9 Big Vacation Rental Listing Mistakes Owners & Managers Make

Jul 25, 2016 | Listing 101

TripAdvisor has partnered with VillaMarketers.com, an industry leading vacation rental marketing service, to bring our homeowners and property managers expert-level tips on how to run your rental like a true business. Below, Villa Marketers CEO Jay William identifies some common mistakes that may be hurting your rental listing.

It’s the question all vacation rental owners or managers ask…how can I get more bookings?

One of the fastest ways to improve your vacation rental marketing results is to fully leverage the tools you have on hand.

Knowing and identifying what not to do with your listing is just as important as knowing what to do. That’s why I’m sharing these 10 big listing mistakes with you. Are you guilty of them?

1. Recycling Descriptions

It’s a great idea to recycle Coke cans and milk jugs but not your property description. Using the same property description in more than one place online is a mistake. If you list the same property on multiple sites, be sure the description is original and unique for each platform. Why?

Google doesn’t like duplicate content.

But what does Google have to do with your vacation rental listing? Well, travelers often come across your listing(s) while searching on Google. By creating a unique description, you can increase your exposure in search results and give your TripAdvisor listing the best chance to get found organically online. If you don’t, all your advertisements could end up competing against themselves in search results because the content is exactly the same.

If you’ve reused your description to quickly get your listing online, take the time to revisit it and write a unique description for your property ASAP.

2. Telling Not Selling

It’s not enough to tell someone about your vacation rental. A listing description is not just about how many bedrooms you’re offering or if a washer and dryer are included. That information by itself is boring and doesn’t inspire people to book. You’ve got to incorporate both emotions and facts to master the perfect listing description.

Why? Emotion is a key component in a purchase decision. People don’t buy based on details alone; we take action based on emotions.

Like it or not, your description is a sales pitch. Your description should be written to sell potential guests on the benefits of renting your vacation rental, not just describing it.

3. Not Keeping It Real

One reason customers post negative reviews is due to a failure of meeting expectations. So, what’s the best way to not just meet guest expectations but exceed them and avoid negative reviews?

You’ve got to set the guests expectations properly from the beginning, and that starts with accurately describing your vacation rental in your listing. If your condo isn’t a high-end property, don’t use the word luxury to describe your rental just because it makes your ad sound better.

Don’t make the mistake of inflating details about your vacation home, not even a little. If your property is 18 minutes away from Disney World, don’t describe your location as being “only 10 minutes to Disney.” Use adjectives accurately. Resist the urge to make things sound better than they actually are. When you’re honest in your listing about what you’re offering it helps build trust with those skeptical renters. Just keep it real!

4. Terrible Titles

I couldn’t create this list of mistakes without formally addressing listing titles as a big problem in the marketplace.

You have to create a captivating title that draws travelers into your listing and gets people to read more about your property and what you’re offering.

The topic of titles is so important that I created an entire separate post dedicated to title tips: 10 Tips for Writing Tantalizing Listing Titles.

5. Poor Photos

You need more than just photos. You need high-quality imagery to properly showcase a vacation home. 67% percent of consumers say the quality of a product image is very important in selecting and making a purchase, according to a HubSpot study on buyer behavior. For that reason alone, professional quality images are a no-brainer investment.

These days, mobile phones put a camera in everyone’s pocket, so it’s a common mistake for renters to snap pics of their vacation rental with their cell phone. Don’t! Professional lenses and photo editing software make for awe-inspiring photographs. And guess what? Professional quality photos can make your property worth more in the marketplace by increasing the perceived value. Pricing is not about price! It’s about perception, presentation and value.

Did you know that 90% of the information processed through the brain is visual? Remember people buy with their eyes. That’s why it’s paramount to make your vacation rental as attractive as possible. Photographs done right highlight the best features of the property. Images should be looked at like scenes in a story. Are your photos setting the scene rather than showing a space? Does each photo tell a story about your vacation rental?

Ready to start your listing? Click here!

6. Believing A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

This one may seem contradictory after just reading my last tip but you really can’t rely on just your photos to tell your story. You’ve probably heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well unfortunately many of us believe this so much we expect the photos to do all the talking for us. As a result we don’t put the required effort into writing a top-notch description.

While photos of your vacation rental are super important for your marketing results, photos aren’t a substitute for your insightful words. Your description should take people beyond the photos. It should help them visualize what they don’t see and explain to them what they can’t experience from the photos.

When writing your descriptions, pretend for a minute that travelers are not able to see photos. Describe your vacation rental property, amenities, scenery and location as if you were relying on your words alone to rent the property. Now combine that type of description with images and watch how your words tell a story that complements your photos.

7. Not Being Thorough

A common problem with descriptions is most owners write them the same day they sign up for a listing so they rush through the process. If you’d like to get the highest return on your marketing investment, you’ve got to take the time to be thorough with your listing. Getting your home set up on TripAdvisor only takes minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to perfect the details afterwards. Use it!

When writing your description, be specific and spell out all of the major selling points of your property. Be sure to include all of the property and/or resort amenities available for guests. Add some high-quality photos, set up your map markers, clearly define your rental rates, fill in all areas of your listing(s) and create a meaty vacation rental description. Remember that this is all content that will help your marketing so take full advantage of every square inch of your listing.

8. Writing For The Crowd

A mistake often made when writing property descriptions is to write for a large group rather than writing for the individual who is spending their valuable time reading your description.

If you don’t want travelers to glaze over your listing, if you want them to connect with every word you’re sharing, speak to them personally within your content. How? For example, replace the word our with your. Instead of saying, “Welcome to our vacation home,” say, “Welcome to your vacation home.”

Avoid general and impersonal verbiage. Rather than saying, “People often go to the boardwalk for ice cream,” you should say something more like, “You’ve gotta check out the boardwalk while you’re here. Your kids (even the big ones) will love to stroll down the pier with a famous homemade ice cream from Ian’s Ice Cream Shop while they watch the birds and the occasional passing manatee down by the pier.”

Here’s a tip: when writing your description, picture a good friend sitting across the table from you who is interested in visiting your vacation rental. How would you speak to them about traveling to your location? That’s how you should write your description.

Ready to start your listing? Click here!

9. Not Keeping Calendars Up To Date

This is an issue that can have a rippling effect on both your business and a guest’s vacation, especially if you use online booking. Thankfully TripAdvisor’s new owner dashboard lets you sync your calendar across multiple platforms, making it easier for you to manage your dates. But for those not yet on TripAdvisor, this mistake may sound all too familiar.

Not keeping your calendars up to date can cause an overbooking situation, which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. When you have to tell a guest your place is already booked, it becomes obvious to these potential customers that your systems are not properly set up and it looks bad on your business. You’ll also waste your valuable time dealing with inquiries you can’t fill.

Update your calendar immediately after you get booking confirmation. If it’s hard for you to keep up with your calendar, it’s time to put your listing(s) on TripAdvisor and let them do the hard work for you!

So there you have it, the 10 biggest vacation rental listing mistakes owners and managers make.

Stay tuned to the TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals Blog for more of my personal tips on how to become a top-notch vacation rental owner or manager.

List your property on TripAdvisor today!

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