Last year I was fortunate to spend some time in one of my favorite places—Tulum, Mexico. I was carrying out an interior design project for two condos that belonged to a client. When the job was finished, I handed them both over to the local vacation rental management company, who promised a 32% to 34% occupancy rate. Not a stellar rate, but not terrible for the first few years of business.
It's a rare child that says, "I want to be a vacation rental owner when I grow up." I'm writing this from the hanging bed of my home in Fiji—Starfish Blue. The breeze is delicious, the view world-class, and the scent of frangipani—my favorite flower on the planet—perfumes the air. I am a delighted vacation rental owner. But I did not start out that way.
This is so simple, yet many people miss it. When people are looking at a number of properties across a few listing sites, it will begin to register with them. If you want to do additional marketing and have a website or Facebook page, this gives people a way to find you without the competition of other rentals.
When I first went to Fiji in 1999, I had no thoughts of buying a lot, designing and building a house, and becoming a vacation rental expert. Of course, life often turns out better than we ever imagined...and I'm living proof of that.
In 1999, I traveled to Fiji. For me, living in the mountains of North Carolina, it was a long journey but some of my friends thought I was heading to Mt. Fuji, Japan. After getting there, honestly, I was a bit disillusioned.
Now, instead of working with a resort that was giving me 25% occupancy and pocketing half the rent, I was maintaining 85% occupancy and keeping all the profits.No matter what age you are or where in the world your dream takes you, you too can make your dream vacation rental a success.
I've been a real estate investor for a little over 15 years now. So I've seen firsthand how the internet has made the vacation rental business more hands-off and profitable than it's ever been...if you know what you're doing.
Some days, I still feel like pinching myself. I never thought a middle-class gal like me would end up owning a vacation home in Fiji. I'm here right now, lounging on the hanging bed that looks out over the sparkling South Pacific.
I am the only one on the planet with this particular view. The sun is rising over three beautiful islands and an ocean that's pale aqua-blue turning to turquoise where the untouched coral reef is, then to cobalt in the deep water. I watch the lazy boat traffic and ever changing light from my covered hanging bed. There's a trick with hanging beds I've discovered—get one side slightly shorter than the others, and it will automatically sway.
When I first went to Fiji, I was a little ambivalent about it. I was part of a group of travel agents on an educational trip sent there to check it out for clients back home. We spent most of the time in Denarau, visiting the popular tourist resorts.