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Part 1: The Art of Closing the Vacation Rental Contract

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The Art and Science of Responding to Inquiries discussed how to set up an automated response to a potential tenant’s first email inquiry, how to handle subsequent communication with him using the “fast-and-dirty response,” how to create a frequently asked questions list to save time and energy, and when to communicate via email or phone.

What can you do to ensure that all the time and effort you put into providing potential renters with straightforward, honest, and comprehensive details about your excellent property and area will translate into firm bookings? In other words, how do you “close the transaction,” as the salespeople like to say?

Before you commit to any bookings, I’ll also share some advice on vetting potential visitors.

Analyze and monitor

Let’s rewind a bit and start over with this conversation. Get started tracking data right away to see where you stand. Use your current performance as a baseline, and monitor your development over the next few months, comparing the number of queries to the number of bookings as you implement the communication strategies discussed here. If you lose a booking, analyze why and see where you went wrong.

Seek out your ideal clients and cater to them.

Today’s declining reservations could be due to a lack of focus on the ideal guests for your rental. Have you considered the type of tenant your property is most likely to attract? Have you taken a step back to examine your home and the surrounding area as a renter would?

You can’t expect a high bookings-to-inquiries ratio if you shoot like a bee-bee gun, missing most of the targets while wasting some bullets on the birds you strike (your time and energy). Spending effort positioning and branding your property can help you draw quality tenants through targeted marketing.

Here is a little practice to help you along the way:

1. To get started, think about the kind of people who have visited your establishment in the past and write about them. In what ways are they similar? Consider what they praised about your home; they may be selling factors you can use in marketing.

2. Who typically vacations in your area and why? The tourism agency in your area should be able to provide you with data and a profile of typical tourists. Check local tourist sites to see what activities are offered in your area, and decide whether they are geared toward families, active couples, or culture vultures.

3. Whom would you instead borrow from? You may, for whatever reason, determine that, even though your home can comfortably house more people, you’d instead rent it to child-free couples or smaller groups.

4. Consider who would be a good fit for your home based on its amenities. Perhaps a “kid-friendly swimming pool in a spacious, secure, fenced-in back yard” is more appealing than a “romantic spa” and “high-tech gourmet kitchen.”

5. Setting competitive prices is essential to marketing your vacation rental. How do your costs relate to similar establishments in the area? Overcharging discourages potential tenants while underpricing compared to other nearby homes raises eyebrows (what’s wrong with this house?) and draws in price-conscious renters. Find out what other places are charging, and adjust your prices accordingly.

6. Could you attract more prospective tenants if you relaxed your canine policy, for instance?

Adapt your messaging to better appeal to your ideal customers.

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Now that you’ve done this vital positioning work, you can move on to the next stage, which is to review how you interact with renters (ads, FAQs, emails, and so on) and make any necessary changes to the content and language. Consider the following questions:

How well do my material and keyword selections appeal to my ideal clientele?

Are any of my assertions unclear or conflicting with my audience?

How can I word my ad to turn off potential tenants I’m not trying to attract?

Since this ongoing process, you should evaluate your interactions frequently and adjust as needed. You will find that it is more lucrative to reduce the number of annoying requests for information to dedicate more time to cultivating mutually beneficial business relationships.

Take part in the decision-making process with your tenant.

Don’t sit back and do nothing while a prospective tenant decides. You can tilt the scales to your advantage in several ways. Going the “extra mile” for a renter can often choose between two or three equally appealing choices.

Remember that you compete with other landlords who treat their rental properties as seriously as you do, and act accordingly by adhering to industry standards. Read our April edition for a roundup of industry best practices to ensure all inquiries are handled promptly and expertly. The ease with which your tenants can live in your rental property directly relates to your general approach and demeanor.

Ready yourself as a Boy Scout would. It would be best if you always were on call because that call will inevitably arrive at the worst possible time. Always have your frequently asked questions and booking calendar ready, whether you’re answering the phone at home, in the car, or in your office briefcase, so you can swiftly and confidently respond to inquiries about availability? Make alternate plans, just in case.

Many landlords don’t bother to get back to potential tenants after receiving an inquiry, so it’s essential always to follow up. If they don’t hear back from the prospective tenant, the landlord may incorrectly presume that she has moved on to another rental.

Think about how you respond when your tenant is silent. Isn’t it conceivable that the tenant is too busy at work, preoccupied with a sick child, or waiting for her procrastinating husband to provide feedback on a few rental options? Your call could tip the scales in your favor if it comes at the right moment, shows you care about the tenant and your property, and gives you another chance to highlight the benefits of renting from you. In a nutshell, calling could save the day by facilitating your tenant’s decision-making process. If you can establish rapport and trust with her over the phone, you may be able to close the transaction in just a few hours.

Now that you’ve talked to your potential tenant and listened to her carefully, particularly to any inferred messages, you have a much better understanding of where her hesitances lie. You could try using a homemade instrument to make choices like the one below. Include the following note with the chart: “Hello, Jane. After our discussion, I thought about your concerns and prepared this little chart for you, hoping it might help you make your decision more easily. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.”

Section 2 of “Closing the Deal on Your Vacation Rental Like a Pro” continues below.

The Cantor, Michael
Expert in Public Relations.

Read also: Choosing a Florida Vacation Local rental