Getting Started With Vacation Rental Over the past ten years in my cottage rental business as well as through this blog and podcast, I have talked at length with hundreds of vacation rental owners, many of whom have been amazingly successful. Those who have achieved great success share a set of perspectives and beliefs and habits. They: 1. Treat their vacation rental as a business and not a hobby Successful owners talk in terms of a business. They have a marketing strategy, they understand the demographic of their rental guests, and appreciate their role as a provider to the tourism and travel industry. They have great respect for their guests who have selected their property for a vacation and work hard to meet their needs and create guest satisfaction. Would you like to know the 10 habits to #vacationrental success? @Cottageguru shares the secrets! 2. Have clear goals According to Jeff Haden, contributing writer for Inc.com: “Average success is often based on setting average goals.” Owners who are getting solid bookings and getting consistently high reviews have decided where they want to be. They don’t just post a listing and hope for the best – there is a clear plan on how much income they want; how many weeks need to be rented; and the return on investment for all their marketing activities. SMART goals are the key and following through on these are the way to achieve even greater success. Often, successful owners have a goal of growing their business through buying more properties or using their expertise to manage properties on behalf of other owners. 3. Like and Respect Their Guests You won’t find a truly successful owner using the word ‘renters’ or ‘tenants’. Guests are valued and respected and genuinely liked as clients within their business, and this generally results in repeat business and consistently positive reviews. Joel Rasmussen, owner of multiple properties in Austin, Texas, tells us how the relationships he’s created with some of his guests have blossomed into lasting friendships. Making a personal connection works. This doesn’t mean that guests are always ‘likeable’ – we will all experience those that are more demanding, and a little frustrating to deal with. However, appreciating the different needs of our guests and communicating to get to know them better, often results in a better relationship. Great owners know how to do this. 4. Are Responsive & Personal Melbourne based owner and VR specialist Rex Brown cites his methods of responding to guest enquries as the cornerstone of his success and why he is beating the competition in an overcrowded market. People want instant gratification or they will go onto the next site or the next listing. When a response to an inquiry comes back instantly, it creates a positive perception within the guests’ mind, particularly if it’s a friendly and personal reply, rather than canned and generic. 5. Treat Their Staff Well Julia Hill is a very successful owner who walks the talk. She considers her property team – caretaker, gardener, handyman – as integral to the business and nurtures their support and commitment. Julia suggests that their ‘buy-in’ to hospitality result in happier guests and the smooth running of her rental business. The people who support your vacation rental business are integral to success. Giving them as much respect as you do your guests will promote loyalty and impeccably high standards. 6. Market Wisely Achieving success in this business is far more than jumping on the latest marketing bandwagon and listing in a scattergun fashion. Smart owners know exactly what the return is on their marketing spend. They monitor all their advertising, do A/B testing on their images, and target their primary demographic. There is so much more to marketing than creating a listing. This should include a social media presence and many successful owners have chosen a platform to promote their property and their local knowledge. Niagara on the Lake owner Maria Rekrut markets her cottage on Twitter by doing this. 7. Are Constantly Learning Those of us who share our knowledge of the vacation rental industry know that our followers are constant learners, and they are also very successful in their businesses. Whether they listen to my podcasts, are part of Matt Landau’s Inner Circle, taking a Google Plus course with Alan Egan, or attended the Vacation Rental World Summit, they are sponges for knowledge, new ideas and the experience of others. To be successful in this competitive environment, these owners would agree that consistent learning is a part of their strategy, and also know how important it is to share and contribute their own experiences. 8. Share Local Knowledge Travelers want more information than ever about their destinations. They also want a one-stop-shop rather than having to search through a bunch of resources that don’t give the insider knowledge they are seeking. Successful owners appreciate they own that knowledge and share it freely. They are using blogs, Google + and creating Vacation Insider Guides. In doing so, they are becoming the go-to experts in their area. People searching for information and coming across these resources may not book the property then, but they might do at a later day, and will share what they have found with their friends, families and co-workers. 9. Network With Other Owners Networking can come in many forms from creating relationships on forums, on Facebook groups, on Twitter or face-to-face. Oregon owner Debi Hetert finds huge value in the networking she does with other hosts she has met on Airbnb ; others attend the Home Away Summits in the US and Europe or Stay summits in Australia. Spend a little time on the Home Away Community or Lay My Hat (which is more European based) and you’ll come across success stories laced with terrific ideas and advice. Successful owners don’t do this business in a vacuum – they enjoy sharing, learning and putting it all into practice then sharing again with the results. As I write this I am preparing to head to San Diego to the Vacation Rental Managers Association Annual Conference which will be three days of solid networking with other management companies and suppliers. The value of this far overrides anything I can research online and will all go towards improving my business.. 10. Look For Ways To Continuously Improve Continuous improvement stands successful owners out from their competitors. They are always looking for ways to upgrade their property; show it in a better light; improve their website or blog; create new methods to market, and stand out from the crowd. Good is never good enough for them – only excellence will do. Great owners read their competitors reviews and pick out what guests are commenting on, then they will act on those ideas and suggestions to improve their own place. Modelling success means finding out what the best do, and then doing it better. The more I meet and talk with such successful people, the more I learn about what makes them tick and the traits that are necessary for their continued success. Have I missed any? What habits do you have that contribute to your achievements. Share them with us here so we can all do a little bit better!