Running a Truly Independent Vacation Rental
Although it may seem like a very strange thing for a vacation rental site to say, we will really be our most successful when you don’t have to rely on us to provide the bulk of your customers!
What we want to be is a really great partner for your vacation rental business, and a good source of new Guests, which is really what a great Vacation Rental web site should be. As your business grows and develops and you build relationships with current and past guests, ideally you’ll have enough of them just picking up the phone and calling or emailing to book another stay at your place, that you’ll have enough business to not worry about covering your overhead. But every business needs to constantly be bringing in new customers, because old ones are constantly disappearing as time, life changes and other factors take their toll on your regular customer list.
A great source of finding new guests, like a great vacation rental listing site, should be a part of every vacation rental owner’s marketing mix. Why? Listing sites are where new Guests like to shop for vacation rentals! That is a fundamental truth about this business that will never change.
Photo courtesy: Casa Milagro
There has been a lot of talk in the industry about the need for vacation rental owners to be independent of vacation rental listing sites, and in a way, as you can see above, we agree with the concept. But we think that many vacation rental owners are missing a very important point about what that independence truly means. And some have really not given enough thought to what they need to do to protect the future of their business.
Many owners actually are not in control of their business, and get dictated to by particular suppliers simply because they have gotten too comfortable with a particular supplier or source. This is a fundamental business error, because by not having alternatives available, any business surrenders control of itself to someone or something else. The moment a vacation rental is dependent upon a sole supplier to gain new customers and make them happy, the owner has lost control of the business. In a way the business is no longer theirs any more
“Well, of course it is,” you say “my vacation rental is my own business!” But is it really?
Operating a vacation rental is similar to operating many other types of businesses, in that you will typically use services and suppliers to provide you with certain things for your vacation rental to function efficiently. There is nothing unusual about this.
Is it possible for your vacation rental to function completely independently of any supplier or service? You as the owner could do absolutely everything that it ever needs yourself; all maintenance, cleaning, advertising, management, etc. But could you really operate it on your own? What about electricity? Or fresh drinking water? Do you obtain and supply these things for your vacation rental yourself, or do you depend upon utility companies to supply them? Do you have maintenance or repair people who do work on your property that you are not skilled in? Do you have cleaners who clean and prepare your property in-between guests? What happens if your current supplier disappeared over night?
Are we suggesting that it is wrong to need outside suppliers? Not at all.
There are many services that you and your property need that can be supplied to you in a better or more efficient manner than you could possibly do it for yourself. If you owned a restaurant you likely would need to obtain food from outside suppliers. If you spent your entire day as a butcher, or out picking fruit and berries, or running a dairy and making cheese, you would have no time to cook anything, set tables, host diners, do the accounting, or any of the hundreds of other tasks necessary to run a successful restaurant.
The point is a vacation rental usually runs most efficiently through a co-operative dependence upon supplies and services that can be obtained by the owner at less cost or more efficiently than the owner could provide those things themselves. But every time an owner becomes dependent upon a single source of supply – one that they can’t easily replace if they need to – they become dependent upon that source of supply, and lose a certain degree of control over their business. Some of these you may have no choice about (like utilities), but in order to protect the future of your business it is always best to have other options available in case a critical supplier to your vacation rental disappears, goes out of business, or becomes impossible to deal with.
Set aside some time soon, to make a list of all the outside things that you depend upon to run your vacation rental business. Then consider what would happen if you couldn’t use or have them anymore. What would be your alternative? Who else could you call? How critical is it to your business to have other alternatives available?
This is a type of risk assessment that every vacation rental owner should engage in, just as every successful business does.
If the recent lessons of the changing nature of the vacation rental industry online have taught us anything, it is the need for having alternatives. Choose your partners wisely, yes… but always keep your options open.
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