Dates of rental, and dates and amounts of payments
Terms and conditions of use including our cancellation policy
Guest information, including name, address, vehicle license numbers
In this post I'll share a copy of our blank vacation rental agreement and explain it section by section. If you only read one section, then concentrate on the cancellation policy and the references to trip insurance.
Page 1 - Dates of rental, and dates and amounts of payments
Offer Expiration Date
It's important to spell out the date by which the contract must be signed and payment received in order for a reservation to occur. You don't want to be left waiting for several days for a commitment from a person who tells you he wishes to book, book the same dates to another party, and then find out the first person has assumed he still has a claim on those dates. It is up to you how long you are willing to "hold" dates on your calendar while waiting for a signed contract and payment; but without these, there is nothing to keep a person from backing out - perhaps after you have already turned away several others also interested in those same dates. We rarely hold dates for longer than 24 hours, and will continue to respond to inquiries for those dates until we have received both payment and a signed contract, especially during our high season. To make this clear, we spell out a date by which the offer expires right at the top of our agreement.
Search results have become a nightmare. Saturated with an overload of properties to compete with, it's become so easy to get lost in all the noise.
Some properties are professionally managed, others not.
Some are luxury, and some are bargains.
Some look beautiful, and some, well, look like crap.
Some look great but turn out to be completely misleading because the management is lazy and/or absent.
And some even turn out to be fake! Scams posted to lure people into paying for a trip, only to arrive at their destination with the surprise that property doesn't even exist!
All of this to say that travellers have begun to dig a lot deeper when researching vacation rentals. And they now hold owners & managers to much higher standards than they used to.
As a result, vacation rental marketing has become a lot more sophisticated than it was even just a few years ago. - A factor way too many owners tend to overlook.
And despite the HUGE and yet very common misconception, successful vacation rental marketing is a whole lot more than choosing which websites to list on. - So if you're hoping that your calendars are going to start filling up again by finding some new miracle site that's going to replace all those bookings you're loosing, you've got another thing coming!
It’s all relative.
Typically, the amount a business invests into its marketing is directly related to the amount of revenue that it will generate.
i.e. Spend more ⬌ make more ✔ Spend less ⬌ make less…
And your vacation rental business is no different.
So, if you’re not able (or willing) to invest the money it takes, then you need to understand that your chances of achieving long-term success in this industry will unfortunately be slim to none.
Don’t shoot the messenger! We’re only here to help.
Ultimately, the choice is really up to you.
As of Monday afternoon, the downtown scene–particularly Front and Water streets–had bumped up from below the top 10 to the third spot, edging out in the process some hip and sought-after locales like the French Quarter of New Orleans and the Meatpacking District of New York City in the list of 20 nominees for the hottest spot to take in open-air dining. The French Quarter and Meatpacking District were at 12 and 7, respectively, on the list.
The poll comes from USA Today’s 10best.com, the same site where Wilmington found itself the top winner in the “Best American Riverfront” list last year.
For this most recent poll, 10best.com teamed up with “traveling foodies” to compile the list of 20, which also includes Georgetown and Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., Peachtree Road in Atlanta and Chicago’s Riverwalk area.
“Many of the restaurants here do double duty and offer outside seating both on the sidewalk along Front Street and out back on patios overlooking the river,” the website wrote of downtown Wilmington’s outdoor food offerings.
The site gave a nod specifically to Reel Cafe as a “triple threat,” with its added rooftop option, and noted the “beach town weather” as being ideal, almost year-round, for taking in lunch and dinner outside.
Voting continues through 11:59 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 17. Click here to cast a vote and to read descriptions of each of the finalists.
Evaluate and Understand Potential Risks
Outlining and covering your potential risks as a vacation home owner is the first step in successfully managing your rental. Small business owners take time to understand possible causes for profit loss, and find practical solutions to cover each. List your concerns first then pair each with a measure of prevention. Whether these prevention measures include contract modifications, additional security, or specialty insurance, take time to research your options and find those with the highest potential for reducing risks.
Invest in Security
Speaking of security, ensuring the safety of your customers will be critical. This holds true in every industry, however, it is especially important for consumers within the hospitality industry. Many home owners fail to see the importance of a home security system. You may hold this personal preference when it comes to your home, but you shouldn’t treat your rental like your home. It’s your business. Investing in a business security system will help you provide the reassurance your guests need to enjoy a comfortable and safe stay. It will also help you protect your profits from break-ins and potentially dishonest guests.
Think of the Consumers’ Needs Before They Do
Successful business owners are constantly thinking of ways they can further improve their product/service to better meet their consumers’ unique needs. Think like your consumer to get a better idea of what they will want and need during their stay at your rental. Think of the things you appreciate having during an out of town stay, and make these available to guests of your rental. Also understand your area and provide information and materials that stand to benefit visitors. Examples of this could include providing bottled water for vacation rentals located in warm climates like Las Vegas or Phoenix, or offering hot chocolate for winter travelers in Park City or Denver. The FlipKey vacation inspiration page could serve as a useful tool here to get ideas from travel guides and “best of…” galleries.
I've personally seen and achieved a lot of success in business through aberrant partnerships and I often ponder how such a partnership might benefit our growing industry. Take Target's designer collaborations, for example (with the likes of Nieman Marcus and Jason Wu). Each collaborator understands what the other partner offers, how they are different, and how they can benefit each other. The goal is not to become the other.
Vacation rentals are distinguished by their unique brands and authentic experiences. What they lack is industry-wide guest service standards and independent brand awareness.
Even with great efforts to overcome these challenges by industry stalwarts, it is impossible for every owner/manager to create a brand presence that precedes them, as hotels do, simply due to the marketing expenses and execution time. It is particularly hard for new vacation rental owners. Often working families, they don't have time to read every new post on LinkedIn and follow vacation rental blogs, let alone build and manage an independent website to build their brand.
But they do have a vision. Most have created a high quality experience with amazing guest service and are taking one step at a time towards running their business as a full-time career.
One Way Vacation Rentals and Hotels Could Partner
A recent trend I've been noticing across a host of different vacation rental sites is the use of stamps of approval. A stamp of approval can certainly add some credibility but do guests really know what these mean and how it may add to the vacation rental standard and experience?
Guests know hotel brands and their standards (by way of millions spent each year in advertising), the biggest area of uncertainty for vacation rentals guests.
According to Oracle, 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience. If newbies (or vacation rentals in general) were able to get a “brand stamp of approval" from a relevant boutique hotel, would they see an increase in conversion, retention, and rates based on the perception of a more dialed experience?
At the same time could hotels also benefit by driving much needed patronage to their ancillary revenue centers (restaurants, spas, shops and activity spots) through recommendations from partnered vacation home owner(s)?
Ability to generate monthly income. Assuming you have good, honest, bill-paying tenants, you can count on a steady source of monthly income.
Free equity. Ideally, your tenants will be paying your mortgage, while you get to sit back and watch your equity rise.
Less opportunity for increased profit. Because long term leases generally last 6, 9 or 12 months, you’ll have less ability charge higher rates more frequently.
More instances of dealing with unpleasant tenants. With long term renters, you’re more likely to be forced to deal with troublemakers, hoarders and late payers. At least with short term rentals, the rotten apples will soon leave the cart.
Short Term Rentals
Quicker source of income. Do a little math. Renting out your luxury beach condo for $1600/week is much more profitable than $1,600/month. However, most people won’t want to pay a short term price on a long-term rental, so you would probably have to accept less than $1600/month, yet still make enough to cover your mortgage payment.
Flexibility. If you own a rental property in a seasonal area, you may decide to rent it out in short term arrangements during peak months and accept long term leases for the off season.
Second home or vacation home opportunity. When vacant, you’re free to use your property or let friends and family members use it.
Preservation. Because short term renters won’t be hanging art on the walls or crack the door frame moving in furniture, your property will probably maintain a good condition for a long time.
Tax Breaks. Short term rental property owners may be able to deduct all sorts of property-related costs like advertising, operating or even educational costs (i.e., attending a seminar on investment property ownership).
Review site TripAdvisor has released the winners of its 2015 Travelers’ Choice awards. Under the attractions section, the Fort Fisher location came in at No. 16 on the list of best aquariums in the United States. It’s also rated the No. 1 attraction in Kure Beach.
Visitors that left reviews raved about the amount and quality of attractions for a smaller facility. Many also liked the local focus on the Cape Fear region. Highlights of the aquarium include an albino alligator named Luna and the only spotted eagle ray on exhibit in North Carolina.
The full list of 25 aquariums can be found here. More information on the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is available here.
There are several ways to market your vacation home in order to gain exposure and start getting bookings. Read on to learn about a few.
Five Ways to Market Your Vacation Rentals to Attract Bookings
1. Property Manager:
Any property manager worth his salt should be able to provide you with bookings and quite a few of them. Make sure when you are interviewing property managers to ask them about their bookings, and make sure they are not promising to fill your house up just during high season. You need bookings year round. I would suggest that a vacation homeowner should look at the property management bookings as their base.
2. Online Vacation Home Sites:
There are a lot of them out there, but the two most popular are VRBO and HomeAway. Here are a couple of things you need to keep in mind before you pay them $300 to $800 a year to sign up.
Do you have the time to answer calls and/or emails during the day about your vacation home? If you do then these sites can net quite a bit of revenue over the course of a year; however, if you can only take calls or respond to emails after 5 p.m., then more than likely you are going to lose out on the majority of the bookings.
When a person calls at 1:00 p.m. about your vacation home and leaves you a message, they will call another owner if you do not get back to them right away.
Are you organized and have a follow-up system in place? Please note, many guests will call and ask you a lot of questions about your house, and then they will promise to put their deposit check in the mail to you that day. You will be left to find out in a week or so that they actually never sent the check.
Sometimes it is very frustrating managing the bookings of your own vacation home. You need to be very organized to make sure you do not double book your house and that you have a follow-up system in place to make sure you capitalize on all the inquiries on your vacation home.
New paint is one of the most affordable and accessible makeovers, and has the added benefit of being an extremely satisfying project. Once you decide what kind of ambiance you want to create in your vacation rental, it's just a matter of picking a color palette. Check out our choices to make the most of your makeover.
1. Cozy Up That Cabin
People looking for a cabin rental are usually looking for a rustic retreat that doesn't feel too rustic. Wrap guests in warmth with the right color and texture. You'll be looking at darker palettes, but the trick is to think more in terms of rich and warm than cool and dark colors. Chocolate browns, sage greens, and rusty reds are great colors that bring warmth to your space.
You don't have to replace the furniture or flooring—start with the paint and add area rugs, new bedding, and throw pillows for the sofa. Look for classic prints like tartan plaids, paisleys—even patterns from the Old West. For the most impact, keep focal points like the fireplace dark and dramatic, while contrasting trim and moldings in shades of white.
Are you looking for someone to manage your vacation rental?
Victory Beach Vacation Rental Management is a company known for the superior management of vacation rentals in the Carolina Beach and Kure Beach area. When using Victory Beach Vacations as your vacation rental management company, you will benefit from large gross and net income numbers from your property! Your property will be professionally marketed and reach a massive audience of potential renters.
Victory Beach Vacations shows up on the first page of Google for almost all searches and uses third party sites like VRBO.com, vacationrentals.com, and a1vacations.com to attract potential customers. Victory Beach Vacations has an enormous following of nearly 7,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 1,300 followers on Google+. Leave your vacation rental in the pro's hands and reap the rewards of having your rental taken care of and rented out consistently!
Carolina Beach, NC is located 14 miles SE of Wilmington, North Carolina (center to center). The town is part of New Hanover County. The population of Carolina Beach is 5,883. The beach is quiet and peaceful and not crowded... yet! During your stay in Carolina Beach, you can visit the Carolina Beach State Park and stay in one of the many vacation rentals or hotels on the Island. You can also enjoy fishing and boating in the Ocean or at the North End. If you are searching for nightlife - you won't be disappointed! Just to name a few, The Fat Pelican, High Tide Lounge, and The Lazy Pirate are sure to keep you entertained! The town also has several houses of worship including the First Baptist Church of CB, CB Presbyterian Church. Seaside Chapel, and St. Paul's United Methodist Church. From fresh seafood to a burger at the Ocean Grille and Tiki Bar, you are sure to enjoy your time at Carolina Beach!
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Kure Beach, NC is located only 3 miles south of Carolina Beach, North Carolina (center to center), basically merging together. The town is part of New Hanover County. The population of Kure Beach is 2,063. Kure Beach is sometimes referred to as a "sleepy beach town" that is growing in popularity and price! While there is a permanent population of approximately 1,500 residents, the town still functions like any normal town with municipal services and fire protection. The town features a few restaurants, but no commercial entertainment... it's the perfect place to get-away ... or stay if you love the slow pace of life! Kure Beach doesn't have the option to expand as it is completely surrounded with the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and Historic Site, US Government owns the west side, Carolina Beach borders the north, and of course the beautiful Atlantic Ocean forms the east border.