by determining the one single feature that sets your house or apartment apart from others.
Use attention-grabbing adjectives that properly describe your property, and focus on its attributes. For example, is it a waterfront property? Are you running a special promotion? Has it recently been renovated?
Incorporate this one primary feature into your headline and also remember to keep your headline concise, because most readers will quickly scan through the listings and only click on those that sound most appealing.
Here is an example of an attention-grabbing and descriptive headline from Stayz:
Provide professional photos
The other element that will be noticed initially by renters who are browsing through a booking website is the primary photo.
A picture truly can tell a thousand words, so ensure that the primary image your viewers see is stunning in some way. It will ideally highlight a primary feature about your property that is a true selling point – such as a pool.
For the additional photos in the listing, keep in mind that people normally want to see what every room in your property looks like, as well as the front and rear of the property.
They would also like to see scenic views. If you have access to amenities, such as a pool, walking trails, a tennis court and more, these should be shown in images as well.
Paying for professional photos to be taken of your property is typically an expense that you can get a great return on. While you want to include as many photos as possible, ensure that the images are high-quality and that they represent your property in the best possible light.
This property from HomeAway has taken the extra effort to get professional photos taken, and it pays off:
Write an honest but compelling description
When potential renters like the photos you post in your listing, they will take the time to read through a more detailed description about the property. Many will read the description word for word if the photos are compelling enough.
Potential renters often want to know how far away attractions are, what the ambiance or environment is like, what additional features the unit has that others do not, if pets are allowed and more. These and other relevant details should be clearly outlined in your description.
Be honest in your description, but write it with positive language. You want your readers to envision themselves enjoying an amazing vacation in your property.
Keep in mind that these future renters may eventually write an online review about your property. You want your description to be compelling, but you also need it to paint a realistic picture. The last thing that you want is for your renters to feel let down because the actual experience does not live up to your online description.
All booking sites will have an area similar to this one on Vacation Rentals for you to include your description:
Outline the key property features
Many people want their vacation home or rental unit to have very specific key features. For example, some may want a hot tub on the deck, a fireplace in the living room or waterfront access.
They will skim your description quickly to look for keywords or scan your photos with these features in mind.
Make a list of your property’s key features before you create your listing. Ensure that there are photos as well as bullet points that describe these features briefly.
You can use the narrative portion of your listing description to provide more detail about each item that you touched on with your bullet points, and your photos to show them off.
Usually you can include the key features in an amenities section on the booking site:
Showcase renter reviews
Many potential renters will spend ample time reading through customer reviews word for word. They want to ensure that the actual experience provided lives up to your description.
If a renter is torn between two or more rentals, glowing reviews from your past customers may be the deciding factor that turns the tide in your favour.
You should encourage your satisfied renters to submit online reviews on a regular basis. Some people will offer a discount on future stays for customers that submit a review.
You may also pull direct quotes out of one or two top reviews to include in your compelling property description to ensure these comments get the recognition they deserve.
This property on AirBnb has over 50 renter reviews:
Highlight property guarantees
Many people are concerned about making a poor decision when renting a property that they have never been to. They understandably want to get their money’s worth and may be well-aware that their experience with your property can make or break their overall vacation.
Some short-term rental property owners offer a money-back guarantee that ensures their guests’ satisfaction, in an effort to make their property more appealing to potential renters. Some will also offer a bad weather guarantee. For example, if your unit is on the coast and in an area that is prone to cyclones, you may create wording that refunds money for the time when the area is included in a cyclone warning zone.
However, some renters will abuse guarantees. The last thing you want is to lose money unnecessarily through guarantees. Therefore, ensure that you create thoughtful wording for your guarantee, if you choose to have one.
When possible, make the property availability clear
Nobody wants to fall in love with a dream vacation home only to find out that it is booked up throughout the season. They also do not want to have to contact you directly to determine availability: this wastes your time as well as theirs.
It is best to have your availability updated on a daily basis and easily visible online. If you insist on having potential renters contact you for availability, ensure that you answer your phone during business hours or that you respond quickly to enquiries via email.
Many people will make multiple enquiries to different property owners, so always include a link to your listing and the address in your response.
Here’s an example of how we do this on MaisonNets:
Be upfront and smart about pricing
Pricing can make or break your rentals profitability. Some people will price their property just below market value to ensure that it is not vacant. However, you will still have the same overhead, so this can actually be detrimental in some cases.
If you choose to price your property on the low end of the market, you may want to set a minimum number of days for each stay to keep your make-ready costs lower. Market prices do change, so keep your eyes on this. Make adjustments to your rates as necessary to remain competitive.
When it comes to your listing, be upfront about this pricing. Regardless of how you have chosen to price your property, it’s important to avoid any hidden costs or making it hard to find a price. This will deter renters from choosing your property and could increase vacancy rates.
List out the rules and expectations
You should establish a set of written rules and expectations for your renters, but how and when you deliver these to your clients is a point to focus on.
If you have very specific rules, such as no school leavers in a popular schoolies destination, this rule should be clearly written on your listing.
On the other hand, you should avoid including all rules and expectations on your listing. Your listing is a sales piece. Rules can be provided when you send an interested renter the final details to lock in the property.
Remember your contact information
Some renters will need to contact you for more information about the property before they make a reservation. For example, they may need to know if you will accept a large dog on the property or how far away your place is from the airport.
It can be frustrating to spend a long time trying to search the listing for contact information. Consider placing this information in several different places for convenience. In addition, provide both a phone number and an email address, if allowed by the booking platform, to make it more convenient for your customers to reach you.
Remember that you are essentially running a business, and your potential renters need to be able to reach you as soon as possible. They also need a quick response by email.
Most booking sites make this part of the process easy by including “Contact Host” buttons on the listing page, like here on AirBnb:
The online listing you create for your short-term rental property is your primary method of filling your property all year round. With this in mind, it is a critical component to your marketing efforts, and you should spend ample time creating and refining your listing.
You should also regularly review your competition and tweak your listing accordingly. By doing so and by focusing your attention specifically on the points outlined here, you may be able to generate greater revenue from your rental property.
Interested in knowing more about managing a short-term rental property?
Download our free special report >> The Ultimate Guide to Owning a Profitable Short-Term Rental Property