VRS021 – Rex Brown – Successful Vacation Rental Owner Series

facebook_successful_owner_rex_brownWhile I’ve been busy in the European and North American vacation rental market, I hadn’t really paid much attention to what was going on in the industry ‘down under’, so it was a delight to welcome Melbourne-based Rex Brown as my guest on the podcast. Rex is a speaker at the upcoming Vacation Rental World Summit talking about getting from new to 80% occupancy in one of his properties in 3 months, so of course I wanted to find out what that is all about. [Read more...]

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Tree

thumbnailMy son and business partner, Mike, had no idea I was writing this post, so it’s coming as a surprise to him, but when I saw the latest review for his property, Sea Breeze, and read all the previous ones, I thought it was time to share his success with you.

Our cottage rental agency rented this property for several years with a previous owner, with moderate success. The cottage has the benefit of an wide swathe of private sandy beachfront on Lake Ontario, so it was always popular in summer but we struggled with getting fall, winter and spring interest. Then, when it came up for sale, I suggested that Mike and Andrea take a look. He was just 30 at the time, married for a couple of years and thinking about starting a family, so even though buying a vacation home was on his goal list, it wasn’t front and centre on his radar.

mike_bayer_seabreeze_soldThey say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and it seems Mike was cloned from my business psyche. He immediately saw the investment potential in the cottage and it was a done deal in days. That was in September 2010. It is a sweet 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage with a neat kitchen and good-sized bathroom and at that time it was ready for rental. However there were a few things he did that secured some immediate bookings, and have continued to increase the flow of guests throughout the year, many of whom come back over and over again. [Read more...]

VRS020 – SEO for Your Vacation Rental Website with Steve Sasman

facebook_SEO_for_vacation_rental_websites_with_steve_sasmanThere is so much I have to learn about the vacation rental business and am always delighted to see someone new on the scene with valuable experience to share. Steve Sasman owns a successful rental property in Flagstaff, Arizona, and even though it is in an area dominated by larger resorts and established accommodation, he has quickly achieved significant occupancy.  He’s done this through his expertise in SEO and in-depth knowledge of how to integrate Google technology into an overall marketing strategy. [Read more...]

Who’s Who in the Vacation Rental Industry

vacation_rental_expertsWhen I wrote my book on vacation rentals in 2003, there weren’t many people writing on the topic.  Homeaway wasn’t founded until 2005, and even when I started Cottageblogger.com in 2007, Flipkey had just launched their blog and there were only a few people actively delivering information on how to set up and operate a rental home, where to market, and how to manage a booking system.

Fast forward seven years and there are many more people now sharing their expertise in a range of areas and this is great news.  Experts in marketing, social media, photography, staging, and general hospitality now offer advice and resources to help you get more bookings and grow your business.  Most of these are owners themselves – they have experienced just what you do, have made mistakes and learned from them.  Here are the ones I recommend you check out and follow, whether it’s their blogs, social media profiles or podcasts. [Read more...]

VRS019 – Sue B Zimmerman the Instagram Gal


My guest today in episode 19 is Sue Zimmerman – a social media powerhouse, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and thoroughly nice person!  Since starting her first business at age 13, Sue’s passion and drive for helping others to achieve success has had her founding eighteen separate businesses which made me ask which hour of the week she managed to sleep.  Her answer to that question says a lot about her energy and motivation! [Read more...]

Nuggets of Vacation Rental Wisdom

More from Lynne Martin of ‘Home Sweet Anywhere’

Lynne_MartinI love talking to vacation rental owners to find out what they do to create quaility accommodation, but like talking to their guests even better. After all, if we are not pleasing our clients there’s something that needs changing.

So, following my podcast interview with Lynne last week, I wanted to follow up with a blog post as there’s so much we didn’t cover in our chat that I feel would be useful. [Read more...]

VRS018 – A Story of Renegade Retirement & Vacation Rentals with Lynne Martin


Lynne Martin is the author of Home Sweet Anywhere, a wonderful story of love lost-and-found, the joys and pitfall of world travel, and a renegade retirement.  While most people are done with their travelling in their twenties and thirties, Lynne and her author husband Tim are exploring the world in their later years, with joy and gusto.  With a goal to live like locals, they sold their home, put their final few possessions in storage and left for a new life of being Home Free.

Travelling from California, to Argentina, cruising to Italy, then exploring Tuscany, Paris, London, Ireland, Morroco and Portugal, best of all, they have stayed primarily in vacation rentals along the way.

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I first heard of Lynne after reading an article in The Huffington Post with the title 5 Rules for Choosing a Vacation rental.  When I read that, I just had to talk to her and ask about her experiences as a guest in vacation rentals.  After talking to her, I appreciate why she and Tim made friends in every country – her first published article in the Wall St Journal came about after a chance meeting on a cruise ship – and many of these friends are the owners of the properties they stayed in.

In the course of our conversation I learned:

  • What criteria the Martins use for selecting their vacation rental home-bases
  • Why reviews are so important in their decision making
  • What makes a great first impression
  • The first things Lynne and Tim do when they arrive at a new property
  • Why it’s important to let guests know if you don’t have an expected amenity
  • The value to guests (and to their enjoyment) of providing local information
  • The importance of WiFi to travelers

Make sure you buy Lynne’s book – it’s such a great read.

Where to get Lynne’s book 

Lynne’s Check in checklist

Huffington Post Article

Wall Street Journal Article

Forbes Magazine Article


If you liked this podcast we would really appreciate it if you could leave a review for us on iTunes. You can do this by clicking on the icon below. This will open itunes and direct you to the Vacation Rental Success Podcast. Here you can review and subscribe. Many thanks for listening.

Why should you use a rental management agency?

house-in-hand-smGood question. Why should you? And if you have the time and inclination to advertise and market your property; handle hundreds of email and phone enquiries; screen your renters; collect a deposit and final balance; generate a rental management agreement and Terms and Conditions of Rental; and follow up after the rental, then you should have no need of a company to do this for you. Many owners love doing just this and enjoy the opportunity to communicate directly with their rental clients. Others want to use their valuable time elsewhere and are happy to abrogate responsibility for the work to a reputable rental agency. [Read more...]

VRS017 – Are You Covered or Exposed? With VR Insurance Specialist Phil Schofield

It’s not often you’ll hear me say that I’m looking forward to talking about insurance, but I was actually eager to talk to today’s guest as he is not only a vacation rental owner himself, but is also an expert on vacation rental insurance.

Phil Schofield is head of inbound marketing at Schofields insurance,  specialist insurers of holiday homes (vacation rentals) in UK/Europe. They only cover UK residents, however insurance risks are universal so the tips that Phil shares in the podcast may encourage you to review your insurance cover to ensure you are adequately protected. Given that only 43% of us read insurance terms and conditions, it’s likely you are unaware of limitations in your policy small print. [Read more...]

Are Your Cleaning Staff in the Hospitality Business?

cleanerWho does the changeovers in your vacation rental property?  Do you use a property management company or a local independent cleaner?  Perhaps you do it yourself and are considering handing the task over to someone else.

Regardless of who is doing the job for you, are you confident they understand the nature of our business, who your clients are and the uniqueness of the relationship?  If not, it may be time to have the conversation. [Read more...]