How To Market To Your Owners
Scaling a Vacation Rental Management Company (VRMC) is difficult, finding exceptional owners to help you scale might be even more difficult, then understanding the relationship of a VRMC and the owner is a whole new level. So let’s take it back to the basics. You are going to learn in this article the difference between a VRMC and an owner then deep dive into the top 9 expectations your VRMC needs to set with its owner to create a healthy, working relationship.
Vacation Rental Management Company VS Owners
With the trend of travelers looking for experiences, a homey feeling, and higher personalization levels, short-term rentals, or vacation rentals, have become very popular over the last few years. With that being said, the number of vacation rentals on the market is increasing drastically and providing a new route for additional income to multiple homeowners. The people physically buying these vacation rentals are called owners. When an owner starts to get 5, 10, maybe even 20 vacation rentals that need to be operated from reservations, cleaning, maintenance, and more it becomes a very complex scenario where an owner would want to hire a Vacation Rental Management Company to provide those services all under one roof to all their vacation rental properties to receive the most value on their investments.
Vacation Rental Management companies come in three different forms. They can run just the marketing, they can run the marketing campaigns then have third party vendors that help with maintenance and housekeeping, or lastly, they can be a full-service property management company that does everything from guest communications, reservations, call center, marketing, experiences, housekeeping, maintenance, pricing, and listing channels. Providing all these services, a VRMC will earn a commission from every booking ranging from 10% onwards up to 50%.
As you can see, the VRMC plays a very large role in the life of the owner. The owner is putting its trust in the VRMC to drive income, provide exceptional services, and maintain their vacation rental property. To set up the relationship for success, these are the expectations your VRMC should market when looking to grow more by acquiring new owners.
These Are The Services We Provide
As mentioned above, there are three different kinds of VRMC’s out there: marketing, hybrid, and full-service. Make sure that you are accurately portraying what your services include so the owner does not have any surprises. Saying that your VRMC provides marketing services will not suffice. A detailed list and description should be provided with the contract including services such as photography, listing updates, social media, observation of market trends, and channel management. It does not end at marketing. You will need to define a list for each category including housekeeping, maintenance, and guest communications.
The contract between your VRMC and the owner should also clearly state what you are not offering. If after-hours support is not in your bucket of services, make sure the owner is aware you will add on an additional fee if one of your VRMC employees has to tackle an after-hours emergency.
This is How Our Fees Are Broken Down
Many owners have been burned in the past by VRMC’s with hidden fees and not disclosing their complete pricing structure. Set yourself apart from your competitions by clearly defining your commission costs and the services they are associated with. Commission costs range from 10-50% of an owner’s gross vacation rental revenue, with the higher end being the normal. When thinking of commission fees, one needs to remember these are the funds that your VRMC will use for operations, labor, rent, materials, marketing, and everything that is required to run a successful business and support your owners.
If you are going to include hidden fees within your commission, you need to alter your commission rates to be consistent or better than your competitors with the addition of hidden fees added on. A list of hidden fees could include linens, credit card payments, housekeeping, caretaking, supplies, amenity re-stocking, and more. Make sure that you are charging to cover operations and physical costs because adding on too many fees could turn owners or guests away.
These are the Pricing Strategies We Will Use
To make sure that your owner’s homes are in front of the right people, at the right time, with the right message, at the right price is critical to maximize revenue and occupancy rates. This is called dynamic pricing. As a Vacation Rental Management Company, you should have an industry partner such as Beyond Pricing, Perfect Price, or Price Labs that strategically plan the rates for your owner’s homes. This will allow them to maximize their rates while staying competitive in the local market.
Revenue Management partners analyze data and trends to implement short term and long term pricing strategies that will bring the most bang for your buck. When a revenue management partner has an API with your PMS, you will avoid the hassle of manually updating your rates on all channels by seamlessly syncing them in one place. This will help avoid double bookings and eliminate room for errors.
These Are Our Software and Technology Partners We Utilize
Utilizing multiple vendors as a VRMC will help you provide additional value to your owners. Yes, all-in-one solutions are the ultimate goal, but having only one provider will not be sustainable to compete in the ever-evolving short term vacation rental industry. Bringing together industry experts and leading partners will give your VRMC the opportunity for ample education and knowledge to run your owner’s vacation rentals to their fullest potential.
You will want to have partnerships with industry leaders that seamlessly connect to the PMS platform you use through an API. Examples of industry partners you will want relationships with would-be payment processors, channel managers, revenue managers, website developers, security systems, and smart-home automation platforms. When an API is connected through these vendors and your PMS, you will be eliminating a variety of manual operations and creating less room for error.
This Is The Level Of Guest Experience We Expect and Provide
It is proven that over the last decade the normal traveler is now traveling with the intent of experiences. A family traveling during spring break is not looking for a 2 bed, hotel room in a building where they all look the same, that family is traveling for a better stay with experiences. They hope to find a modern, 5 bedroom house with keyless entry, a private pool, walking distance from the whale watching session at the pier. Sure, this might be the same whale watching session that is on the brochure tree in the hotel lobby but do you want to know the difference in why the family is going to attend that stays at a Vacation Rental? The way the whale watching session was marketed.
As a Vacation Rental Management Company, to keep your owner’s homes relevant in a highly competitive market, you need to provide exceptional guest experiences and services. That does not only mean the experiences you market locally but also within your company and software platforms. To begin, a great platform to set the expectation high for your owner’s would be implementing YourWelcome. YourWelcome is a tablet device that makes guest communication simple and efficient the second the guest enters the vacation rental. Following up with that, adding smart-home technology is a must. Keyless entry, automated thermostat, an Alexa, and more helps the guest feel taken care of and more comfortable.
Setting these expectations with your owners is critical to help increase their bookings and keep them competitive. Having high standards of guest experience will lead to better online reviews and more referral traffic. Not to mention, it can also create repeat guests.
The Channels Of Booking Methods You Have Access To
Marketing will always be a part of the umbrella of services offered by your VRMC. Providing the most efficient and effective channels of booking methods is important to get in front of the right people, at the right time. On average, a traveler will look at 28 websites and take up to 58 days before they make the decision to book their trip, so having their preferred booking channel is important.
First, your VRMC should utilize a CRM, such as TRACK’s CRM, that includes web chat, email marketing, and a secure messaging system. This will provide the traveler with ample opportunity to talk to an agent to book via the website with their phone or their computer. An all-in-one CRM will then capture this traveler’s data. When the VRMC retains the traveler’s data it allows them to do outbound follow up to help convert the booking and also provide exceptional guest experience.
Another important expectation around channels of booking you need to set with your owner are the distribution channels you service. This could range from Airbnb, VRBO, all the way to local marketplaces such as ResortsandLodges.com, Snowbirdcompany.com, or emeraldcoastbyowner.com. As the VRMC, you want to be very clear to your owner by providing value with multiple booking channels.
This Is How We Will Clean and Update Your Homes
Does your VRMC have in-house housekeeping and maintenance? Do you have a third-party vendor or two that help with these tasks? What platform do you use to communicate work orders and maintenance tasks? All of these questions need to be answered with your owners so they feel safe allowing guests to stay in their homes under your supervision.
Many homes require cleaning checklists and procedures which promise cleanliness and the safety of the guests. To be clear on what your VRMC will be doing, provide credentials on how your staff has been trained to clean and walk them through what cleaning inspections look like. Providing this helps with liability and also gaining trust with the owners. Not to mention, this can improve guest satisfaction and help promote more bookings.
This Is How We Will Market Your Properties
As stated above, marketing will always be part of your strategy between you, the VRMC and your owners. It is important to be transparent on your tactics to market your owner’s properties as well as your VRMC. Will you promote booking direct? Will you use Google Paid Search to compete with other competitors? Will you prioritize OTA’s over your website? All of this information is crucial to your owner’s success and could make or break the relationship.
You will need to be open if you are using a third-party marketing agency or doing it with your in-house marketing team. When looking at using a third-party marketing service, it will provide more value to your owner if you choose to take the route of a hospitality-specific agency. This creates better benchmarks and data points to compare your numbers with. Many hospitality marketing agencies, such as TravelNet Solutions, can provide email marketing, conversion optimization, website design, blog writing, search engine optimization, and Google paid advertising.
This Is How Other Properties We Have Managed In Your Area Preformed
Case studies and testimonials of current owners are prime examples of how to sell yourself in your local market to gain new owners. Providing real-life examples including raw data such as return on investment, increased occupancy rate, and year over year increases will give insight to help gain trust. If you are able to get your current owner’s on film providing value statements and deep-dive your relationship, that will also help. Utilizing resources to prove you are an experienced expert as a VRMC will increase your owner acquisition.