So you’ve decided to list your vacation rental property on VRBO: that’s great! Thousands of potential renters use VRBO to rent vacation properties every day, and the potential for an additional source of income is certainly there. The million dollar question is, how do you maximize the potential of your VRBO listing? In this guide, we discuss 5 essential tips for VRBO vacation rental owners that can help you acquire more renters, cut costs, and ultimately maximize profits.

VRBO Vacation Rental Tips

1. Use Photos to Your Advantage

When it comes to separating your rental from competitors, sometimes all it comes down to is how well you can highlight the attributes and amenities that come with your property. Here are a couple of great tips to help ensure your photos are appealing to potential renters:

  • Don’t take outside photos in the rain. Psychologically, people are conditioned to associate dark, rainy days with negative feelings. On the contrast, pictures with a bright, sunny background promote positive feelings. When taking pictures of the outside of your property, make sure the property has a nice, warm background to accompany it.
  • Highlight special amenities. Does your property have amenities that other similarly priced properties don’t? Snap a picture! Simply listing that your property has a pool attached can pique some interest, but a quality photo of people enjoying this amenity can help potential renters visualize themselves having a great time at your property. 
  • Emphasize your strengths. Even if your property does not include any amenities like a pool or hot tub, take a walk around the property and identify at least one thing that you are doing better than other properties. This could be a newly renovated kitchen, a cozy living room, or anything else that shows potential renters your property goes above and beyond your competitors’. 

If photography is not your forte, consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your property. The profit gained from appealing pictures of your property can easily outweigh the cost of a couple hours for a professional photographer's time. 

2. Manage Your Own Property Listings

With VRBO listing fees, the costs of upkeep, and additional aspects of rental property management cutting into your bottom line, the last thing you want to do is pay more money for someone to manage these listings. As owners or rental property managers of multiple properties, you may find it difficult to handle the constant bookings, listing updates, and extra tasks that come with managing VRBO listings. 

However, there is a simpler way to accomplish these tasks: vacation rental software. Vacation rental software allows owners and property managers the ability to automate all of these tasks, and many software providers integrate with VRBO. This allows you to automate:

  • Bookings
  • Direct Messages
  • Reviews
  • Security Deposits

Managing properties can be time consuming, and using rental management software is a great choice for owners and property managers that find themselves juggling the daily tasks of managing their VRBO listings (as well as the many other aspects of efficient channel management). 

3. Price Appropriately

Pricing is the first thing potential guests will look at when shopping for a rental property, and your price needs to accurately reflect your property while still maintaining competitiveness. When pricing your VRBO property, here are some things you should ask yourself:

  • What is my breakeven price? Before considering other factors, you need to determine the breakeven price of your listing. This can be done by totalling all of your costs together, and dividing that number by 30 (the average amount of days in a month). This number will be the bare minimum daily price you can charge to breakeven on your property. 
  • What are the people around me pricing for similar properties? Take a look at similar properties with the same amenities as you, and you can get a baseline price for what you should be charging. However, this should not be the only factor that determines your price. 
  • What kind of guests am I looking for? Pricing on the low end may get you more paying customers, but are they the RIGHT paying customers. Low-end pricing could result in a great deal of younger renters simply looking for the cheapest place to throw a party, while higher-end pricing usually results in less problematic customers. 

Pricing is a chess game, with many factors determining the final outcome. It is best to do your due diligence, and arrive at a number that is profitable, competitive, and meets the overall goal of your rental property. 

4. Expect the Unexpected

When owning or managing rental properties, everyone has the same though in mind: “This is going to be an easy way to make some passive income, and I won’t have to give it much attention.” That is, until the unexpected happens. From natural disasters to unruly guests, there is a never ending list of things that could affect your rental property.

If you own the property, it is best to keep a rainy-day fund in case the property incurs any damages from accidents, disaster, etc. This ensures your property is back up and making you money in the shortest amount of time possible. If you live in a high-risk area for natural disasters, you should consider insurance that covers this type of unexpected incident. 

For rental property managers, the unexpected may come in many different forms. What happens if a renter cancels their two-week stay two days before they are supposed to arrive, and you are left scrambling to fill the gaps? This is where proper planning comes into place. As a rental property manager, creating a disaster plan will be a huge asset, and can save you when the unexpected happens. Think of your own experiences, and also talk to other property managers to discover times where managers were left wondering what to do. This can help you determine an all-inclusive plan, good for any situation you might find yourself in. 

5.Clearly State Rules & Policies

For owners and property managers alike, your rules & policies will be your best friend. Clearly stating what is and isn’t allowed within your property will save you the headache from many guests saying “I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowed to do that,” and can even prevent accidents. Afterall, these policies may protect your property, but the biggest concern will always be the safety of your guests. Each guest has to agree to these rules and policies, and violation can result in removal from the property. Rules and policies include:

  • Cancellation policy
  • House rules
  • Damage policy

It is important to use specific language with all of your rules and policies. Vague language can lead to gray areas, which is never a good thing (especially if legal entities have to get involved). Clearly state the policy/rule, immediately followed by the consequence for violating this policy/rule. This leaves no wiggle room, and ensures the guest understands their responsibilities when renting your property.

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