Tips to Manage a Vacation Rental in Belize

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Invest in Belize, Uncategorized | 0 comments

If you ever thought about owning a vacation home in the Caribbean, and thought about what you would do with it, when you’re not there, turning it into a vacation rental is a great opportunity.  Depending on your vacation property’s location, it could be a hot spot for tourists who would prefer the privacy and amenities of a home versus a resort.  Here are a few tips if you would like to manage a vacation home, as a vacation rental in Belize.  But the same principles can be extended to other destinations around the world.

1. Rent-ability

Have you heard a Realtor or investor say “location, location, location?”  A property within a tourism destination will get more exposure as tourists are planning their vacations and looking for their accommodation options.

2. Timely Inquiries

Many travelers inquiring about staying in your vacation rental, are comparing several places to decide where they would like to stay.  Quick replies to vacationer inquiries will help increase the number of reservations.

3. Make Inquiry Correspondence Easy

After operating your vacation home as a vacation rental for a few months, you will recognize that there are certain questions that travelers will frequently ask about your property or policies, before making a reservation.  If you are managing the reservations yourself, you will want to save time answering these FAQs.  A detailed vacation guide, vacation property website, or prewritten email drafts will save you time, and get answers to potential short term tenants and travelers.

4. Owner Operated or Management Company

You will want to decide if you want to manage the vacation rental bookings yourself, or if you will want to have a management company take over the details. If you already have a full schedule with a full time job, kids to deliver to soccer practice, and a dozen other obligations, the time required to manage the vacation rental may be difficult.  There are different vacation rental management companies.  If it makes economical sense, you may want a management company to correspond, and coordinate reservations with vacationers.

5. House Cleaning

While most travelers will tidy up before checking out, you will need to find a dependable, local housekeeper to make sure the place is spic and span before the next guests arrive.  Some vacation rental owners will charge a cleaning fee with each reservation, and others will give the option to vacationers to clean it themselves to look the same as when they arrived.  Either way, having a housekeeper and a backup will keep your vacation rental clean between visits.  If you have a housekeeper come between every reservation, make sure they can access your reservation calendar, especially when guests depart and arrive on the same date.  Having a regular housekeeper can be a great resource if you’re operating your vacation rental yourself.  They will recognize damage and let you know if you need to keep some of the damage deposit.

6. Interior Decor, Goods & Personal Effects

If you frequently travel to your vacation home for your own holidays, it is nice to have some of your personal effects.  Yet if you have a lot of personal belongings around the house, that you don’t really want to leave for strangers you may want to lock them off in a closet.  Travelers aren’t really excited to push through your clothes in the closet, to find a place to hang theirs!  Some personal effects, like books, may be appreciated  by your guests – some novels for beach reading, or books about local travel destinations and history.

7. Have a Preferred Tourism Operator List

Your guests will most likely have questions about local destinations and activities that are booked separately from their accommodations at your vacation rental.  Save time by having a list of tourism operators that you’ve enjoyed on your own trip, for them to direct their questions.  If you get to know other tourism operators and refer to them, they will likely remember and refer guests to stay with you, when their customers ask about accommodations.

8. Marketing Sites

For an annual fee, you can build a listing for your property on vacation rental sites like FlipKey.com, VRBO.com, and AirBnB.com.  These sites have built a presence with travelers to look to for accommodations.  In order to compete with other vacation rentals in your area, be sure to complete all the available fields: photos, your rates, property description, property details, amenities in the house, any sporting goods available for guests to use, if free internet is available, etc.

9. Guest Reviews

Vacation rental including FlipKey.com, VRBO.com, and AirBnB.com all have sections for guests to review your vacation rental.  Be sure to ask for your guests to share their review.  It not only helps your visibility on these sites, it helps guests decide that your home is right for their vacation.

10. Vacation Property Credibility

Sadly in this day in age, there are scammers putting up fake vacation rental listings online, that prey on travelers who think they have booked a place to stay during their trip, to only find that the home does not exist, and the “owner” nor their deposit and fees can be found.  Sites like FlipKey.com and VRBO.com have added credibility to legit home owners who lease their home out when they are away.  If you advertise your vacation rental on free classified sites like Craigslist, an interested traveler may want to cover their bases and speak with you by phone or a web chat to have confidence in the place they are staying.  Having a website, social media for your vacation property, getting guest reviews, adding a photo and bio to the “About the Owner” section on VRBO.com, and having lots of photos of the property, even ones that are not published on your website, online listings or social media, will help reassure guests who are cautiously checking that your vacation is the real deal.

We hope this article shed some valuable insight on operating a vacation rental by owner.  The Belize Tree Top Villa is for sale, and has been a great experience for us to run a vacation rental home in Placencia Belize.  If you’re interested in the villa as a vacation rental and destination of your own, we would be glad to talk to you about our experiences and the marketing assets that are included with the villa’s sale.

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