How to increase your vacation rental home bookings!
In a climate of change, more and more investors are turning to the vacation rental industry for a return on their investment.
We sat down with one of the construction industry’s long standing leaders for some tips on how to maximize the opportunity for great occupancy and guest satisfaction.
Our long presence as home owners at Reunion Resort offers an insight into the rapid growth of the most coveted luxury gated communities.
Over dinner at Reunion Resort’s Eleven rooftop restaurant, we could literally see examples of his finest homes nestled around the 3 PGA courses and his pride is clearly visible!
In no particular order, I scratched out a combination of my family’s best advice and thoughts on what makes a luxury vacation home a rental success story, in no particular order of course.
Our collective thoughts are gathered through years of experience and close working relationships alongside the industry’s most successful property managers and interior designers.
Feel free to add your own comments at the foot of this blog post!
- Curb appeal drives guests to book!
In an era of social media, a vacation is one of the strongest opportunities for a Facebook frenzy of photographs. A stunning driveway, with an impressive doorway can make an irresistible backdrop to your next profile picture. Bragging is a playful way of getting friends to interact, and nobody needs to know that the cost of staying in one of our luxury homes is more affordable than a hotel!
- Pick an efficient floor-plan with lots of inherent interest
We love building huge showpiece mansions, but we often get a lot of personal satisfaction by working on a limited size lot and making a big impression.
To pull that off, it’s all about effective use of space, while at the same time, avoiding compression.
Guests want the impression of space in a luxury home and a great builder can achieve that in any sized lot.
- Be innovative with pool decks
We are working on some amazing new concepts that take the pool decks to a whole new level and all without blowing the budget wide open. Pools are everything in Florida’s vacation home industry and visually appealing designs with well thought out features, create appeal for guests of all ages.
- Traditional has worn itself out, but read more…
Good builders love and respect traditional materials, details and techniques, but owners, and guests in particular, have moved on. Those rather grand, French farmhouse designs, with beautiful, elegant lines, are far less popular for rental guests than their peak 10 years ago.
Clean modern contemporary is hot right now and you only have to check in to a luxury boutique hotel like Disney’s Four Seasons to see that it’s likely to be around for many years to come! Fortunately owners of those more elegant homes, can catch up with the modern style with far less fuss and cost than they’d probably expect. But for now, our advice is to stay with bright contemporary styles with a strong element of quality.
- Bedrooms on both floors
Rather than separate in-laws off from the home, the modern trend seems to suggest that families are heading to Orlando in larger, multi family,multi generational groups. With our modern home design techniques we can accommodate fabulous ground floor master suites that offer easy access for older guests. Most importantly, the added privacy from being on the lower level is a big winner.
- All en-suite bathrooms
Thanks to improved floor plans, modern en suite bathrooms can steal very little floor space from a home, but they are increasingly ‘expected’ by rental guests. Build them in right from the start where possible. It’s a costly add on at a later date!
- Themed kids rooms
We love the direction that kids’ rooms are going in. The imagination from owners, our designers, and rental managers is so much fun to bring to life in a home. When mom books a vacation, it’s often with excited kids gathered around an iPad and well crafted themed rooms really sell occupancy. Be bold, be different, and the rewards will be great. We’ve had great success with both simple and way out designs, so don’t worry about budget. It can be successful whatever you spend, if it’s done well. Always of course, use licensed decals for copyright materials and lay them over your custom artwork.
- Wow factor kitchens
Second to the pool deck, kitchens probably get more exposure on social media than any other room in the vacation home. Sizes have to be right for the home’s guest count, but thoughtful layouts, breakfast bars, irresistible lighting and material selections can turn this into a key image for your online presence. Great pictures of kitchens sell homes.
- Unique entertainment features
For larger homes it has long been the guest’s expectation that a home should have a games room and a home theatre. We are also seeing requests for more innovative features to be installed. Indoor putting areas, bowling alleys are just an example, but so too are more affordable concepts. We have plenty of options to offer.
- Simple but effective electronics packages
Our love affair with technology continues to grow and our connected world is even know known as ‘the Internet of things’, with smart refrigerators and centralized control points for lighting and entertainment centres. Our advice is simple; keep up with the times for sure, but don’t let the latest fad steer you too much. Not all guests can be bothered to ‘learn’ how to dim the lights at 11pm after a long transatlantic flight. Keep the basics simple but use upgradable tech wisely, and only if guests can figure it out intuitively!
Don’t short cut on equipment capacities (AC etc). Cost cutting on AC can lead to a number of things; warm homes, angry guests and bad, bad reviews on social media. One angry rant on Homeaway can deter guests to book your home. That cost of missed opportunity will soon rack up into tens of thousands!
- Warm neutral tones with delicious accent colors
Perhaps the most notable occupancies are found in professionally designed homes. Under the guidance of a good builder, the property manager and interior designer, a team effort will ensure that the home can draw in those reservations right from the outset. Most importantly, designs that will stand the test of time, will not only attain the best occupancy, they will save you tens of thousands in remodel costs down the line. One thing is clear though; high quality, bright, neutral tones with carefully selected and subtle accents are big winners in the vacation industry. Stick with that timeless advice and you can’t lose, even if designs move on!
- Photography is EVERYTHING!
The final tip is so easy to overlook. Having invested hundreds of thousands or maybe several million into your dream investment, the biggest oversight would be to not show it off in the best possible light. Literally!
Set aside a few hundred dollars for top flight photography and you will reap the rewards. If the guest can’t quite make out the home from your realtor’s cell phone shots, or your own point and shoot snaps, you have probably written off 75% of your reservation opportunities. Great photography sells a home, videos and 3D tours are growing in importance, but it all starts with great photos.
360 Degree virtual tours using systems like Matterport are also a big route to success!
Confident that home owners will appreciate the additional insight from our experiences in Reunion, we look forward to a great 2016 Holiday season at Reunion Resort and a rewarding 2017!
As always, please feel free to comment below with your own thoughts, tips and experiences on how best to achieve the best possible occupancy!
Tips on Improving occupancy
- See all of the Reunion Resort homes listed on Homeaway
- Read our tips on improving vacation rental home occupancy (this article)
- Tips on getting the best form Homeaway Listings
Orlando Home Buyer Guide Articles – Click the titles to read more
- Decide what the home will really be used for! It pays to be open minded!
- Top 10 Considerations for an Orlando Vacation Home!
- Choosing the right floor plan and features!
- Homes Close to Disney, an insider’s views about location!
- Finding the right community for you, your family, your guests.
- Renting your home, an emotional but wise decision! Free vacations forever!
- Don’t buy a home unless these features are included!
- Furnishing and decor, are the key to lots of bookings!
- Should you pay cash or get a mortgage?
- Mortgage advice for US Residents and Overseas owners
- Choosing a good property manager to take care of your home
- What could possibly go wrong – Being prepared makes a difference!
- Things to Worry About When Buying an Orlando Home!
- Dealing with the taxes and other boring but essential stuff!
- Buy an Existing Home or Build a New Home Exactly to Your Needs?
- Getting A Visa Or Green Card to Live in Orlando!