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Top Tips to Attract Direct Vacation Rental Bookings

You might rent out your spare bedroom on Airbnb or you might operate 10 vacation rentals in Florida. Independent of how many short-term rentals you have, you should look into increasing your direct bookings. Exclusively accepting bookings through the popular platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com will give you some securities. For example, Airbnb provides 1 million liability insurance if a guest gets hurt on your property. However, as a good host you should have additional protection anyway (Read: Understanding Liability Insurance for Your Short-term Rental) as well as set procedures of how to deal with rowdy guests and cancellations. So with a clear strategy in place for what happens if something goes wrong, you do not need to entirely rely on the big online travel agents to bring in bookings. Being present on as many platforms as possible is a good strategy to maximise your reach for a full occupancy. However, this comes at a price – usually taking the shape of commission or a service fee. Therefore, it will be of interest to also draw in direct bookings. Read on below for our top tips. Establish How Guests Can Book Direct Make sure to establish a working system of how you will accept direct bookings. Are you renting out a converted garage and are happy to manage direct bookings via email and a spreadsheet? Or maybe you operate multiple holiday homes and are considering an online booking engine which integrates into a channel manager? You might even have a designated website for vacation home. Whatever you decide, define a clear process for managing bookings and stick to it. Get Those Return Visitors You have done a great job hosting your guests, they left

Short-term Rentals for the Chinese Market

Unless your vacation rental’s calendar is full every day of the year, you will be looking to increase bookings. There are a myriad of platforms out there to list your rental – such as the big ones like Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway or Flip Key. However, even though you are present on theses pages, are you really reaching all potential guests out there?  A lucrative market, which remains largely untapped, is the large number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad. From 2016 to 2017 the number of vacations Chinese citizens were taking outside the country increased by 7% to 131 million occasions, for example. With that comes a huge spending power. In 2016 alone it amounted to over USD 261 billion for Chinese tourists abroad. So how do you reach Chinese travellers with an interest in staying in vacation rental? CertiStay had an opportunity to speak with an expert in the Chinese market, Donald Kim. Donald is VP of Business Development at Cozystay, which operates a platform for short-term rentals targeting Chinese vacationers. 1. Donald, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about what Cozystay does? Hi, it is a pleasure to be here. I’m the VP of Business Development for Cozystay and I’ve been working with the company since its launch in early 2015. The idea started with Galen, CEO/Founder, who initially looked at providing student housing for Chinese students in North America and then decided for a model similar to Airbnb but targeting the emerging Chinese tourism market. China has surpassed USA and Germany for outbound travel and will be the largest market for the next 10-15

5 Ways to Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out

Get your short-term rental noticed on listing sites! As a short-term rental host, you are probably facing some competition. There are exceptions, of course. Maybe you are in a very special location or catering for a specific niche with a highly unique listing. However, the average location rental is a small mackerel in the big sea of fish of other offerings. So how do you get yours noticed? How do you make it the rainbow fish of vacation rentals with 100% occupancy and plenty of booking requests? Here are 5 easy-to-implement tips to make your vacation rental stand out on listing sites like Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. Get Picture Ready To get good pictures taken for your STR must be the most common advice to give hosts who want to improve their listing. However, I still see a lot of listings especially in the lower price segment with blurry, dark pictures. Photographs like that give me the impression that the accommodation is more likely to be a comfortable home for some supernatural beings than my family on holiday. Most smartphones are equipped with cameras fully capable to take good shots of your vacation rental. Make sure the bed sheets are crease-free, add some colourful touches (like bright cushions or a vase with flowers) and take the pictures during the day with as much natural light as possible. Professional pictures are of course preferable but can be costly. One tip would be work with local influencers on Instagram. This can be two-fold. As the first option, the influencer gets free accommodation for one or two nights in return for talking about the STR on his or her social channels (usually with images). As a second option, you

Local Safety Regulations for Short-term Rentals

How to find out about laws and regulations in your area. Navigating local regulations regarding short-term rentals' safety and security can be a confusing minefield. With laws constantly changing on a national, regional and most frequently city level, hosts have to put in increased efforts to keep up with the latest requirements. Most of the time not fulfilling these requirements can mean not only putting the safety of your guests at stake but also risking being banned from running your Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. For example, as stated in an article by Justin Ford on VRMintel, "many localities around the United States [...] require vacation rentals to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, emergency exit lighting, and fire extinguishers in place." Additionally, some places also ask STR hosts to follow certain procedures in order to avoid health issues. These can, for example, involve linen sanitization or pool and spa maintenance. So where do you begin? Not to worry! We've compiled a guide on where to look for your area's safety and security requirements for your short-term rental or vacation home. Consult Your Local Government Firstly, your local government will be able to provide materials on what safety standards need to be fulfilled by STRs or even if safety inspections are required. However, which department of the government is responsible varies a lot. Generally, you will be able to obtain information from the city hall or the city's general website. At times, it is also worth checking with the housing department or the licensing department, since running an STR can be considered a business. For example, to obtain a Short-term Rental Licence in Denver the “STR must have an operable smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher”. Find

Interview with Steve Watt, Chairman, CertiStay Safety & Security Committee

As the Chairman of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay, Steve Watt can look back on over 35 years of experience in policing. Starting his career in Northern Ireland with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, he quickly established his career in police, law enforcement and private security training not only in Canada but internationally as well. A recognized expert on policing matters, he has been consulting for the Province of British Columbia and Public Safety Canada since 2007. With this impressive CV, there is really no better person to ask a couple of questions on how to keep your Airbnb and short-term rental safe and secure. Let's get started! Note: Short-term rentals are referred to as STRs. 1. Having summarised your experience a bit above, could you tell us about a highlight that stood out in your career? While there many are highs and lows in policing, my main focus has always been helping others; whether that was a police officer in training, the victim of a crime or someone struggling with life’s challenges. It’s all about reaching out and touching someone in a positive way. My role with CertiStay carries on that philosophy to ensure individuals and families can experience safe and secure business and vacation short-term rentals. 2. How did you become a member of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay? Happenstance! A colleague of mine introduced me to Wolf Worster in April 2017 and the rest fell into place after meeting with the CertiStay team. 3. Getting onto the subject of security in STRs, which are the 3 most important issues in terms of security to consider when setting up your Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway? There are two interrelated issues to