Managing Your Vacation Rental

Tips to convert last-minute inquiries to bookings

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
Tips to convert last-minute inquiries to bookings
11 5

Anyone who still has availability late in the booking season is usually anxious to do what they can to fill the remaining vacancies.

Time is of the essence

Get back to inquiries just as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that vacationers are anxious to make their last-minute decisions – they want immediate gratification, their questions answered ASAP.

So, pick up the phone and call them!

Calling is quicker than emailing – and it also makes a much more personal connection, which is very valuable. In fact, that brief phone connection may make the difference between them booking your home over someone else’s with whom they have only communicated by email.  When speaking with the vacationer, try to ask subtle questions in order to create that personal connection. (Read our previous blog post about the Value of personalizing your rental business.)

And if you haven’t enabled the Text Message Alert feature on your listing, do so in order to receive those inquiries that much sooner.

Don’t be afraid to be pro-active.

If you still don’t hear back from a vacationer after responding to an inquiry – go ahead and follow up with them. What have you got to lose? Even if they’ve made other plans, at least you’ll know and possibly even might learn why.

Provide incentive.

Naturally, if you can offer a little something to sweeten the pot, that helps. If your listing is getting a lot of visibility (hits/views) and inquiries, but no one is committing, that’s usually an indication that they have found something comparable for less.  Perhaps your home is a little nicer or the location a little better, but the vacationers might care more about saving some money. Don’t you want to get some rental income, even if it’s considerably reduced, than none at all?

Promote your last-minute offer.

An added benefit of offering a price reduction or other special offer is that it enables you to leverage it to attract more attention to your listing. Post a free Owner Special highlighting your offer. Or purchase a Last-minute Availability Alert to be included in our Last-minute Availability and Deals directory. (See our post about using special offers to draw attention to your listing.)

Consider reducing your minimum stay requirement

Unfortunately, there is a growing demand from vacationers for shorter rentals.  If you can possibly provide flexibility and shorter stays, you may be able to end up filling your remaining vacancies with enough shorter rentals to bring in close to the same amount of revenue as weekly ones.  Naturally, this requires additional turnovers and the added time and effort of processing more bookings. But relaxing your minimum stay requirement will certainly increase your listing’s exposure and enable you to at least bring in some revenue for those last-minute vacancies.

Is your listing up to snuff?

Making sure your listing is as effective as possible helps bring you inquiries and bookings at ANY time of year. Are your pictures all large and good quality? Do you have plenty of guest reviews, at least a couple from each season? Is your calendar’s date stamp current, assuring vacationers that it won’t be a waste of their time inquiring because your availability information may not be accurate? Is your listing’s Title and Property Description descriptive, informative, and inviting? Is the pin on your listing’s Google Map placed where it should be?

Read more about marketing advice in our blog series, The Ideal Listing.

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and have managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family since the 1920’s. An enthusiastic member of the Homeowner Support Team, I am particularly involved with our new listers, providing assistance with the sign-up process and advice about how to create the most effective listing to ensure their booking success with us. And, with owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the content on our website, our monthly newsletters, and the blog posts. Email Elizabeth

1 Comment

  • Hi Elizabeth,

    I definitely agree with calling prospects back. When someone is trying to get info on vacation properties, usually he or she will send out dozens of requests, and will get dozens of responses via email. Most people will not call back either because they are lazy and will just send a pre written response, or they are afraid of talking to strangers. Because of that, you will be among the very few who will call back. And that is a tremendous marketing advantage to make your vacation property stand out!