Thursday, September 20, 2007

Handling the Guest calls and emails for your Vacation Rental

Once you have your advertising in place, you will start to get calls and emails. Now what? You have to be prepared to handle them as fast and as accurate as possible.

The bottom line in the vacation rental by owner business is, the owner who gets back to the guest first, has the best chance to get the booking. The number one complaint from guests of private vacation rentals is the owners do not respond to inquires.

The owners do have a legitimate complaint for the guest too, they do not like being asked questions that are easily found on the web sites they provide. The problem occurs when a prospect looks at so many listings online, after talking to a few disorganized owners, they find out that many calendars are not up to date and many rates are incorrect.

So they end up asking questions to an owner that is accurate, so we suggest you just take that in stride. The better the vacation rental by owner industry becomes organized, the better the guest will know how to engage us.

So back to the guests questions. If you have the phone number of the guest given to you by them in an email, I would call them as soon as possible. This cuts to the chase. Be prepared to let them know which unit they emailed you about as they have more than likely emailed several owners. So that being said, answer their questions, assure them your dates and rates are accurate on your site and ask them if they want to book with you.

Having the patent pending online reservation system at your finger tips can help seals the deal. The faster you can get a "warm" prospect to book with you the better. Now it is up to them. Once on your listing, they are able to book it or not. They make that decision. They are not waiting for you. If you had to go back and format a Word document and email that to them, they may have found another unit while you are doing that. As we have found with all the owners on our site, the ability to book online instantly is increasing the closing ratios of the owners and increasing their gross rents.

I know most owners are very busy. Before you go calling every person that emails you, qualify the lead. I only take Sat to Sat bookings on my Destin listings. So if I get a request for a 2 day stay for next year on the Fourth of July, I may only email this person back and not call them. As I know I will get a weekly booking for that week, no problem. On the other hand, if I have an opening in the next few weeks, and I get an email asking questions about it, I am on the phone as fast as possible.

The best way to get qualified leads is to have the most updated, informative listings as possible. The better your listing is, the better the lead. Disclose your age restrictions if you have one. There is no more aggravating thing than to have thousands of college student's wanting to book your home for Spring Break. Let them know up front so they do not waste your time.

Pictures and the slide shows we use, help seal the deal too. The better the unit is represented online with pictures, the better the lead. They see it all! Then when they ask an intelligent question, you can tell they have really studied your unit and are a great prospect.

On your emails, I try to answer the questions they ask, as direct as I can and then I always make sure they have the links to my sites so they can go right back to my listing. It is a great idea to have a "signature" set up for your email. Then once you answer the question, you can just use your signature and this will help you save time.

The bottom line is call and email the guest as fast as possible and give them access to the online booking listing on This combination will help you stay fully booked!

Good luck with your rentals!

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