Four Tips to Turn Your Vacation Home Into a Money Spinner

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.

Recently, I decorated two condos for a client near the Caribbean coast town of Tulum, on Mexico‘s Riviera Maya. I’m not an interior decorator, but I know a thing or two about what vacationers want.

For some reason, his properties weren’t performing well—which was surprising. One is a penthouse with a rooftop terrace and jetted tub. The other one is a condo with a plunge pool in the backyard. Both in a community with a golf course, free access to five-star resorts, and a wellness center. But when I took a look at the last 12 months, his occupancy was at 6%. Meaning 94% of the time his places sat empty.

He asked me to take over marketing on one of his condos. In a month, I was able to get it up to 78% occupancy for the next five months. It’s amazing the difference a few simple changes can make.

Here are some tips on how you can get your vacation rental earning right away:

Free listing on HomeAway, FlipKey, and Airbnb

The vacation rental websites HomeAway, FlipKey, and Airbnb, allow you to list your property for free on their site. They take a 10% (or a little higher) commission. This is a great way to get started without any marketing costs. After the bookings start rolling in, you can ditch the commission model and switch to a subscription service that will save you more money the more bookings you take in.

Price your rental low initially

This will help to get the ball rolling and allow you to build up online reviews of your property and increase your star rating on the above websites. As your star rating increases, it doesn’t just let your customers know that you’ve got a great property, it will also influence how high your rental places on the listing site.

Another pricing strategy is to price as you hope to carry on, but to throw in some bonus incentives at the beginning—dinner at a local restaurant, a free massage, day passes to a nearby resort. All of these are attractive to vacationers and can be the deciding factor that sways them towards your property.

Spring for a professional photographer

I can’t stress enough the importance of professional photos. You could have a luxury five-star property on a private island, but if the photos don’t reflect this, your vacationers aren’t going to bite.

Choose a real estate photographer to get the most bang for your buck. It’s tricky balancing the light outside with the light inside. The more photos and videos you can add, the more the vacationer can see themselves having a wonderful time on vacation at your place…and paying you handsomely for the privilege.

Turn on Book It Now

All the above sites have a “Book It Now” feature on their site. This is an online reservation system that removes all the messy emailing back and forth. Just like hotels, people simply put their credit card details in, request the time, and wait for your approval. Turning this feature on is a must and will help you keep up to date with your reservations.

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