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The vacation rental industry is characterized by two types of owners according to a new survey, Leaders & Laggards In The Vacation Rental Marketplace, commissioned by the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog.

Contrary to popular belief, generating a strong vacation rental marketing portfolio is less related to the characteristics of a property, the conditions of the marketplace, or even the skill-level of an owner.

Results of the survey conclude that vacation rental Leaders (defined as those who feel their current marketing portfolio is stronger than the year’s past) exhibit very different personality traits when compared to Laggards (defined as those who feel their marketing portfolio is equal or less strong than the year’s past).

The new survey (released on March 26, 2013) focuses on the relationship between an owner’s performance and his/her overall attitude about marketing. From it, owners glean that success is oft-accompanied by the following nine personality traits:

1) Leaders are optimists: When polled, 5 out of every 6 Leaders (or 81%) approach each guest inquiry with the attitude that it could lead to an actual booking. The minority 19% of vacation rental Leaders stated that they treat some inquiries differently because they seem less serious.

2) Leaders constantly look for ways to improve: When asked about their proactivity, the vast majority of Leaders (95%) said they were always trying to learn as much as possible about ways to increase bookings, which suggests that the quest to improve is directly proportional to success in the vacation rental marketplace. Laggards, conversely, expressed that they had a fixed system in place that sufficiently worked "just fine," seeking little inspiration or advice from others.

3) Leaders set high goals: When asked to choose between the target of (a) 100% occupancy with the ultimate goal of acquiring another property and (b) a plan to merely “generate enough income to cover existing costs,” a decisive 83% of Leaders chose option “A.”

4) Leaders speak well of their competitors: When in private, 71% of Leaders said they speak highly of their competitors compared to only 29% of whom said they honestly exposed their competitors’ flaws and shortcomings. For Leaders, speaking positively about competitors appears to open a wide range of social, business, and pleasurable opportunities.

5) Leaders see problems as challenges: When asked how they view vacancies on their vacation rental calendar, 94% of Leaders identified them as “challenges” whereas 68% of Laggards chose the word “problems.”

A vacancy problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation whereas a vacancy challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Leaders seem to use vacancies as lessons and they move on from slow periods optimistically, whereas the vast majority of Laggards tend to harp on shortcomings.

6) Leaders rarely make excuses: As found in the survey, successful owners are overwhelmingly characterized by taking responsibility for their own actions. Nearly 97% of Leaders said they rarely (or never) made excuses for vacancies, whereas Laggards tend to blame outside factors for their under-performance in order to avoid taking responsibility themselves.

7) Leaders are methodical: When polled, 68% of Leaders said they dedicated a fixed time every month to their vacation rental marketing, instead of working haphazardly whenever time happens to permit. When done on the fly, vacation rental marketing tends to be unfocused and less effective. It is recommended that owners take dedicated approaches to their marketing: to set aside specific time periods each month and to not rush through their activities.

8) Leaders are competitive and aware of their surroundings: Competition is becoming an increasingly relevant topic in local vacation rental markets, and so it’s no surprise that an owner's attitude about his or her competitors tends to directly influence their real-time performance.

When asked, an amazing 91% of Leader owners said they frequently weigh their performance against their nearest competitors while a surprising 41% of Laggards choose to outright ignore the competition. Leaders are constantly feeling out what’s around them and they characteristically benefit from this exposure.

9) Leaders exhibit control: Nearly twice as many leaders (65%) than not said that they felt “in total control of their bookings,” admitting that “if their rental was not fully booked, it was because they let themselves down.”

Oppositely, more than half of Laggards (52%) said they were "mostly at the mercy of listing sites.” As a result, that “feeling” of being in control of one’s own marketing can be directly correlated with vacation rental success.

About The Survey: Data for the survey was collected over the weeks of March 1 – March 20, 2013. It canvassed 992 independent vacation rental owners and managers across the globe that volunteered, without compensation, to partake in the anonymous survey. The results were filtered according to the self-perceived strength or weakness of an owner’s marketing portfolio.