3 "must know" vacation rental marketing secrets
Don't you just feel as though sometimes, there's something missing with your marketing? Something you’re just aren't doing right?
You’re advertising on all the vacation rental sites you can manage. You’ve got professional pictures for your properties. You’ve done a bang up job with your property descriptions. And to top it all off, you’ve even set your prices to beat out your competition.
But the results aren’t getting any better… In fact, over the years they might have even gotten worse. As frustrating as it might be, you’re not alone.
Over the years, the vacation rental industry has matured and grown into a serious business, with multiple companies being evaluated into the billions of dollars!
This newfound popularity has shaped the growth of the vacation rental business. And as a result, there’s a lot more to it than most might think. This is the hospitality industry after all.
The truth is we could go on and on about all the different aspects of the business, but for this article, we’ll keep the focus on vacation rental marketing.
The underlining issue is that vacation rental marketing just isn’t as simple as it used to be. The industry has and continues to evolve, fast. And what used to work perfectly is no longer enough to see the same kind of results we used to.
So what can you do?
Well, the good news is we’ve got 3 secrets that will most certainly help to boost your vacation rental marketing results. The bad news? They might be a little difficult to implement into your strategy if you haven’t already.
Either way, in order to get to the next step in your business, you’ll need to seriously consider incorporating them into your operations.
Alas, here they are:
Secret #1: Successful vacation rental marketing is a full-time job
Now, we know this isn’t the easiest thing to do considering the limited amount of time most vacation rental owners have. Not to mention the ever popular shoestring budget.
But the truth is most successful businesses have full time marketing positions. No matter how large or small. And the really successful vacation rental owners treat their marketing the same way.
Your vacation rental is the product/service your business provides. But marketing is the force that drives your business forward. In order to get the most out of your vacation rental marketing, follow these easy tips;
Well, not exactly everywhere. But definitely in as many places as you can handle.
The more vacation rental websites you’re advertising on, the more travellers will see your properties, and the more chances you’ll have to close bookings.
Including independent marketing
What we mean by “independent marketing” is any marketing controlled by you, and that doesn’t have you relying solely on listing sites.
If implemented properly, these strategies will not only capture the eyes of new potential guests, but they’ll also strengthen your brand and greatly increase your chances of closing more bookings.
Marketing your vacation rentals without tracking your efforts is like closing your eyes before taking a free throw, then walking away before knowing if you even got the basket or not.
Basically, without proper tracking, it becomes very difficult to see what’s working best, and what’s actually wasting your time and money.
Which brings us to our next point;
Proper tracking will not only help you save a ton of time and money, but it will also allow you to establish concrete goals. How else would you be able to implement the 80/20 rule?
When applied to marketing your vacation rental properties, the 80/20 rule means that 80% of your results (inquiries and/or bookings) come from 20% of your sources.
Once you’ve figured out which of your sources are within that top 20%, you can begin to let go some of those that aren’t performing as well. This way you’ll have more time to focus on what’s actually making you money, and have a much easier time cutting advertising costs and increasing your bookings. That is unless you have someone handle your advertising for you...
Secret #2: Past guests hold the most value
While marketing for new guests is always needed, your past guests are the ones who are most valuable to you.
The most powerful form of marketing is still word of mouth. Word of mouth referrals have a much better chance of turning into bookings, and they’re free!
Imagine offering an experience good enough for your guests to refer their friends. Not an easy feat. But possible to achieve just the same.
Acquiring new clients is often more expensive than keeping the ones you’ve already got. The same idea can apply to vacation rental marketing.
A happy guest is much more likely to become a repeat client. And if you can offer the experience to get just one guest to keep coming back year after year, you’re ahead of the game.
It’s basically free to target them
Aside from what you invest into your guest experience, marketing to your past guests is basically free.
Repeat bookings are free. Word of mouth is free. Shares on social media are free. And unless your list is enormous, email is basically free as well.
Keep all of your past guests’ contact information, and reach out to them once in a while with a friendly reminder or promotion.
What are they saying?
Your past guests have the best information you need to make your business better.
Would they return? Yes? No? Why, or why not?
Would you recommend our vacation rental to a friend or colleague?
What could you have done better?
The amount of information you can get from them is like a gold mine. And all you have to do is ask.
Secret #3: A great guest experience is your most valuable marketing asset
Did you happen to notice the reoccurring theme in secret number two?
Well, if you happened to miss it, the theme was “guest experience”.
Often owners chalk up the guest experience to the property itself, then call it a day.
But there’s a whole lot more you can do to offer a better one. And a great guest experience is the best way to get a bigger ROI out of your past guests.
Here’s what to do:
Follow hospitality best practices
For years, luxury hotels have been charming their guests with complementary offerings such as free chocolate, quality coffee, and sometimes even welcome gift baskets!
There’s also the branded toiletry kits, always fresh towels and linens (often branded as well), and clean rooms in pristine condition.
Do what you can, the best you can, because investing into your guest experience is sure to yield a positive ROI.
Many people stick to things they like and are familiar with. So repeat guest aren’t out of the question when it comes to your vacation rental marketing strategy. In fact, many successful vacation rental owners get their fare share of repeat guests every year.
If and when you do get a repeat guest, you’re going to want your experience to live up to their expectations. The initial booking process, the amenities, cleanliness of the room, customer service, the checkout process, etc… Every part of your experience should be consistent for every guest… Unless it’s an upgrade!
Go above and beyond
There’s always something you can add to your guest experience. Every little bit helps.
Think welcome packages, hand-written thank you notes, etc…
Also, it shouldn’t be too hard to find local activity/restaurants guides with coupons and discounts. If you can’t find any that fit your business, see if you can try to make your own by partnering with local businesses that are looking to attract new business.
If you can, give access to activities like tennis or golf, etc… Whatever your guests might be interested in, try to see if you can put together somethingattractive for thew.
Treat every guest as if they were a VIP, because they are!
The real key to vacation rental marketing success, as in anything, is to strive for excellence. Just OK sucks. Be great!
It’s not going to happen overnight. But if you have the motivation to continue working on your business and refining your strategies, you just might surprise yourself with what you can achieve!