Having a spacious, updated, competitively priced vacation home may only get you so far if you're aiming to attract renters in a popular corner of the country. That's why it could pay to focus your efforts on repeat renters.
Repeat business is important for a number of reasons. First, it keeps that rental income flowing. Secondly, it protects you from some of the unknowns that come with renting to people who have never stayed in your home before. And if you're willing to make a modest effort, you could find yourself with a long list of repeat renters during your home's prime season. Here's how to pull that off.
1. Have a welcome gift waiting at the property
Setting out a gift to welcome your guests is a great way to show how much you appreciate their business, and that gift could correspond to the reason vacationers tend to flock to your neck of the woods. If your home is near lots of wineries, leave a bottle of local wine in the fridge. If it's near a beach, include a complimentary bottle of sunscreen. And if you're ski lodge-adjacent, some gourmet hot chocolate could go a long way.
2. Be very responsive
Chances are, your renters will have questions about your property before and during their stay, and the more quickly you respond to them, the more appreciative they're apt to be. An even better bet? Make your phone number available to guests during their stay. If you're worried about spam calls or having your phone ring at all hours, Google Voice has a free phone-screening service you can use with your existing number.
3. Send renters a thank-you note after their stay
Many landlords have a boilerplate email template they use to thank renters after they've completed their stay. An even better move? Send a handwritten thank-you to the mailing address you have on file for each renter. That personal touch could really make a difference.
4. Offer return guests a discount
Nothing shows your guests you appreciate their business like a financial incentive to come back for another stay. Figure out a price point that makes sense for you, and let previous renters know that as a thank-you, they're invited back at a certain percentage off your regular rate.
5. Start a referral program
Many small businesses run on referral programs, and as a landlord looking to attract repeat renters, you may have similar luck. The concept is simple: When a former guest recommends your home and that endorsement results in someone new booking it, that former guest gets a discount on his or her next stay. It's a great way to incentivize satisfied renters to talk up your home -- and help it stand out.
Another option? Offer a free night's stay to former renters for every two weekends booked by referrals. Play around with different rewards, and see what works best for you.
Cash in with repeat renters
When you own a vacation property, repeat business can be a goldmine. Make these simple moves, and you could be looking at a host of repeat bookings that put more money in your pocket.