The Covid-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge for vacation rental professionals. Those that remained agile and open to change outperformed expectations and thrived, and sadly some businesses were left in bad shape.
In the past two years, the industry has experienced unprecedented acquisitions with larger national brands acquiring some of the most reputable vacation rental brands in the industry in efforts to grow their portfolios and meet demand. The demand for short-term rentals is booming, eager entrepreneurs are jumping into the vacation rental industry, and competition is fierce.
Yet, there’s lots to be optimistic about – demand, ADR and revenue are up year-over-year, and the global vacation rental market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2022 to 2030. Is your vacation rental business positioned for growth? Here’s 12 essential tips and best practices for property managers to build a firm foundation and pave the way to a future of stability and success.
1. Set Clear & Smart Goals
The first step to setting a clear and smart goal for your vacation rental business is to understand where your business currently is, then create a well thought out business roadmap and visual timeline to set goals, objectives and future milestones, and plan your path to success.
Conducting a SWOT analysis of your vacation rental company will identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your current business model and the capacity of your company to execute growth without sacrificing quality! This includes financial support, human resources, technology, public perception of your brand, and the ability to deal with the pot holes, speed bumps and challenges along the way. Set clear and smart goals, now go out and exceed them!
2. Build a Bullet-Proof Foundation
Are you still the lone warrior checking guests in, delivering fresh linens across town, and changing light bulbs at midnight? The key to building a strong business is having a firm foundation that supports future growth and cannot be rocked. Not the business owner at dizzy heights up a rickety ladder!
Get off the ladder and be a rock solid leader! Your team is the most valuable resource of your company and is integral to the basic foundation and growth of your business. Share your goals and visions with your team and set obtainable targets. Train, trust and motivate each individual to work with dedication and passion, remain guest focused, and build your brand to be the best in business. Your team is the cornerstone of your business.
3. Optimize your Operations
If your team is the solid cornerstone, your tech stack is the backbone that modernizes, automates, supports, and enables your business to evolve. It is virtually impossible to scale your vacation rental business without an integrated tech stack.
Times are changing (fast!) and there are PMS systems and tech tools to automate almost every aspect of your vacation rental business, and drive growth. Technology is a pain point for many property managers. The right tech stack not only automates and drives growth, it allows busy property managers to streamline their operations, deliver a consistent service to guests, and remain competitive.
4. Find your Niche
The travel landscapes have changed, and the modern traveler knows what they want! Travelers are taking a holistic approach to travel searching for unique vacation rentals, transformative travel experiences, and sustainable eco-friendly practices – and they’re willing to pay more for it.
Your niche can be your vacation rental homes, the experiences available to guests, or a complete package of both. You can carve your own niche by knowing who your guests are and what they want, recognizing growing trends in your destination, and positioning your vacation rental business to target your niche market and deliver a one of a kind vacation experience.
Not sure of your niche? Here’s some inspiration from our Casago franchises.
Niche Vacation Rentals: Remote mountain cabins, ultra-luxury beachfront homes, pet-friendly and kid-friendly rentals, glamping, treehouses, wheel-chair accessible, family reunion rentals, corporate retreats, intimate weddings, ski-in/ski-out slopeside cabins, workcations, staycations, extended stays, digital nomads, LGBTQ-friendly, and even 420-friendly vacation rentals!
Niche Vacation Experiences: Dog-sledding in the mountains, kayaking bioluminescent bays in the US Virgin Islands, haunted tours in the oldest city in the US, surfing the famous breaks in Sayulita, and authentic cultural experiences in San Carlos.
5. Build a Strong Brand
If the big box OTAs were shut down overnight, would your vacation rental business survive? While OTAs gain great visibility for short-term rentals, it is short-sighted for vacation rental property managers to be reliant solely on online travel agencies to generate bookings.
Building a strong brand means not only understanding your market and guests but understanding your competition on a deeper level too. Know who your competitors are, read their online reviews, and set out to do it better!
A professional website presents a reputable brand, establishes a good online presence, builds credibility, showcases your homes and destination, and makes it enticing (and easy!) for guests to click the BOOK NOW button. Remember, you’re building a brand to attract not only new guests but attract new homeowners to your inventory of short-term rentals too.
6. Market Your Vacation Rentals & Destination
A solid marketing strategy is as important as a strong foundation! The short-term rental market is saturated, and we live in an age of instant gratification – getting your rental homes in front of your target audience at the right time can feel like a juggling act.
Your branded website should reach that sweet spot of instant gratification, painting a complete picture of your homes, destination and amazing service and experiences you offer your guests, leaving no questions unanswered. But, that is not enough! Stay active with email marketing campaigns, loyalty promotions to past guests, low season specials, and simple social media marketing.
Social media is changing travel! Research shows that over 60% of travelers find their inspiration for travel on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok! Keep it simple and visually strong – images that entice, rave reviews that promote trust, and incentives for direct bookings.
7. Quality Vacation Rentals
Travelers are choosing vacation rentals for a personalized experience they will not find in a hotel, so set yourself apart in the short-term rental space and go the extra mile! Virtual property tours, videos and professional photography make it easy to highlight the unique features, amenities and ambiance of your rentals.
Savvy property managers are always looking for ways to improve and upgrade their homes, enhance the guest experience, and stay ahead of increasing competition. Set a standard for all of your homes, design your indoor and outdoor spaces with comfort, convenience and vacation in mind, and pay attention to the smaller details that matter most to you when on vacation. Remember, guests are willing to pay more for little luxuries on their vacation.
Amenities that drive rentals and have a high ROI include tech gadgets (gaming systems, Smart TVs, Bluetooth speakers, virtual concierge), sports and adventure gear (bikes, beach gear, kayaks), luxury outdoor amenities (pools, hot tubs, firepits, lawn games), fully-equipped kitchens, and unique local experiences on offer for their stay.
8. Guest Experience
We are in the business of creating valuable vacation experiences, not simply filling beds. Understand your typical guest – who they are, why they are traveling, why they book with you and, most importantly, their expectations.
Guests are expecting a lot more than prior to the pandemic. Automated solutions for a contactless stay, a higher level of cleanliness, all the comforts of home (and more!), and a personalized vacation experience.
High guest satisfaction equals success, so go for gold! Loyal guests add value – take notice of your guest reviews, respond and rectify, share personal recommendations and build relationships with your guests, and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations. Then promote your success stories in your marketing campaigns, honest opinions from other guests matter.
9. Partner with Local Providers
Build relationships and partner with local providers to offer authentic destination experiences for your guests, the more you contribute to their entire vacation experience, the better! Local guides for tours and experiences, outfitters for equipment rentals, grocery stores for food delivery, local chefs for at home catering, brewery and winery tastings, transfer companies for transportation, etc.
The options are endless, and these experiences not only enhance the guest experience but present an opportunity to upsell, increase revenue, and boost your bottom line.
10. Grow Your Inventory
The goal is not only to attract guests to your gorgeous homes but also to attract new quality owners to your property management portfolio. Homeowners are looking for the best possible representation for their home, a trustworthy and reputable brand to care for their investments, and a team of staff that supports.
Is your business model ready to take advantage of the surge in demand? Property managers have been growing their inventory organically for years with referral programs for existing owners, partnerships with real estate companies, and marketing campaigns to attract new owners.
Now is the time to turn to tech and data-driven solutions to grow your inventory! Casago has acquired the most powerful and easy to use owner acquisition software in the industry to equip property managers with the tools and data they need to find and sign new properties.
11. Stay Connected & Current
The only constant in the vacation rental industry is change! Stay current with the local travel trends, rules, regulations and advocacy campaigns in your destination, build partnerships within the industry, network with other like minded property managers and get involved. Staying connected and current is a key element to the success of your company within a fast-paced industry.
The great thing about vacation rentals, it’s easy to keep your finger on the pulse! Start attending industry conferences and events in your destination market, stay connected with hospitality podcasts, and build a network that supports the growth of your business.
12. Partner with a Professional
Even when the foundation is strong, the work of a professional property manager never ceases! The Casago franchise model presents an opportunity for the full-service property manager to join a team of vacation rental professionals with the expertise, skills and industry leading tech-tools to scale their business with the support of a successful and reputable brand. From small start-ups to large established companies, Casago offers the resources and solution to scale your vacation rental business.
The Casago Mission
“To enable property owners, guest and our team to realize their dreams by providing
exceptional property stewardship and remarkable guest experiences.”