Time to renew your rental property strategy

Special to the Packet and the GazetteSeptember 8, 2013 

With the Lowcountry peak summer visitor season behind us, now is the perfect time to rethink your vacation rental property strategy.

The components of this strategic analysis should include a management performance evaluation, a marketing and pricing review and an appraisal of the property's condition and needed improvements. Completing this review on an annual basis will allow you to more fully enjoy the use of your rental home and maximize the return on your real estate investment.

If your property is professionally managed, make sure you are satisfied with your current rental management company's performance. With so many good rental companies to choose from, you can afford to be picky about the company you and your property are partnered with. If it's time to change your management company, look for a company that is focused on providing 24/7/365 promotional marketing, booking and guest services. Your new company should give the best possible expert care for your property and specialize in executive level homeowner service and communication.

Owners who are making reservations and managing properties on their own should review their property's performance versus prior years. Metrics to look at should include the number of nights rented, average daily rent paid and total income net of maintenance and housekeeping expenses by the week. Identify the time periods that your property didn't rent and address your pricing and marketing targets accordingly.

Today's Internet-driven world allows owners to easily book and manage properties on their own. However, many owners underestimate the amount of time required to self rent and are realizing that their time is better spent on other things. An effective rental management company can greatly ease the burden of owning rental property.

A professional management company will establish a year-round strategy to promote and book your property. They will compare your property's pricing to similar units and decide how to break out pricing seasons, yield management stay restrictions and seasonal targets like families in the summer, golfers in the fall and snowbirds in the winter.

Your property should have its own competitive advantage. Is your property newly updated or renovated? Does it compete on lower pricing and value? Does it come with extras like bikes and tennis privileges that help set your property apart? Guest reviews of the destination and their accommodations provide powerful word of mouth advertising that can differentiate your property and make a large difference in the amount of bookings you receive.

With more than $350 million of commercial, resort hospitality and road infrastructure being completed on and near Hilton Head Island, we are in the midst of a renovation revolution. Properties today should have large flat screen TV's in the living rooms and bedrooms, updated kitchens, bathrooms and bedding and a high-speed Wi-Fi.

Assure to complete an annual maintenance punch list and have your rental manager and guests communicate potential upgrades that will allow you to maximize your rental income and enjoyment of your rental property.

Robert Stenhammer has been a resort executive for more than 15 years and is the president of Hilton Head Accommodations. Contact him at rstenhammer@hiltonheadusa.com or 843-247-2404.

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