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What Millennials Look For in Vacation Rentals

Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, encompassed 73m individuals in the United States in 2017. Further, China's millennial generation in itself, for example, is bigger than the whole population of the USA. A quarter of the world's population are millennials. With immense size comes big purchasing power. But who are millennials? Generation Y describes individuals who were born between 1980 and 1995. The term is often used to define a consumer group with certain habits and preferences. While of course individual consumer behaviours can differ greatly, certain overarching trends can certainly be observed. Millennials are known for their insatiable thirst for travel and unique experiences. Gone are the heydays for resorts and hotels with copy-and-paste rooms and offerings. Statistics and studies agree that Generation Y has taken a particular liking to Airbnb versus hotels. In 2017, for instance, 36% of American and Europeans who used Airbnb for accommodation were between 25 and 34 years old. The second largest group (23%) were between 35 and 44 years old. Moreover, millennial travellers are budget-conscious. Vacation rentals offer more value for money in terms of space. Additionally, most rentals are equipped with kitchens making it possible to cook and safe money. Ultimately, millennials are the consumer group you need to cater for if you want to grow your vacation rental business and successfully attract bookings. Therefore, it is important to consider what millennials specifically are looking for in short-term rentals and vacation homes. A multitude of studies have investigated the preferences of Generation Y. This helps us to draw below conclusions about what millennials are looking for in vacation rentals. Positive Online Reputation Former guests recommending you to friends and family can be an influential offline marketing tool for your

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

6 Vacation Rental Instagram Accounts to Watch

Today we are looking at operators who are attracting attention on Instagram. A well-thought-out and nicely-curated Instagram account that is getting noticed can bring in actual bookings and revenue. We have discussed this in-depth in a previous blog post - Social Media for Short-term Rentals. But what does a 'noticeable' Instagram account look like? Stay tuned for the 6 short-term rental Instagram accounts we are loving right now and what you can learn from them. @hideoutbali With over 145,000 followers, we are certainly are not the only ones who think this Instagram account is excellent. This vacation rental benefits from a great location and unusual tree-house like accommodation. However, going through their feed, you might notice that many stunning shots are reposts of previous guests who have huge followings of their own. Takeaway lesson: If you don't have the means yourself to create outstanding shots for your Instagram, working with influencers can provide you with great content and exposure. @bentapplefarm This Vermont cabin is self-proclaimedly ‘very Vermont’ and its Instagram accounts reflects that well. It gives an insight into what life on the property is like and what activities guests can engage in with the hosts. At the same time, warm-toned interior shots show what comforts await guests. @travelershomebnb It is obvious that this stylish Lisbon citypad is travel-themed and the feed’s fun, bright colors immediately draw in your attention. Dário, the Airbnb host, gives the account a real authentic touch by speaking in first person to his audience and sharing his local tips and tricks to enjoy in Portugal’s capital. @shimanto_riverside_hideaway The tranquillity of this Japanese get-away comes across perfectly in its feed. We love the minimalist but cozy shots of the property and

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

How to Keep Your Outdoor Spaces Safe

Providing some outdoor space can really add value to your vacation rental offering. However, they can also add some risk in terms of guests hurting themselves and for which you can be held liable. We have discussed liability insurance already on the blog. Read it here! Consider the example of someone using the swing in your garden. Imagine the swing's seat comes loose, the person falls and breaks their arm. You can now be held liable for this and the bodily injury they incured and if you do not have the right insurance this can be costly - costly enough to ruin your business. Therefore, it is firstly important to have appropriate liability insurance which covers you as a short-term rental host and secondly to do everything in your power to make sure your property is safe. With the help of Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Security Committee, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to keep your outdoor spaces safe for your guests. Read on to learn more... Pools and Hot Tubs Fencing off pools and hot tubs prevents unauthorized use and can increase child safety. Ensure all doorways/gates accessing a pool or hot tub are lockable, preventing unintended access by children. Small children should only use the pool and tub with adult supervision. Ensure all pool components, slides and other accessories are in working order and/or safe to use. Make sure the water is tested regularly and that chemicals are safely stored. Non-slip decking can reduce the risk of injury. Waterfront Access Young children accessing the waterfront should be under adult supervision. Ensure all water based equipment is in working order (canoe, kayak, power boat, etc.) and that personnel flotation devices

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

Interview with Yvonne Chan, Chief Insurance Officer for CertiStay

As the Chief Insurance Officer of CertiStay, Yvonne Chan is the go-to expert to answer any questions regarding vacation homes and insurance. Yvonne holds impressive qualifications such as Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP), Canadian Risk Management (CRM) and Canadian Association of Insurance Brokers (CAIB) designations. She has been working in the industry for over 20 years and specialises in modelling proprietary insurance solutions. Also read our interview with Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Secruity Committee. 1. Yvonne, thank you for answering some questions for us today. Could you briefly describe your background in the insurance industry? Today many young insurance professionals are graduates of a risk management program at post secondary institutions – many of my peers of my generation either fell into insurance by accident or it is a family business. I fell into insurance by accident when I was trying to figure out what to do after school. In my very first insurance job, I met a wonderful mentor who continues to be a mentor and friend to me to this day. She was knowledgeable and kind. However, she was a tough teacher, which I admired and wanted to emulate. My first job was with The Dominion of Canada Insurance Company, which was the oldest Canadian Insurance company prior to Travelers acquiring it. I was a Claims Assistant before being promoted to an In-house Claims Adjuster, adjusting homeowners’ claims. From there it was a natural progression to learning how to create insurance programs to meet the needs of different insured operations so that when there is a claim that the policy would respond. I went on to become a Placement Specialist with several global insurance brokers to continue to develop my craft. I

CertiStay at 2018 VRMA International Conference

The biggest event of the vacation rental industry in Las Vegas in October. The must-attend event of the year for all vacation rental managers, the 2018 VRMA International Conference, takes place from 27th to 30th of October 2018. It is held in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The conference is being organized for vacation rental managers, owners and executives. Therefore, you will be able to network to your heart’s content with fellow operators and industry peers. The evening receptions will provide a relaxed atmosphere allowing you to network a bit more and to reflect on what you have learnt during the day. A wealth of suppliers will be exhibiting at the conference. There will be over a 100 exhibitors present. You will find big fish such as Booking.com and Airbnb as well as smaller companies, who provide a range of industry services. Visit CertiStay Inc. at Booth 347! Most importantly, over the 3 days plenty of useful workshops will await. Join 60+ demonstrations, roundtable discussions, presentations and education sessions focusing on all things important for STR operators. Beyond others subjects, business strategy, guest and owner relations, marketing, international issues, human resources, finance and legal operations, sales, technology and property services will be covered. CertiStay Inc., one of the lunch session sponsors, is organizing a lunch & learn focused on vacation rental safety and security. This will take place on Monday, the 29th 12.15pm – 1pm and will be presented by Terry Jones. Impressively, he was the founder and CEO of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.com. Want to join the fun? So get your tickets here for the 2018 VRMA International Conference. If you already have a ticket, we look forward to seeing

Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Instagram & Pinterest

It is no news that digital marketing is becoming more and more important for the hospitality industry. Especially social media takes up a huge part of it and mastering feels more complex each day. So which social media channels should you use to promote your short-term rental? All of them or just a selected few? We have taken the time to take a closer look at the four biggest social platforms. In our previous blog post we talked about Twitter and Facebook specifically. Find our expert guide Social Media for Short-term Rentals - Part I here. In this blog we are sharing some advice on utilising Instagram and Pinterest for your vacation let. Read on to find out more! Instagram After Facebook, Instagram is the second most popular platform of the big social media clients. Users flock to it to show off the holiday snaps, to get inspired as well as to keep in touch with friends and family. Big brands use Instagram to show of their products and offerings and many short-term rental operators have discovered it for themselves as well. For example, a 2018 report by Netbase found that the majority of public conversations around Airbnb happen on Instagram (40%). This is compared to other channels such as forums (16%), blogs (13%), Twitter (12%) or Facebook (5%). This means potential guests are on Instagram, but your competitors is as well. So how do you stand out, get more likes and create an impressive following on Instagram? It is a more or less an easy answer: provide content people are interested in. Outstanding Content Firstly, high-quality pictures of your short-term rental are a must. Most smartphones now take awesome photos, but make sure the lighting

Social Media for Short-term Rentals – Facebook & Twitter

"You've got to use all social media for short-term rentals. The more the better, right?" In a perfect world this would be true. With unlimited resources, a full-time social media manager and a lot of cash to spend on paid advertising there is certainly no limit. But not everyone is so lucky and with limited budget and time, you might have to choose what platforms to be active on. And then those channels will have to be the ones you really put your heart and soul in. Because nothing looks worse than a deserted Facebook or Twitter page. Last post 12th July 2015? Customers might think you are no longer operating. However, you want to be everywhere your potential guests are. And obviously the more guests (and bookings), the better. Direct bookings avoid those pesky commisions and you are in the driver's seat and not some third-party site. Still, that doesn't mean all social media platforms are for you and provide the same return on investment - specifically from investment in terms of time commitment. Well, fret not. We've compiled a guide to social media for short-term rentals and today we will talk about Facebook and Twitter specifically. Read on to find out more! Facebook First and foremost, we have got to talk about the most popular social media for short-term rentals, Facebook. With over 2 billion registered users, Facebook is the go-to platform for marketers as well as short-term rental operators aiming to promote their business. Thus, your potential customers will be definitely be on it, but your competitors most likely, too. A Facebook page can in some instances even replace a website and is a useful communication channel for people interested in your