Monday, February 11, 2008

Creating a Vacation Rental Listing that Sells
By Jennifer Billeci

If you are going to spend the time and money to advertise your vacation rental, it is important to have a quality, eye-catching listing that will bring more attention to your property. It is important to note that just because your property is listed does not mean that it will receive more traffic. However, there are simple solutions to make your listing more attractive.

First, and foremost, make sure you include pictures. Listings with pictures are going to generate double the number of visitors than those without. People want to see what the property looks like – what they are getting for their money. Some vacation rental sites will limit the number of photos you can use. is one site that allows members to post an unlimited number of pictures at no additional cost. Another way to feature more photos is through websites such as shutterfly, Kodak, etc. These sites offer free accounts to store and display your digital photos. You can then insert a link on your listing; you now have a cost-free way to include unlimited pictures.

Second, pay attention to your title and property description. Titles should be unique and inviting. What does your vacation home offer that is different from your neighbor? For example, “ocean front condo” is used repeatedly and search results will yield thousands of possibilities. By simply altering your title, “Ocean Front Condo with Incredible Views - Steps from Private White Sand Beach”, you will make your listing more appealing to the eye and generate fewer search results – which means your listing won’t get lost in the masses. Also, think about what vacationers want, and advertise to those amenities you can offer. Instead of “Cozy Mountain Cabin”, try “Cozy Mountain Cabin – Hot Tub, Skiing, Family-Fun”.

Property descriptions should be more than just a list of amenities. You need to spend a little time and creativity to create a mental picture of your property. This does not mean you need to write a novel, but you should have at minimum one to two paragraphs. Use simple language that is easy to read. If the idea of sitting down to write is difficult for you, first create a list of what is most appealing about your vacation home. When you talk to interested renters on the phone, what do you offer as selling points? What most excited you about the property when you purchased it? Next, take your list and expand it into sentences using as many descriptive words as possible. For example, if you offer a nice kitchen or relaxing bath area expand on them – “Upgraded, fully-loaded kitchen featuring state of the art appliances and granite countertops” or “Relax at the end of your day in a spa-like setting master bath featuring a Whirlpool jet bathtub”. To make these words even stronger, be sure to include pictures of your selling points.

Finally, include an updated availability calendar in your listing. With all of the technology available today, people are used to having information at their fingertips. By providing an updated calendar, potential renters can see when your unit is available. There are many websites that offer this service for free or for more upgraded features you can obtain calendar software for minimal fees.

Once you have created a good listing, there are even more options you can consider to further enhance the listing (such as virtual tours, creating your own web page, etc.). But for now, using these basic tips will ensure more interest in your vacation rental.

Watermark Vacation Rentals ( offers a complete vacation listing service that is simple to use.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

5 Simple, Quick Ways to Increase Your Vacation Rental Revenue

By Jennifer Billeci

You have found the perfect vacation home in the perfect setting. Follow these simple steps to help increase your rental revenue, so your vacation home is not only a place for you to relax but also an instrument in helping create financial wealth.

#1: Understand Your Competition and Target Market - Browse various vacation rental websites and talk to property managers who offer rentals in the area. This will give you an idea of the current market to help set competitive prices as well as help you determine what amenities you should consider in order to make your property stand out. This can also help answer common questions/concerns: How do owners handle deposits? Outside of deposits, what are other fees I should consider charging? Should I allow pets?

Evaluate your vacation home to determine for which groups your property is best suited - couples, families, large groups, adventure, relaxation, etc. This will help you create advertisements that will appeal to target audiences. Find advertisements that you find appealing and use those to guide you in the creation of your own advertisement.

#2: Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – The vacation home that’s the best-kept secret isn’t generating much revenue. Get your property out where people will see it! There are many websites that offer free advertising with minimal work for you. Seek these sites out first, as it is a way to generate some exposure without the cost. To get even more exposure, look for sites with high visibility by spending a little time doing some research. Try various search engines to find which vacation rental sites get the most exposure for your area. This will help you pick a vacation rental website that generates high traffic for your locale. These sites will most likely have attached fees, but these fees will usually pay for themselves with just one successful lead. The more sites you advertise on, the more traffic you will generate for your vacation home.

#3: A Picture Says a Thousand Words – Potential renters want to see what they are getting before they get it! Simply advertising your site with basic descriptions is not enough. In the vacation rental business, pictures are key since the majority of people will rent sight unseen. Be sure to take many pictures of your vacation home to highlight its features. If possible, try to stage the pictures – set an appealing dinner table with dinnerware that suits the location/decor, make sure bed and bath areas are clean and appeal to the senses, take pictures with good lighting – you don’t want dark, dreary pictures. The more pictures you take, the better. You want to charm potential renters while erasing doubts.

Finally, add the words to match the pictures. Make your listing stand out from the typical “2BD/2BTH Beachfront Condo” description. Be creative! If you find it hard to express yourself, imagine having to describe your vacation rental to a friend who is visiting for the first time. How would you describe the front of the property? What aspects of the property do you love? What do you think they will like the most? What types of great activities can you offer during their stay? Be specific in your descriptions. Let potential renters know exactly what amenities you offer and highlight nearby attractions.

#4: Offer an Availability Calendar – The Internet has given us instant access to all sorts of information and many potential renters expect that same access from you. By providing an availability calendar, renters can find out immediately if you have openings for their schedule or determine the best dates for their travel based on your availability. This will also prove to be a time saver. You will no longer need to waste your precious time returning phone calls or sending emails saying, “Sorry, we’re booked that week.” Spend your time dealing only with truly potential inquiries.

#5: Offer Promotions – Sure a ski chalet does great in the winter and the beach house is booked all summer, but what about the off-season? To generate yearlong income, you may want to consider reduced prices for quiet months. This will make your property stand out when compared to its competition. In addition, find attractions for your property that are still available during the off-season (i.e. their may be no snow for skiing, however, the ski runs make great mountain bike trails in the summer and nearby trails offer nice hiking opportunities). Remember, even if it is not the peak season, you can still capture an audience that is looking for a quieter time to travel with alternative activities and bargains to boot!

Watermark Vacation Rentals ( offers online advertising for your vacation home as well as a great resource to find vacation homes around the world for your travels!