Turn Your Home Into a Cash Machine

This morning, I woke up to a payment of $3,500.

Of course, not every day is payday, but when they happen a few times a month, it makes for a happy checking account.

Just a few years ago, owning a vacation rental wasn’t easy. You were dependent on a property management company, and if you did run it yourself, you were often working yourself into the ground with an expensive marketing budget.

It wasn’t any fun for the traveler either.

In decades past, renting a home at the beach or the lake was an arduous undertaking. It usually involved costly long distance calls, relying on a black-and-white photo in the classifieds section of the newspaper, and a cryptic listing.

Honestly, it was so much effort, without the security of knowing what you were going to get, that most people went to their local travel agent and booked a cramped hotel room instead.

Today, it’s like the difference between a news spot on a black-and-white TV and a Discovery Channel special. Travelers can sit at their computer and search locations and select vacation rentals that fit their criteria. They can see listings with dozens of photos, some with a video, all the information needed, and a list of amenities.

Things are easier if you are the owner, too. Gone are the days of waiting by the mailbox, hoping that the check really was in the mail. Today, you don’t even need to set up a credit card merchant account to accept a reservation (and get paid).

Here are three practical free ways to market and manage your property, either remotely or from next door.

Free Listing on HomeAway, FlipKey, and Airbnb: You simply list your property with HomeAway, FlipKey, and Airbnb and they will accept payments for you. Most allow you to have a free listing, and they take a 10% (or a little higher) commission. This is a great way to get started without any marketing costs.

Be sure to use as many high-quality, professional photos as you can. You can easily make a video using photos that you have.

Not only that, they will update your calendar with the reservation. They will also send the guests a reminder when final payment is due.

Properly: Properly is a free smartphone app that helps you communicate with your cleaning staff. Prior to the guests’ arrival, when everything is set up the way you want it, take photos of each room, seating arrangement, and kitchen cabinet, arrangement of bath towels; anything that is important to have set up properly. Your cleaning staff can check the photos on their smartphone and make sure it’s the way you want it.

Properly will sync with your calendar and let your cleaning crew know of upcoming check-ins and check-outs.

Gone, also, are the need to send out welcome packets.

HomeAway’s Hospitality App, which is free, allows you to enter details one time and never think of them again. The best part? After the guest makes the final booking, they have access to information like directions, address, your recommended restaurants, and how to work the hot tub and the buttons for the TV. You just enter it once. And, they can share it with members of their party, so no one feels left out or dependent on someone with details of their vacation.

A lot of owners stop here, or never even get as far as using the Hospitality App. To really succeed, you have to go just a little bit beyond the norm. It isn’t hard to get to the front of the pack. You just have to know some of the insider secrets.

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