Recently my fiance and I moved back into our home in Charlottesville, VA and ever since we got back we have been renting our house out through the site. This is great because aside from generating revenue, I actually get to use the service CollegeWeekends.com provides which helps me come up with new ideas to improve the service as well as new ideas to share with you guys about owning and operating a vacation rental.
When we first got our house back up on the site we were getting a bunch of inquiries, but very few actual bookings. This went on for at least two months before I decided to consult with some our clients to get a better idea of what their conversion rate was like. I discovered that I was not doing as well as most or seasoned veterans on our site so I started tinkering with my listing in order to try to boost my stats. The first thing I did was drop my peak and standard rates by $25 bucks a night. This helped a little bit but was still not the solution I was looking for.
In looking back at all of the inquiries I was getting I realized that most of the inquires that I was getting that were not leading to bookings were for the big weekends this spring like Graduation and Reunions weekend. On these weekends I was charging the peak rate which at the time was double what my standard rate was. I decided to bump my standard rate back up to the original price and knock my peak rate price down by $50 per night. The results from this little tweak have been overwhelming. I think people felt like they were being gouged when they saw that the peak rates were almost twice as much as standard rates.
There are two lessons to be learned here. The first one is do not be afraid to play around with your listing and try new things if you are not getting the results that you want. We have designed the site so that your accounts would be dynamic for a reason. Secondly, our nation's economic climate is desperate, and consumers (your renters) are feeling the pinch and on the hunt now more than ever for a bargain. This is a great opportunity for us because in most instances we offer them a much better value then hotels. Take a look at your pricing and compare it to the listings in your town that have a bunch of reviews( these people are booking their property a lot). Are you offering renters a good value? Or could they go to a hotel for less? I know your place is much nicer and more spacious then any hotel, but just try to put yourself in your renter's shoes. Maybe offer the third night for free? Anything that makes the renter feel like they are getting a good deal.
As always if you have any questions or comments please post them here on the blog.