how to get more bookings

How to Get More Bookings and Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out

In the competitive world of vacation rentals, standing out from the crowd and attracting more bookings is crucial for success. Whether you're a seasoned host or just starting, implementing effective strategies to get more bookings can significantly impact your occupancy rates and revenue.

In this blog, we’re sharing 11 unique ways to make your vacation rental stand out so you can secure more reservations. From optimizing your online presence to upgrading your property with premium amenities, you’ll be given actionable tips to transform your rental business. With these strategies, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the dynamic vacation rental market and maximize your property's potential.

How to Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out: 11 Ways

1. Target Niche Guests

dog friendly travel rentals

Focus on targeting niche guests to increase bookings for your Vrbo or Airbnb vacation rental. This strategy involves identifying specific groups, such as pet owners, fitness enthusiasts, or digital nomads, and tailoring your marketing and amenities to their needs. 

Pet-friendly perks such as water bowls and toys can entice pet parents. Ergonomic workstations and fast WiFi can easily pull in digital nomads. Yoga mats and nearby hiking trail guides will delight the fitness buffs. Most importantly, make sure you update your property descriptions to highlight and feature these conveniences so it’s an easier decision for your future guests to book your rental.

2. Adopt Flexible Cancellation Policies

It’s a fact — life happens. Adopting a flexible cancellation policy can be an easy change that has a high payoff. In today's uncertain climate, guests are more likely to book when they know they can cancel or reschedule without hefty penalties. This flexibility increases their confidence in booking, reducing hesitation and, in turn, increasing your conversions. 

To successfully enforce this strategy, clearly communicate your policies upfront and consider seasonal adjustments. During peak times or depending on the location, you might tighten restrictions slightly while offering more flexibility during slower periods to encourage bookings

3. Install a Sauna to Help Your Guests Relax Year Round

vacation rental sauna

With the addition of a sauna, you can transform your vacation rental into a year-round oasis of relaxation. This luxurious amenity isn't just a wintertime indulgence for snowy cabins; it's a four-season draw that can set your property apart from the competition. Saunas offer a wealth of health benefits, from allergy relief to curing hangovers, making your rental an attractive option for wellness-focused travelers.

A sauna can be the tipping point for many potential guests so showcase this feature in your listing photos and description. Furthermore, remember to provide clear instructions for safe use and maintenance to ensure visitors have the best experience at your rental.

harness the power of heat

4. Enhance Indoor Conveniences

It’s all about the little details, right? Today’s travelers seek comfort and ease, so consider upgrading your vacation rental with amenities like smart home technology, plush towels, and a well-stocked kitchen. Of course, showcase these features in your listings and encourage guests to leave reviews about the convenience and comfort they experienced. This not only increases bookings but also boosts guest satisfaction and fosters repeat visits.

5. Turn on “Instant Book” and Don’t Enforce Minimum Stays

airbnb instant book

Turning on "Instant Book" and not enforcing minimum stays can dramatically increase your vacation rental bookings. Friction is the enemy of bookings, so try to streamline the process and enable “Instant Book.” This feature allows guests to book immediately without waiting for host approval. Travelers often want to book vacation rentals at the last minute and with a hassle-free process. Therefore, by removing those hurdles, they’ll be able to secure your rental quickly.

Additionally, ditch the minimum stays. Spontaneous travelers and day trippers appreciate the flexibility. Plus, with no minimum, you can more easily fill those occasional gaps in your calendar. This type of flexibility can lead to higher occupancy rates and more positive reviews for your rental.


6. Add a Welcoming Front Porch Swing

front porch swing

Upgrade your vacation rental’s curb appeal and consider adding a swing to your front porch for a touch of nostalgia that guests will enjoy. Whether you’re providing a dose of Southern charm or channeling New England coastal vibes, a porch swing invites visitors to unwind, enjoy the surroundings, and feel at home. 

To make the most of this addition, make sure you pick a comfortable and stylish swing and securely install it for guest safety. Finally, before you take pictures and upload them to your listings, add some comfy, plush pillows to add personality and emphasize the inviting atmosphere.

7. Create Your Direct Booking Website

vacation rental website

Creating a dedicated website for your rental(s) can increase your stays by providing a seamless and professional booking experience while saving you from hefty third-party booking fees. This even allows you to capture guest emails for targeted promotions and build a loyal following, potentially increasing bookings and reducing reliance on listing platform fees.

If you decide to build your website, make sure to showcase your property’s unique charm from beautiful photos to detailed amenity lists. You’ll also need to integrate a user-friendly booking system and secure payment gateway to make reservations a breeze for future guests. Finally, by learning SEO, you can make sure that your site is at the top of search results and getting in front of potential travelers.

Pro Tip: Offer a small discount for direct bookings to incentivize guests to bypass sites like Vrbo and Airbnb to come straight to you.

8. Offer Upsell Opportunities

Upsells aren’t just for resorts and airlines – you can offer them at your short-term rental as an ingenious way to increase your income! By offering additional services or amenities, you're not only boosting your revenue but also enhancing your guests' experience. Remember, the goal is to make your guests feel like VIPs, not walking wallets. That being said, don’t be overly pushy and send your upsell offers before the guests arrive. Here are a few upsell ideas to get you started:

  • A fully stocked fridge upon arrival
  • Airport transfers
  • Private chef to cook a special dinner
  • In-home masseuse or spa treatments

9. Become Family-Friendly

kid friendly travel rentals

Transforming your vacation rental into a kid haven can open the floodgates to a vast market of traveling families. It's not just about tossing in a pack-n-play and calling it a day. Families look for safe, comfortable, and entertaining places to stay, so think holistically about what they need. Here are some ideas:

  • Safety first: Secure stairs, cover outlets, and lock away any hazards, such as harmful cleaning chemicals. 
  • Add some fun: Stock up on board games, set up a backyard play area, and if you have a pool, stock it up with life jackets and all the fun toys! 
  • Don't skip the practicalities: A well-equipped kitchen for family meals, laundry for inevitable spills, and maybe even a selection of kids' books and DVDs for downtime. 
  • Be a local guide: Highlight nearby kid-friendly things to do in your welcome guide to help families find the best places to visit or eat.

10. Create Special Discounts in the Off-Seasons

Navigating seasonal demands can be tricky as an owner of vacation rentals. However, you can create off-season discounts that can turn the quiet months into a steady stream of bookings. The key is to create irresistible offers that make your property the go-to choice for budget-conscious travelers or those seeking a peaceful getaway. Consider tiered discounts so that longer stays mean a better deal. Another idea is to package your rental with local experiences meant for the off-season, like fireside wine tastings or brisk nature walks.

Don't just slash prices blindly — instead, craft compelling narratives around the unique charms of your location in the quieter months. For this strategy to be a success, you’ll want to promote these offers well in advance on social media and through email marketing to your past guests.

11. Offer Premium Amenities Like a Cold Plunge Tub

airbnb with cold plunge tub

This invigorating amenity isn't just a luxury; it's a powerful draw for health-conscious travelers and relaxation seekers alike. Here are reviews from a vacation rental in Round Rock, Texas, that features one of our Plunge tubs.

“The **cold plunger tub** was a unique feature that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was invigorating and refreshing, a perfect contrast to the warm summer days. The house was absolutely awesome in every sense of the word!” - Nancy, Illinois, Airbnb Guest

“The massage chair, cold plunge, and hot tub were awesome! If I ever come back to the Austin area, I will rent this place hands down! One of the best Airbnbs’s we’ve ever stayed in!” – Jessica, Indiana, Airbnb Guest

As you can tell, guests notice and appreciate these types of premium amenities, and it’s a surefire way to make your listing stand out. When installing your cold plunge tub, consider the placement, as it should be easily accessible and offer privacy. Don't forget to provide clear instructions on usage and highlight the potential health benefits of cold plunging directly in your listing.

Pro tip: If you want to take this experience even further, pair it with other wellness amenities like yoga mats or meditation cushions to create a comprehensive wellness retreat that will command premium pricing and attract a loyal, health-focused clientele.

plunge all-in, learn more

Upgrading Your Vacation Rental: Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Get More Bookings on Airbnb?

To get more bookings on Airbnb specifically, there are a few features unique to the site that can help. First, turn on “Instant Bookings” to let guests book without waiting for host approval. Achieving “Airbnb Superhost” status can greatly boost your visibility in the listings, so getting this should be a top priority. You can also configure Airbnb’s calendar rules and dynamic pricing to adjust rates based on seasonality, local events, and even your competitors’ pricing.

What are the Best Ways to Get More Bookings on Vrbo?

If you want to specifically increase your bookings on VRBO, first make sure you are attracting the right target market. Vrbo tends to attract families and groups looking for entire homes, so tailor your listing and amenities accordingly. Additionally, you can leverage the “Vrbo Premier Host Program” to show your listings higher in the search results. Vrbo also has a tool for their Premier Hosts called Vrbo “Boost” that allows you to earn power-ups to boost your listings.

How Do I Calculate My Vacation Rental’s ROI?

To figure out your vacation rental’s ROI, start by dividing your annual net profit (revenue minus expenses) by your total investment. Include all expenses like mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and management fees. There's no one-size-fits-all number to what is a “successful" vacation rental ROI, but 15% or higher is considered excellent, with 5-10% being a healthy range. However, if your ROI is below 5%, you might need multiple ways to optimize income or reduce expenses.

Take the Plunge and Increase Vacation Rental Bookings Today!

Increasing your vacation rental bookings isn’t just about pretty photos — it’s about providing an incredible experience for your guests. As you can see, it requires a blend of strategic marketing, exceptional guest experiences, and unique amenities. By implementing the tips outlined in this article, you can significantly enhance your property's appeal and attract more guests. 

Reach out to us today if you want to learn more about how a Plunge or sauna can make your rental a top pick for travelers!