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    Marketing & Managing Your Vacation Rental

    Marketing your rental home is an ongoing process. We recommend rental directories (in the Internet list at the end of this article) which, at this writing, are the most important directories in which to be listed. In addition, if you are aiming towards a special type of customer (families, luxury, golf-oriented, etc.), you should consider listing or advertising your rental in specific websites that cater to those type of clients.

    A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in the place of a prospective renter. Go to Google and type in the words that you would use to look for a vacation rental in Merida. Then list your website on whichever websites come up on the first page of Google as a result of your search.

    For a place like Merida and the Yucatan Gulf Coast, advertising for rentals mostly takes place on the internet. If you live somewhere other than Merida, you should also consider advertising your vacation rental in your home town. After all, if you like to come to Merida, chances are there are others in your same situation that would also like it. Local newspapers, craigslist, bulletin boards, church publications, etc. are all good places to let people know about your lovely vacation rental.

    Tracking Costs and Reporting Income
    Keep all receipts for any costs related to your property, so you can offset them against your income tax. Your accountant will be able to tell you which ones you can claim. If you are renting your home in Yucatan more vigorously than the occasional renter, you should check with your Yucatecan accountant as well. As a business owner in the Yucatan, there are certain rules must follow and certain income and expenses that must be reported. Failure to do so may result in a fine by the Mexican or Yucatan State government. (If you do not have a local accountant, YES can provide you with a list of trusted English-speaking accountants.)

    Insurance
    If you have home insurance on your vacation rental, inform your insurance company that your home will be rented. If you must make a claim for damage or theft, and have not established the property as a rental with the insurance company, they have every right not to pay. (YES can provide you with a list of insurance agents that speak English and who can provide you with reasonably-priced home insurance.)

    Property Management
    If you do not live in or near your vacation rental and manage the property yourself, you will need someone to clean and maintain the property, as well as deal with guests on the spot. Maintenance is a constant in the tropics, and good property management is essential to a successful rental.

    Cleaning and Supplies
    A guest’s first impression is the most important one and the most difficult to change. It is essential that the property is thoroughly cleaned between every rental. You will also want to provide daily or weekly cleaning services for guests who stay for longer periods of time. Linens should be changed between rentals, or weekly in the case of long-term guests. Floors should be cleaned at least weekly, possibly more often during the rainy season.

    Regular cleaning at an agreed upon time during extended rentals enables you or your property manager to keep watch on your property. It will also allow you to avoid a huge cleaning job at the end of the rental.

    Many guests like to keep a clean house, especially in the kitchen. Be sure to keep essential cleaning supplies well-stocked and ready for guests to use as well.

    Welcoming Your Guests
    You can and should send directions (with the house’s address clearly spelled out) and maps to your guests before they arrive, including a list of transportation choices at the airport. You can leave keys with a neighbor sometimes, but it is best to have an English-speaking (in most cases) representative to greet guests when they arrive. Many visitors to Merida are here for the first time, and having a friendly face and someone to ask questions helps them to be comfortable from the beginning. Answering questions on the spot will help you avoid problems or complaints later on.

    In order to have a smooth welcome event, be sure to find out when the guest is due to arrive, and give the guest a cell phone number for your representative who will be greeting them. A few touches in the house on the first night will solidify a good impression. Fruit, chocolate, beer, wine, water and/or soft drinks in the refrigerator are always welcome. In addition, fresh flowers give the home a cozy and welcoming ambiance, as well as a few sweet-smelling candles.

    Goodbyes
    If possible, see your guests off or arrange for someone to be at the property when your guests leave. Your presence (or that of your property manager) gives you a chance to do a quick walk-through of the home to assess any damage, check the inventory, read the electricity meter, take possession of keys and air conditioning remotes, and maybe return your guests’ deposit.

    Ask for Feedback
    Providing your guests with an evaluation form either when you say goodbye, or in email a few days later, enables you to gather candid opinions that will help you to improve the experience of your vacation rental for future guests. Be sure to leave a space for comments, and also provide a checkbox for their permission to use their comments in your marketing material.

    List of Helpful Websites
    To List your rental:
    www.yucatanliving.com (in their Vacation Rental section)
    www.vrbo.com
    www.vacationrentals.com
    www.homeaway.com

    For more tips on preparing your rental:
    www.wikihow.com – Turning your home into a vacation rental
    www.vacationrentalpeople.com – Owners Guide and Helpful Tips
    ownercommunity.homeaway.com – Owner Checklist

    Some marketing ideas:
    Marketing your vacation home in Print and in Person
    Marketing your vacation home Online

    YES Services
    Yucatan Expatriate Services (YES) provides vacation home preparation and property management as one of our services. We have bilingual “feet on the ground” to watch your property, manage repairs and upgrades, greet , monitor and provide services to guests. In addition, we can provide you with accounting, legal and website professionals so that you can establish your vacation rental home and business here in a responsible and professional manner, avoiding future problems by doing things right the first time.

    For more information, please contact YES today!

    Still building your home? Check out our tips on building your home to rent as a vacation home.

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