Websites and Online Booking Blog Posts

Track Online Advertising with Facebook on Your Vacation Rental Desk Website

If online advertising is the next step for your vacation rental business, you'll want to be able to track that investment directly on your website. We make it easy by giving you a one-step integration process so you can track how people are using your website.

What is Facebook Advertising?

Much like Google, Facebook offers paid advertising to its vast network of people who use the platform. In the same way that you can track page views, interactions, and other relevant data on your website through Google Analytics, Facebook uses their own tool called a Pixel to track specific events on your website that can help you decide how to best spend your advertising dollars. 

Your Facebook Pixel sends a small message to Facebook every time someone interacts with your website. With the Pixel installed, you can see who's viewing your website content, such as looking at your rental photos, or who's checking specific dates on your availability calendar. More importantly, you can track online bookings through your Pixel to determine how well your ads are performing and track your business growth.

Tracking Your Inquiries

Both Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are supported through your Vacation Rental Desk website. With one easy step, you can track data on every page of your website, including page views, email inquiries, and rental bookings. 

After creating your Facebook Pixel for your rental, simply copy the tracking ID code and enter it into the Facebook Pixel box in your Member Dashboard under Settings » Website & Photos » Web Tracking Codes. Once you've integrated your code, go back to your Facebook Pixel and see that the status is now "Active." As Facebook begins gathering data from your website, you'll start to see Pixel Traffic displayed on your Ads Manager dashboard as well as data for what people are doing on your website.

Create Your Ad Campaign

With the Facebook Pixel set up on your website, you can start creating ads that market your rental to relevant audiences on Facebook. These ads can target multiple specific actions such as website clicks or bookings, also known as conversions.

Set a daily budget for as little as $5 a day to put your rental in front of Facebook users who fit your targeted audience, thereby spending your advertising dollar where it's more likely to reach users who are interested in checking out your rental.

Evaluating Your Return on Investment

After you run your first ad campaign, you'll be able to evaluate your return on investment (ROI) to see if your spending sustainably leads to increased bookings and more revenue. 

Try a cost per conversion calculation to determine how much each conversion actually costs. This way, you can determine if your business can afford to advertise at your current cost per conversion rate or if you need to adjust any factors of your ad (audience, content, run time) to try to get more conversions for less investment.

Even more, a return on investment calculation can show you how well your ads are working to increase your overall revenue. To do this calculation, you'll first need to determine your average reservation amount, for example, $1,500. Your average reservation amount can be found by running a Reservation Income Report for the property on the Reports tab of your Member Dashboard. This will clearly show how much increased revenue your business has seen because of ad campaigns. 

Go a step further and adjust your profit calculation based on your own rental expenses to see your actual profit for your rental. Do this by first determining your profit per reservation after your own rental expenses, and then subtracting your cost per conversion.

Often, it takes time to figure out which ads work best with your business, so try a couple different types of ads with different audiences before evaluating your overall ROI.

Start Advertising Online with Facebook

Many vacation rental owners and managers have found success with Facebook advertising, so if you're looking to try your hand at paid online advertising, or if you're just not seeing enough return on your Google Ads, try creating a Facebook Pixel and setting up a few ads to reach a whole new audience of potential guests.

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Why Recent Industry Changes Show Having Your Own Website is a Necessity

The vacation rental industry is changing rapidly, due in part to a controversial booking fee added to bookings this February by industry listing leader VRBO, a component of HomeAway. The booking fee, which charges guests up to 9% of the rental amount, has caused outrage among owners and guests, many of whom are already noting a significant decrease in bookings since the implementation of the service fee.

VRBO's decision to charge a service fee highlights an underlying and previously unaddressed issue between vacation rental owners and their listing sites: relying on a third-party listing site to run one's online business is a risk. Now is a better time than ever to revise this unpredictable business model in favor of one with more autonomy, opportunity, and security. Vacation rental owners and managers should consider building their online business around their vacation rental, their product and main source of profit, by creating a website with integrated booking and management to run their business the way they want to.

There are so many reasons why it's important to have a website for a vacation rental business.

It's your website

Creating your own website gives you full control over your business by sharing only the content you want with guests. You set your own rates, booking policies, what types of payment you're willing to accept, and retain the ability to screen guests at your leisure. Your website and domain name are entirely yours, unlike a listing site, which shows other competitive rentals in your area as an option to guests.

It's a home base

Listing a rental on third-party sites can increase the number of guests seeing your rental in searches; however, it's not a replacement for having an independent website for your online business. Your website is a home base for guests to land on for more information and to book through you directly. Guests can arrive to your website from a variety of sources including social media, organic web searches, paid advertising, links from other websites and inside emails, or just by typing your domain name directly into their browser.

It's more cost effective for guests and owners alike

By having guests book directly through your website, there are no booking fees charged to you or your guests. Instead of sending new or repeat guests to book your property through your paid listing, you can send them directly to your website.

It's secure for your guests

Guests want to know that your listing is legitimate. By providing a website where guests can learn more, see additional photos, read reviews, and book securely online, you also bolster the integrity of your business and have a better chance of securing a reservation.

It's better for business

The VRBO service fee is a perfect example: if something drastic changes in the vacation rental industry, your business will be secure if you've built your model around your website instead of someone else's. Having a website run entirely by you ensures that you have total control over your business no matter what happens.

Vacation Rental Desk's all-in-one website builder and booking management software allows you to take control of your business and secure the bookings your rental is worthy of.

With its industry-leading software, Vacation Rental Desk can help you transform your business into its most profitable version yet. Read more about our easy-to-use tools on our website, and sign up today to create your own website and build your business model around your vacation rental.

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The Importance of Taking and Publishing Guest Reviews

Vacation Rental Desk's professional websites come with a guestbook so you can share positive guest reviews and past experiences directly on your site. After a stay at your vacation rental, guests have the opportunity to write a review about their experience. 

Credibility & Guest Assurance

Guest reviews help bolster your rental's legitimacy in the online sphere and add credibility to the amenities and features you share on your website.

Many consumers today say they wouldn't purchase a product without first doing some research and reading the reviews. The same goes for vacation rentals! 

Think of it like Amazon: the online retailer is widely known for providing extensive reviews for all products sold on their site. Would you buy an expensive new blender on Amazon without first reading the product reviews? Probably not! Provide your guests with the same kind of autonomy and security by publishing guest reviews on your website. A guest will feel more comfortable 

Where To Post Guest Reviews

You can find the Guestbook under the Settings >> Website tab of your Member Dashboard.

Also, make sure to mark orders as "Closed" after the guest checks out. Doing so will send the automated "Check-out Email" to guests with a link to post their own reviews.

If you've never taken reviews before in your vacation rental business, consider going through past orders and sending out review requests to previous guests. To do this, open an order and click "Email Guest," then choose "Guest Review Request."

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How to Customize Rates and Fees to Maximize Your Rental Income

Vacation Rental Desk's software allows you to do more than just set daily and weekly rates for your vacation rental. With our booking calendar software, you can completely customize your rates and fees to generate more rental income.

Charging special rates for peak seasons and slow periods

Many factors contribute to peak seasons and slow periods in your vacation rental business. If you own a mountain cabin where it snows, chances are your peak season is in the winter when skiiers and snowboarders come to relax and have fun. Although your winter rates may span from November to March, what do you do if you want to charge peak rates for the months of December and January? Rate Windows allow you to override your standard daily and weekly rates for an entire date range. 

Creating a Rate Window for December and January

In just a few clicks you've created special pricing for two entire months. The new rate window can be seen on the calendar tab in green.

You can even place a surcharge on a date within a Rate Window, such as adding a $100 surcharge on Christmas Day within your peak season rate.

Setting surcharges for holidays or high-demand events in your area

You can set special rates for individual dates by placing surcharges on them.

To place a surcharge on a date, sign-in and click the Calendar tab, and change the drop down menu from "Show Reservations" to "Show Rates" (on the top of the calendar). Next, enter the amount of the surcharge and a name for the date.

Placing a $100 surcharge on Christmas Day

The surcharge will be added to default pricing for the date. Holiday rates will be shown on the Calendar tab in yellow.

Adding special service fees

You can create custom service fees for any service your vacation rental requires. Tax can be charged on service fees, they can be marked as optional or required, and they can have preset charge intervals so that a fee is charged daily, weekly, or every X days in a reservation (great for cleaning services that need to be performed on a routine basis).

Just click the Settings tab and navigation to Rates, Fees & Taxes » Order Options, and click "Create New Service Fee".

Creating a $50 Cleaning Fee

Setting a sliding scale rate pattern

Is the beginning of your week difficult to book? Many rental owners and managers find that Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are typically the slowest days for vacation rentals.

Here are some suggestions for increasing your bookings on these days:

  1. Try a sliding scale pattern for your daily rates. Offer lower rates for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and charge more for Thursdays and Sundays with peak rates on Fridays and Saturdays.
  2. Try setting a 5-night or 6-night minimum for bookings.
  3. Offer coupons for week-long stays or to encourage longer stays in general by setting nightly minimums on coupons.
  4. "Local" destinations, such as Big Bear Lake for Southern California residents, will typically experience more open Mondays through Wednesdays because most people visit for the weekend or for just a couple days at a time. Travel destinations which require jumping on a plane or a long drive should have much higher occupancy rates. Exceptions are for some lake destinations like Lake Martin, AL, or Newport Beach, CA for example during summer seasons are fully booked during the entire season due to limited capacity on the waterfront.

Date groups policy

By popular demand, we've added a date group feature to our booking calendar. Owners and managers can now lock-in reservations for holiday or event rate windows.

Date Groups allow you to specify a block of dates that must be booked together when a guest makes a reservation. For example, you probably do not want a guest to book Christmas Eve but check-out on Christmas Day. To take full advantage of your rental's income potential, you can create a create a Date Group for 12/24-12/25 so that the nights of both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day must be reserved together. This works equally well for local events, and holidays that shift around on the Calendar, such as Memorial Day. Date Groups can be found under the Settings tab in Rates, Fees & Taxes » Date Groups, and click "Create New Date Group".

Restricted check-ins and check-outs

Also, owners and managers can set specific requirements for Check-ins and Check-outs by days of the week. To increase revenue during peak seasons (or for any other reason), you can now control which days of the week guests can check-in and check-out on. You can find this feature in the Settings » Booking Policy section of our Member Dashboard.

Learn More

You can learn more about the features described here by reading the "Rate Windows" Quick e-Learning Guide, available from the help section of your Vacation Rental Desk.

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Promoting Your Rental with Booking Coupons

Online Booking Coupons are a great way to attract new guests, encourage repeat guests, increase referrals, and fill up slow seasonal periods. 

Coupons come in three varieties, each offering a different redeemable amount, including:

Fixed Amount

40% Vacation Rental Desk users offer this type of coupon for their rentals. The average coupon amount ranges from $99-200.

Percentage

Over 50% of all coupons created on Vacation Rental Desk use a percentage discount, and they usually fall between 10-25%.

Free Night

6% of users implement this type of coupon, but it has the potential to be highly effective if used to fill a minimum stay requirement.

Booking Coupons for your vacation rental work the same way as other coupons do online at stores: Guests simply enter a code while booking online to get an instant discount at check-out.

Restrictions can be placed on Booking Coupons, including expiration dates and valid date intervals (for promoting seasonal periods).

How to Create a Booking Coupon

  1. Sign-in to your account, click the "Settings Tab", click "Coupons" and then click "Create New Coupon".
  2. Fill in the coupon name, the redeemable code (a 4-10 digit code with no spaces), and the other coupon requirements as shown below.
  3. Set the expiration date or valid date interval if desired.
  4. Advertise the coupon through social media, your website's blog, email, direct mailing, magazines, newspapers, and flyers. There's no limit to how and where you can promote your coupons!



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