When do rental inquiries/reservations start trickling in?

Discussion in 'Rentals - Vacation' started by Mermaid, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    This is our first year renting our condo. For those of you with more experience under your belts, when do your rental inquiries and reservations start coming in? Do people tend to reserve months in advance, or is it typically closer to the time they intend to visit? Or a mix?

    On another train of thought--what do you do in the way of follow-up after someone's rented from you? A thank-you e-mail? Any follow-up a year later to encourage them to reserve again?
     
  2. Unplugged

    Unplugged Beach Fanatic

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    Inquiries really pick up after Jan 1st for Spring/ Summer. Pet owners seem to be the most organized planners from our experience. The majority of our guests inquire/ reserve 8 - 10 weeks out minimum, but it never ceases to amaze me the large # if folks who wait until the last minute to inquire, expecting to find vacancy! :confused:

    Thank you emails have worked great for encouraging repeat guests.
    _________________________________
     
  3. Wastin Away

    Wastin Away Beach Lover

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    You should start to see inquiries coming in now. My biggest time has been the first two weeks of February but this year I have had more than usual in January. Some people may wait until the last minute to see what the weather is going to do. I have found a company that offers rental insurance that I now give my guests. I can't do it through my rental but they can acquire it on their own. I have had guests go ahead and book with that piece of mind.

    I always have an email waiting on them once they arrive home. I ask them how their stay was, if the home had everything they needed, the cleaniness of the home, etc. I always get great ideas for things that they would love to see in our home and also the positives about our home. I have an email list of those guests who have stayed before, and those that have inquired but did not stay. I email a reminder letter that we are beginning our booking season and not to forget about our home.
     
  4. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    I don't own a beach rental, but if I did, I would be using the follow-up survey/email to gather useful input from my rentors as Wastin Away does. Also, I would lock in this years rates to that rentor if they wanted to rebook with me for next year withing two weeks of their previous stay. Some people vacation here more than once per year, and for anyone wanting to rebook within two weeks for a stay at a later time in the same year, I would offer them a discount (maybe 15%). Take care of your repeats, and word of mouth advertising will take care of itself.
     
  5. Wastin Away

    Wastin Away Beach Lover

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    SJ, I give a $100.00 discount each year someone stays with me and if they stay twice in one year they get the discount for the second stay. I have had some guests who are on their third year with me and are at $300.00. I also give a $75.00 referral fee is someone refers our home and that person books the home. It is good for any stay. Typically the guests just use it towards their stay coming up. It has really worked great.
     
  6. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    I think those are great ideas, but be careful with whom you share the info in bold. I think you could get into some problems with some peeps, no gov acencies mentioned as not to draw attention. ;-) I could be wrong, but be careful what you call it in a line item breakout.

    I, too, always take care of people with whom I do repeat business. It is my personal policy and keeps customers pleased and saying good things.
     
  7. Wastin Away

    Wastin Away Beach Lover

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    Thanks for the insight. I just call it discount on my rental agreements.
     
  8. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Mermaid: In my expeirence, spring/summer rentals start around Jan/Feb, though they aren't in full swing yet (at least not for me). I find that they pick up during weekends and Mondays after people have had a chance to talk to their families and friends. You may want to offer a discount to get people to your place initially and say that you are new owners.

    I often call our guests on their second day there to see if everything is going well. That way, I can hear first-hand if there are any problems so they can be fixed. (95% of the time they are very satisfied and appreciate the personal call and the rest of the time I can help them solve any problem they have or make it up to them in some way that they appreciate.) Also, I let them know that if they stay in our place again, we'd offer them a discount for future stays as a preferred guest (they would get last year's rates).

    I should start emailing guests to find out how their stay was -- that's a very good idea.
     
  9. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Sounds like you have been taking notes from Ritz Carlton. What a great proactive thing to do. Correct the problem before the rentor has a chance to be dissappointed, or at least make it up to them in a way they feel is fair. :clap_1: I have not heard of this being done, but I think it could make your place a notch above the norm.
     
  10. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks, SJ. I've heard that unsatisfied customers often don't complain to the owner, they just tell all their friends. They also tell their friends about their great experiences.

    I've also heard that if you have an unsatisfied customer and you fix the problem better than they expected, you can actually increase their loyalty because most people understand that "things happen" and it's how you handle it that will earn or break their trust.
     
  11. Lady D

    Lady D SoWal Insider

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    We have been regulars every year practically since 2000. We usually call and reserve our time in February for our visit which we usually make around Labor Day but we are shooting for earlier this year to try to beat the start of hurricane season. Hopefully that won't be bad for the area this year. We reserve our place early because we have to make arrangements at our favorite vet for boarding well in advance to be assured we get a run for our dog.
     
  12. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    Hooray! We're finally getting inquiries!!! I am so encouraged. In the last five days I've seen some good activity in my e-mail box. I've re-read this post and picked up tips which are so helpful!

    Now if I can only get people not to all want the same week. Isn't that funny how that works? So far we have only one week in May booked, and only this morning, someone asked about that very week and I had to turn them down. I did, however, tell them if they were flexible with dates, they could have the week before or after. See? I'm learning from Paula and Wastin Away how to practice good business! :clap_1:
     
  13. imasunbum

    imasunbum Beach Fanatic

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    Good for you Mermaid - This is my first full year renting and I got on line late last year - mid June - so all of my rentals were last minute, however, I did surprisingly well to have started so late. Inquiries have been really slow for me, but like you said, the funny thing is, everyone wants the same weeks. If you don't mind my asking, who do you have your rental listed with? Hopefully things will pick up for me.
     
  14. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    :oops:
    It's just within the last five days or so that the requests have started coming in--I guess because March is right around the corner and people are seeing light at the end of the winter tunnel? So far, I have 2 long weekends in April, a week in May, and half a week in October. That's it. I was so worried in January and most of February, however, that even this much seems like manna from heaven to me! I tell you, I have adjusted my sights big time. At first I thought for sure that the income from rentals would nearly cover the mortgage....now I'm looking at covering the HOA fees and electricity!!! Talk about a reality check for a newbie. :oops: I am grateful for crumbs at this point. :funn:

    Thus far, we are listed only on Kurt's websites (good job, Kurt!). Over the weekend we sent in registration for that new website, SeagroveByOwner. I had some correspondance with whosyourdaddy and he was so easy to deal with and very informative. So we're going to go with him to increase our visibility. When we get a check from our first April rental, we'll register with either VRBO or greatrentals (can you tell we're running hand-to-mouth these days?? :roll: ).

    I am honestly surprised at how time-consuming dealing with renters is. I had no idea how many questions people would ask!! One lady e-mailed me six times before reserving, and each e-mail had a new question. It's pretty interesting, actually. I'm going through a real learning curve here.
     
  15. Wastin Away

    Wastin Away Beach Lover

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    I remember when I first started doing the rentals on my own, it was scary but over time it becomes easier. You start to figure which inquires you should concentrate on and which ones have sent several inquiries out at once and are just shopping. We have only one home and it's amazing the time it takes once you speak to a potential guest, follow up with an email, then you begin the question and answer process, they decide to book your home, you send them a rental agreement, then the questions and answers start again because they now have their location, they want specifics. I have a file set up on my computer that I keep a copy of each correspondence I have with each quest and I can tell you I average around 6-10 before they even step foot into our home. It can def. be a full time job but a very rewarding one.
     
  16. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    I think you've hit the nail on the head! I'm glad you mentioned about keeping a file going. That's definitely a good idea, if only to send announcements for people to keep your rental in mind as they plan upcoming seasons. I'm trying to be helpful and informative to everyone--you never know when it will pay off for future bookings.
     
  17. Miss Kitty

    Miss Kitty Meow

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    :clap_1: Congrats Mermaid!!! Just make sure you leave some time in October open!
     
  18. STL Don

    STL Don Beach Fanatic

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    I thought that SJ says that October is the worst month down there :idontno:
     
  19. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    Have no fear--Merman and I will defintely save a week *or maybe more* in October. Gotta hang with the Kitty, you know. ;-)

    I have this is going to be somewhat of an on-going war between wanting to rent and wanting the time all for ourselves!!! The beach is a jealous mistress.
     
  20. Mermaid

    Mermaid picky

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    Yes, SJ DID say that, in hopes that everyone would believe him and stay away in October! He's a real sly character sometimes. You gotta watch him like a hawk. ;-)
     

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