Analyze Your Short-Term Rental Market

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How to Start a Successful Vacation Rental Business [2023]

Are you interested in starting a vacation rental business but unsure of where to begin? The world of vacation rentals is rapidly expanding, and it's easy to see why. With the growing number of digital nomads, remote workers, and people seeking unique travel experiences, vacation rentals provide an appealing alternative to traditional hotels. However, starting a successful vacation rental business can be a daunting task, particularly in a highly competitive market.

But don't let that discourage you! With the right approach, you can succeed in the short-term rental world too. So, let's embark on the journey towards building a successful vacation rental business!

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What is a vacation rental business?

Imagine being able to share the beauty of your home or investment property with travelers from all over the world while making a profit. This is the beauty of running a vacation rental business.

In essence, a vacation rental business is a unique type of hospitality business that offers travelers and guests a temporary home. It provides a much-needed break from the cookie-cutter hotel experience, allowing guests to immerse themselves in local culture, meet new people, and enjoy all the comforts of a well-appointed home.

As a vacation rental business owner, you become a host, a concierge, and a property manager, all rolled into one. You are responsible for ensuring that your guests have everything they need, from fresh linens to local recommendations, to make their stay as comfortable and memorable as possible.

Moreover, having a vacation rental business implies that you have a flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home. You can run your business remotely and manage everything from reservations to check-ins and check-outs with the right technology and tools at your disposal. Additionally, you have the opportunity to leverage your property investment and generate a passive income stream while pursuing your passion for travel and hospitality.

Let's dive into some practical tips to help you succeed in the exciting and competitive world of short-term rentals.

6 Steps to start a vacation rental businesss

1. Conduct market research

Before you jump head-first into the vacation rental business, make sure you thoroughly understand the market you’ll be operating in. Market research and rental statistics from Airbnb will help you better understand where the industry is headed.

Market research will help you better understand your target audience, their pain points, and how your business can better serve them.

It’ll also help you better understand what drives the market. Make sure to ask questions that go beyond “How much will vacation rental business owners make?”

According to Statista, the global travel market is expected to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2024.

Researching your competitors is important if you want your business idea to stand out from the rest. Here are some helpful metrics to conduct effective market research for your vacation rental business to better understand your target audience and what they want from such a business.

Historical average income earned:  Money earned by a host per night booked in a specific span.

Historical occupancy rate: percentage of rooms occupied at a specific time frame

Revenue per room: average rental revenue per occupied room at a given time

Average Booking Lead Time of the property: the period between when a guest makes a reservation and the check-in date.

Most booked properties and their average price per night: the average nightly price of the most leased properties in a given time.

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AllTheRooms dashboard - Chicago, Illinois market overview

Image: AllTheRooms Competitor Tracker

2. Decide on your business structure

Your vacation rental business structure will impact your success as an owner. Depending on your situation, the best design will vary. You can choose four business structures: sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, and S Corporation. A sole proprietorship is the easiest to set up. It also comes with the least regulatory requirements among Airbnb and similar companies. This type of business is best for new entrepreneurs. Corporations need upfront work and investment but offer the highest level of protection.

3. Build and promote your brand/listing

If you want your vacation rental business to succeed, you’ll need a strong brand. A brand is more than just a logo or a website. A brand is so much more than what you see on the surface.

It comprises all the interactions your business has with customers. It is a customer experience while using your product or service. So you can see why branding is so important and why you need to start building one.

Make it easy for customers to identify with your brand.

Be consistent. Consistency will help customers recognize your listing and associate it with a particular experience.

Be memorable. Your brand should be something that stays in your customers’ minds.

4. Select the right technology for your business

The technology you use for your vacation rental business can significantly impact your success. Technology can help you streamline operations, improve customer service, and save time and money, from getting customers to book reservations to getting market data.

Several tools can help you manage your vacation rental business. From reservations to accounting and everything in between, there’s likely a software solution that can help simplify your work.

These are some of the essential tools you’ll need to consider for your vacation rental business:

  • CRM: A customer relationship management system will help you keep track of all your reservations in one place. Ex: Hubspot
  • Inventory Management: An inventory management system will help you keep track of your property inventory. This can also help manage multiple properties. Ex: TopShelf
  • Market Intelligence tool: This will help you understand your market. And have short rental data about ADRs, occupancy rates, and revenue, broken down by property type and location. It will also help forecast future demand and plan accordingly. Plus, it can assist in driving your business when you don’t have all the necessary information. Ex: AllTheRooms
  • Accounting: Many accounting solutions will help you manage your finances. This is particularly important if you plan to take out a loan to start your business. Ex: QuickBooks
  • Marketing: Tools like social media management, email marketing, and content marketing can help you grow your audience. This can help attract new customers and generate more revenue. Ex: Mailchimp
  • Guest Relationship Management: If you’re using VRBO or Airbnb, you can use guest relationship management tools to help you manage your reservations. This can be particularly helpful for large-scale operations. Ex: Cloudbeds

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5. Create a marketing plan

Building a solid brand is essential for any business. But, to turn your brand into a thriving business, you’ll also need to focus on marketing your vacation rental business.

You’ll need a solid marketing plan to help you effectively reach your target audience. A marketing plan will help you determine what type of marketing strategy is best for your business.

When creating your marketing plan, you must know your target audience. Who are they? Where do they spend their time? And what are they looking for? Once you know this information, you can start thinking about how to reach out to them.

Make sure to include these three components in your vacation rental marketing plan: Content, Promotion, and Measurement.

  • Content: What type of content will you create? What will it look like? Where will you publish it? Make sure to create content that resonates with your target audience.
  • Promotion: How will you promote your content? Will you use paid promotion or rely solely on organic reach? How will you track success?
  • Measurement: How will you measure the success of your marketing plan? Be sure to measure the impact of all aspects of your marketing plan.

You need excellent content, great promotion, and reliable services to succeed in the vacation rental business. This is very similar to the path to success in other companies, but there is one huge difference: You can segment your strategy based on many different data points, locations and audiences. Here are some examples.

By Ethnicity and gender of the target audience

Ethnicity and gender play a significant role in shaping your audience. This is especially true when it comes to vacation rental markets. For example, Asian tourists account for almost one-third of the global tourism market. As a result, it’s crucial to understand how they use the travel industry. Likewise, Hispanic tourists are also growing in popularity. They make up an average of 25% of all travel bookings. Understanding how Hispanic tourists use the travel industry will help you better market to this audience.

By Travel behavior of the target audience

The way your target audience travels can have a significant impact on your vacation rental business. The best way to understand your target audience’s travel behavior is to conduct research.

You can do this by surveying your customers or doing some in-depth interviews. Once you have a better idea of your target audience’s travel behavior, you can tailor your vacation rental business to suit their needs better.

By Geography

Geography is another critical factor to consider when marketing your vacation rental business. The market in each city will vary based on a variety of factors. This includes travel behavior, cultural trends, and the number of tourists in the area. For example, the number of tourists in New York City far exceeds the number in San Antonio. This can have a significant impact on your marketing strategy.

With so many different markets to choose from, it may seem impossible to stand out among the crowd. However, there are a few ways you can better tailor your marketing strategy to suit different regions.

  • Language: Start by deciding which language you’ll use for marketing your vacation rental business. This may seem like a small detail, but it can significantly impact your marketing strategy.
  • Social Media: Next, you’ll want to decide which social media platforms you’ll use for marketing your vacation rental business. This is important because each platform has a different demographic.
  • Tone: Finally, you’ll want to decide on the tone of your vacation rental marketing strategy. This is often referred to as your marketing voice.

By Event timing

The timing of major events such as graduations, weddings, or sports tournaments can significantly impact your vacation rental business. You can use event timing to identify peak seasons to determine when your market is most likely to travel. This will help you tailor your marketing strategy to suit your audience’s travel behavior.

The best way to use event timing to your advantage is to conduct market research and create a marketing strategy before the event. This will help you better prepare for any spikes in demand and position yourself.

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6. Set up the right pricing

As a vacation rental owner, you need to charge your guests a price they will be willing to pay and feel is fair. You also need to ensure that the cost covers everything, including repairs and maintenance, taxes, insurance, utilities and other fixed expenses. Setting a price for your business can be tricky. There are many different pricing strategies you can use depending on the circumstances of your business and where you market it. Here are some options for setting a price for your vacation rental business.

Using supply and demand to set your price

One pricing strategy you can use is based on supply and demand. If you advertise online, then you can choose to set your price based on demand and competition. In this case, you can choose to set your price based on supply and demand because demand is already set by the marketplace.

However, there are many other factors that go into setting your price when you direct book guests through an online travel booking site. You may choose to set your price based on the amount of competition nearby. You can also choose to set your price based on the seasonality of your vacation rental business.

Estimate and adjust based on seasonality

The amount of demand and competition that you see in a season may affect your price in that season. For example, during the summer months, you may charge a higher price for your vacation rental because there is a higher demand for those types of accommodations.

During the winter, you may choose to offer a lower price for your vacation rental because fewer people are looking to book in that season. During the spring and fall, you may see less competition and demand because fewer people travel during those seasons. You can adjust your price based on seasonality.

To analyze the average daily rate based on seasonality over time, you can try our Calendar Tool, which will allow you to evaluate and compare various options to choose the one that best fits your needs.  

[](AllTheRooms calendar displaying future vacation rental prices)

Image: Calendar Alltherooms

Estimate and adjust based on local competition

Another key factor when setting your price is considering how your pricing compares to nearby competitors. If you are competing against higher-priced properties, then you can choose to set a lower price to compete with your competitors. However, if you are set against lower-priced competitors, then you can choose to set a higher price because that is what customers are willing to pay for your service. You can also estimate and adjust your price based on the seasons.

If you want to have fresh data on competitor pricing, you can use our market research tool to benchmark several properties with the same characteristics to compare the pricing of the competitors. You could also use the future data section of our software to see what the ADR will be like in the future.

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Final Thoughts

Starting a successful vacation rental business is possible — that’s the good news. Just be sure to ask questions, have enough information before you invest. create a plan and refuse to settle until you find an investment that fits you perfectly.