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Starting a vacation rental (what to focus on in year one)

If you're just getting started in this industry, you will find that you'll have an endless to-do list and lots of shiny objects around every corner that you feel you need to be capitalizing on right now.

I know this because I was there when I entered this industry five years ago. But if I were just starting today, these are the exact things that I would first focus on.

I know from experience how easy it is to want to do it ALL right away.

At least, that's how it was for me. My first year a as a vacation rental owner, I was on multiple listing sites. I started our own website. I was blogging, I was doing email marketing. I was dabbling with social media.

After stretching myself too thin that first year, the biggest takeaway I had was I could get a lot further when I concentrate my efforts in ONE area before moving on to other areas.

In this post, I'll cover the four key areas I recommend concentrating on in that first year, so you can maximize your vacation rental business and get the best rental income possible.

Note: If you're looking to dive deeper into any one of these areas, be sure to see my recommended posts as I have several video that dive deeper into each topic.

Area #1: Get Focused with your Listing Sites

Let's get started with area number one, which is the listing sites. The quick tip here, and the learning that I found was it is ideal to really just focus on key listing sites that first year.

The urge will be there to want to list on all of them, but I recommend starting with two and most likely they're going to be the bigger ones like Home Away, BRBO, and Airbnb.

The benefit there is that you can build your review count on those listing sites, which is ultimately going to help you perform better down the road. You can establish a really strong foundation on those listing sites, and then you can move to others. Start there, build those review counts, and really just concentrate on really refining your listing before moving on to other listing sites.

Area #2: Nail down your offer

I want you to think of your vacation rental as a product because it really is - you are selling your vacation rental to a potential guest.

Your branding is a large part of this product offering. First and foremost, you want to think about things like what is your home going to be called, so that your guests are going to remember you, and refer you, and come back to you.

Recommended post for a deeper dive: How to Brand your Vacation Rental

Then, take a moment to think about your answers to the following questions:

  • How does your brand relate to your décor?

  • Are you going to stand out from the competitors in your area with unique décor or design?

  • What amenities that you are going to offer (both basic amenities and additional amenities)?

Recommended post for a deeper dive: The Vacation Rental Amenities Your Guest is Expecting

You can continuously refine this as you learn more about your guests, but do spend some time to think about what is your vacation rental home offer.

Area #3: Perfect your hospitality

The first part of this is you will be expected to be an expert on your area.

You are, essentially, their tour guide for the area. In a lot of cases, you live in the area, this will be a no-brainer, and you will know this very well.

In some cases, you may not be as familiar, so take some time to really familiarize yourself with the area because the best hosts can give the best recommendations on where to go and what to do! Make sure that you can really act as the expert and the local guide for them.

Then the other part of perfecting your hospitality is understanding an important concept. There are two sides to being a great host, and that's online hosting and offline hosting.

You need to be a great host in both of these areas. To dive deeper into what I mean by online and offline, be sure to look for that link below, and I will provide a much deeper breakdown of hoe you can perfect both your online hosting and your offline hosting.

Recommended post for a deeper dive: How to be an AWESOME vacation rental host!

Area #4: Lay the foundation

I cannot stress the importance of this piece enough. It is incredibly important to establish a strong foundation that first year.

Once you do that, then your listing can really start to run on autopilot, and it will require much less of your time.

Bookings will start to come in automatically, and it will start to feel easy.

The first year might not necessarily feel that way, but I do want you to take the time to figure out all the messy parts of laying that foundation and making sure that you have key elements in place to prepare your listing for future success.

A few important areas here are establishing systems.

First, you want systems for how you message your guest. You'll want a smooth communication flow to ensure you're communicating exactly what the guest needs to know at the right time.

You can also set up saved messages and templates to help automate this process.

Then, you'll want to ensure you have systems for cleaning efficiently and effectively.

Whether you're hiring this part out or cleaning it yourself, check out the post below our 6 step cleaning process.

Last, you'll want to ensure you set your listing up for maximum success. This is the key part of 'laying the foundation' because when you do this part right, you'll find performance will improve year-over-year while becoming easier and easier to manage!

A vacation rental listing that is set up for maximum set is one that is OPTIMIZED for the ideal guest.


An optimized listing paired with these four areas of focus your first year will set your listing up for year-over-year success.

If you're serious about optimizing your listing, be sure to grab my guide below.

It is called The Vacation Rental Marketing Roadmap, and you can grab that in the link below.

By grabbing this guide, you'll also be the first to know when I launch my brand new program next month which is ALL about optimizing your listing for maximum success!

Be sure to grab your free marketing guide here!

Vacation Rental Marketing Guide

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