Since launching my holiday rental in Palm Springs, I’ve learned a lot about how you can increase your holiday rental bookings, and I’d like to pass on some of that advice.
1. List on multiple platforms
In my experience, there’s really no downside to listing on multiple platforms. It helps your listing get seen by a lot more people. I realised that listing on Booking.com would help me reach more European travellers, something I struggle to do with other platforms. It was really easy to import my listing and add the photos and descriptions.
I have a property manager who manages my bookings, and there are lots of channel management software tools you can use to manage your listings and automate the process. Automatic calendar syncing is really helpful – it means you don’t need to worry about double bookings and you can see at a glance what bookings you have on each platform.
2. Invest in high quality photography
When it comes to attracting bookings, pictures have real power. Guests always pay more attention to photos of your rental property rather than the description, so it’s definitely worth pulling out all the stops to make sure your photography has the ‘wow’ factor. I would recommend looking for a good property photographer in your area, either on Instagram or via Facebook groups.
Once you’ve found your photographer, you want to pay attention to staging. For example, we took the time to set up some drinks on a table near the pool, and put our e-bikes in a really cool spot. There’s a current trend on Instagram where hosts are doing lifestyle shoots, hiring models or having their friends photographed enjoying the property. If your budget won’t stretch to that, you can still make sure you stage the house carefully, and have it professionally cleaned so it looks perfectly inviting.
Another big thing is waiting for the perfect time of day. The first time I had photos taken, it was in the middle of the day. But the second time, the photographer stayed to take advantage of different lighting moments and captured some beautiful ‘golden hour’ shots by the pool and hot tub, with the fire pit going and the landscape lights on. It looked magical.
When you upload the photos, make sure you showcase the most attractive features of the property first in your carousel. A friend pointed out that you couldn’t really tell my property had a hot tub unless you really scrolled through, so we made sure that photo showed up earlier in the order. When we upgraded our photography, we did see an increase in bookings compared to the previous year with the original photos.
3. Add new and unique amenities
To be successful with holiday rentals, it’s really all about the amenities. You want to add things that people don’t typically have at their own house, that make their stay extra fun. We added a projector so guests can watch a movie outside, and a hot tub to make it more enjoyable to spend time by the pool in the cooler winter evenings.
Our most popular addition was a couple of e-bikes. I really enjoy them, so I knew other people would too. Palm Springs is a small city with a lot of bike paths, so it’s a really great way for guests to get out and explore. And if they rented e-bikes it would cost around $100 an hour, so the fact we include them for free is a real value-add. Guests have specifically mentioned them in reviews, and it’s a good way to differentiate the property because not many people offer e-bikes.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on amenities, just think of little things that will make your guests’ experience extra special. Whether it’s a selection of board games, a set of pickleball paddles or an outdoor shower, if you can offer a unique amenity, it’s definitely going to help you get booked.
4. Lower your pricing occasionally
Another way to increase your bookings is to occasionally lower your pricing. In 2023, people weren’t spending as much on travel, so I had to be realistic and drop the price. I lowered my nightly rate by about $100 – which is less than a 20% decrease. So it really wasn’t a huge decrease and by the following week, I had 5-6 new bookings. So we ended up making more money even with a lower nightly rate because we got more bookings.
If you’re not getting many bookings, try lowering your price by 10 percent and see what happens. If nothing changes, maybe try lowering by another 10 percent. It can be confusing to calculate how much to lower your rates, so if you haven’t done it before and don’t know where to start, it’s worth looking at what discounting products are available to you or joining a loyalty scheme like Booking.com’s Genius programme. This loyalty programme is really popular with guests, so becoming a Genius partner can really help you finalise your discount strategy.
- Listing on multiple platforms helps your property reach a wider audience and can be easy to manage with channel management software and calendar syncing
- Professional photography can help attract more guests, particularly if your photos are staged well and taken at the optimal time of day
- Offering unique amenities that guests may not have at their own homes is a great way to stand out from the crowd
- Incorporating discounts strategically into your pricing strategy can help you secure more bookings