When it comes to listing your Charleston SC home as a vacation rental, there are many factors that go into attracting guests to book their stay with you.  For anyone self-managing their own vacation rental home, you may be forgetting some key factors that truly make a difference for your bottom line. Anyone can tidy up, snap a few photos on their phone, and post it to one of the top booking sites, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a full calendar and growing profits.  We’ve picked the brains of our booking and marketing experts for their tips on how to optimize your vacation rental listing and create a positive experience for your guests.

  1. Create A Polished Listing – Poor grammar, spelling, and spacing can be red flags for potential guests. It can give the appearance that you don’t pay attention to details, so always proofread your listing to make sure you’re providing complete and accurate information in an organized and professional manner.
  2. Use Professional, High Quality Photos – Make a good first impression with potential renters by showing them a clean, bright, and inviting space in the pictures of your home. Investing in professional photography can be an upfront expense, but will pay for itself in the long run through increased bookings.
  3. Create Curb Appeal – The exterior appearance of your rental home is just as important as the interior of the property. Guests don’t want to start their trip by pulling up to a home that looks abandoned or neglected. Maintain the yard or invest in professional yard maintenance, and make sure decks, handrails, and siding are in good condition.
  4. Strike A Balance Between Lived-In and Personalized – Create the feeling that the home is lived-in by making sure the space is clean, dust and cobweb free, well maintained, and comfortably furnished. When guests are staying, make sure to tuck away personal items, such as pictures of friends and family, as guests don’t want to feel as if they are intruding on your life during their stay.
  5. Booking Restrictions – Too many restrictions on availability, access, amenities, and environmental controls can be incredibly off putting to guests. This includes restriction on utilities (water, electric, heating/air). Of course there are certain restrictions such as no smoking that you’ll want to disclose, but don’t go overboard. Guests should still feel as if they are at home… after all, that is the point of a vacation rental.
  6. Competitive Pricing Is Key – You may think that by offering the lowest rates in the area your property will appear to be the best value, however low, low rates may seem suspicious to potential guests. Price your property on par with similar properties in the area, and entice guests to choose your property through other means such as clean and comfortable decor and convenient amenities.
  7. Disclose ALL Fees Upfront – No one likes surprise fees, and this can leave a bad taste for guests that are unaware of costs that are tacked on to their bill later. Be upfront with renters about any fees that are not included in the nightly rate, such as taxes, city or cleaning fees.
  8. Don’t Overwhelm Guests – When it comes to information sharing it’s all about striking a balance. While too little information can leave guests with questions and frustrations, overwhelming them with too much information in the listing notes, or at the time of booking can also be off-putting. Stick with the need-to-know information in the property description and upon booking, let them know what they can expect so that they can plan for their trip. As their check-in date approaches, provide them with property details such as access or parking information.
  9. Get A Few Reviews Under Your Belt – Guests are less likely to book a property with no reviews, i.e. no one vouching for the positive experience that they can expect. Let friends and family know that you’re listing a new rental property and invite them to come and stay for a few nights at a discounted rate in exchange for a review of their experience. This is also a great way to get honest feedback about any challenges the property may have before you put it up for rent.

When crafting your listing, the best thing you can do is put yourself in the shoes of a potential guest visiting Charleston. What are things you would look for, or things that would put you off from booking a vacation rental? If you wouldn’t stay at that property based on the information presented in the listing, chances are neither would anyone else. By crafting a well thought out, quality rental listing you will be setting your home up for success in the future.

We incorporate each of these 9 tips (and more!) when marketing each one of our Charleston vacation rental properties, which are then syndicated to all the top bookings sites – AirBnB, VRBO, Home Away and more. The attention to detail, along with a polished, professional look will go a LONG way when it comes to securing bookings and generating revenue. See more about how we manage our ever-growing portfolio of Charleston vacation rentals in the guide below…