Meet Glenn: holiday rental owner, Torquay, VIC

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Glenn started operating this holiday rental in 2010, after it was built. We spoke to him about what it takes to make his holiday rentals a success.

What’s unique about your holiday rental?

Probably the thought that went in behind it. “Prior planning prevents poor performance” is the mantra we utilised when designing this purpose-built holiday home. We thought about WHO would like to stay at Torquay right by the beach, and WHY they would stay there. We then set about building a townhouse that would be attractive to that market. The same thought process could be applied to an existing house, newly introduced to the holiday rental market.

Financially or otherwise, how has your holiday rental benefited you?

Quite frankly, without holiday letting we simply wouldn’t be able to afford to keep our property. Renting holiday homes has enabled us to ride out the difficult financial times by giving us higher returns than permanent rentals, which gives us the opportunity to realise our asset at a time of our choosing.

What made you decide to make your property into a holiday rental?

After receiving such poor returns through permanent holiday letting with previous houses.

Did you face any challenges when you first entered this business?

Yes, some of the biggest challenges were around client selection and ensuring our neighbours’ amenity was respected. We still face these challenges.

Some holiday rental owners like to manage every detail personally, from handling enquiries to property maintenance. What balance works best for you?

I believe in working to your strengths, whether they are in sales, marketing, or home maintenance. Utilise what you’re good at (and have time for) and get a professional to do the rest.

In your experience, what does it take to run a holiday rental successfully?

Pragmatism, a bit of old-fashioned give and take, and the ability to figure out what works for everyone involved. Always put yourself in the shoes of others and try to see it from their perspective. For example, when a client gives you feedback on your property, treat it as GOLD, particularly if it’s negative. If someone has gone to the trouble of giving you feedback it means they care! Never argue the merits of the feedback (unless it is plain wrong) and act on it, if necessary, as soon as you can.

What’s the best way to safely screen guests before they stay at your holiday rental?

I find this part of the business goes more on gut feeling than anything, but I will try to give some pointers. First, think about whether large amounts of alcohol will be involved in the stay, such as at wedding celebrations, young groups or end of year sporting celebrations. Pick and choose your clients not just based on your own appetite for risk, but also your neighbours’. If you do take on one of these groups, think about possible incident preventative measures that could be employed. A pre-stay visit clearly spelling out your expectations with regard to behavior can be a great start.

What’s your advice for people just entering the holiday rental business?

Regardless of the reason you have entered the market (e.g. investment or self-use) think about who or what type of people you want to attract as clients. Set about encouraging that group to your holiday house from the very start, from your furniture selection and photography to pricing and marketing. Be a pragmatist whenever possible – use the “Whatever works best” approach. Last and perhaps most important of all, know the value of a stay at your place, because the majority of the clients will! And remember significant discounting below the going rate is the least effective marketing tool in the long run!

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