Vacation rentals have exploded in popularity in Avon. There were a few over 500 active rentals at the end of 2016 between Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway, but that number has nearly tripled. And as the industry becomes more regulated, it’s moved from home-owning families making a few bucks on the side to large hotel chains getting into the business. With that comes all the standardized processes for housekeeping, taking reservations, and housekeeping that made them successful in the first place. The little homeowner can quickly find himself crowded out!
But there’s hope. Today’s smartphones can take extremely sharp photos and allow for instant replies to customers. Combine this with the fact that a single individual can be a lot more flexible than a big company—and that VRBO and Airbnb explicitly work to make their platforms easy for landlords—and you too can compete in the vacation rental space. You just need to know a few core principles.
Photos are King
It’s not just the obvious fact that people like to see nice things. Airbnb and VRBO actually prioritize higher resolution photos automatically via built-in algorithms, and this gives a subtle bump to your listing. Don’t excuse lazy photography by saying “people want something that feels authentic”. In a day of easily available Instagram filters, dark or badly framed photographs don’t look “authentic”–they look like you’re running a shady operation out of your basement.
What makes a good property photo? A few things. First, make it high resolution. Use a decent SLR camera, or a good smartphone (the latest iPhone has an extraordinarily good camera, for example). Then, make sure the lighting is right. Open the blinds, turn on the lights, make it crisp. Get wide-angle photos from the corners of the room. And make sure to reduce clutter before the shot. People don’t want to see it “lived in”, they want it to look nice. (We’re willing to tip over sacred cows here. There are no excuses at Away Agents!)
Tell Them What They Need To Know
Another dodge people use is “less is more”. This is also sometimes framed as “people don’t want to wade through a lot of text”. The truth? No one in history has said “I’m so exhausted from all this scrolling, I’ll just cancel my trip to Avon”. The other truth? If you don’t have enough detail, no one will call you. They’ll just go to the next listing.
You need to tell people about your property. Give the crunchy details, like which rooms sleep how many people. But also give some local flavor. Paint a picture of the soft couch where they can watch the snow fall with a roaring fire, sipping the wine you’re providing. (People like free wine). Describe the sauna or hot tub. Sell it! Do make use of headlines to let people quickly find the section they need, but don’t avoid writing it.