Why I would do these three things differently if I were starting today...
I've now been a host for over five years, but my first year as a host was filled with a lot of trial and error, and lessons learned along the way.
Mistakes are definitely a part of the journey, but hopefully this post today will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made early on.
Mistake #1: Not Investing in Décor Sooner
The first few years we were really just kind of hodge-podging our furniture together (sad but true!). We would just kind of fill the house with whatever we could get our hands on quite honestly, and the photos reflected that.
It looked very pieced together. There was no intentional design, and we weren't putting our best foot forward in those photos, the first thing that you see when you came to our listing description.
A few years in, we finally decided that it was time to invest more in our décor, and man, I wish we did this so much sooner!
We instantly realized that we were able to increase our prices quite significantly. We invested just a couple thousand dollars in our main living areas for new furniture, rugs and wall hangings in order for us to put our best foot forward and increase the prices.
Then, what we actually noticed as a surprising benefit was that our home actually was taken better care of after we invested in it.
We noticed that when we were at a little bit lower price point and we had this hodge-podge furniture, clearly our guests could tell that we didn't put too much thought or energy into it, and it showed in the way they treated our home.
We had a lot more broken items and kind of misplaced things, and once we put more attention into the décor of our home and really put in an effort there, then our guests began to put in more of an effort as well. We noticed that our home is just treated with more care now that we put more care into the presentation of it.
Mistake #2: Waiting too Long to Book the Photographer
Looking back, I know we didn't book the professional photographer soon enough.
This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the first mistake because we hadn't invested in the décor of our home so we certainly didn't feel like it deserved professional photos.
We had used some photos that I took on my iPhone, and they were okay. They got us by for many years, and we still did okay with those, but again once we booked a professional photographer we wished we did so much sooner.
The photos are just 100 times better than anything I could have ever taken on my iPhone, and I recommend it's one of the first investments that every homeowner makes in their home.
If you are one of the 60% of owners that still doesn't have professional photography, I strongly recommend that you do this! You will wish that you did this so much sooner.
Photos are everything for a vacation rental listing, and you want to put your home in the best light possible. So go ahead and get that photographer booked. It will be so very worth it.
Mistake #3: Marketing Overload
Our third mistake was doing it all at once. So, in the first year I was brand new to this industry, so I was learning the industry, learning how to list on the online travel agents (OTAs) and really understanding the differences and intricacies of each platform.
But then on top of that, I decided to also build a website and start blogging, and start emailing on a weekly basis. And it was all just way too much all at once.
That's why I always recommend that homeowners really start with the OTAs, and then gradually move into some of the more advanced tactics, because you will learn so much about how to market your property properly by starting with the OTAs.
I always say the OTAs are the low hanging fruit. That's the easier way to get started and then you can work your way into the other digital marketing aspects like email marketing, social media and a website.
If you feel like you're ready to take that on, this post is a great place to assess where you should start with your vacation rental marketing plan.
However, I always recommend that you really master the OTAs, and then move on to the website the social media, email marketing and all of that fun stuff.
So those are the top three mistakes I made in my first few years.
It was not investing in our décor, and not investing in photography, and trying to do it all at once in my very first year.
If you've made any of these mistakes or some of your own, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
If you are new to this industry and looking to avoid some of those first year mistakes, I have the perfect resource for you.
It's called The Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap, and it is a seven-step guide to help you get started on the right foot as well as avoid some common missteps. You can just grab your free copy, and it'll be sent directly to your inbox.
Be sure to grab your free marketing guide here!