How to Sync Your Airbnb and VRBO Calendars

How to sync your Airbnb and VRBO Calendars - Graphic with Text

If you are listing on both Airbnb and VRBO, you can sync your calendars to prevent multiple guests from booking the same dates.

Both Airbnb and VRBO use the same iCal calendar format, and can easily be synced with each other, and with other calendars like your Google calendar.

Follow this quick 2-part process to sync your Airbnb and VRBO calendars.

Part 1: Import your Airbnb calendar into VRBO

  1. On airbnb.com, go to Host and select Listing
  2. Click Availability and scroll down until you see Sync calendars
  3. Under Sync calendars, select Export Calendar
  4. Copy the Airbnb calendar link/URL
  5. In your VRBO.com account, select the property you want to edit
  6. Click Calendars in the left navigation menu, then click Reservations
  7. Click the Import/Export arrows icon in the top right, and click Import Calendar
  8. Name your calendar (e.g., ‘Airbnb’), and choose a color
  9. Paste your Airbnb calendar link/URL
  10. Make sure the calendar is set to ‘block’ your calendar availability (this should be selected by default)
  11. Click Import Calendar

Airbnb Host Dashboard - Sync Calendars

VRBO Dashboard - Import/Export Calendars

VRBO Dashboard - Calendar Import Sync

Your VRBO calendar will now pull in bookings from Airbnb. Now we need to do the same thing, but in reverse.

Part 2: Import your VRBO calendar into Airbnb

  1. In your VRBO.com account, select the property you want to edit
  2. Click Calendars in the left navigation menu, then click Reservations
  3. Click the Import/Export arrows icon in the top right, and click Export Calendar
  4. Copy the VRBO calendar link/URL
  5. On airbnb.com, go to Host and select Listing
  6. Click Availability and scroll down until you see Sync calendars
  7. Under Sync calendars, select Import Calendar
  8. Paste the URL for your VRBO calendar into the Calendar address (URL) field
  9. Name your calendar (e.g. ‘VRBO’)
  10. Click Import calendar

Airbnb Host Dashboard - Import Calendar Sync

And that’s it! Now your Airbnb and VRBO calendars are synced, and will update every couple of hours.

Be aware that your calendars don’t update immediately

Airbnb and VRBO calendars usually take a few hours to update. This means there’s a chance that a guest could book on one platform, and another guest could book the same dates on another platform in the time it takes for your calendar to update.

Fortunately, most hosts will tell you this is not a very common problem. The chances that two guests book the same dates within a few hours of each other are usually pretty low.

However, if you are concerned about the possibility of double bookings, you do have some of options.

  1. Manually refresh your calendars whenever you get a new booking. You can click the Refresh icon next to your calendar under Sync Calendars on Airbnb. This isn’t an ideal solution, since part of the point of syncing calendars is to automate this. But if you are available when you get booking notifications, this is an option you can consider.
  2. Try out a channel manager software like Smartbnb or Syncbnb (which even has a Zero Double Booking Guarantee). iGMS is another channel manager software that’s free for up to 4 properties. Make sure you pick a channel manager software that will auto update your calendars, rather than just rely on the iCal calendar sync steps (which is what we’ve gone over in this post, and won’t solve the time delay issue).

Again, in most cases there’s usually a low chance of two guests on two different platforms booking the same dates within a few hours of each other.

Sync your direct booking website with your Airbnb and VRBO calendars

If you’ve set up a direct booking website with Floorspace, you can also sync your Airbnb and VRBO calendars with your website calendar! Here are instructions for how to sync your website calendar with Airbnb and VRBO.

Have any questions or more information on this topic? Let us know in the comments!

Vacation Rental Marketing Guide

Want to know how to market your vacation rental? We’ve put together this Vacation Rental Marketing Guide to help you make your property stand out.

The vacation rental marketplace is more competitive than it’s ever been. And as the market becomes even more crowded, it’s becoming more and more important to effectively market your property.

  • Your Property Photography
  • Online Booking Platforms
  • Your Own Website
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Conclusion

Your Property Photography

Whether you plan to list on Airbnb, VRBO, or your own website, you’ll want attractive photos of your property that are equal parts accurate and compelling.

The Importance of Good Photography

Put simply, if your photos aren’t great, you will lose out on bookings. Start by taking a look at your photos and asking yourself if you think they’re good. Ask your friends for their honest opinions. Would they book your place just based on the photos?

Your photos should look professional. If you aren’t sure what makes a photo look professional, do a quick search for ‘Airbnb Plus’ listings (like the photo below), and see how your photos compare to the professional photos in those listings. If you already have an Airbnb Plus listing (or photos just as good), you can probably skip ahead.

This means your photos also need to be accurate. You want your guests to arrive with no questions, no surprises (other than nice ones), and without feeling like their expectations were too high. Otherwise you’re likely to get negative reviews and lose out on repeat guests.

Your photos are also an indicator to your guests that you care about your property and your guests experience. If your photos are dark, blurry, or messy, it doesn’t inspire confidence that you take pride in your property. Whether you plan to list on Airbnb, VRBO, or your own website, you’ll want attractive photos of your property that are equal parts accurate and compelling.

Hiring a Professional Photographer

If your budget allows, hiring a professional photographer is absolutely worth the investment.

You won’t find much if you do a Google search for ‘Vacation Rental Photographers,’ but you should be able to find plenty of ‘Real Estate Photographers’ in your area. The goal can often be different for these types of photos though. In real estate, potential buyers will absolutely be visiting the home in person before buying. In a vacation rental situation, potential guests will absolutely not be visiting in person before staying. So again, it’s important that your photos accurately represent your property.

You can hire a photographer on a marketplace site like Thumbtack (search for ‘Real Estate Photographers’). This might be stating the obvious, but do not hire a photographer without seeing (and liking) their portfolio first. You should only hire a photographer once you have seen that the work they produce is consistent with the style and type of photos you want for your own property.

If you are listed on Airbnb, you can even use Airbnb’s professional photography service. They’ll send a professional photographer, and automatically deduct the cost of your photoshoot from future bookings.

Tips for Taking Better Photography

Whether or not you decide to hire a professional photographer, here are a few suggestions to help you get the best photos possible.

Tidy up before your photoshoot. Your property should look sparkly clean and organized in your photos. Declutter, wipe down surfaces, sweep, vacuum, make your beds with clean sheets, open the shower curtain, clean the bathroom mirror, fold your towels—anything you can do to make your property the best version of itself.

Do some staging and decorating. Are your walls completely bare? Consider buying some wall art or house plants. Is your interior all one color? Consider buying some colorful pillows, or putting out a bowl of fruit, or anything that can give some life to your property. Feel completely unqualified to decorate or stage a photograph? Find some properties you like on Pinterest, Instagram or Houzz, and try to get inspiration or mimic a style you like. Or you might consider hiring an interior designer. You can find them on sites like Thumbtack and Houzz.

Use natural light. Shoot during the day, and open any curtains or blinds. Natural sunlight is your friend and can dramatically improve the quality of your photos.

Take plenty of photos. Properties with 5 or fewer photos get substantially fewer bookings. You should have at least 15 – 20 photos of your property. This includes having a good mix of interior and exterior (both of the property and the neighborhood/ surroundings). Again, you don’t want your guests to be surprised. If you have a stunning interior but the exterior looks like an abandoned house, you might consider what you can do to spruce up the outside. But at the very least, you must include a nice, but accurate photo of the exterior. We recommend 2 photos per living area, and 1 photo per room and bathroom, plus a few close-up detail shots to show the personality of your property. Also, make sure to highlight amenitiesties your guests will enjoy, like a pool or hot tub, game room, or anything else that makes your property unique.

Put your photos in an order that makes sense. It’s important that your photos flow in a logical way. In your listing, your website, and anywhere you use your photos, order them in a way that flows naturally. Group the photos of the same room together. Scrolling through your photos should feel like a tour of your property, not like an incoherent jumble of unrelated photos.

Pay attention to the angle you shoot from. A good rule of thumb is to take photos from approximately waist level and to keep the walls straight.

Use a quality camera. Cameras in newer smartphone models are actually pretty good these days. If you have access to a DSLR camera like a Canon or Nikon, that’s even better. Using a tripod can help you avoid dark and blurry photos.

Edit your photos. If you know your way around Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, that is a great way to edit your photos. If not, you can try using a mobile app like VSCO or Adobe Lightroom to add filters to your photos. Lean towards filters that make your photos look more natural rather than heavily edited, and strive for consistency across all your photos.

Your photos ultimately reflects on you as a host. If your photos are bad, some guests may think you don’t know what you’re doing or that you don’t care that much about your property. We recommend hiring a professional, or taking DIY photography seriously to create the best possible photography for your property.

Online Booking Platforms

Popular platforms like Airbnb and VRBO are currently one of the best ways to get exposure and bookings for your property. With great photography and a solid idea of your unique selling proposition, you’re well on your way to creating a listing that stands out on these sites.

Your Property Title and Description

Before writing your property title and description, take some time to identify what specifically makes your property unique and marketable—also known as your unique selling proposition. Here are a few ideas to help you identify your unique selling proposition.

Make a list of the features or benefits that are unique about your property. This might be your amenities, size or quality of your rental, your location. Are you close to downtown? The beach? Does your place have a large backyard? A pool or a hot tub? Is your property thoughtfully designed with a modern interior? Is it an artsy studio? Identify the most important and unique features of your property. What do you yourself love about it?

Identify characteristics about your typical guest. Do your guests tend to have similar reasons for booking with you? Create a guest ‘persona’ or a couple different personas, to capture what your typical guest is like. Maybe you have a large property that’s great for retreats and family reunions? Or maybe most of your guests are visiting on business? If you can identify your typical guest, you can highlight features of your property that are specifically important to them.

Keep in mind relevant events and seasons in your area. Are you close to a convention center, ski resort, national park, or any other place that has an influx of visitors at different times of the year? Maybe there’s a large conference at the convention center near your property in a few months? It is a good idea to be aware of these events and seasons, and update your headline and description in the weeks and months before to capitalize on guests looking for a convenient place to stay during their trip.

Once you’ve identified your unique selling proposition, use it to inform what to include in your property title and description, to make your property stand out as specifically relevant to your potential guests.

In your writing, you want to come across as helpful and approachable. Include lots of useful information about the area, like tips about where to go and what to do. You want your guests to feel like you are a good host who cares about their guests—someone who is determined to help them have an enjoyable stay. Your writing should get to the point, but avoid being stiff and dry, and consider incorporating humor or something personal where appropriate.

How to Improve Your Search Ranking

Good reviews. Focus on getting good reviews. Good reviews are essential to performing well in Airbnb search rankings. However, a small number of negative or missed reviews from guests won’t necessarily have a substantial negative impact.

Competitive pricing. Price is obviously one of the biggest factors that guests consider when choosing a place to stay. However you decide to price your property, keep in mind that the more competitively priced your property, the more likely it is to show up in Airbnb search rankings.

Superhost status. Every 3 months, Airbnb checks to see if you’ve met the following criteria: 4.8 or higher overall rating; 10+ stays in the last year; less than 1% cancellation rate (from you, not your guests); 90% response rate. If you have, you’re given Superhost status, which improves your search ranking.

Responsiveness. Your response rate and average response time both affect your search ranking. You should respond to guests and potential guests within 24 hours, and much sooner if possible.

Rejections and Instant Book. Airbnb also takes into account how often you reject bookings, and if you’ve turned on their Instant Book feature. It’s up to you what you decide to do, but keep in mind these factor into your search ranking.

Number of clicks in search results. Your search ranking is also influenced by the percentage of people who see your listing click on it. This means you want a good photograph and an attention- grabbing headline. Remember to highlight your unique selling proposition, and consider updating your headline around different local events or seasons.

Number of requests to book. This is the percentage of people who click on your listing end up requesting to book. Now they’re on your listing, and if you have good photography and a good description, and your price, location, and other features match what they’re looking for, then hopefully you just got a new booking.

Other (Niche) Online Booking Sites

Aside from the big listing sites like Airbnb and VRBO, you might also consider whether your property is appropriate for some niche listing sites. The benefit here is with fewer properties, you have a better chance of standing out and dominating your niche.

NicheEscapes.com – Multiple Niches

BringFido.com – Pet-friendly

MisterBandB.com – LGBT-friendly

RentLikeAChampion.com – Sporting Events

CorporateHousingbyOwner.com – Business Travel

Botique-Homes.com – Luxury Rentals

There are many more sites like this, so look around the internet for more niche vacation rental listing sites like these, and see if you find any that are a good fit for you and your property.

Your Own Website

A website is the backbone of an effective marketing strategy—it’s what ties your entire online presence together.

Take Direct Bookings

While listing on sites like Airbnb and VRBO is a great way to get exposure and bookings, being completely dependent on these sites for bookings has its drawbacks as well. You are at the mercy of their fee structure (like Airbnb’s 13% guest fee), and they determine your ranking in their search results.

Also, any traffic you send to your listing, through your own marketing efforts, will be shown a list of recommended alternatives to your property, which appear at the bottom of your Airbnb or VRBO listing.

With your own direct booking website, you can eliminate your dependency on online booking platforms. This means you can remove booking fees (and offer a discounted price for direct booking) or keep the fees for yourself.

With repeat guests, friends and family, and guests you find through your own marketing, you may be surprised how many direct bookings you can start to get. And this number will increase over time as you continue to market your property, provide a positive experience for your guests, and benefit from even more repeat guests and word-of-mouth marketing.

Before you start taking direct bookings, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Insurance. If you are renting your property outside of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, then you will need to make sure you have your own insurance coverage. In fact, it is a good idea to have your own insurance either way. Check out our list of vacation rental insurance options.

Contracts. You should have a legal contract or Terms & Conditions that your guests must agree to when booking. In some areas this is legally required, but either way, it’s a good idea to protect yourself and your property. If you create a Floorspace website, you will have the option to require guests to check a box indicating that they agree to your Terms & Conditions.

Taxes. Online booking platforms usually collect the required taxes. Taking direct bookings mean you will be responsible for collecting and submitting taxes. You can find a list of taxes collected by Airbnb to get an idea of what taxes you should be collecting and reporting on your own.

With Floorspace, you can easily create a website that handles direct bookings, online payments, and syncs with your Airbnb, VRBO, or other online booking calendar. So you can start to take direct bookings while continuing to use other online booking platforms. A website is the backbone of an effective marketing strategy—it’s what ties your entire online presence together.

Your Website as a Marketing Tool

Even if you don’t plan to take direct bookings for now, there are other benefits to having your own website.

First, having a website helps to establish your credibility as a host—it indicates a certain level of commitment, and communicates to your guests that you take your property and their experience seriously.

And perhaps most importantly, having a website with relevant content means you can start to show up in search results on search engines like Google.

Getting Started with SEO

Having your own website means your vacation rental can start to show up in search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), put simply, is how you go about making your website show up higher and get more clicks in search engine results.

To understand how to improve your ranking in search engines like Google, we need to understand their goals.

Google has one primary goal: to identify the web pages that are the most relevant to their users’ search queries. There are lots of ways they try to do this, but two fundamental pieces to their algorithm puzzle are keywords (do the words on your page match the words the user searched for) and backlinks (the number and quality of web pages that link back to your website and page).

Keeping in mind Google’s primary goal, two basic SEO terms to know are keywords and backlinks.

Keywords. In terms of SEO, keywords are the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines to find what they are looking for.

Backlinks. Backlinks are incoming links to your website. When a webpage links to any other page, it’s called a backlink. A link to your website from another website represents a “vote of confidence,” so to speak, which signals to search engines that your website is worth showing.

By creating relevant, keyword-specific content, and getting other websites to link back to that content, you can start to get targeted traffic to your website through search engines and through clicks on websites that link back to yours.

If you’re interested in learning more about the basics of SEO, we recommend you check out this SEO basics guide from Moz.

How to Find the Right Keywords

As you write content for your website, take some time to think about what your guests are searching for—these are the keywords you want to focus on. If it’s something like “Lake Tahoe Rental Cabins” or “Beach Houses for Rent in San Diego” then each of those words should show up on your website multiple times.

Here are some basic keywords to make sure you include on your website.

Your location. Include the name of your city, state, province, and/or region (and neighboring cities and areas).

Any nearby attractions. Mention any National Parks, mountains, forests, lakes, or other popular destinations in your area.

Your property type. Your guests might search for a specific type of rental, such as a cabin, house, A-frame, beach house, apartment, loft, etc.

Vacation rental keywords. Make sure to include general keywords like vacation, vacation rental, rental home, trip, rent, etc.

How to Get More Backlinks

Backlinks, again, are just links to your website from other websites. Google assumes that the more websites that link to your website, the more credible and relevant your content is. So your goal is to increase the number and quality of websites that link back to your content.

Here are a few ideas on how to get more backlinks.

Link to your website on social media. This is an easy one. Create a Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter account, whatever social accounts you use. Then add a link to your website in your profile and in your posts.

Use Quora. Quora is a platform where people can ask and answer questions. You might consider seeing if there are questions being asked about your area that you can answer. This not only establishes your credibility as a local expert, but you can add a valuable link back to your website.

Write guest blog posts. Another way to get links to your site is to offer to write guest blog posts. Is there a popular blog that covers topics or events related to your area? Offer to write a guest post for them, and include a link to your site in your bio and in the article, if it’s relevant.

Participate in forums and comment on blogs. Find forums, subreddits, or blog posts where you can make comments and post a link to your website or blog post. Make sure you read any forum participation rules to make sure submitting links is allowed.

Network with local businesses. Is there a wedding venue or other local businesses that need to offer places to stay? Contact them and see if they will put a link to your website on theirs. Links like these are invaluable, since they not only give you backlinks, which improves how search engines view your site, but they can also result in actual clicks and real, targeted traffic to your site.

If your website is full of keyword rich content, and you are getting links on other websites around the web back to your site, you have a better chance of showing up in Google search results. If your content is relevant and interesting, you have a better chance of keeping your website traffic on your website long enough to look around, trust you, and book with you.

Content to Include on Your Website

In writing your website content, aside from including relevant keywords, your focus should be on giving your guests all the information they need to feel confident planning their trip and booking with you.

You should include all the relevant details about your property—the number of guests, rooms, beds, and bathrooms, as well as amenities, house rules and policies, and anything else your guests should know before booking.

An FAQ page is a great way to cover anything else that comes up. Have answers to questions that your guests ask all the time? Organize them into a Q&A formatted page, and add it to your website’s navigation menu.

You might also consider creating a page that includes helpful information about the area—attractions, restaurants, your favorite spots. Anything the locals know that tourists don’t. Content like this positions you as a friendly, local expert and builds your credibility and trust. It also means your website visitors may come back to your site in the future to read your content, even if they don’t book with you right then.

How to Use Your Blog Effectively

We cannot overemphasize the benefits of a well-managed blog. A blog is an excellent tool for SEO, and it can also be a way for your guests to connect with you on a more personal level.

In writing your blog posts, try to focus on ‘long-tail’ keywords—these are longer, more specific keywords. You have a better chance of ranking for ‘Things to Do in Mission Beach Without Spending Money’ than for just ‘Things to Do in San Diego.’

There’s less search volume for long-tail keywords, but also fewer websites with relevant content. That means you have a better chance of competing against fewer relevant posts, and showing up in the results.

Here are a few example blog posts to consider:

Updates and photos of your property. Are you remodeling or working on the yard? Document the process on your blog. If you can take a video of the process and post the YouTube video to your blog, that’s even better.

Local events. Is your property near Sundance resort? It’s a good idea to post articles about the Sundance Film Festival in the weeks and months leading up to the event, and make sure to include a plug for your property.

Things to do in the area. Is there great hiking nearby? A national park? Try being more specific in your posts, with ‘long-tail’ keywords like “Top 10 Hikes Under 5 Miles in Scottsdale, Arizona” or “Our 5 Favorite Authentic Mexican Restaurants in Imperial Beach.”

Make a list of blog post ideas, and then commit to a schedule. If you decide to post weekly, maybe you take an afternoon and write out 4 blog posts and schedule them in advance, for a month’s worth of blog posts.

Social Media

The best advice we can give for social media marketing is to find a platform you like working with and be consistent. You can use a program like Later or Buffer to schedule posts in advance, so you keep on a schedule.

Whichever platform (or platforms) you choose, you should highlight it on your Airbnb/VRBO listing, on your website, and anywhere else you might interact with guests.

An active social media presence can help you to come across as approachable and responsive. Which will give your guests confidence that you’ll be attentive to their needs if they book with you. If guests find your Instagram and see that you haven’t posted in over a year, they might get the impression that you aren’t very involved, or question your commitment. Consistency is key.

Here are a few tips on how to use the most popular social media platforms.

Instagram. Post photos of your property, the scenery or cityscape in your area, and interesting attractions in your area. Use relevant hashtags and tag your property’s location in your posts. Be active in Instagram stories. If you’re comfortable, get behind the camera and introduce yourself. Post your best stories on Instagram highlights. You can organize them into topics like FAQs, Local Restaurants, Hikes, Attractions, Property.

Facebook. Post links to your blog posts, including the featured photo. Post any of the same photos or content you would post to Instagram (your property, the area, etc.). Engage with local businesses, organizations, and events, and share their posts.

Twitter. Retweet local businesses, organizations, and events. Post updates about your property.

YouTube. Post videos of hikes, city walk throughs, whatever you can do to create interesting content. Create and post a walkthrough video of your property.

Again, we recommend picking 1 or 2 platforms that you enjoy using, find a strategy that works (or keep trying different ideas), and be consistent.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of online marketing. You can use it as a way to stay connected with previous guests and encourage them to book with you again, as well as a way to connect with new potential guests.

Rather than trying to manage an email list in your email contacts, we recommend using an email marketing platform like Mailchimp. They have a free plan for accounts with fewer than 2,000 subscribers.

How to Grow Your Email List

The easiest way to grow your email marketing list is to keep the emails of your previous guests. Send your previous guests an email thanking them for staying with you, and let them know you’ll be sending occasional email updates.

You can also start to collect emails from your website visitors and social media followers. On your website and social media, you can offer a free download in exchange for signing up for your email newsletter—something like ‘2019 Local Guide to the Best Restaurants in Tallahassee’ or ‘Our Favorite Beach Spots in St. Petersburg.’

This is known as a ‘lead magnet’ and it can be a very effective way to grow a list of emails that could become future guests. Plus it means you are capitalizing on otherwise lost website traffic.

How to Do an Email Newsletter

Now that you have a growing email list, you want to decide how often you want to send out emails.

It’s a good idea to be consistent. You probably shouldn’t be writing an email every day or maybe even every week (unless you are writing some really good content), but if you go too long without sending an email, your subscribers may forget about you altogether.

Try to write something you yourself would want to read. Interesting, meaningful, and purposeful content will make your email subscribers happy to open and read your emails, and means they’ll stick around for your next email.

Think about what the purpose or theme of your newsletter is, and try to stick with it. Do you want to include information about the area? About updates to your home? If you are using your blog, you can send out email updates about posts.

Sending out a relevant, friendly email once a month or every few months will keep you in your guests’ (and future guests’) minds, making them more likely to book with you the next time they plan a trip to your area.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground, and we hope you have a better understanding of how to market your vacation rental.

Let’s recap with a few key takeaways.

Take professional photos of your property. If you can afford a professional, it’s worth the investment. If you decide to DIY, the tips we provided will help you get better photos.

Identify your unique selling proposition. Figure out what makes your property unique, and focus on it in your description, title, and website content. Create a ‘persona’ of your typical guest, and figure out what specifically about your property will appeal to them.

Stand out on booking sites. Get more bookings on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO with great photography, a compelling title and description (that focuses on your unique selling proposition), and by focusing on improving your search ranking. Also consider finding some select niche booking sites to list on as well.

Fill your website with relevant, keyword-rich content. Focus on giving your guests all the information they need on your website, and also start to show up in Google searches.

Start blogging. Use your blog to write relevant posts (focusing on specific, long-tail keyword topics) that will help you show up in Google searches.

Improve your search ranking by getting more backlinks. Get links to your website around the web. Participate in forums, write guest blog posts, engage with local business websites, and add your link to your social media.

Be active and consistent on social media. Pick 1 or 2 social media platforms you enjoy using and post and engage with other accounts consistently.

Build an engaged email list. Use an email marketing software to grow your email list and send a consistent, interesting email newsletter.

If you’re running all of this yourself, this might seem a bit overwhelming. Figure out what works for your situation, schedule, and budget. Also consider what tasks you can outsource. You might consider hiring a professional photographer to take your photos, a copywriter to maintain your blog or write compelling website content, a virtual assistant to help manage your social media.

We hope you find this blog post helpful. If you have any questions or thoughts, email support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host or connect with us on Instagram. We’d be happy to clarify or elaborate on any of the suggestions in this ebook, or help you in anyway way we can!

Vacation Rental Insurance Companies – Our Top 5 Picks

In this post we’re going over our top 5 picks for insurance companies that offer vacation rental (or short-term rental) insurance, specifically.

Hosts often wrongly assume that their homeowner’s insurance policy covers their vacation rental property. But most often, this is not the case. If you’re renting out your home to temporary guests, it’s likely that your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover that activity. So it’s important to make sure you are protected against property damages and personal liability.

If you’re booking your property through Airbnb or VRBO, you are covered by their host protection plans. But even then, it is safer to have your own short-term rental insurance policy. And if you want to take direct bookings, through your own booking website or otherwise, you will need your own short-term rental insurance coverage.

In response to the growth of the short-term vacation rental industry, there are more and more insurance companies offering coverage for homeowners who rent out their homes through Airbnb and similar sites.

Here are some insurance companies to consider when you’re looking for short-term rental insurance policies.

Our Top 5 Vacation Rental Insurance Company Picks

Slice

Slice Vacation Rental Insurance

With Slice, you only pay for the nights you want coverage. You can get coverage for an average of $7/night, and only pay for it the nights you use it. You can choose to use it only on nights where you take direct bookings, or use it even when you book through Airbnb.

Check out their website: https://slice.is/

Get a quote: https://apps.us.ics.slice.is/easy_estimate/homeshare

Proper Insurance

Proper Insurance Vacation Rental Website

Proper Insurance is backed by Lloyds of London, and they are exclusively endorsed by Airbnb and VRBO. They’re a legitimate, established option if you are looking for a solid insurance policy.

Website: https://www.proper.insure/

Foremost Insurance

Foremost Vacation Rental Insurance Website

Foremost offers flexible insurance plan options depending on your specific needs.

Website: https://www.foremost.com/products/seasonal-home/

Safely

Safely.ai Vacation Rental Insurance Website

One thing we love about Safely is their Safely Score™, which allows you to screen potential guests. One of the benefits of using a platform like Airbnb or VRBO is the guest reviews. Safely allows you to have a similar advantage by screening guests before they book with you.

Website: https://safely.ai/

Allstate HostAdvantage

Allstate Host Advantage Insurance Website

If you’re looking to go with a well-established, well-known insurance company, check out HostAdvantage by Allstate.

Website: https://www.allstate.com/home-insurance/host-advantage.aspx

Start taking direct bookings

With your own short-term rental insurance in place, you have the option to start taking direct bookings with the peace of mind that your property is insured. You can easily set up a beautiful website with Floorspace, and start taking direct bookings.

If you’re using one of these or another company for short-term rental insurance, we’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below!

Niche Vacation Rental Listing Sites

Listing on popular platforms like Airbnb and VRBO is a great way to get exposure and more bookings. But as a vacation rental owner, you might benefit from identifying smaller, more niche listing sites.

These sites have less traffic overall, but they are also less competitive, and the traffic is more targeted and specific. If your property is a good fit for the site, you might find that you’re able to get more bookings.

Here’s a list of sites broken, which we’ve split into two categories: location and interests/values.

By Values & Interests:

Is your property pet-friendly? Good for kids? Close to sporting arenas? If you or your property fits into certain areas of interest, you might benefit from listing on some of the sites below.

Boat-Friendly: BoatFriendly.com
Business: CorporateHousingbyOwner.com
Cannabis: BudandBreakfast.com
Family: Clanventure.com – rentals equipped for babies, toddlers, and kids.
LGBT: MisterBandB.com, GayHomestays.com, ebab.com
Healthcare: TransplantHousing.com
Luxury: DreamExoticRentals.com, Boutique-Homes.com, TimeandPlace.com, VillaRental.com
Multiple Niches: NicheEscapes.com – Everything from Eco Tourism to Glamping to Cultural and Historic
Pet-friendly: BringFido.com – How to apply: (https://www.rentalpreneurs.com/bringfido-com-niche-vacation-rental-websites/), PetsWelcome.com, PetsPyjamas.com
Sports: SpringTrainingVacationHomes.com (Sign up: https://www.vacationplacestostay.com/signup/), RentLikeAChampion.com

 

By Geography/Location:

Find your location: VHRNetwork.com 
Pacific Northwest: NorthwestStays.com
Northeast: NortheastStays.com
Smoky Mountains: SmokyMountains.com, SmokyMountainsbyOwners.com
Cape Code, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket: WeNeedaVacation.com

Alabama: AlabamaVacationHomeRentals.com
Alaska: AlaskaRentalPlaces.com
Arizona: AZVR.com
California: CaliStays.com
Colorado: COVacationHomes.com
Florida: EmeraldCoastByOwner.com, 30AHomeRentals.com, FloridaRentalbyOwners.com, Rent30A.com, RentDestinFL.com
Georgia: GeorgiaRentbyOwner.com
Hawaii: HawaiianIslandsVacationRentals.com, HawaiiChee.com
Idaho: VHRDirect.com
Maine: NortheastStays.com
Maryland: MDRBO.com
Michigan: GLRBO.com, RentMichiganCabins.com
Minnesota: RentMinnesotaCabins.com
Montana: RentMontanaCabins.com, VHRDirect.com
North Carolina: CarolinaVacationHomeRentals.com
Nevada: NevadaRBO.com
New York: NewYorkRentalbyOwner.com, RentNewYorkCabins.com
New Jersey: NJBookDirect.com
South Carolina: CarolinaVacationHomeRentals.com
Tennessee: RentTennesseeCabins.com
Utah: UTRBO.com
Vermont: NortheastStays.com
Virginia: VAVacationRentals.com
West Virginia: VAVacationRentals.com
Wisconsin: GLRBO.com, RentWisconsinCabins.com
Wyoming:VHRDirect.com

5 reasons why your vacation rental property should have a website

Vacation Rental Website on Macbook

1. Take direct bookings

One of the primary reasons to have a website for your vacation rental property is that you can eliminate fees charged by online booking platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. For instance, Airbnb adds a ~13% “guest fee” to your guests’ checkout price. That means 13% that’s going to Airbnb instead of to you.

When you have your own booking website, your only costs are monthly hosting (a Floorspace account is only $29/mo) and the credit card transaction fees of whatever payment platform you use (like PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30).

Of course, platforms like Airbnb are great for finding new guests. But what about repeat guests? If you have been renting your property for a while, it’s possible that 15-20% or more of your business is from returning guests! Returning guests are good because they require less attention than new guests, you already know they like your property and that they will treat it well, and they will also most likely tell their friends about the wonderful vacation rental property they frequently visit.

If you have your own booking website, you can encourage more returning guests by letting them know they can book directly through you and save money. In addition, some savvy guests will hunt around for a better deal on your property, looking to avoid booking fees. If you have a website, chances are they’ll book with you.

2. Stand out in a competitive market and establish credibility

The short-term vacation rental market is growing every year. If you want to stand out in this crowded market, a website is a really great thing to have. Having a website separates you from a sea of vacation rental properties and gives the impression that you’re serious–that you know what you’re doing. If you seem like you’ve been in business a while and know how to take really good care of your guests, then guests are more likely to feel comfortable and decide to book with you.

Remember, guests looking for short-term rentals have almost limitless options these days. A website is a simple way to make your vacation rental property feel more established and help guests decide to book with you.

3. Level up your marketing

If you’re serious about marketing your vacation rental, a website should be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy. A basic aspect of online marketing is putting “links” to your property around the internet. This might include your Instagram bio, Facebook posts, tweets, marketing emails, local business directories, online forums, and more.

If you are linking back to your Airbnb or other online booking platform listing, you’re also giving potential guests a tailored list of comparable listings in your area (Airbnb’s “More places to stay” recommendations), and other distractions. This is like if Marriott went to all the trouble to market their hotels, and then included a list of comparable hotels in the area on their website pages.

Granted, potential guests are almost always going to shop around, and being on Airbnb and other online booking platforms is still an excellent way to be discovered. But if you’re going to all the trouble to market yourself (via social media, etc.) then you should have a website you can link to, so you can introduce your property without introducing other competing properties in your area.

Another reason a website can be a powerful marketing tool is your blog. Search engines like Google love blogs that are updated regularly with relevant content. Potential guests searching on for rentals in your area might find you because Google adds one of your relevant blog posts to their search results. A website is an essential part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or content marketing strategy.

4. Take control of your brand

You put your blood, sweat, and tears into making your vacation rental property unique. Shouldn’t your online presence reflect that? When you’re limited to a few pictures and a brief description of your property (crammed into the same template as every other property), it’s hard to let your personality and what makes your property unique show through.

When you have your own website, you can make it 100% your own. You can customize the colors, fonts, logo, and more. Have videos to add? No problem. Make your website as unique as your vacation rental property.

5. It’s easy

With the ease and affordability of website builder platforms, it’s never been easier to build your own website.

With Floorspace, you can easily build a beautiful website for your vacation rental that allows your guests to book directly through you. You can take reservations and payments, without paying any additional fees.

If you want to try it out, you can sign up for your free 14 day trial!

Start your free trial!

Have questions? Email us at support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host and we’ll answer any questions you have!

How to set up online booking and payment processing for your website

Booking confirmation emails

Floorspace sends confirmation and cancellation emails to you and your guests. You can disable, enable, and edit the content of these emails in Booking > Settings > Admin Emails and Bookings > Settings > Customer Emails.

Additionally, go to Bookings > Settings > Email Settings to change the name and email from which these emails are sent.

Payment Gateways

To accept payments on your Floorspace website, you need to enable a third-party payment gateway. Floorspace integrates with several payment gateways. You can use any one or all of the following:

  • PayPal
  • 2Checkout
  • Stripe
  • Braintree
  • Beanstream/Bambora

If you don’t already have any of these accounts, we recommend PayPal or Stripe. To integrate, you must create an account with the payment gateway(s) you would like to use.

To enable Stripe

Stripe is a simple and secure way to accept credit card payments online. They charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, which is automatically taken out of your payment.

  1. Create a Stripe account (link)
  2. Go to Bookings > Settings > Payment Gateways and click on ‘Stripe’
  3. Check ‘Enable “Pay by Card” (Stripe)’
  4. If you want to test a booking and payment using Stripe, check ‘Enable Sandbox Mode’
  5. Enter the ‘Secret Key’ and ‘Public Key’ from your Stripe account. (How to find your Stripe keys)
  6. Click ‘Save Changes’
  7. Once you have done a successful test booking and payment transaction, make sure to uncheck ‘Enable Sandbox Mode’
  8. If you want to make Stripe your default payment gateway, go to Bookings > Settings > Payment Gateways and click ‘General Settings’ and select ‘Stripe’ from the ‘Default Gateway’ dropdown menu.

To enable PayPal

PayPal is a well-known payment gateway, and has the benefit of allowing people to checkout using their PayPal account, without having to enter their credit card information. They charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, which is automatically taken out of your payment.

  1. Create a PayPal business account (link)
  2. Go to Bookings > Settings > Payment Gateways and click on ‘PayPal’
  3. Check ‘Enable “PayPal”‘
  4. If you want to test a booking and payment using PayPal, check ‘Enable Sandbox Mode’
  5. Enter your PayPal business email.
  6. Click ‘Save Changes’
  7. Once you have done a successful test booking and payment transaction, make sure to uncheck ‘Enable Sandbox Mode’
  8. If you want to make PayPal your default payment gateway, go to Bookings > Settings > Payment Gateways and click ‘General Settings’ and select ‘PayPal’ from the ‘Default Gateway’ dropdown menu.

Important note: Once you have your Payment Gateway(s) set up, go to Bookings > Settings > Payment Gateways and click on ‘Test Payment’ and uncheck both boxes. This will remove the test payment option from your site.

How to sync your website calendar with Airbnb and VRBO

You can sync your Floorspace website calendar with online booking platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and others.

Our calendars use the standard iCal format, which means you can export bookings from your website to Airbnb, VRBO, etc. and you can  import bookings to your website from Airbnb and others. This prevents double booking on your website or any other online booking platform.

Related: How to sync your Airbnb and VRBO calendars

Setting up calendar sync is a 2 part process. You’ll need to:

  1. export a calendar URL to an external channel/channels (to notify them about the bookings made through your site) and
  2. import the link from them to your site (to notify your site about the bookings made through the channels).

During synchronization, Floorspace downloads bookings from the external booking platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) by the imported links. And all other external channels download the bookings from your Floorspace account by the exported links according to their internal schedules. Again, this prevents double booking.

To configure calendar sync, go to Bookings > Sync Calendars. 

Vacation Rental Website Builder Dashboard Calendar Sync

Click the Edit button and insert the external links provided by external booking platforms.

Click Add New Calendar and insert all the external links (no limitation) and Update to save the changes:

Vacation Rental Website Builder - Sync Airbnb Calendar

Now you can export the internal calendar links of your website (the Export column) to other booking platforms following their instructions, e.g:

How to import and export Calendars on Booking.com

How to import and export Airbnb calendars

How to import and export VRBO calendars

How to import and export HomeAway or VacationRentals.com calendars

How to import and export TripAdvisor calendars

Once all your platforms are linked to your site, you can manually sync by clicking the ‘Sync all external calendars’ button.

By default, calendars will sync automatically once every hour. To change these settings, go to Bookings > Settings > General and scroll down to ‘Calendars Synchronization Scheduler.’

Getting started with your new Floorspace website

Thanks for choosing Floorspace for your vacation rental website! In this article, we’ve outlined some basic information to help you get started setting up your new website. If you need help, please feel free to email support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host and we’ll answer any questions you have.

Customize your website

Add your own content and styles to showcase your unique vacation rental property.

Create pages

Your site can have as many or as few pages as you want.

Go to Website > Pages to see a list of your pages.

To create a new page, click the ‘Add New’ button. Give your page a title, some content, and then click ‘Publish’ to make your page live.

Vacation Rental Website Builder Dashboard - Pages

Want to add a page to your navigation menu? Go to Website > Customize and click on ‘Menus’ > ‘Main Menu’ to add your new page to the list of links in your navigation menu.

Vacation Rental Website Builder Dashboard - Menus

Customize the design of your site

Go to Website > Customize to customize the fonts, colors, and homepage content of your website.

Start by choosing a Theme Preset. Click on ‘Theme presets’ and select different options until you find one that you like. You can use the preset as is, or further customize it. Click the back arrow button to return to the other Customization options.

Explore the different customization options. You can edit things like the number of photos on the homepage, the background color, fonts, and more.

Want something totally custom? We can help! Email support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host to get a quote for custom web design for your site. 

Add your Instagram feed to your website

Go to Website > Instagram. Click ‘Remove’ to remove the Floorspace Instagram feed from your site. Click the ‘Connect an Instagram Account’ button, and sign in with your Instagram credentials.

Add Instagram to Vacation Rental Website

As long as ‘Footer Instagram Feed’ is turned on under Website > Customize > Footer, your Instagram account should show up in the footer of your website. Note that it may take 1-2 hours for new photos you post to show up on your website. 

GDPR Compliance

Europe’s recent GDPR cookie consent regulations can seem intimidating, but we’ve made it simple for you. We automatically include a banner at the bottom of your site, which informs your visitor that your site uses cookies (basically a packet of information that websites use to track activity).

If you want to turn this off, or adjust any of the settings, you can do so under Website > GDPR Consent. Be aware that if you are marketing to people in the EU, you are legally required to notify website users about website cookie use.

Connect a custom domain to your site

If you selected a custom domain during sign up, it will become active once you make your first payment.

Add Custom Domain to Website

If you did not choose a custom domain, you can set up your website to use your own domain. Click on the ‘Account’ page and follow the instructions under the ‘Custom Domain’ section. Email support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host if you have any trouble setting this up, and we’ll be happy to help.

Set up booking & payments

*If you are on our Basic plan, upgrade your plan to include online booking and payment processing. 

Your Floorspace account allows you to accept reservations and online payments right on your own website! Here are the steps needed to get your booking calendar and online payment gateways up and running.

Sync your booking calendar with Airbnb, VRBO, etc.

Read this article for how to sync your website booking calendar with Airbnb and VRBO or other online booking platform.

Bookings features

Here is a brief overview of some of the ‘Bookings’ pages in your account:

  • All Bookings – See a list view of all your bookings (both from your website and imported from other platforms)
  • Calendar – View all bookings in a calendar format
  • Payments – View a history of all your payments through your website.
  • Seasons – Seasons are date ranges during which you want to charge specific rates. Set up as many seasons as you want. These can include long seasons like ‘Winter’ or ‘Summer’, or you can also create shorter, more specific seasons like ‘Weekends – 2020’ or ‘Beyonce Concert.’
  • Rates – Rates are used to offer different prices depending on extra conditions. If you don’t offer any upgrade options, you can just use the default ‘Standard Rate.’ Important note: Order your seasons with the most expensive at the top, so that if there are any seasons that have overlapping date ranges, the most expensive one will take priority. To edit the rate’s seasons, click ‘Edit’ under ‘Standard Rate’ and drag the rates. Click ‘Enable Variable Pricing’ if you want to charge different prices based on the number of guests. Vacation Rental Website Builder Dashboard - Charge Rates
  • Booking Rules – Here you can specify check-in and check-out days (leave as is if you don’t want to limit days that guests can check in or out, and max and min stays.
  • Taxes & Fees – Want to add a cleaning fee? Need to collect local taxes? Add these here.
  • Coupons – Create coupon codes you can use to offer discounts for booking on your site.
  • Services – Services are extra offers that you can sell or give for free. E.g. Thai massage, transfer, babysitting. Guests can pre-order them when placing a booking.
  • Property Settings – Select the amenities, guest capacity, and add any services you want to offer.
  • Reports – Export a .csv file of your bookings.
  • Sync Calendars – Sync your booking calendar with your other online booking platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, or any iCal format calendar. Read more about how to sync your Airbnb and VRBO booking calendars with your website.
  • Settings – Here is where you configure things like check-in and check-out times, confirmation and cancellation emails, and your payment gateways (like PayPal and Stripe). Read this article for how to add online booking and payments to your website.

Use your blog

Your Floorspace blog is a great way to promote your vacation rental property. You might consider writing short posts about fun things to do in your area, local business reviews, sharing reviews and stories from your guests, or a hundred other ideas. With the right content strategy, your blog can even help you rank higher in Google searches for things like “Vacation Rental Properties in [City, State].”

Floorspace is built on WordPress, so you get access to an easy-to-use, search engine and SEO-friendly blogging platform.

Create a post

Go to Blog > Posts to see a list of your posts. To create a new post, click ‘Add New.’ Give your post a title, add some content, and then click ‘Publish’ or save your post as a draft for later.

Note: You can either edit or trash the ‘Hello World!’ post that is included by default.

Manage comments

By default, anyone can comment on your blog posts. If you want to turn commenting off, go to Blog > Settings and uncheck ‘Allow people to post comments on new articles.’ Adjust any other settings on this page as you want, including whether you must manually approve comments.

Once you receive comments, they will show up in Blog > Comments as a list. You can then approve or delete them.

Categories and tags

Go to Blog > Categories and Blog > Tags to organize your blog posts with categories and tags that you set up.

Your new website

The information in this article should help you get your website set up.

We’re so excited for you and your new website, and we want to make your experience using Floorspace as pleasant as possible! If you have any questions, please email us at support@floorspacesite.wpmudev.host and we’ll answer any questions you have.

Top 10 Blogs Every Airbnb Host Should Follow

Whether you are new to the Airbnb world of vacation rentals or are the most senior Superhost, there is always value in staying up to date with the latest information. We are hard at work creating future content for the Floorspace blog to bring you, but in the mean time, here is a list of our Top 10 blogs and communities you should follow to learn tips and tricks for your rental property.

AirBnb Blog

Pillow

The Abundant Host

Airbnb Secrets

OurBnb

Laptop Landlord

GuestReady

Airbnb Guide

bnbNomad

Get Paid for Your Pad

Top 10 Blogs Every Airbnb Host Should Follow

Whether you are new to the Airbnb world of vacation rentals or are the most senior Superhost, there is always value in staying up to date with the latest information. We are hard at work creating future content for the Floorspace blog to bring you, but in the mean time, here is a list of our Top 10 blogs and communities you should follow to learn tips and tricks for your rental property.

AirBnb Blog

Pillow

The Abundant Host

Airbnb Secrets

OurBnb

Laptop Landlord

GuestReady

Airbnb Guide

bnbNomad

Get Paid for Your Pad