Common Mistakes I See New Owners Making
I wanted to share some observations from years of working with new vacation rental owners and some of the mistakes I often see (and ones I made myself make as well).
Mistake #1: Complaining About the Listing Sites
I see this in a few Facebook groups that I'm in and it's just a trap that I would caution for you to try to avoid. I see new owners getting in this cycle of just blaming the listing sites for not seeing the success that they want.
And yes, there's an algorithm at play. And yes, the listing site might not be showing your property...
But there's probably a reason for that.
Instead of just jumping right into the blaming the listing sites for not seeing the performance you want, really take ownership of what you CAN do to control or help the situation.
And there really are A LOT of things that you can do in that area.
And that leads me to mistake number two...
Mistake #2: Not Optimizing Your Profile
I see a lot of these throw and go profiles.
They've put together their listing in maybe under an hour, with whatever photos they have, and the first headline that comes to mind.
That is not an optimized profile and if your profile's not optimized, then that's likely a big reason why the listing sites aren't showing your property, because they want to make sure that they're showing a property that is really going to resonate with that guest and be what that guest is looking for.
If your profile isn't optimized, then the listing sites don't know that your property is the right property for that guest. So it takes a considerable amount of time at the beginning to optimize your profile and make sure that it is really set up for your ideal guest, and that you have done some things on the back end to boost the algorithm.
I really have dedicated a large portion of this blog to focusing on listing site optimization because I think it's one of the most important things that you can do from the very beginning.
Here are few good ones to start with for vacation rental listing optimization:
Mistake #3: Giving Up on the Listing Sites too Quickly
I often see owners giving up on the listing sites too quickly, or trying to bypass that phase altogether and go straight to direct bookings.
And don't get me wrong, I think that's an awesome endgame and I think it really should be the endgame for most of us, is to work towards having our own independent presence where we are generating direct bookings.
But for most owners, that is not going to be the right move right out of the gate. I always recommend start with the listing sites. You want to use the traffic that they're already bringing to their sites. They're bringing massive amounts of traffic and people at this point are really just kind of trying to go straight to those listing sites to book their vacation.
You want to fully maximize that opportunity first, before moving off onto your own, and having to generate all of that traffic on your own.
I do think that it's a great idea to eventually have a way to get direct bookings, and have a website, and a social media presence, but it is not the first thing I recommend.
I always recommend, at least in the first year, focus on the listing sites. Get optimized and really just put your energy towards that. You're going to learn so much about your marketing by having that time on the listing sites, because they're constantly sending traffic.
So you can constantly tweak and see what kind of messaging works, what kind of photos work best as your cover photo, what kind of headlines resonate best, what pricing points are best?
You have a lot more opportunity to test, tweak, and learn on the listing sites, and then you can take all of that information with you as you start to build out your independent presence.
Even once you're ready to move into that next phase, likely you will still be relying on those listing sites to some extent. And you want your listing site presence to become this well-oiled machine.
As I mentioned previously, I focus a majority of this channel on those beginning stages and that listing site optimization.
For additional resources on vacation rental optimization, you can head to the blog posts linked above or register for my latest FREE training: The 3 Insider Tips to Running a Profitable Vacation Rental
It is available for you at your convenience and I go a lot deeper into some of these areas, as well as some additional ones as well. So if you are new to this space, definitely check that out!
Also, let me know in the comments what phase you're in and if you have any questions about where your focus should be, based on that phase. I'd be happy to help you out in the comments.