Direct Booking Simplified Podcast – EP08 – Leveraging your niche to win more direct bookings with Mark Mancini

On this episode we have Mark Mancini. He’s the host of VRBO Outstanding youtube channel and has several courses that helps hosts become amazing hosts. He shares his knowledge of hosting for 13 years and how he’s able to fill up the majority of his calendar with direct booking by leveraging your niche and marketing your site.

Podcast Summary

Mark emphasizes the pivotal role of technology and strategic marketing in optimizing rental property management. He advises implementing a Property Management System (PMS) like OwnerRez from the outset to automate tasks and enhance efficiency as your rental business expands. Integrating such systems streamlines operations and facilitates scalability, laying a robust foundation for growth.

Another crucial aspect highlighted by Mark is the branding of rental properties. Instead of opting for generic names, he advocates for crafting unique, brandable identities that can be leveraged for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. This branding strategy enhances visibility and distinguishes properties in a competitive market, bolstering their appeal to potential guests.

Moreover, Mark underscores the importance of targeting specific guest niches and tailoring amenities and marketing efforts accordingly. By identifying and catering to niche markets such as anglers or luxury travelers, property owners can optimize guest satisfaction and attract lucrative bookings. Offering unique amenities and experiences further sets properties apart, positioning them as desirable destinations. Additionally, Mark suggests staying ahead of emerging trends, such as the rising popularity of electric vehicles, by installing amenities like EV chargers to gain a competitive edge. Overall, his advice underscores the fusion of technology-driven efficiency, targeted marketing, and niche specialization as key strategies for success in the rental property industry.

Essential Highlights

Here are a few key points from Mark’s podcast episode:

  • Use a property management system (PMS) like OwnerRez from the start to automate and streamline managing your rental. Having an integrated system makes it much easier as you scale up.
  • Give your property a unique, brandable name that you can leverage for SEO and marketing rather than a generic name.
  • Pursue direct bookings aggressively by setting up your own direct booking website integrated with your PMS. Drive traffic through strategic domain names, Google listings, Facebook groups, etc.
  • Identify and cater to a specific niche for your property – e.g. anglers, multi-generational families, luxury travelers, etc. Tailor your amenities and marketing to appeal to that ideal guest.
  • Stand out by offering unique amenities and experiences that differentiate your rental from others in the area. Be the “unicorn” not the “lemming.”
  • Consider putting in an EV charger as more electric vehicles hit the roads – it can give you an edge over competitors.

The main thrust is leveraging technology and targeted marketing to drive direct bookings, while specializing your property’s offerings to attract your ideal, lucrative guest niche.

Follow Mark on instagram YouTube and VRBO


You want to exploit your niche, right? With some homes like for instance, if you’re on the waterway, you might have a home that’s specific to anglers, right? So you have a boat dock, maybe you have a fish cleaning station, you’ve got water electric, they could plug their boat into and wash their boat off, right?

And you want to go and gravitate and market towards that market.

Hey folks, welcome back to Direct Booking Simplified, where we break down the strategies and tactics to win in direct bookings. On today’s show, we have Mark Mancini. He’s a host of the VRBO Outstanding YouTube channel. He has several courses of his own and has been a host for 13 years. Today he’s going to walk us through some of the tactics that he uses to win direct bookings.

So let’s bring him in. Hey, Mark, welcome to the show. Hi Gil. Thanks for having me. It’s it’s good to see you I’ve been following your your YouTube channel for for a little while now even in my early days before I got my my first acquisition There so what’s what’s new with you now?

So right now we I have a little sabbatical.

This weekend, I’m going back down to one of my rentals. We have a wedding this weekend. I’m flying down, flying back, and then I get a date of myself and then we’re driving down to spend two weeks down on the keys at our vacation rental, so we’re using it for recreational purposes at the end of the month.

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Before we get too deep, do you, do you want to give a, a listener’s a sense of who you are and what you do?

My name is Mark Mancini. I’ve been in vacation rentals for over 13 years now. Entering my 13th year, I started off in the Myrtle beach area. I’ve since transitioned to the Florida Keys.

Cause that’s where we plan to retire to. And I want to be somewhat close to where my vacation rentals are. Got a deep business background in it. Mostly I had a, an it company in Atlanta that I had for 15 years. I sold to publicly traded company. And one of the key things I learned, Gil you can’t run a company and grow it.

And sell it to a NASDAQ traded company, unless you’ve got software that controls and runs your business. And that was something I did early on. And so when it came to vacation rentals, I did the exact same thing.

Yeah. So how did that influence your, your vacation rentals?

So you have to have. Some kind of unified tool.

You don’t want to have disjointed pieces of information where you’re, you’re manually docu signing an RA, you’re manually doing security deposits, and you’re manually updating listings on different channels in all different places. You know, you want to have everything really ideally in one place.

So if you update your pictures, if you need to change your calendar anything you do update your RA, you’re doing it, everything in one place. And it goes to every different aspect. And that’s what we did when I was a managed services provider. We had one piece of software that. I could remote into clients machines.

I could push out the updates to antivirus. I could push out Windows updates defragment their computer, do a ticket right in one panel of the screen. And that’s what you know, a property management system allows you to do. And that’s why it’s so important when you do direct bookings.

Got it. Got it.

So you’re, you’re, you’re big on, on, on having a PMS. Early on in, in your, in your hosting journey.

Yeah. I always tell people the best time to get a PNN PMS is when you want to start your business. I started with one property with my PMS. I’ve expanded now to two. Don’t really see a need to go anymore.

Only because the two properties I have are very high end properties more so than your typical short term rental. So you, you really can’t. scale, you can’t increase your bookings without something offloading from you. And going back again to the it days, we automated as much as we could. Okay.

We did schedule tasks to run things after hours. So my it guys didn’t have to do things manually. And the great thing with a PMS, you can automate everything. And then you work on your business, not. In your business, and that’s the thing you don’t want to be doing manual emails and manual door lock changes and manual signed RAs.

You want it all. Once you get a booking, you do nothing. You work on marketing for your next booking.

Yeah. So is there a, is there a PMS that, that you, you gravitate towards?

You know, it’s funny, you know, there now there’s a plethora of PMSs, right? There’s, there’s probably eight or 10. Back when I started, there really was kind of one it’s been around for geez, I think 10, 15 years.

It’s owner raises the one I use. Oh, are right. And the funny thing is how I started with owner is all of my bookings were pretty much through VRBO. Actually, they were through VRBO. I didn’t advertise an Airbnb back then. Yeah. And they filled my calendar up very well. VRBO, you gave you an option.

You can either do a security deposit or you accidental damage protection, but you couldn’t do both. Right. So one of the things that, I went for with owner as was the fact that it allowed you to offer accidental damage insurance and then have owner as do the deposit. So early on, I really got owner as simply for the damage protection.

I didn’t realize I can go to rental guardian directly and get it. So I started owner as just for that reason.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I also use OR myself and likewise, I did it since the first one. I don’t know if I would recommend it to folks to have it owner, owner as, as the first, when you have your first property, because it is pretty, pretty heavyweight.

But Learning it with just one property allowed me to fine tune it so that when I brought on my first one, my second one, my third one, and so on, like, it actually is very easy to, to expand from there because you have all your templates, you have all your triggers already there. Connecting it to Airbnb or VRBO to push your listings is actually pretty easy after you’ve gotten the initial handshake already done.

Absolutely. And you know, it’s, it’s interesting. I paid the 500 for the pro set up as technical as I am. I’ve been in IT 40 years, but the reality is I’m not familiar to this software. This software is unique. Really the way to go was to get the pro set up, especially with the API integrations. You know, that’s something that a lot of people overlook as being API integrated, because as you know, with Airbnb, it’s the only way you can collect security deposits.

Right. Aside from that with VRBO, and we’re going to go back a few years to people who got into this before COVID, right. VRBO, if you had a no cancellation policy, when someone booked, you got paid. At booking, not when they checked in and then when COVID happened, they changed all that. So it was just kind of interesting.

So with the API integration with VRBO, again, you go back to getting paid when the guest pays. And so I do like that. I also like the ability, if I want to update pictures or rearrange descriptions and rewrite descriptions, I can do it in one place. It goes to my direct booking site and it goes to Airbnb, VRBO, Florida vacation rentals or water rentals and so forth.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You mentioned before that most of your bookings were VRBO in the past. Are they, are they that heavily on VRBO now or has that, has the proportions changed at all?

So we probably do with the two properties Maybe eight Airbnb bookings a year. Roughly VRBO, we probably do about 10 to 12.

You know, I just seem to do better with VRBO. All the other bookings are direct. We do a lot of direct bookings. And that is something that I, you know, I, I started into with with the Florida properties. I wanted to book as much directly as I could.

How did you make that switch towards director?

What, when did you realize that you’re starting to get more director? That’s where you should be investing into.

So it was about five years ago when COVID started kicking in and they would sometimes reach out to guests and say, Hey, this, some of this person’s concerned about their trip and they want to look at the, To change the date or cancel it.

And, you know, I’m big on no cancellation policies. The house I had here in South Carolina, it was a seven bedroom, six bath home. It slept a good 30 people, right? It was a large house at lots of amenities and we booked a year ahead. And we really couldn’t afford having a cancellation. And so VRBO would have your back and they would always.

Okay. You know, you don’t have to cancel, but we really encourage you to do that. So that’s when I was like, you know what? I just need to go direct because then there’s not going to be an issue. They get their travel insurance option and if they don’t get it, then it’s on that. So I’ve, I’ve. at that point with COVID really started pushing the direct booking because also at the time, VRBO was a real good partner with us.

I mean, we were booked 35 weeks a year just with VRBO. And in our market, 35 was like unheard of 20 to 25 was considered, you know, Good 25 to 30, you’re really banged out of the park 35 a week. And like, that’s unheard of. And so I actually had one of the most booked homes because of the size. And I always tell people.

You want to exploit your niche, right? With some homes like for instance, if you’re on the waterway, you might have a home that’s specific to anglers, right? So you have a boat dock, maybe you have a fish cleaning station, you’ve got warden electric, they could plug their boat into and wash their boat off.

Right. And you want to go and gravitate and market towards that market. With, with these houses, these larger houses that were 6, 000 square feet these are designed for, for Multiple, multiple, multiple families that are related that want to go on vacation together, right? And, and have that like communal type atmosphere, all the cousins get to play, right?

And it really becomes a, a great vacation atmosphere. And what was interesting, there was my house and another house that was about the same size. And then as I started booking 30, 35 weeks a year they started building new homes on the ocean. Some of them, they took down old homes. Sometimes they had empty lots and all the homes going up now.

And now there’s about six homes start off 10 bedrooms, 11 bedrooms. Now they’ve got 12 bedroom homes. Right. And, and like I said, there’s several of them there. And yes, it costs a lot of money to build a house like that, especially on the ocean. But these houses are running for 15, 18, 000 a week, and they are Booked there was a need for, and people saw it.

Yeah. Yeah. So, so what, and how did you first get into your first direct booking? Did you end up spinning up your own site and, and how did you market folks? How did you get there? Your first guest in?

So, you know, early on, like most people, you’re going to have some people that they look at your booking and they go to check out and then they see the VRBO fees, right?

And they go, wow, that’s an extra 1500 bucks. And they would somehow reach out about booking direct. And they’d find me and can you book direct? Yeah, I could. And that’s when I realized I probably should have a site for this. This way, they don’t have to go hunting me down on LinkedIn or Facebook or anywhere.

So luckily with my it company, I still had him my, my developer at the same time, a software developer. And what we did was we we developed a website and I was like, okay, now how am I going to take payment? Then I realized, wait, I’ve got onerize. It integrates right into it. I can put the calendar in there, the checkout, offer access offer travel insurance, provide accidental damage protection, have the signed.

All right, everything. I’m like, this is great. I’ll just, I’ll just do a direct book site. Now I wouldn’t suggest that to, for regular people do not go out and build your own site. That is going to be, as you know, a very costly thing to do. Luckily, I’ve got a guy who’s overseas. You know, the fee wasn’t much.

So I got a really good deal.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s kind of, why we, we created craft to states in the first place is that we want to, we saw what all the PMSs were doing, that they were giving a very low barrier entry to start your own direct booking site, but as hosts started to mature, they wanted something that’s a little bit more customized.

something that’s a little bit more fitting with their brand. And then we wanted to, to be able to create that really beautiful site that they can actually draw their traffic to which is actually turned out really well. I, I, I also do the same. Like I still, for, for many guests for, sorry, for many hosts, I would still recommend doing the PMS, but for hosts that are really mature and thinking about elevating their brand and really driving a lot more traffic to it Hopefully our product really fits in really well.

Well, Gil, actually, you know, you, you, obviously you want a product that doesn’t look as generic as everyone else’s site. And that’s where yours, yours comes into play, but also it always tell people. And, and I’m kind of There’s some people that are hoarders. Well, I hoard domain names. You go to my GoDaddy account and there’s just like this list, right?

When you first get a short term rental for me, I mean, for 10 bucks a year, I’m going through the names, you know, I’m buying this, I’m buying that one. Then I think of more later and I add to it. And while I do park them all on my main site for 10 a month, I have a second site. And just get more visibility online.

And then with going with, with, with your website, I can go ahead and get another one of my domain names, right. And create another site and actually have three different sites working together, much like being on VRBO and Airbnb. I can have three direct sites going and hopefully the SEO picks me up from one of them, right?

That’s true. I’ve never had the one that, that. Yeah. Like multiplies are their direct book. It says, but it’s actually totally possible. We have actually some that we have some customers that have redirects, so they’ll have multiple domains. And then when, when you go to the, one of the domains, it just redirects you over.

Yeah. But it’s the same, it’s the same side from, from like the backend side of things.

Yeah, it was a trick I learned early on is, is yes, you can park all the domains, but if you have separate sites built, you can actually appear in more searches, especially with the names of the properties. And that’s something obviously you want to put in your, in your listing.

Right. And that’s, it’s interesting. People will go on VRBO and Airbnb. And I apologize. You have a big boat going by making some noise vacation area. You’ve, you’ve got the headlines and Airbnb and VRBO, and you’ve got people utilizing that real estate. That is so to me that that’s like park Avenue or Broadway, right?

And they’re putting the name of the house on there. And I’m like, that’s, that’s not really what a headline is for. And so we always recommend the first line of the description. We put the name of the home and we say, you know, at the oasis or heart of Morada gets his name because we were in the heart of Alamorada.

Okay. And we do that. So we get them familiar with the name of the property in case they have to call up or, you know, have any questions. They could differentiate the two, but also for the savvy ones, if they want to Google heart of Morada. And they put that in, it’s going to come right up at the top and they can book direct and save some of the fees.

I don’t mean to take it away from the platforms. I’m not encouraging people to do that. But I am stating what the name of the property is and people can do what they. I hope you guys have some interesting

ideas for what you want to do. Yeah, yeah. I get quite a, quite a lot of folks that reach out to me because they’ve, they’ve seen me at different places and they look up the property name, which is like why I always say that it’s really important to make sure that the property name is one that’s unique because it’s going to be really hard to be searchable.

I’ve told this story many times, but. My first cat, my first property was called cozy creek cabin. And if you ever try to search that on Google, you’ll get lost in dozens and dozens of properties that are named just the same. So now moving forward, I, I try to have unique names for all my properties.

I actually have a YouTube video specifically on branding and name.

The first The first vacation rental I had Big Bang Theory was kind of just starting off at the time. So I called it Bazinga and the logo was real easy. It was the, like the, the flash logo, Bazinga, you know, the red and the gold. Right. And it was, it was also a fun house. It had a game room and had the hot tub and the pool and the boat lift.

So it had everything. It was a fun house. fun house, so to speak. I made the faux pas on the next home, which is the Oasis, which, and I knew going into it, I, I, I knew, like, Mark, this is a bad idea, but, you know, Gil, you walk into three acres of pristine beachfront in the Florida Keys, there is only one name And that’s the Oasis.

And so we kind of spun it a little bit because my favorite book and movie is a ready player one. Right. If you remember that they were in the virtual reality called the Oasis. So we always say the Oasis not virtual comma reality. And there was another home called ocean Oasis, like five miles down the road believe it or not, after two years, the Oasis.

We ended, they ended up changing their name because they couldn’t compete with my SEO and marketing.

So was it, if someone searched the Oasis in your area, would you come up on, on the top?

So, so yeah, we, we, we, we dominate, there’s also a commercial building called the Oasis, but like I said, we’re all over the if you put an Alamrata and Oasis, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re all over the place.

The whole page with the different sites, which we could also do weddings there as well. We do a lot of marketing promotion. So that’s in there. And then the other house heart of Murata, it’s located in the heart of Vala Murata. I also teetered around with downtown Murata, but we use, we incorporated the heart and the logo.

So that’s why we went with that. And, and just like you said, you know, you want to have a name that is unique and make it, make it a fun name. Right. And that’s where what, what is your last home? What did you end up naming that one?

That one is Dio Satteridge Lodge. So is that named after my son?


Yeah. Yeah. We know all

your kids are going to name, so

far, so far I’ve ran out of, I’ve ran out of kids to name houses after I didn’t have more kids if I, if I, if I want to name more houses, not a bad problem, not a bad problem. That’s right. So what, what were some of the more, some of the things that you, you did to help you rank higher in Google?

So, you know, it’s interesting. People forget that Waze is owned by Google. Right. And, you know, so you want to make sure you’re on the map for Google. Right. It’ll put you on the map for Waze. And when you drive to your vacation rental, you want to put in the name of the property, not necessarily the address.

That’s right. And you also want to encourage your guests to do that as well. You know, that’s, that’s one easy little tip. Also the Google my business page, set one up. That is very different than the Google vacation rental, right? Right. Google my business. And you, you want to just go ahead and post a pictures and content to it on a regular basis.

You know, try to make sure that you’re staying relevant and when you are put your Q and a fill out the profile as much as possible. And, and that’ll also help you out. But the domain name is key really is having something. For instance, if, if you’re in let’s say Florida keys and you happen to purchase the domain name, Florida key vacation rentals or Florida key rentals, when people type that in, that’s what they get.

So I told you one of my wedding venues, the Oasis. It’s a wedding venue. I purchased the domain name that was Owned by somebody else. I had to go there and make them an offer. Best 600 bucks I ever spent. I purchased, remember they have some new extensions now and there’s one called wedding. So I purchased Alamrata dot wedding.

So if you put in Alamrata and wedding in the search, guess who’s number one. And yet there’s, there’s Alamrata weddings. com and they don’t even show up as high as I do.

Got it. Got it. So you leverage Google, Google, my business. And then you leverage also be strategic about your domain names and making sure that it’s it’s searchable by, by leveraging that.

And keep it updated. Yep, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. I do The one thing I like about the Google business profile is that it also gives you views. It gives you stats on, on your profile. Yeah. I forget what cadence it is, but it tells you how many people search for it, how many people will look for, look for it.

And actually, I think it’s actually a good guest experience as well too, if someone actually is looking to Google maps over to your location. It’ll actually show your brand name so that they know they typed in the right address.

Absolutely. And it’s getting, getting that brand recognition. That’s so important.

That’s why we, we logo everything, you know, the guest gift is logos and our communications. We’ve got our logo. And remember, you don’t want your neighbor’s kid doing your logo. Yeah. Spend the money, whether it’s Fiverr or going to a professional marketing place. It doesn’t cost that much. You’ll have it a lifetime.

And a logo what’s so important, as you probably know, is you want it to look good black and white as well as color. There are times you’ll have promotional items that you can only do a black and white and you want it to look good on black and white.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I made the mistake of trying to cram too much into the logo, like a picture of the cabin, words, the title, all that stuff.

And you just need to keep it simple because more than likely it’s going to get shrunken down to almost nothing.

Absolutely. And believe it or not, I have a video on that as well. And you know, I’ll, I’ll show some, Pictures of logos of what works and what doesn’t. And the most simple logos, I mean, think about Apple.

Think about Coke or Pepsi or Nike, right? Air Jordan. Yeah. Right. They’re, they’re the most well known logos and they’re very simple.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned in your course that There’s effective ways to drive leads from, from Facebook. What’s, what’s some of the tips that you can give to our audience today without giving into it, giving away too much, without giving away everything.

Okay. So first thing you gotta have a, a Facebook page, right? And that’s the page where some people will go ahead and get a Facebook page. But you have to put content on it on a regular basis. And we also talked about the Google business page. There are software apps. Like I use hero post and there’s several others that can post out to multiple social media platforms and it’ll schedule it.

And this way you get your picture, you schedule it to the different platforms. So you don’t have to do it manually. Okay. I am again, all about automation, right? Yeah, it’s, it’s just, you have to do it that way. So the Facebook page is key, making sure that you, you promote it to your friends, your family.

I don’t pay for Facebook ads. What I also do is I do some little things. We talked about the niche for your home. Right. And we talked about for anglers or fishermen. So one of the things I do with one of my homes at heart of Morada, which has its own dedicated boat slip with water and electricity and a fish cleaning station.

In fact, I got a sale on Walmart. I got 140 small freezer. Right. And we put with with a sign on it, we put, you know, bait freezer, or leave that outside covered. And this way the guys can put their bait in there and I have to put it in the house freezer and to have the woman all upset, we gear it towards fishermen.

And the Florida Keys is, is rich for fishermen anywhere by the beach, whether it’s South Carolina, North Carolina, any parts of Florida. If you have a A boat slip or dockage nearby or on your house definitely exploit that. So I belong to Facebook groups for different boat manufacturers, Robalo, Scott, or Scout, I should say sea hunt and so forth.

And in the South, in the Southeast, the, the guys who have boats, they want to go ahead and they want to bring their boats down to the keys and fish the keys. So in the, there’s always. She’s probably like every two or three days, there’s somebody going, I’m thinking about bringing my, my robalo or my scout down to the keys to go fish to any recommendations on where to stay.

Right. And Hey, by the way, we’re, we’re specific towards anglers. Here’s what we have for you. And I wrote out a nice little, again, you can keep these little snippets in a word document or a notepad, whatever you want to do. On the computer screen. If you’ve got multiple monitors and when you do your daily Facebook scout for those, those keys, copy and paste that right into the that possible lead and again, it’s going to be the direct booking site.

I’m not sending them to VRBO. I’m not sending them to Airbnb. I’m sending them direct and I’m retaining more money. I didn’t pay a dime for advertising and I’ll tell you what, in those, in those boat groups, it is huge. And once you get a boater, it comes once, guess what they come every year. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s, that’s pretty neat. How, how did you stumble across that?

So I’m, I’m a boat owner myself. So I, I kind of know when you have a boat, there are certain things you’re looking for and you want, and there’s also homes very close to me that, you they’re a little bit less money. And there’s some key differences, but one of the key differences is there’s a community right next door.

We have eight homes in our development. The one next door I think has like 20 or 25. They’ve got two boat slips and it’s pretty much first come first serve with us. It’s eight. Everyone’s got a dedicated slip. So do you want to run the risk of not having a place for your boat and having to pay X number of dollars to to store it and not, and not be able to walk to it.

You actually have to take a car and drive to it. So we really found that that was a major delimiting factor of, of getting guests to come because not only do we have some other little things about the property, but the key thing is that dedicated boat slip and on the other house. It’s, it’s, it’s an estate.

You know, it’s, it’s three acres, oceanfront walk in sandy beach is an amazing pool and we market towards, you know, upper scale people. So there are some Facebook groups I belong to where the people are more high end, they’ll, they’ll drop 12, 14, 000 on a week’s day. And even though there’s two homes, we can sleep up to eight people, about half our bookings are one couple, just two people on the property, husband, wife, they want privacy.

It’s gated, it’s fence. It’s got high trees on both sides and it affords you the privacy that you want. So we’ve had some, some well known people stay there who just want the privacy in the getaway. While they can open up the gate and walk a block away to a brewery or to a couple of different restaurants there, they seem within proximity.

So you got to find what your niche is. And these are two kind of unique ones, but there are some other ones like whether you’ve got a vacation rental, that’s got a, a ski out, a You know, condo or home, right? That level of convenience is, is huge for people, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So you, you know, your, your ideal guest avatar pretty, pretty well.

And then you really tailor and make sure that your, your properties are suited exactly for them. And you use that as leverage when you do your marketing.

And making sure you use the right lingo, you know, we, other people will say, if you’re a fisherman, no, you’re not, you’re an angler. Okay. So you just got to make sure.

And, and with the Oasis, the discerning traveler, you know, and, and, and that’s why with, with the, the houses we have there, they are higher end. We don’t supply shampoo and conditioner. We don’t have the machines on the wall. Like people have, because when you go into a home, that’s that high end, people bring their own stuff.

They’re very picky with what they use.

Yeah. I’m out.

Yeah, that makes, that makes a ton of sense. What’s what’s one extra advice that you would give to our folks?

You know, try to be the unicorn, not the lemming, right? So you don’t have to have like the homes I have, you can have a beautiful, you know, 250, 000 three bedroom, two bath home by the water.

Okay. But make your stand out from the others. All right. Whether it’s with amenities whether it is with something that is unique about the property, but try to be that unicorn in a field of lemmings. Right. So you don’t want to just follow everyone else. And that is why, and you probably agree with me on this.

I’m not a big advocate in condos. Cause it’s really hard to differentiate yourself in a condo with other people. You know, the condos are all gonna. Maybe different color walls, different type of floor, but there’s no real extra amenities you can offer. You can’t have kayaks in one. You know, no one’s going to cart kayaks down from a condo on the 15th floor.

But in a home, you can something simple like kayaks, bikes, paddleboards, a corn hole, bocce ball, right? Anything you can do to make it fun for the guests and hit that mark. And I told you what the first house we had, it had a pool table with a ping pong top. We had a little game room area with full size arcade games, and we played upon that niche, niche shoe.

We’re going to have 30 people. And so again, you don’t have to get a high end, full size arcade game. If you’ve got a small house, you can get the tabletop ones, the cocktail table ones. They’re like five, 600 bucks. Yeah. You drop one in there and you’ve got something your neighbors don’t have.

Yeah. I’ve seen even like wall mounted ones that are like pretty flush.

They’re probably go out like 18 inches off the wall and you can have a row of them along the hallways. Yep.

Some bar stools in front of them. And you’re all set. The kids will be amused for hours of a training. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and, and as you know, with, with, with COVID, you know, it was a big spike in, in vacation rentals and short term rentals and all these gurus seem to have come up in the last, you know, three to five years and.

That’s great. But there were some things we were doing back, you know, 12, 13 years ago. And one of the things I pushed, I have to plug this skill. I’m sorry. I’m a big, I love Tesla. I love my cyber truck on order. My wife’s got a model three. I push people get an EV charger at your vacation rental. They’re not very expensive and I’m telling you, you will get guests.

And in the future, I absolutely guarantee that you’re going to have to have an EV charger at your home because. And this is the analogy I use now from going off topic. I’m sorry, but back about 13, 15 years ago, you had three types of hosts. The host that supplied Wi Fi internet, okay, for free. You have the the host that supplied Wi Fi internet for a fee.

They had hosts that did not provide any internet because they thought if you were on vacation, you don’t need internet. Believe it or not, people paid for Wi Fi or they went and rented homes that did not have Wi Fi. Okay. So when I tell people, get an EV charger, Install it and don’t charge for it. They look at me like I’m crazy, but it’s the same analogy because what you’re already seeing, there’s actually a decline in ice vehicles and an increase in EVs and by 2026 EV sales will, we’ll go ahead and, and, and be higher.

You’ll have higher EV sales than ice sales in 2026. And that’s only two more years away. Yeah. So imagine if you have a way for them to charge their vehicle and the ongoing cost for that is so minimal.


Best thing you can do for your rental.

Yeah. I think from, from the guest experience as well, too, we, we, we haven’t installed it on one of our places as well.

But we, we think of it as, you know, from the guest experience. If we have someone that’s traveling, even though we have superchargers that are not that far away from our place, we want the family to stay together. We don’t want the dad to go out there and charge, charge up and then come back and spend time with the family.

We want everybody to stay together. That’s, that’s kind of how our mindset is.

And you probably did the analysis, you know, from zero to 300 miles. If you had a Tesla that was completely dead and went to 300 miles, it costs about 14 in most places, the charging much all 14 bucks. And the reality is. Who drives 300 miles in a week, they’re not, they’re getting to you with maybe a hundred, 150 miles left and they’re just tapping off their charts.

It’s probably gonna cost you two to $5 to charge for that guest. Yeah, the charger is 400 bucks. The install could be anywhere from 200 to $700. So for under a thousand dollars, it is the best a thousand dollars you’ll spend. And I’m gonna leave you one little secret, Gil, at the end of your, your headline across your Airbnb and, and VRBO headline, which put two little letters ev.

We’ll know what that means. And you can put in there, you’d be charging your description, but they’re going to gravitate towards that. And we’ve had people book because we were the only home in Alamrata that offered an EV charge.

That’s smart. That’s smart. All right. So two, two last questions for you.

One’s One’s a mindset question and one’s a kind of a takeaway question. So the mindset question, what’s one piece of mindset advice that you would give to someone that is trying something completely new?

So, what I always try to tell people, it’s good that you’re trying something new, that doesn’t mean you have to recreate the wheel.

Reinvent the wheel, you know there’s other people that have gone through this and learned and, and, and for people that go to Facebook groups, it’s great that you’re trying something new, just do it. Reach out to people and learn from their mistakes.

Yeah, that’s the one good, good, good thing about the community is that there’s just so much information out there.

And you just need to know which is where I went to that to actually go out for. All right. Last question. What’s the one big takeaway that you want all of our listeners to get from this this episode?

Never rely on one platform. There are people that call their vacation rentals, Airbnbs. You should not be just an Airbnb.

You shouldn’t be like I was originally just on VRBO. You shouldn’t even be just on those two. You should be on those two. And direct. And if you’re in a state like, like floridarentals. com, and there are some other ones too, that are geographically specific that have API integrations, you know, get exposed to them, push your direct bookings business cards.

How else are you going to tell your guests how to direct book? Except if you have a nice little placard that holds your, your business cards on your, on your mantle or somewhere in your house, right. Or of all your houses. And then when guests stay there, they can grab a card and take with them. Right.

And they’re guests, or maybe they grab a couple extra and they give it to someone else. And I’ll tell you, it seems old school, but for the 40, 45, you go to Vistaprint for the best money you’ll ever spend. We get more bookings on 45 business cards than we get anywhere else. Easy. It’s stupid. It’s it’s who would ever think?

Yeah. I mean that back in the day, that’s how you, you, you target your market, your business

response. Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Awesome. All right, Mark. How can folks learn more about you? I’ll, I’ll drop links, but what’s, what’s how, how can folks get it? Get to know, get ahold of you.

You know, if you always want to taste me out, I have the vacation home rental coach YouTube channel.

And that channel is going to have, geez, probably a well over a hundred videos, over 60, 000 views. So people have gotten a lot of great information from the videos there. And if you like what you see. You know, you’ve got the vacation home mastery course. It’s 197. It’s a no brainer. It’s vacation home mastery.

com and then VRB outstanding. com. If you want my Opus Magnum Opus course of, you know, you’re just starting off. Okay. We go through everything with the setup. And the little things, you know there’s so many little things, as you know, with setting up a property that you learn over the course of time that you never would have known.

If you want that five star review, it’s, you know, one plus one plus one plus one plus one plus one plus one plus one equals five, right? It’s all the little things add up to that five star review. And more importantly, that repeat business and a repeat booking that is not going to be on platform next time.

It’s got to be direct because they’ve got your direct book site.

Yep. Mark. It was a really good to have you here. It was really good to hear kind of what you’ve learned over the last 13 years yourself and sharing kind of some of the courses that you put together to help hosts really make the most out of, out of the rentals.

I appreciate you being, you have me here, Gil. And again, luckily it was a beautiful day. If it was overcast and rainy and we’d have a different indoor look, but yeah,

yeah, yeah. I’m more, probably more like mine. All right. Thanks Mike. Thanks Gil. Much appreciated. Bye.



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