Stephanie Collet is the head of business development at Holidu, one of the fastest-growing tech travel startups in Europe. She is also the owner of a vacation rental property in the Swiss Alps, so she has a good understanding of both sides of the industry. We recently spoke with Stephanie to hear her thoughts on how vacation rental management professionals can improve their vacation property listings and book more guests.
Here's what Stephanie had to say:
What makes Holidu different from other travel accommodation websites?
The mission of Holidu, a new Kigo channel in 2018, is to make the booking of vacation rentals easy. To do that, we focus on delivering an outstanding user experience, which translates into an increasing number of booking conversions for our partners. With our world-class mobile site and app, partnering with Holidu means being at the forefront of technology and having a strong presence in the growing mobile market without sacrificing bookings. We have 21 dedicated national domains that allow our partners to achieve international visibility and recognition through exposure to high quality and targeted traffic from a global user base.
What are some of the most popular places and/or types of properties that travelers are visiting these days?
Each country has its own favorite type of property—for example, a finca in Mallorca or a cottage in England. We think one of the summer hot spots this year will be Corsica. Thanks to its beautiful landscape, excellent food and affordable prices, it is increasingly one of the most searched destinations for holiday rentals.
Finish this sentence: "One of the best places in the world to visit that many people don't know about is..."
...the Swiss Alps in the summer. Many people think of Switzerland and imagine snow and winter sports. This is good, because during the summer there are fewer people around and one can truly enjoy the amazing nature of this beautiful corner of the world.
Since you have undoubtedly reviewed thousands of vacation property listings, what are some of the most common mistakes that you come across in these ads?
When it comes to vacation property listings, people often forget to keep the user experience in focus. Bad photos, too-short descriptions, and a lack of information about amenities and a lack of transparency about extra costs are just some of the most common mistakes we see, even from established agencies.
Properties with a higher number of photos typically also have higher booking conversions. The quality of the photos matters as well, and giving the user the right amount of information affects the performance.
Properties that have descriptions around 1500 words can have up to 100% more bookings than those with less than 1000 words (the highest-performing properties have around 1000 words). However, long descriptions can also decrease performance. This is particularly relevant for the English language. Oddly enough, Germans seem to prefer shorter descriptions. It is important to keep the cultural differences in mind, but as a rule of thumb, descriptions matter.
Another common complaint from our users is property availability. Many providers do not keep their calendar up-to-date, which is certainly annoying for the end user as the booking is often cancelled due to lack of availability.
Communication is another underestimated factor when it comes to online vacation rentals. Responding to your customer within 24 hours of confirming the reservation is a must.
When it comes to the checkout page, we advise our partners to have as many payment methods as possible available. We have observed that providers that offer credit card payment options can have up to twice the conversion rate transitioning from checkout to booking as compared to those that offer only bank transfers.
Also, be transparent about extra costs. There is nothing worse than discovering a hidden fee. One can easily lose a booking because of that.
Last but not least, if you have vacation rental reviews, show them. It helps to build trust with the user.
What can a vacation property owner do to make his or her accommodations more attractive to foreign travelers?
Offering content in as many languages as possible is a good start, and offering customer service in more than one language is certainly an advantage. Every nationality has different habits, but we have seen that as a general trend, people love to ask questions about a property before booking it. Needless to say, they will be more keen on booking a property if the customer service speaks their language.
What advice would you give a vacation property owner as far as setting an appropriate price for his or her property?
A property owner can search for similar properties in the area and quickly get an understanding of the market. I would advise property owners to be honest and give the best possible price, and to be consistent with their price throughout the various channels. It certainly doesn't look good when you see the same property with different prices from different websites!
Finally, name one change that property owners can make to their listings today that will improve their chances of attracting guests and bookings.
I have two. Use a fully synced calendar so that you can make your property available for instant book-ability. We have seen that instantly bookable properties can have up to 30% more bookings than those that are on request. In addition, make your properties look great! Some quality photos and a concise-yet -detailed description can take you very far.