Managing Your Vacation Rental

Tips to convert last-minute inquiries to bookings

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
5/5 - (11 votes)

Updated May 2024

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!

Respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that vacationers are anxious to complete their plans. They may be corresponding with different owners and on more than one property. They may be trying to coordinate with family or friends. Or they simply need immediate gratification. Regardless, they expect their questions to be answered ASAP. 

You receive your inquiries via email. So, if it arrives at a busy time for you, you might email the vacationer right away anyway to let them know that you will be getting back to them very soon with a detailed response. Also, by enabling the Text Message Alert feature on your listing you will receive a text from us whenever you receive an email inquiry.   

Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call. Speaking with someone directly is a much more personal connection. In fact, a phone conversation may make the difference between a vacationer booking your home over someone else’s with whom they have only communicated by email. Most vacationers include their phone number with their email inquiry. Speaking with the vacationer will help build a personal connection and establish trust. It will also help both you and the prospective guests determine if your home is a good fit for them. (Read our previous blog post about the Value of personalizing your rental business.) 

Don’t be afraid to be pro-active.

If you still haven’t heard 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 can then focus on the next vacationer. 

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 lessPerhaps your home is a little nicer or the location a little better, but the vacationers might care more about saving some money. 

Promote a special offer.

An added benefit of offering a price reduction or last-minute deal 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. Additional exposure has proven to boost inquiries by 60%! (See our post about using special offers to draw attention to your listing.)

Consider reducing your minimum stay requirement.

In recent years, we’ve noticed a growing demand from vacationers for shorter term rentals. If you can provide flexibility and shorter stays, you may end up filling your remaining vacancies. Naturally, this requires additional turnovers and the added time and effort of processing more bookings. On the positive side, vacationers are prepared to pay more per night for shorter stays of two or three nights.

Is your listing up to snuff?

Make sure your listing is as effective as possible to help bring you inquiries and bookings any time of year. Are your pictures large, horizontal, and good quality? Do you have plenty of recent guest reviews? Is your calendar’s date stamp current, assuring vacationers that the availability of your home is accurate? Is your listing’s Title and Property Description detailed, informative, and inviting? Is the pin on your listing’s Google Map 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 managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.

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!