Convert enquiries

Getting your replies right to convert enquiries is the key to getting that booking. You need to be quick and you need to stand out.

To make sure you receive every single rental enquiry make sure you:

  • Activate all free SMS alerts that many holiday rental booking portals offer.
  • Check junk mail. Some emails will end up in your junk/filtered folders. I’ve missed a few emails and possible bookings myself this way. Save the enquiry email addresses of the holiday rental websites where you are advertising.
  • Check your emails throughout the day – you might become obsessive but the early bird will very often catch the worm. People love prompt replies.
  • If you give a mobile/landline telephone number for guests to contact, check your voicemail at least once a day.

I’m still amazed at the amount of owners that place adverts for hundreds of pounds on these websites that don’t even reply to enquiries. Once before travelling to Alicante for a 5 day stay, we sent enquiries to about 10 home owners. Not one response!

The more obvious recommendations we can give you to convert enquiries are to reply as soon as possible, be polite and friendly, make sure your full contact details are in the reply and call any enquirers that have left a phone number. Calling gives your potential clients more confidence in what you have to offer.

Don’t overdo follow-up calls or emails as this will just annoy potential guests. One should do. You could include a special discount to seal the deal (e.g. free wifi).

Do reply to emails even if you are booked as they may (unbeknown to you) be flexible with their dates. Alternatively you can suggest that despite not being available you can check with your neighbours for similar properties. This way you gain favour with your local contacts and possibly get their surplus enquiries reciprocated in the future.

What you can do to stand out

Change the Subject Field

When replying to emails that come from the major holiday rental sites, the defaulted subject field could read something like:

Re: Enquiry from Paul Webster – Prop. 12345 “Modern beachfront apartment, Toldo”

– Change the subject title to: Name of Property, Area – Quote for Guest Name. Dates.

Re: Enquiry from Paul Webster – Prop. 12345 “Modern beachfront apartment, Toldo”


Casa Martina – Modern and Spacious Beachfront Apartment, Toldo. Quote for Mr Paul Webster. 01-14Jul 2012

Which looks more professional? Which will stand out?

Basic information which you need to include in your reply…

  1. Always address the guest by their name
  2. Thanking guest for email
  3. Availability
  4. Answer all question the guest has asked
  5. Rates                                                                                                       
  6. Contact details – your name!
  7. Signature with links

Extra information which could make the difference in getting that booking…

  1. Telephone number
  2. Website link                      
  3. Inclusions
  4. Up-to-date information (e.g. current weather)
  5. Possible early or late special discounts
  6. Cleaning information
  7. Property information
  8. Location and distance to nearest attractions
  9. Deposit/Payment information
  10. Local area expertise knowledge information (give you further credibility)
  11. Useful links
  12. Flight and travel information

Turn a simple enquiry into a pleasurable and easy booking experience. However don’t overdo the length of your responses – 3 bite-sized paragraphs should be long enough.

See examples of poor, good and excellent replies to holiday rental enquiries.

Prepare an email reply

To save you time replying to each enquiry, formulate an email template which includes all of the information above. You can then simply copy and paste this each time and just change the name, dates and rates. Make sure the font style, size and colour as the same as the text in the body of your reply.

Rude enquirers

You will get some people who send bulk enquiries (possible on Home Away and VRBO) to numerous property owners with a no-bones message like ‘availability, cost’. No please, thank you or regards. Not even a name!

Now it’s up to you how far you want to take this but don’t forget this is your home and personally I would only want courteous and respectable people to stay.

Conversion rates

Some websites state that you should aim for 30% conversion rate from enquiries into confirmed bookings. While I find it overly-optimistic to suggest that owners achieve a booking in every 3 enquiries a 20% conversion rate is a realistic and attainable goal. Many enquirers won’t reply to your replies – don’t get sensitive, that’s just the way it is.

Summary – In order to convert enquiries reply as soon as possible, be friendly and include as much helpful information as you can. If possible try to achieve a 20% conversion but at very least be aware of your success rate and how you might improve it.