Why is my property not booking up like it should? Part I
This is the first blog post in a three-part series covering how to boost your vacation rental's booking performance. Please note that this series doesn't get into the ins and outs of optimizing your listing's search placement on the various booking platforms. That is for more advanced owners and will be covered in a future blog post.
So why is your property not booking up like it should?
There is a straightforward explanation for this.
Once you’ve cut through the noise, you’ll find that there are 3 primary factors affecting your volume of bookings, and your goal should be to have all 3 factors working in harmony.
These 3 factors are price, photos, and reviews.
It’s mostly that simple. When you have a combination of competitive prices, attractive high-quality photos, and lots of positive reviews, you have a potent cocktail of rental assets. People will see your property as a “good deal”, which equates to high value and low risk.
If your property is not booking up like it should, you have a problem with one or more of these factors being out of sync with the others. Most likely people view your property as “not being a good deal” or “not worth the risk”.
Let’s examine each of these factors.
If your property has nice professional photos and good reviews, but your price is higher than other comparable properties, you will still get bookings, as plenty of travelers will pay for high quality.
However, you won’t get as many bookings as you could.
As a rule, travelers are looking for “the best deal”, which means the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price.
Most travelers browsing through a listing site already have a pre-set range of prices they intend to pay. This means that if you are in that price range and your photos and reviews stand out, you will get the booking. If you are out of that price range, then you won’t even be considered.
The optimal strategy here is to drop your price by up to 30% (depending on how vacant your property is), and slowly work your way up. Think about it. There’s nothing wrong with your listing except the price. Being the highest value property in a lower price bracket will get you more bookings and satisfied guests.
From there you can slowly push your pricing higher until you reach that sweet spot which maximizes your overall income. Yes, by dropping your price you’ll be leaving some money on the table at first, but by not booking up your property you’re leaving even more money on the table! At least now you’ll have crucial momentum and market data points which will offer lasting advantages. Think of it as a short-term investment in your rental.
If you have the time and patience, perform an inventory of other listings in your area with comparable characteristics. See where your listing fits in. Look at the other calendars and see if they’re booking up. Does your home stand out from the crowd within its price bracket? If you set your price lower, can you get your home to stand out even more?
One important thing to note is that knowing your seasonal, special event, and weekday/weekend booking patterns is a very significant and often overlooked element of pricing. Pay attention to these patterns. Does your home only book up on weekends? If so, you should consider massively dropping the price on weekdays until they start to book up. We discuss dynamic pricing in greater detail in another blog post.