Profitability Strategy #1: Maximize the Value of Vacation Rental Leads
French writer Émile Zola once said, “If I cannot overwhelm with my quality, I will overwhelm with my quantity.” So often in hospitality this is the case—the desire for more leads rather than a higher quality of them—and it is a trend to which vacation rentals are especially prone. Both quantity and quality must be optimized for true success, but what matters perhaps more than quantity or quality is how leads are handled. Assuming that a balance of quality and quantity is in place, diligent and deft lead management results in a more profitable vacation rental operation.
The average vacation home renter will inquire at approximately seven different homes before booking. This hefty volume of inquiries, many incoming from listing sites, poses a spectrum of challenges for VRMC’s, from how to organize them to how to respond efficiently. Without tools and tactics for fielding listing leads, the inquiries can be lost or go stale.
According to the Harvard Business Review, following up on a lead within one hour increases the chances of earning a conversation by seven times. Tools such as NAVIS Narrowcast’s Listing Lead Management, which streamlines HomeAway and Flipkey leads into one lead management dashboard alongside other on- and offline inquiries, ensure that agents can prioritize and field inquiries with ease. Because the first to respond is often the rental to win the reservation, automated responses through Auto-Agent tools are built into the Narrowcast system, ensuring that VRMC’s, whose managers generally juggle multiple aspects of core operations simultaneously, are better able to compete for the business.
Further to increasing conversion potential, HomeAway finds that VRMC’s that outbound calls to inquiries have a significantly higher conversion rate. In addition to rapid email responses, following up quickly via the voice channel establishes a relationship with the prospect and builds trust, something many guests require more of when booking a vacation rental.
For most VRMC’s, this is where lead value is either established in a reservation or goes negative. Think of it this way: time invested in inquiries that go unbooked offers negative value, creating an expense that drags down the potential for the value of actual bookings. An outbound sales program keeps the value potential alive by continuing the conversation. The value is further enhanced when a recouped booking does not become a guest of the competition. In this case not only is first-time revenue earned, repeat guest potential increases.
Results from outbound sales vary depending on the level of investment; however, it is common for VRMC’s dedicated to a program to book from 25% to 40% of not booked leads. Revenue growth is accelerated, overall team performance improved, and contrary to the belief that outbound calls might feel intrusive, they actually enhance the guest experience by creating personalized, thoughtful outreach.