“Take a look on Airbnb and you’ll see 300+ properties in Phuket in which homeowners are renting out their properties, mostly on a short term and nightly basis,” Mr Leathem notes.
“It’s not just Airbnb and it’s not just 300 properties. Websites like HomeAway & Holiday Lettings have hundreds more unique villas, houses and even tree-houses available for rent in Phuket,” he adds.
Worldwide, this is becoming a trend as travellers are looking for a more memorable experience. They value the more personal and interactive approach these websites take, especially when compared with industry giants Booking.com and Expedia.
“It’s a shift of power away from the hotel industry to individual homeowners,” explains Mr Leathem, “Now homeowners have the opportunity to generate hotel like returns from their properties.
“This is easier said than done but there are simple simple steps to take that help generate generous recurring returns on your property.”
Mr Leathem points out he often sees “very common mistakes” on the likes of Airbnb. “Properties which are underpriced and poorly marketed,” he says.
“For example, a four-bedroom house for B4,000 per night in high season, or many listings with pricing that doesn’t change throughout the year or which have rental restrictions like one-week minimum stays.
“Also, from my research, only a select handful of properties appear on multiple OTAs (online travel agencies),” he notes.
“From this information alone, I can say that most – and I mean about 90% – of owners are not maximising their rental returns.
“Most people are looking for returns, however, most people are not doing things in the proper way and therefore not maximising their returns.
“Most owners would have no idea the returns they should be generating unless they were giving a proper assessment by someone in the industry,” Mr Leathem adds.
In getting the most from vacation rentals, Mr Leathem noted the following specific strategies that LoftyPhuket provides for their clients:
Create a Vast Web Presence. About 90% of vacation rental bookings happen online, so it’s crucial your property is listed on as many websites as possible. Airbnb, HomeAway, Holiday Letting, just to name a few. Post professional property photos, use your real name, and display a picture of your face. This will help build trust between you and potential customers and generate more bookings.
Become acquainted with LivePhuket.com. They are a Phuket-based booking website which allows potential customers to interact with their knowledgeable reservation team. They have the ability to bring you many customers.
Reply Quickly. These days guests expect to speak with someone before, during and after their booking, asking dozens of questions and expecting speedy replies is the norm. If you don’t answer them, they will move on, so do your best to respond to inquiries as soon as possible. During their stay make sure they have a landline to be able to speak to you at any time.
Allow Instant Bookings. If customers need your approval before they can make a reservation, then say goodbye to the majority of the market. Certain websites, like villas.com, only allow properties if they are able to be booked instantly. Others websites, like Airbnb, just prefer listings with this feature turned on.
If you want to do this, your calendar and prices need to be constantly up to date. This is crucial, because if you cannot honour a booking then your property listing will be punished severely. Luckily, there are software programs like www.Myallocator.com and YieldPlanet.com that can synchronise your calendar and prices across multiple booking websites.
Offer Daily Cleaning. Customers have high standards. Most customers will want cleaning, towels, and toiletries offered everyday. Customers also expect this to be included in the price. If you’re busy enough you may have to hire a cleaning person full time.
Practice Preventative Maintenance. Things will break and seemingly at the worst possible times. Don’t expect customers to be forgiving, especially when it’s not their fault. The solution for this is preventative maintenance. Things like testing air-conditioners, water and lighting systems, telephones, televisions, fire detection systems, and so on.
You need to find the problems before the customer does. If something does break during a customers stay, make sure to have maintenance people ready and fix the problems as soon as possible. If you don’t do this, expect bad reviews and fewer bookings.
Make Clear Rules & Policies. Disputes with customers will eventually arise. They may cause damage they don’t want to pay for or they may want a refund for seemingly no good reason. Maybe they have a valid complaint.
Whatever the issue, follow the policies and rules. Make them as clear as possible and have customers agree to them before they arrive. This will save you many problems.
Use Professional Photos. This one is simple: the better the property looks, the better the chance someone will rent it, and there is no better advertising the people posting reviews that the property looks as good as in the photos. Anything less than this, and you’re selling your self short.
Dynamic Season Pricing. As mentioned above, offering the right rates to the right market at the right time of year allows you to make sure you maximise the returns you are looking for while making sure your property looks attractive compared with competing properties in the same market.
To see all Lofty Villa's vacation rentals in Phuket, visit LoftyVillas.com.