Top 10 Reasons Why Travellers Won’t Book With You
Unless you are achieving 52 weeks rental occupancy per year you’ll know that there is always room for improvement. Rental home owners and managers should always be considering the reasons as to why guests are not booking with them. Here are ten reasons why guests may not be booking your rental home…
1) Poor online visibility
It sounds obvious but are you sure your rental home is visible to as many guests as possible? Do you have both your own rental website and several listings on appropriate booking portals? It’s great to have a pretty website however unless you are putting in sufficient work on your search engine optimisation it’s unlikely to be found organically by travellers. Similarly you may choose to place listings on scores of booking portals but sadly there is now a saturation of these listings websites and unless you are choose which ones to use carefully (based on both popularity and local competition) you may never receive any enquiries.
2) Your listings don’t stand out
It’s all well and good having your property displayed on numerous listings sites but what do you do if there are lots of similar rental homes in your area? You must stand out from the crowd and to do this you must take time out to look at your competition. Think of your lead photo and how it compares to the others. Not everyone wants to see a standard image of a swimming pool, wine glasses on a table or living room sofas. Think outside the box and use an image that attracts the attention away from others. Similarly use a property headline and description that is different to others. Perhaps use a bit of comedy in your text? Identifying your target market and adding adjectives to appeal to them can also really help.
3) Slow response time
The early bird most certainly catches the worm in this business. Guests love a quick reply and will definitely take you more seriously. Statistics from official surveys all back up the fact that if you get back to your guest quickly you will significantly increase your chance of getting that booking. Under 2 hours is the magic marker if possible. Can you afford for all of your competitors to get in there first? A lot of listing sites are now only allowing a maximum of 24 hours to reply and will not only display your response time to guests but will punish your search position as a result of slow or no replies.
4) No Flexibility
Many hosts stipulate that their changeover day is strictly on one certain day (usually over a weekend or when their cleaner works) to minimise unoccupied days. However you could be risking losing valuable enquiries and bookings by not considering other days as a lot of travellers may want to travel on quieter days and/or avail of cheaper mid-week rates.
Your minimum stay could also be preventing you from receiving extra bookings – and you may not even be aware of it! On most booking portals you property will not display on a search result page if the guest is staying for any duration less than your minimum stay. While hosts may feel justifiably precious about their peak period there should be no reason to not consider lowering your minimum stay during shoulder or off-peak seasons.
Can you also consider being flexible with check-in or check-out times? No guests want to have to hang around for hours prior to checking in or before catching a flight upon their departure. Adding a note to your listings and website to state that you can be flexible to allow a guest an extra couple hours – especially if you have no other guests leaving or arriving that same day – could get you that extra booking and even some repeat business.
5) Calendar Not Updated
One of the reasons a traveller may not send you an enquiry is because your availability calendar had not been updated in a while. If a listing hasn’t been maintained for several weeks/months it does give the appearance that the manager doesn’t take it seriously. Did you know that you are now effectively ‘punished’ for not updating your calendar on several of the larger listings sites? At very least have one day a week where you update your calendar(s).
*If you are relatively new to renting out your property don’t let an empty calendar overly concern you. Simply state on your website or listings that you have recently taken over the rental management of the property.
6) Lack of reviews
Are you actively seeking guest reviews of your rental home? Despite the fact that some websites don’t even require guests to have actually stayed in a property before posting a review, users do value these comments before deciding on which rental home to book. Many booking portals even include this as a search filter and use the number of reviews as a default factor as to which properties appear higher up on search results. See what reviews your top local competitors are getting as a benchmark.
You website should also include at least one authorised client testimonial visible on your home page, with a separate page for any others. The comments can be from your guest book or from comments made after the stay via email.
7) A poor website
Another obvious one here but if your website is not appealing there is no way visitors will be inclined to make bookings. Professional photos are a must, short pages are important, a short video production should be considered. It’s staggering how many poor websites we come across. At very least get a group of friends to critique your site. What works for you may not necessarily appeal to the masses.
8) Your reply doesn’t stand out
Do you know that the most recent enquiry you have received may also have been sent to 20+ other rental hosts? Not only do guests like to send out multiple enquiries but they are actively encouraged to do so by the leading booking portals. For this reason it is imperative that your reply stands out. Read more – 10 essential inclusions in your reply.
9) Your rental rates
There are several ways in how your rental rates may be effecting your bookings. The first is the most obvious – your property is too expensive. You need to know that you have not priced yourself out of your local market so it is important to undertake market research in relation to what type of property you are offering, it’s size and amenities.
Similarly it is important that you are not under-pricing your self. Know your worth and do not just undercut your neighbouring competitors as guests can be sceptical about rental homes that appear too cheap.
Keeping your prices simple is also vital. No guest wants to do arithmetic so we would advise against adding compulsory supplements to your rates (e.g. cleaning, bed linen, pool heating, taxes). Keep your rates fully-inclusive where possible.
Finally having too many rates throughout the year is a headache for guests. Nobody should have to take 10 seconds to work out where their holiday rental stay falls in your pricing range. We recommend a maximum of 12 seasonal rates throughout the year.
10) Deposit too high
While you undoubtedly have to be careful about your rental business you could be pricing yourself out of new bookings by insisting on a damage/security deposit that is just too much. We’ve heard of many owners that charge several hundred euros/pounds for a long weekend and as a result the deposit is more expensive than the actual rental rate. Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective guests and consider the inconvenience of having to gather such a significant extra amount just to cover a short-stay deposit. Don’t forget that some of the larger booking portals now offer host coverage.