Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stop Vacation Rental Foreclosure

This is the "SIGN" of the times! It does not have to happen to you!

If you own a vacation rental and you are having trouble with making the payments, there is help. Here is what we are seeing as the biggest problem in the vacation rental industry. There are really 2 things that have happened.

SPECULATION. Many buyers a few years ago have purchased a property when the market was on the rise hoping to flip in in the short term for a profit. They bought as the market was going up and then it peaked and fell off. So selling it for what they paid is not an option. This was the start of the real estate bubble.

So now they own a vacation home or condo and may not have wanted to be the owner for the long run. They do not have a plan in place to rent or manage the property. This is very common in this market. There is help. We want to help! can help you manage your property online and turn it into a cash flowing machine. It is not that hard. You simply have to look at this as a business. You need to advertise, take credit cards online and set up your business! Once set up, the market is still there. People are still going on vacations and they can stay with you and now you have help to pay your mortgage.

This does take work! It does take time. The option of not doing this and giving the property back to the bank is last thing most people want to do. This is a great business. Guest want to pay you to stay in your vacation home or condo and this is cash flow you need to support the property. Sitting around and "waiting for the market to come back" is basically financial suicide.

Fell free to contact us today for a complete property evaluation. We can take a look at your property, estimate cash flow and help you get started on the road to a successful vacation rental business.

Here is the other problem we are seeing in the vacation rental market.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT. Many owners have properties and have had them for years before this real estate break down. Many property management companies do a great job. It seems that the smaller, private companies or mom and pop shops seem to have a leg up on the mega companies we see in almost every resort town.

The smaller companies are able to pay more attention to your property and may have several key people that work there and will know you and your home. Some mega companies have a rotating system to place business in your property and they have a hard time keeping your unit occupied.

We can help you! You can do this on your own if you need the extra cash flow to pay your bills. Sitting there and doing nothing will end up getting you NOTHING in the long run. Make a change. Find a new company that can produce results or go out on your own. We have the online vacation rental software that will run this business for you. Once set up, taking online bookings and handling the day to day things that this business needs is very easy. It makes you look like a top rate company, with one property!

Make some changes! Try something new! Got out on your own. Stay out of foreclosure. We have software, books and customer support ready and willing to help you run your vacation rental by owner. It has never been easier! Just take some action today! Call us, we are ready to help! We help owners every day turn vacant, empty, cash sucking homes into cash flow machines. Just give this a try!

Joe Godar
888-716-2220 Vacation Rental Software
Vacation Rentals for Profit - Book

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation Rental CASE STUDY


I often get asked a question from new owners, "What does it take to get these properties to be successful?" This is a loaded question! The biggest problem I see is owners do not approach this like a business. I have said this a hundred times. They walk into 2ND home ownership, need or want cash flow to pay for it and never really "dig" into the details it takes to be a success.

That is why we do what we do! We want to show you EXACTLY what it takes to be a success. Owners that are doing this "right" are having record years. People are still taking vacations. No matter the price of gas or the economy or the real estate market, they are still going on vacations. You just have to be in a position to get that business before someone else.

I have had the privilege of knowing a couple from Cincinnati, Greg and Tracy. They wanted a 2ND home in Destin, my neck of the woods, so they came to Destin to view properties and pick one out.

This gave me the perfect opportunity to document what they are doing and how they will become successful. I know Greg very well. So I know he will be very professional and business minded in his approach to setting this new home up. So here goes!

We will follow them every step of the way. I will blog about it and give exact details of what they did right or wrong and we will see the first booking come in and watch as they fill up the calendar for 2009.

We recently blogged about the 10 Steps to Success for Vacation Rentals. We will follow this format and show you each step so you have a blue print of what to do and when to do it. Here is the first step and update on where they are.

1) BUY THE RIGHT PROPERTY TO BEGIN WITH. Greg and Tracy did this perfectly. They have been to Destin. They understood what they wanted as a visiting family on vacation and looked to provide that with the home they purchased. They agreed to try to find the largest home for the money, in the best shape, close to the beach and pool in a family community. They viewed homes for one full day. They settled on one in Emerald Shores. Which is the community I purchased my very first home in. They went to make an offer and it was under contract. So the second choice was a more expensive home in nearby Destiny West. Which is a bit more upscale, very desirable and close to the beach. This home has great character and was a builders own home that was never rented.

Just by viewing it with them, I could tell it would be a great rental. It is only 2 doors from the community pool, it is as close to the beach as they can get in that area. And they agreed to buy a Golf Cart for the guest, making it more attractive and easy to get to the beach and around Destin.

GOLF CART. This is something I want to touch on. High end rentals seem to be doing great in this market. In Destiny West, it is common for the owners to provide a Golf Cart for the guest to use. There are not many rentals in the community. So starting with a great home and then on top of that offering a street legal Golf Cart so your guest can use it for the week is a great way to attract business. Legal work MUST be done to protect your self. Please contact your attorney when doing this. But from a marketing prospective, this is a home run in my opinion. This is the type of thing that will demand more rent and make the difference in booking with you or someone else. Financially it makes sense too. To invest $6,500 into a nice Golf Cart and then increase your rentals by $10,000 to $15,000 a year is a good return.

July 31, 2008. This is the date they closed on the house. They came to Destin to stay in the home for a few weeks to furnish it and get it ready for occupancy. The home was not totally furnished so they need some time and money to get it ready. They took as many pictures as possible while they were in town. There will be more work to do on the next trip, but they are now ready to set up the web sites, get the vacation rental software with completed, apply for the merchant service and begin to advertise.

So they have taken the first HUGE step and closed on the property. They have started to complete the home and it is now ready for guest to arrive. They want to make more improvements but this can wait until there next visit. Once we start on the web site work we will continue this and give you the exact details on where we list their home, why we listed, the Search Engine Optimization we will do, the pricing structure plus more! So stay tuned as this new rental hits the market and becomes another great success story! The next step is setting up and getting the merchant service. We will blog about this soon!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Details, Details, Details..Vacation Rental Details!

I wanted to share with you the number one reason for success int he vacation rental by owner business. DETAILS.

The owners that treat this as a business and take a business approach to it, are usually VERY successful. They follow thru with the details. Many owners get very frustrated at the level of bookings they have. They may have full time jobs, families and many other things pulling them in 10 different directions.

We are all very busy! The owners that take their time and work a little every day, paying attention to the DETAILS always seem to be the successful owners.

Here are some examples. One owner may advertise on VRBO and be about 20-30% booked. When we advise them to advertise more, spend More money on more web portals, they may not follow up and think that VRBO is more than enough. The owners that do the proper search for the vacation rentals in their market, spend the time listing on more quality advertising portals and complete the details on each listing site, are usually 70-90% booked. The devil is in the details.

Just doing "some" advertising is not enough. The details of marketing are you have to do enough of it to be successful. Taking the short cut with one ad is not going to make you successful. Spend the time and money and dig into the details to make your adverting a success.

The same can be said for your photos. It use to be 3-5 pictures would bring you all the business you need. Now the owners that have photo albums, like PICASA from Goggle are the ones experiencing success. It takes time to build one, follow thru with the details and list your captions. And you will have success. The more time you put into these details the better your success. Here is one example of a slide show that has turned my 3 bedroom condo into a booking machine in Destin Florida:

This is an average condo in Destin. Since I take the time to dig into the details and have a complete photo slide show, I advertise on 5-7 quality sites, have my online booking system in place, I have taken a condo when I purchased it, from a $20,000 a year unit to over $50,000 in gross rents for 2008 and nearly 100% occupancy. No other condo in our complex comes close, yet we all have identical units. The reason is DETAILS. The other owners could do the same thing, run more ads, have photo slide shows, take credit cards online etc.

The business is out there. You have to out perform the competition. Sitting around waiting for the phone to ring is not going to work. There is no magic pill to swallow. Just get to work, run more ads, update your unit and run your vacation rental by owner like a business. Spend time on the details and you will see your bookings increase!

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

10 Steps to Vacation Rental by Owner Success

After working with thousands of vacation rental owners, we have put together a list of items that seems to be consistent with the most successful owners. Owners ask all the time, “What does it take to be successful in the business?” well here it is. We put together this list as these items seem to be what the most successful owners are ALWAYS doing.

1) PROPERTY. The best thing you can do is to buy the right property from the start. There are no shortcuts in this area. If you are in a coastal area, people want to be as close to the beach, ocean, or water as possible. Guests want access to a pool. They want great views in the mountain areas etc. They want a nice clean updated or new place to stay. Buying the cheapest home on the market may cost you in the long run. Be sure to research where you are buying and make sure your vacation rental offers as much as possible for your area.

2) BOOKING SYSTEM. Having an online booking system or software like lets your guest know you are serious about your business. Add the online credit card processing to this and you will attract more guests. We have surveyed hundred of guest and they want to pay online with a credit card. You need to put the odds in your favor. One survey revealed that over 41% of the guest surveyed told us that an owner taking credit cards influenced the buying decision. Why send 41% of the market down the road to another owner? Take credit cards online and supercharge your business.

3) PHOTOS. The most successful owners we work with have the most and best photos easily available. In years past, 3-5 photos online would bring in the business. Now you need hundreds. We highly recommend PICASA by Goggle. It is a free online web based album service. It lets you showcase not only your property but also your community and town. This way you can “sell” the entire vacation experience. Guest love to see photos! Give them that option. They are really buying your photos once you think about it. That is the only way they know what you have to offer until they arrive at your location.

4) PRICING. Too many owners think their properties are worth more than they are. The normal guest has thousands of options to pick from. They all look alike to the guest! There are millions of very nice vacation homes on the market. The chance that yours is the best is extremely rare! So price it accordingly. If you see your market is getting $1200 a week for a prime week, you need to be at $1195. This keeps you in the market and priced “right”. Trying to price it at $1500 to “see what happens” is a sure sign NOTHING will happen. Guest can shop too easy. Price it right, book it up and be thankful for the success.

5) DISCOUNTS. Once you are priced right, you may have times open that you need to discount. This does not mean you are giving time away. It is simple a “marketing” strategy to increase your booking ratio. If you have 3 weeks booked and you have one week that is open, offer a discount. Taking a $200 discount may mean the difference between a $1200 booking and $0. $1400 would have been nice, but $1200 is better than $0. The higher ratio of bookings you have, the more likely you will be in the “black” at the end of the year.

6) DOMAIN NAMES. Successful owners understand that the guest wants to book online as fast as possible. Taking them to other web sites and then to your online booking site, increases the chance you will lose them. INTERNET sales 101, less clicks the better! Period! So buy a URL that applies to your area/property, like this one, and point it to your online booking site. The faster and easier you can get a guest to your site and book online, the greater your closing ratios, the greater your gross income. More examples: These are all pointing to the owners’ online booking site and the owner can take a booking in a few clicks!

7) ADVERTISING. VRBO is not enough! This is one of the biggest problems we see. Many owners think that if they advertise on VRBO alone, they can be successful. That is no longer true. You must set up an “umbrella of advertising” as we say. Search your location and find advertising sites that come up in those searches. Joining 5-10 sites is not too many! You need to spend $1,000 to $1,500 a year to properly advertise your property. Anything short of that and you will simply not get the calls or emails needed to be successful. This is the difference in getting a few bookings and being totally booked solid. YOU NEED TO ADVERTISE!

8) UPDATE PROPERTY. Most successful owners update the property almost every year. Guests want to see that the owner is taking care of the place and putting some money back into the property. New linens, furniture, fresh paint all make a difference. Have a policy in place that each year you look for the worn out items and replace some or all of them. It will keep the repeat business coming back!

9) ANSWER CALLS. Most owners get plenty of leads but do not get back to the prospect in a timely manner. The guest is online right now, looking for a place to book. They call or email you, and then you take 24 to 48 hours to return that call or email. During that time they have booked someplace else. Calling or emailing them the second they respond is the best policy. If you can not get to that till later in the day, call or email as soon as possible. Time is money! Your Money!! Call faster than the other owners and get more bookings. Simple!

10) STAY IN TOUCH. Make sure you stay in touch with guest after the stay. Having to market all over again next year for all new guest makes it hard. If you can get your repeat business up to 30-40%, running at 90% booked is now a possibility. More business gets more business! They bring a friend and so on. Having a plan in place to stay in touch, so when they want to book again the next year, they think of YOU! Not staying in touch and sending them back online to find another property is a waste of resources. They found you once, stayed with you and now trust your business and property. Do the proper marketing to them and they will stay with you for a life time!

These simple techniques are proven over and over again to bring in more business. They are battle tested. How does your style or business measure up? Are you booked 90% of the time? If not, make some changes. These all take time. Many owners simple do not run their business like a business. Make sure you do it right from the start. Once you set up these items in place, they will work for you and you may have years of vacation rental success. Good luck!

Friday, May 9, 2008

2008 Vacation Rental By owner Season


Well, the 2008 rental season is in full swing. We had tons of questions about how this season would turn out. Here is what we are seeing. The owners that are "working" the business correctly are doing better than ever. Our units and most of the owners we work directly with, that are using all of the tools available to them, online booking, advertising, running specials, photo albums, these owners are having record years.

They are all beating the 2007 numbers they posted last season. WHY? They are working harder than most other owners. The rental market is still very strong. With gas at almost $4 a gallon, people still want to take a vacation. So it is tougher on many, but with the proper tools, you can do very well in the toughest of times.

We are seeing some higher than usual cancellations. We feel this is due to many factors. They may have booked a few months ago, put a deposit down and when the full payment comes due, the funds may not be there for some families. This is another reason to be taking credit cards for your rent payments. Some guest who may not have the funds today, will put the final payment on a credit card, to make sure they can take the family on vacation. So it is another way to get business you may have lost.

We are also seeing new owners enter the market and doing VERY well. All for the same reasons. If they buy a desirable unit, they advertise properly, use the online vacation rental software from to complete bookings as fast as possible, they are filling up the calendar as soon as the start marketing.

REAL ESTATE MARKET. This is a totally different animal from the rental market. Real Estate markets are having a very tough time. Some prices continue to drop and some have leveled off. Buying a unit now is a great idea. Prices have not been this low in 4-5 years. But do not confuse a tough real estate market with a tough rental market. They are 2 different animals. Rentals are strong. You may have to work a little harder, but to the victor goes the spoils. Update your photos, take credit cards online, price your property correctly and you will have your share of business.

The bottom line is always been and always will be, you get out what you put in. Do the work to make your rental business a success and you will be successful. Do nothing and nothing will happen.

Stay tuned. We all hope the real estate market and the economy will swing back to the top soon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Panama Vacation Rental Market

I just returned from a trip to Panama. As I have mentioned here before, we are building Ocean Front Homes in Panama for Fractional sales and Vacation Rentals.

Every time I go to Panama, I see a country that is untouched. We went out fishing and scuba diving and it was on a Saturday. There was no aircraft in the area, NONE. And we had to go find our guides friends that were diving too, to invite them to lunch.

It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever been through. The picture above is the brand New condo complex at Las Olas near David. This complex is just being completed and the next complex is getting ready to break ground.

Showing what there is to do in Panama is one of the ways we can show you where to take a vacation. With out pictures to document what to do on vacation, how would anyone know what to do once they get there.

I will also include a video that I found on YOU TUBE that really helps show off Panama. There is so much there that no one really knows.

This is why we decided to build vacation rentals in Panama and to use the online booking software, With the online booking and the slide shows showing what there is to do in Panama we feel the market will respond and book a trip to this destination.

The lost are truly endless as to the activities in Panama. Las Olas resort is building a new 27 hole golf course, diving, swimming, beach walking, zip lining and on and on.

If you ever thought about a trip south to Panama, I highly recommend it! Feel free to contact me anytime. We are always planning a trip down there and would love to meet you there to show you what we have found to be our home away from home, PANAMA!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

SEO for your Vacation Rental by Owner

Trying to drive traffic to your vacation rental by owner is the goal of every owner.

We all know that the best way to get out on the market as fast and as efficient as possible is by joining the most productive web portals that are available to you.

That being said, what can you do for the long term SEO, or Search Engine Optimization of your vacation rental. There are a few things you can do that are very reasonable in cost and can help bring natural, "free" traffic to your listing.

We spoke on the last blog about "branding" your listing and having your own personal domain name, like,

This is still a great idea and an easy way to communicate to your prospects how to get to your online booking site and listing on

What we will address here is more to do with SEO than "branding". Using you can buy a domain name for SEO reasons. After doing some research on what terms may benefit you and your listing, you can search to see if that domain is available. Here is an example of the process from start to finish.

I found a term that had a good amount of searches but was not that competitive in the market. We use tools from Yahoo and Google to establish what terms are being searched and what terms are being advertised. We decided to use " destin florida vacation house" as our SEO term.

We then take that term and create a natural amount of it into our description on our listing. You can view the listing here and read the description to see how it is used:

We also where able to buy the URL and point it to our listing on That is why when you click on the link above, you land on my listing on I also have the domain name pointing there too. These are for different reasons. I give my prospects the URL, and I created for the SEO of the listing. I use the dashes to let the search engines see what I am trying to convey to them. is not as easy read by the syders as

The other things that need to be done is the terms, "destin florida vacation house" has to be entered into the "title" of my listing on

I have also put these as the keywords on my account with and make sure I represent it in the description too. So now the combination of my URL has my search terms in it, my "title" has that term in it and my description mentions it more than once, should bring me up nicely in the search engines.

The reason this will help you is you are going after a selected term and you are showing the search engine everything it is looking for to decide if this term applies to this site. If it is in your domain, your title, your description and your keywords, the search engines have no choice but to show this page as something that this person searching must see. So you have to make sure the term applies to your listing.

This will take time. At least 30 days before you may see results. But for the cost of the domain, $9 and I also recommend the TRAFFIC BLAZER at $17 at it is a no brainer! Once I submit it thru the TRAFFIC BLAZER on and the search engines spider the site, I will start to see natural results for my terms.

The main concept on choosing a term is to find one that is searched but the competition is low. Try to optimize for "vacation rentals" is a HUGE task. Basically forget about it. Find a term that applies to your property, has some level of searches online and take the large piece of the small pie. In the search engine world, it is called "grabbing the low hanging fruit".

If I can get 10 to 30 extra clicks a month, for free, and the search they performed is a "dead" match for my property, then I will stand to increase my web presence.

Adding this to your arsenal of marketing is a great long term way to establish your business online. Please contact us at anytime for help in using this concept. Here are a few owners URLS that are now doing this:

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Domain Names for Vacation Rentals by Owner

Having a private domain name for your listing on is a great way to "brand" yourself and it will help make your business a more personal transaction between you and your guest.

We have created for this reason. You can buy a domain name here and "point" it to your listing on This will help you when you are talking to a guest or emailing them back. Here is a great example: This owner has his domain "pointing" at his listing, so it looks like his private web page. He also has it "masked" so the prospect has the URL, on the page.

With all the tools we provide on, there is no reason to send them anywhere else. Many owners are shutting down old websites and using the domains they have had for years and now pointing them to the listing on .

If you get a call from a prospect, or an email, you can respond by saying/emailing, just go to my site, and you can see my slide show, guest book, Google Map and book it online. That way the guest can easily find your listing and not have to navigate to it. Once on your site, they can view the photos, and book it now. The less "work" you give your prospect, the more likely you are to get the booking. Sending them to the site where you do the booking makes the most sense.

If you still have a regular website, consider shutting it down, saving the hosting fees and "pointing" your domain to your listing on This will not only save you money, but it should increase your bookings as they have less to navigate to book your property. If they have to find your regular site, look around, then find your listing on, there is some chance they may not make it there and not book with you. Less clicks, the better!

Buying a domain, if you have never done this is, very easy. Go to and start an account. Then search for a domain that you like. Then buy it. It is only $8.99 per domain. Try to keep it as short as possible. Try to use words that are easily spoken on the phone. They have to easily understand what you are saying and be able to type in in their computer. So the shorter the better!

Once you purchase a domain name you can add "domain forwarding" (it is free). You just copy and paste your URL on into the space that will re-direct someone when they type in your new domain name. I would also suggest the "masking" (also free) so they do not even see they are on You can add keywords too. This all helps in the search engines.

After you have your domain name you can start a FREE GOOGLE ANALYTICS account and then you can track the traffic on your site. This is a great service too! It will show you what search terms the public is using to find your site. It shows you where and how they find you. The information it provides is endless. The combination of a private domain and GOOGLE ANALYTICS is a powerful way to run your vacation rental. Just go to GOOGLE and sign up for the ANALYTICS account. Then enter your private domain name to be tracked. They will give you some code that needs to be entered into your description on your listing. You will need to use the SOURCE button on your description to enter the html code. It is invisible to you and me, but GOOGLE will pick it up and track your traffic after that is in there.

Here are a few examples of listings that are using this service:

The domains are only $8.99 a year and everything thing else we spoke about is free! We have set up the domain service to be as reasonable as possible. Try it! I think you will like having a more personal approach to your business! Let us know if we can help in any way!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Vacation Home Expo for Vacation Rentals

We are proud to announce we will be at the first of it's kinda Vacation Home TRADE SHOW in Atlanta April 11-13, 2008.

Please stop by to see us at out booth. We hope you can make the trip to be at this wonderful event.

This show will help promote vacation rentals as a great alternative to hotels when people take a vacation. More and more, people are finding that a private home or condo is the place to spend a very comfortable and affordable week on vacation. This is the first of it's kind TRADE SHOW to help promote them. will be there and we have partnered with eCom to give private owners of vacation rentals a solution to renting them by owner. With the patent pending booking software and the online credit card processing eCom provides, owners can now run a vacation rental like a pro and save the 20% to 50% a management company charges.

Having the online booking system gives the private owner the tools needed to run a successful vacation rental. With more owners being successful, that gives more options to the guest looking for a nice place to stay.

The Vacation Rental business needs this type of show to help promote our products. The more people know this is an option, the better chance we have of them staying with us. Anything an owner can do to run a better business, will benefit us all in the long run.

Consider coming to Atlanta in April. Weather you have a vacation rental and you want to see the latest and greatest there is to offer or if you need a vacation, I am sure there will be plenty of homes and condos to choose from.

See you in April!