What does the Ginger know about vacation rentals?
Here’s one area where we’ve been very successful.
Our cabin, located just 20 minutes south of Breckenridge, Colorado, has turned itself into a little cash cow. And who doesn’t love a cash cow? Currently, our cabin makes nearly double our mortgage from short-term rentals.
So how do we do it? A lot of the cabin’s success is not only due to its location (where there is heavy competition) but also our marketing strategy. Let me preface by saying that neither one of us works in marketing so we learned everything by trial and error.
Post the Property on a Trusted Site
First off, Craigslist is not a trusted site for renting places. Trusted sites allow for the renters to put in personal information and a source of electronic payment. Credit cards are always best!
A trusted site allows for a renter to input credit card information and enough money to cover a damage deposit. We’ve had great success with VRBO and HomeAway. Both sites allow previous rental home owners to review guests. So if there was a bad renter, the next homeowner will know. Knock on wood, in the 4 years we’ve rented our property, we’ve had maybe 2 bad renters and we reviewed them and had them pay for damages.
Find a Niche
There are a lot of cabins in the same area as ours. Over 200 to be exact. Not all are log cabins, but all are in the woods with mountain views. Some are more updated, with more bedrooms, and some rental properties even come with a hot tub (jealous!).
The key is to find something that sticks out. We are dog lovers so naturally all of our properties are dog friendly. Funny enough, a lot of places near our cabin are not dog friendly. (I don’t understand because it’s doggy paradise!) The idea of cleaning up dog hair or a dog mess makes people shy away from renting out their homes to people who want to bring along furry friends.
Since being pet friendly is our niche, we added some extra elements to really show that we are pet-friendly. We highlighted our large dog run, showed photos of our dogs playing the yard on the site, and referenced nearby dog-friendly hikes in our advertisement.
Shocker- This type of marketing drew in dog-friendly couples looking for a place to bring Fido for the long weekend.
It’s All about Staging and Photos
There’s so many easy tricks for taking good pictures of a rental property. First and foremost, take photos of the place when the sun is out, the windows are open, and all the lights are turned on. The lighting is an old real-estate agent trick.
People may think this sounds like overkill, but look how bright and open our living room looks in the photo below. Imagine the below photo taken on a rainy day, with the curtains closed, and lights off. It would be much less desirable and the whole room would just look closed and dark. Yuck.
The next piece of advice should sound like common sense, but take a look at some real estate and rental photos and you’ll realize it’s not. Make sure the place is in tip-top shape for photos. Remove any clutter. Even if it’s throw pillows, blankets, or small knickknacks. The smallest amount of clutter can make the room look small and cramped. Those pillows and blankets and knickknacks can be put back after the photo.
Describe the Unique Details!
Take the time to describe the smallest details that really make the property stand out. These can or break items for renters.
Maybe like us, there are moose that roam through the property randomly throughout the year. If so, highlight it. Show a picture and let people know where they might be able to see these animals. In our case, the below photo is from outside our kitchen window (no zoom!).
Another visitor to our house is the fox, who likes to lay out on the rock outside. He’s cute and harmless and most people love cute fuzzy animals. We’ve gotten so many inquiries on our properties where guests are excited about the possibility of seeing the animals. Luckily a lot of folks actually see some too.
Highlight What’s Nearby!
The house isn’t generally the only draw to a vacation rental. For a vacation, guests want to know what is nearby. For us, that means highlighting world-class skiing, gold-ribbon fishing, and hiking on the Continental Divide. We highlight those activities for the outdoor adventurer.
Not everyone is outdoorsy though. Our nearest tourist town is Breckenridge, Colorado (a.k.a Breck). Breck is about a 20- 25 minute drive from the cabin. It’s a tourist town with loads of restaurants and bars. For guests looking for a typical main street filled with chocolate shops, crystals shops,and t-shirt stores, they’ll love Breck.
But we also highlight local businesses in the small nearby towns of Alma, Fairplay, and Blue River. There’s small local breweries, donkey festivals, and horse rides. Hopefully those who are not sold on outdoor activities or the town of Breck, will be swayed by the local kitch!
Still have questions about how to market a vacation rental?
Feel free to reach out. I’m happy to share tips on success!