How to amplify your vacation rental marketing on craigslist
Many vacation rental owners and managers overlook using Craigslist as a tool to help them get more bookings.
Despite recent updates, Craigslist is still one of the top 15 websites in the US according to Alexa.com (even ahead of the search engine giant Bing.com).
And believe it or not, but Craigslist was actually in integral part of Airbnb's early success and helped them become the industry powerhouse they are today. (you can read more about how they did it here)
Needless to say, advertising your vacation rentals on Craigslist can be an extremely valuable source of leads for you. It can help expand your reach while giving you access to a whole new demographic of your local travellers and potential renters.
And best of all, it’s totally FREE!
Below are 3 easy steps to help you get the most out of your vacation rental marketing on Craigslist while putting the least amount of effort.
1. Create A Free Verified Account
The first thing you want to do is create a verified account. Craigslist requires phone verification and the phone number required cannot be a VOIP number or a prepaid phone.
It needs to be a contract cell phone or regular landline. This is but one of the many Anti-spam techniques they use in order to deter and stop spammers from creating thousands of accounts and posting thousands of ads in multiple cities all at once.
Craigslist is a local classified site and they do everything they can to keep it that way.
A verified account will help prevent your ads from being ghosted and it will help to streamline your marketing on the site by allowing you to keep track of and renew multiple different ads. To renew or repost your ads is just a simple click of the mouse.
This way you don’t have to waste time re-writing a brand new ad every time you want to advertise your property, and it will bump your ad back up to the top of the list for maximum visibility.
Keep in mind, Craigslist only allows you to renew an ad every 48 hours and reposting duplicate content will get your ads ghosted. And it might even be a good idea to stretch it out to twice a week so that you aren't reposting too often.
2. Create A Killer Ad
Selecting Your True Location
When selecting your location, it’s important to make sure that you are not selecting the location of your property, but rather your physical location.
Craigslist monitors IP addresses for ads in order to stop spammers. The IP address must match the location of the phone number as well because posting in locations that aren't yours can cause your advertisements to be ghosted.
Write An Attention Grabbing Title
You only get 70 characters to convince travellers to click through and see your full ad. So you need to sell your property hard and fast. You only have a split second to differentiate your title and grab attention so it's best to stay away from generics like the location or the size of the property.
Craigslist gives you designated sections to post that kind of info. So don’t waste your precious characters in the posting title.
Post The Lowest Possible Rates, If Any At All
The last thing you want is to push people away before they even see your pictures and read your full add. So if you choose to post your rates in the rates section, it might be a good idea to post the lowest possible rate, if at all. You’ll have a chance to explain your rates in detail in your Posting Description.
Write A Strong Description That Calls To Action
Despite it being called "the description", telling isn't selling.
Your true goal here is to sell the benefits of staying at your property over any other, and create a strong call to action that will drive the reader to do what you want them to do (call, email, visit your website, etc…).
The vast majority of internet browsers have amazingly short attention spans. Grabbing their attention, and keeping it is no easy feat. It is important to be to be clear, concise and to the point. There’s no sense in going overboard with long and wordy descriptions, you'll just end up turning people away before they can finish reading.
Only Post Your Best Pictures
With Craigslist's most recent portal upgrade, pictures have become an even more important part of your listing. Not only is it the first thing travellers will see when they click through to your ad, but they can also see if your ad has pictures in the search results page — and most travellers will never click on an ad without pictures.
Your first picture takes up the majority of the page above the fold (take a look and see your local listings on craigslist). Therefore it is imperative that it grab attention and make a great first impression. A custom designed flyer can most certainly do the trick. But whatever the case may be, your first picture should be an amazing selling point for your property.
Craigslist now allows up to 24 images, however quality trumps quantity. The important thing is to make sure your pictures are nice a crisp. And with the designated picture size being 800 x 600 pixels, anything larger or smaller could be distorted.
3. Avoid Phishing Scams And Fraud
While Craigslist might seem like an easy target for phishing or fraudulent inquiry scams, all vacation rental websites have the same problem. The good news is there are many ways to protect yourself against them and still reap the benefits of increased inquiries and bookings from the site.
Phishing scams are when someone attempts to acquire some type of login credentials from you in order to acquire confidential information such as your bank and payment details. The easiest way to avoid phishing is to not click on any link that asks you to log into an account in order to verify your information.
Many scams involve fraudulent inquiries from users sending checks with an amount higher than you’re your asking rate. The idea is that they’re going to play it off as a mistake and ask that you send them back the difference by wire transfer, cashier’s checks, or money orders (anything with absolutely no possibility of getting your money back).
The scam is that the original payment they send you by check bounces, and the difference you sent them in the meantime is gone forever.
You can avoid being a victim to these would-be scammers by never accepting over-payments. If it happens to you, simply inform the traveler of their mistake and require the correct amount. And with that said, never wire funds to anyone via Western Union, MoneyGram, or other wire services. You’re the one who is supposed to be accepting the payments, not sending them out!
The important take-away from all this is that advertising your vacation rentals on Craigslist is super easy to do, it can be super effective, and it's totally free.
Once you've set up everything up (your account and ads), it's just about taking 5 minutes, every week or so, to log into your account and click "RENEW". You can even do it while you drink your coffee in the morning on Mondays and Fridays.
It's really that easy.