Leaders & Laggards In The Vacation Rental Marketplace (2013) – VRMB
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Leaders & Laggards In The Vacation Rental Marketplace (2013)


The vacation rental industry is polarized by two distinct types of owners, Leaders and Laggards, a new Vacation Rental Marketing Blog survey finds.

Contrary to popular belief, generating a strong vacation rental marketing portfolio is less related to the characteristics of a property, the conditions of the marketplace, or even the skill-level of an owner. Contrarily, it is the proprietor’s very own attitude and mindset that act as the greatest variable.

The most gorgeous vacation rental in the world could be ridden with vacancies while a most humble rental, just next door, could be booked solid year-round. What can be deduced from this survey is that vacation rental Leaders are successful because they make themselves successful. Leaders tend to be optimists: constantly looking for ways to improve, taking responsibilities for their actions, and coercing their thinking into best-case scenarios.

But the million-dollar question is: How do they do that?

The answer is good habits. Results of the follow survey conclude that vacation rental Leaders (defined as those who feel their current marketing portfolio is stronger than the year’s past) exhibit very different personality traits when compared to Laggards (defined as those who feel their marketing portfolio is equal or less strong than the year’s past).

Leaders & Laggards In The Vacation Rental Marketplace, released in March, 2013, focuses on the relationship between an owner’s performance and his/her overall attitude about marketing. From it, specialists can glean that successful owners demonstrate the following nine personality traits:

The 9 Traits Of Successful Vacation Rental Owners


1. Leaders are optimists

5 out of every 6 Leaders (or 81%) approach every guest inquiry with the optimistic possibility that it could lead to an actual booking. Only 19% of vacation rental Leaders stated that they treat some inquiries differently depending on appearance.

It is important to note that optimism should not be confused with positive affirmation: positive thinking is the effect not the cause. It can be gleaned that the real success for owners is not merely the result of positive thinking.

Leaders are proactively responding to all inquiries with the same effort, which in turn, gives them better odds of sealing bookings. Laggards, on the other hand, tend to be discriminatory in their response efforts, assuming the worst when a less-than-optimal inquiry arrives.


2. Leaders constantly look for ways to improve

When asked about their proactivity, the vast majority of Leaders (95%) said they were always trying to learn as much as possible about ways to increase bookings, which suggests that the quest to get better is directly proportional with success in the vacation rental marketplace.

Leaders tend to seek out new techniques (from blogs, forums, other owners…etc.) and demonstrate analytical behavior in evaluating what activities work and which ones do not. This exploratory and investigative approach lead to a more well-rounded marketing portfolio.

Laggards, conversely, expressed that they had a sufficient system in place that worked “just fine,” seeking little inspiration or advice from others.


3. Leaders set high goals

Owners who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t.

In fact, when asked to choose between the target of (a) 100% occupancy with the ultimate goal of acquiring another property and (b) a plan to merely “generate enough income to cover existing costs,” a decisive 83% of Leaders chose option “A.”

This percentage suggests that when owners dare to dream big or at least aim above the status quo, their mind likely puts itself in a focused and positive state on the road to higher occupancy. Oppositely, Laggards tend to set occupancy goals that are inside their comfort zone and thus easily attainable. This mindset, it turns out, is correlated to under-performance.


4. Leaders speak well of their competitors

When in private, 71% of Leaders said they speak highly of their competitors compared to only 29% of whom said they honestly exposed their competitors’ flaws and shortcomings.

For Leaders, speaking positively about competitors appears to open a wide range of social, business, and pleasurable opportunities.

As seen in dense vacation rental communities where owners work together, positive expectations of one another lead owners to behave peacefully, openly, and actively which promotes an improved vacation rental standard and increased referrals. In fact, this “win win” mindset is not merely a characteristic of the Leaders: it is, at broader scope, a common feature of the leading vacation rental destinations as a whole.


5. Leaders see problems as challenges

When asked how they view vacancies on their vacation rental calendar, 94% of Leaders identified them as “challenges” whereas 68% of Laggards chose the word “problems.”

A vacancy problem is viewed as a drawback or a struggle whereas a vacancy challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity or a dare.

Leaders seem to use vacancies as lessons and they move on from slow periods optimistically, whereas the vast majority of Laggards tend to dwell on shortcomings.

From the survey results, it can be concluded that the word “problem” is seldom part of a Leader’s vocabulary and that seeing room for improvement as an opportunity tends to spark success.


6. Leaders rarely make excuses

It can be easy to blame slow bookings on bad weather, a slow economy, or too much competition. After all, serious growth in the vacation rental industry has brought with it new obstacles to making money.

But as found in the survey, successful owners are overwhelmingly characterized by taking responsibility for their own actions. Nearly 97% of Leaders said they rarely (or never) made excuses for vacancies.

Instead of making excuses or blaming listing sites for their own poor performance, Leaders in the vacation rental marketplace own up to their faults and, by doing so, proactively grow for the better.

Laggards, on the other hand, tend to blame outside factors for their under-performance in order to avoid taking responsibility themselves. This regressive mindset seems to hold Laggards back from reaching their full potential.


7. Leaders are methodical

When polled, 68% of Leaders said they dedicated a fixed time every month to their vacation rental marketing, instead of working haphazardly whenever time happens to permit.

Consistence is scientifically tied to successful behavior and has a way of directly increasing productivity.

Oppositely, when done on the fly, vacation rental marketing tends to be unfocused and less effective. It is recommended that owners take dedicated approaches to their marketing, to set aside specific time periods each month, and to not rush through their activities.


8. Leaders are competitive and aware of their surroundings

Competition is becoming an increasingly relevant topic in local vacation rental markets, and so it’s no surprise that an owner’s attitude about his or her competitors tends to directly influence their real-time performance.

When asked, an amazing 91% of Leader owners said they frequently weigh their performance against their nearest competitors while a surprising 41% of Laggards choose to outright ignore the competition. Leaders are constantly feeling out what’s around them and they tend to benefit from this exposure. Awareness and sense of relativity appears to be directly proportional to an owner’s success.


9. Leaders exhibit control

Nearly twice as many Leaders (65%) than not said that they felt “in total control of their bookings,” admitting that “if their rental was not fully booked, it was because they let themselves down.” This is an amazing statistic, because it suggests that the mere feeling of being in control has far-reaching consequences.

On the other half of the spectrum, more than half of Laggards (52%) said they were “at the mercy of listing sites.” It can be concluded that “feeling” in control of one’s own marketing is directly correlated with vacation rental success. The opposite is also true: owners who leave their success up to the performance of third party players are prone to under-performance.


About The Survey: Data for the survey was collected over the weeks of March 1 – March 20, 2013. It canvassed 992 independent vacation rental owners and managers across the globe that volunteered, without compensation, to partake in the anonymous survey. The results were filtered according to the self-perceived strength or weakness of an owner’s marketing portfolio when compared to the year’s past.


About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.


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