Marketing All the signs are pointing to a crowded market for vacation rentals in 2009. The fact that Home Away were able to raise $250 million in venture capital with relative ease indicates that this is an active and buoyant area of the tourism industry. Or does it just show how many owners are now having to resort to renting out to enable them to hang onto their second homes? Whatever happens, it's clear that owners are going to have to work harder to attract the rental clients with the multitude of properties jostling to be seen. So, what is your unique selling proposition? What stands your property out amongst the competition? What makes it irresistible to the vacationing public? These are the questions you need to ask if you are planning on being a serious player in the vacation rental world. I looked at some of our most successful rentals, to analyse what it is that makes them so popular. I wanted to find out why their occupancy levels are way above others and what it is about the listings that attract so many enquiries. This is what I found: They have stunning photos that have wide appeal The cottages getting the most winter enquiries have seasonally related images – snowy landscapes; fireplace pictures etc. The listings describe the activities and attractions available within a short drive There is a unique selling point to each one of them Let me take one example. East Lake Cottage is a four bedroom Viceroy style on a small lake in Prince Edward County. This is not a high demand area for a market that believes Muskoka to be the only cottage country region that is worth looking at. However, it consistently achieves solid occupancy levels. The waterfront is weedy and although it's possible to swim off the end of the dock, there are weedy sections at that depth too. However, this does not put off the rental groups, many of whom return over and over again. So what draws the crowds…….? The fireplace image Modern furniture and features Pool table Dock photos The pass to Sandbanks Provincial Park I would say ‘All of the above' but I guess having so many USPs appeals to the niche renters who are each looking for something special. Your USP might be something you really take for granted, such as having hi-speed internet access, or an open fireplace, but to a renter it could be the one thing that sways their decision in your favour. Take some time to establish your USP and capitalise on it. And if you haven't got one – then do something about it! Let me hear what makes your place stand out above the competition.