VRS172 – 10 Reasons I Will Not Be Inquiring About Your Vacation Rental Property

Do you ever wonder if your listing is attracting people to inquire about your property? Perhaps you see the stats that show how many have looked at it…but you didn’t get the inquiries or bookings that would make that number seem realistic.

Could it be something in your listing that is moving them onto the next place?

I started thinking about this recently when looking for places to stay on some upcoming trips, and got curious about my own thought patterns as I browsed the hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of potential homes.

This episode explores the mistakes owners make with their listings, and how a little adjustment could bring more visitors to your own site, or at least connecting with you. And often, that’s all you need to get the conversion process rolling.

I uncovered ten reasons I won’t be inquiring about a property. They include unattractive feature photos that don’t grab attention; boring headlines; grainy and badly lit photos; uncomfortable looking beds and dull kitchens, and defensive responses to negative reviews.

Every one of these can be fixed.

In this episode I talk about:

• Why the Orlando villas with an exterior photo of the garage are a turn-off
• What you should remove from your headline
• The importance of professional photos
• How your guests perceive comfort
• Blah blah text and the way to resolve it
• Why I want to know about you and why you love the property
• The one complaint guaranteed to cause a click to the next listing
• Speed of response and calendar updates make a difference
• Why being defensive has repercussions
• Updating calendars and speed of response

VRS134 – Filling a Unique Niche in Vacation Rentals with Dianne Denton

It’s always a pleasure to talk to owners about their properties, and even more so when they are as unique as Dianne Denton’s Sea Horse Diamond Beach Cottage.

Not only is this a gorgeous property, with a swimming pool and a short walk from the beach, which would be an attraction for anyone, but it’s also fully horse-friendly filling an almost empty niche.

Dianne has been involved with horses for years and runs a successful rainwear company at Muddy Creek Raingear.com. She and her husband Chris also own a vacation home on Diamond Beach in New South Wales, about 3 hours from Sydney, and when Chris originally suggested they offer it for rental, she wasn’t so sure she wanted strangers in her much-loved beach home. But once persuaded, she has never looked back.

In fact, when I asked Dianne for some tips to share with someone who might want to start a similar business her first answer was to get over the concept of it being ‘your baby’, and treat it as a business first and foremost.

In this interview we explore the marketing strategies Dianne uses to attract pet lovers to her place – it’s just as dog friendly as it is a horse paradise – and discuss the professional video she and Chris had commissioned as a primary marketing tool.

Dianne also talks about the submission she is involved with in the New South Wales Tourism Awards, and how doing this has got her looking at all aspects of her business in a new light.

Finally she shares some detail on her new project – another vacation rental in the village of Diamond Beach. This is one that will attract a different audience but I am sure it will succeed in exactly the same way as Sea Horse has.

Dianne talks about:

  • How she was a reluctant entrant into the vacation rental business
  • The niche that no-one has filled and how her property attracts the right audience
  • Why using print marketing works for this niche
  • Her strategy for engaging on Facebook
  • How commenting on other Facebook pages and groups attracts traffic
  • The production of the video and the importance of getting the weather right
  • Why she feels it would be a huge benefit to win a tourism award
  • Her most challenging part of managing the business
  • Her approach to the new project, Seafarer’s Cottage
  • The importance of vetting guests and why she would never accept BIN reservations
  • Her most valuable tips for new entrants to the business
  • NSW Tourism Awards criteria
  • Muddy Creek Raingear

Where you can find Diane:







VRS133 – Getting Ready For My Vacation Rental Season

It’s that time of year again.

The cottage country tradition in Ontario has been part of the culture for generations, and in many areas the families that make the trip have been going to the same cottage for years. Then there’s the new Canadians – our most recently arrived immigrants who learn that the annual vacation to the lake is a rite of passage, and the first visit is often the catalyst to the cottage buying bug that impacts just about every one who experiences it.

Over the years, expectations have risen, and I have the conversation with every new owner about it, and say the same thing over and over. [Read more…]

VRS112 – The Step by Step Foolproof Process to Delight Your Guests

When I talk to an owner about delighting guests and what that means to them, they will invariably talk about the first impression their guests have of their property, the guest gift they leave, and the amenities they provide.

But there is so much more to creating happiness than the origami towel in the shape of a swan, and a few paper rose petals on the bed.

If that seems a little trite, let’s just say that the process for delighting guests doesn’t hinge on one action – it’s a combination of several, and it’s important to give equal attention to every step.

It starts from the very beginning, because if you don’t capture their attention at the outset, you’ll never get the opportunity to delight at a later stage. [Read more…]

VRS090 – How to make your international guests feel at home

We’ve had friends staying from UK for the past two weeks, and been in long discussion about the differences between the UK and Canada, from driving on the other side of the road, to their expectations of shopping and eating out.

I remember my first trip to the US and being completely thrown by four-way junctions and being able to turn right on a red light. And we very nearly got ticketed for not stopping for a school bus – it’s not required in England!

Then, we recall arriving in Ontario on one of our first trips to find it was a public holiday and there were only gas stations open with minimal provisions. My husband has never forgotten the first night of that vacation – a couple of packets of chips (crisps) and no beer, after an 8 hour flight and a 3 hour drive!

So, from the very early days of our vacation rental business, we’ve been conscious of the need to let our international guests know what to expect. [Read more…]

VRS086 – 10 Ways to Create a Great First Impression

Each week as the summer goes on, our rental agency deals with myriad issues. Most of them are minor – items left behind, appliances needing repair, requests for early check-in and late check-out etc.

Occasionally, a bigger problem arises like this past week, where an administrative error on our part had a family arriving at a property on Friday to begin their week of vacation, when in fact the owner expected them on Saturday! We had to scramble to find the family a hotel room for the first night and negotiate with the owner for an early check in the following day. Fortunately the guest had a sunny disposition and saw it all as an adventure and she and her family finally checked in on the Saturday for a full week. [Read more…]

VRS069 – What’s Cooking at Your Vacation Rental with Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller is a food writer, chef and cheese lover who joined me to talk about her experiences of being a vacation rental guest who loves to cook.

I came across Rachel after she wrote a piece for the Phoenix New Times called Tips and Hacks for Baking in Your Vacation Rental. Needless to say I was curious to find out what it was like for a real live ‘foodie’ to stay at a vacation home.

Rachel talks about her experiences and shares a lot of great information that we can take and put immediately into action. [Read more…]

VRS063 – I really want a pool for my Vacation Rental but….does it sell more chickens?

I’ve bought and rented out seven properties in the past dozen years or so, and am getting quite adept at knowing what will please our guests and keep them coming back for more. And that is the key….if the new addition will attract more guests and repeat renters, then I’ll evaluate the decision to buy based on the income potential of it.

When we first started in the vacation rental business, we were helped on the way by a very savvy business mentor who got us to see what we were doing from a pragmatic viewpoint. If I had a dollar for every time he said ‘Does it sell more chickens?’ in response to one of my inspired ideas, we could have bought a luxury hen house and be dealing in a lot of eggs! [Read more…]

VRS060 – Touch Stay: The evolution of the welcome book with Andy McNulty

From the founder of Getaway Earth and Vacation Insider Guides, comes Touch Stay – the “Online Welcome Pack for the Digital Age”, and it was a real delight to have Andy McNulty back on the show to talk about it.

This testimonial from a Touch Stay client shows that Andy has found that sweet spot in terms of what owners are looking for:

“Touch Stay have added a real step up in terms of the professionalism of our guest information and its accessibility, providing a responsive and flexible approach to any requirements and suggestions for improvement”

This isn’t a new concept, and for those who already have the Hospitality App from Homeaway, there’s a lot of similarities. However, the big difference is the independence offered by Touch Stay for those owners seeking a platform not governed by one of the listing sites. [Read more…]

VRS042 – Creating a Vacation Insider Guide with Andy McNulty

My guest on this episode is passionate about the vacation rental business, and although he doesn’t own a property himself, he has been a powerful advocate for delivering great information to guests, for many years.

Back in 2007, Andy McNulty, together with a business partner, founded Getaway Earth. The site aimed to create a space where owners could share a lot more about their properties than how many bedrooms and bathrooms it had. The focus was on local knowledge – which restaurant had the best pizza; how to find that secret beach, or walking trail you would not find in a tourist brochure. It was a great idea than unfortunately did not reach its full potential, and was quietly shelved a few years later.

Thankfully for all of us, Andy is back with a new product, web site and vision for getting our information out in full, glossy, online format, and he tells us all about Vacation Insiders in this episode. [Read more…]