In many ways, we are Vacation Rental Shopkeepers. The best shopkeepers understand their customer’s needs to be more profitable. What are customers looking for? When do they shop? Are enough customers coming to my shop? These insights can make every shopkeeper more money. Fortunately, finding these answers for your Vacation Rental “shop” isn’t difficult, it just requires dedication to track basic data. Let’s tackle each of these questions in order.
What are guests looking for?
There are a multitude of answers to this question, but for our purposes in this post we will focus on vacation timing. What timeframes are the most sought after in your vacation area? The peak season is typically clear, but many vacation areas are popular in non-peak timeframes which can result in big opportunities for owners. Many prospective guests are looking for a good deal and non-peak rates can provide just that.
The Vacation Rental Goldmine Dashboard for one of my properties shows the most requested vacation timeframes. The blue bars are the number of inquiries received in each month. The orange bars are the number of inquiries requesting vacation time in that month. This graph tells you a lot about when guests are shopping and what timeframes are in high demand. All of this is computed automatically in the dashboard.
This is a summer peak season property and requests for that timeframe is low. Basically, guests were snapping up those weeks early so there weren’t many inquiries. On each side of the summer, inquiry volumes were higher. The minimum rental goes to three days in those seasons so that’s a factor. What’s most telling here is how popular the fall is. That’s 23 inquiries for the fall months. This data may be telling you that the demand in this season can support higher pricing. Those 23 inquires converted into 15 bookings. This data illustrates the potential in the spring and fall with lots of inquiries in the early months of the year.
Track this type of data to know the highest demand timeframes in your area and get the greatest possible return during those months.
When do guests shop?
Knowing when guests tend to shop in your vacation area can be highly informative for pricing adjustments. This is especially true of rate increases.
Consider the Goldmine Dashboard data below from the same property.
It’s easy to see a steady view volume in the first part of the year, and then an explosion of views in the summer. The data tells you that you can experiment with higher pricing in the peak season– book up the summer too early and you may miss the rush of shopping guests. There is plenty of time to reduce rates for unbooked weeks. Set your pricing higher early in the booking season and monitor performance for any adjustments that may be needed through the spring months into summer. The viewing volume is there throughout to get the bookings you need and likely the most money.
Are enough customers coming to my shop?
A shopkeeper with too few customers will suffer financially. Similarly, make sure you are getting enough listing views to achieve your booking and profitability goals. The best way to do this is to measure how many views you need for a booking. It’s also useful to monitor views to inquiry and inquiry to booking measures. Views to inquiry tracking helps you make sure you are capturing guest’s interest with your listing. Inquiry to booking is about converting that guest interest into a booking.
The Goldmine Dashboard tracks each of the above metrics automatically. Consider the actual views per booking data for the same property.
While this data is very useful, it needs interpretation. Before panic set in, I figured out the tall summer bars really just showed many prospective guests viewing a fully booked calendar. It’s much more informative to view the other months when bookings were actually occurring. On average, I needed about 250-300 listing views per booking. Each property is different, but a general idea of this measure allows you to estimate how many views you need to meet your booking goals. If you find you need more views, investigate a higher listing tier to get more volume. If you are already top tier on a major listing service, consider adding another listing site to get the volume you need.
With basic guest shopping and booking data, you can assess whether you are getting enough listing visibility to reach your profitability goals. Understanding guest shopping trends also helps you set pricing to get maximum income from your bookings. The Vacation Rental Goldmine Dashboard tracks these metrics automatically with basic entry of booking, inquiry, and web data. Use these insights to get every dollar possible from your vacation rental “shop”.