How to get more referral bookings for your vacation rental business
As vacation rental owners, we often place so much of our focus on marketing and advertising our properties online, that we forget there are other, even more powerful ways to drive in new business. And as the title suggests, we’re talking about referrals.
Why are referrals so powerful?
Well, according to Nielson research, 92% percent of consumers trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, making it the most trusted form of advertising.
Makes sense, right? When we hear it from someone else, it gives us that human element we need to feel comfortable about making our decision to spend.
Most importantly, referrals are an extremely powerful way to grow your business, and if you aren’t already getting them, here’s how you can:
There are three main types of referrals you should try to focus on;
1. Referrals from your friends and family,
2. From past renters
3. And believe it or not, from your competition.
Each type of referral has its own set of benefits, and for obvious reasons should be approached in their own way.
Referrals from friends and family
Don’t be shy! There’s no harm in asking a friend or loved one to help promote your property. Most often, people are glad to help out.
Whether it’s a Facebook mention, or simply keeping you in mind the next time their friend is looking for a quick getaway, if it can help you get 1 or 2 more bookings a year, it’s well worth your while.
Not to mention, they’re free! Well… hopefully!
Referrals from past renters
OK, now it’s time to take advantage of the extremely valuable resource you’ve already worked so hard to acquire: your client list. Hopefully you’ve kept the contact info and email address of every person that has stayed at you property. But if you haven’t, it’s never too late to start.
Every single one of these travelers has the potential to be an advocate for your property. You just have to remind them, and maybe convince them a little. An email promotion with an attractive offer should do the trick. Just make sure you cover all of your bases so the promotion doesn’t end up costing you more than it should.
Quick tip: Don’t forget to track your emails! A great email tracking company is MailChimp. It’s free as long as you have less than 2000 emails in your list. But if you’re looking for something a little easier to use, try SideKick. It’s also free and you can track the email opens and clicks using Gmail, Outlook, or even apple mail if you’ve got a mac.
Referrals from your competition
Take some time to meet your neighboring competition and try to befriend them. You can set up an agreement whereby you refer travelers to one another. For whatever reason if an inquiry doesn’t work out (timing, amenities, etc…), why not refer that traveler to one of your neighbours?
It won’t cost you a dime, and the truth is, you might even be able to negotiate a good kickback from it! If you can return the favor to each other, the extra income and bookings can go a long way for the both of you.
No matter how you look at it, a local referral agreement is a great way for you to learn from your neighbors. And who knows, it might even spark the idea to create a local network.
Quick Tip: Whether you decide to pass on referrals as part of being a good neighbor, or turn them into a whole new revenue stream, it’s completely up to you. But it is imperative that the properties you refer travellers to hold the same high standards, if not higher than those you follow for your own business. Even one bad referral could hurt your own reputation, and that is not a problem you want to be dealing with.
Noted; referrals aren’t the easiest to come by. And if your property isn’t up to par, and you’re not doing your absolute best to offer guests an amazing experience, your referrals are likely to dry up, fast. Or even worse, you might not get any at all.
But if you’re the type of person who continuously tries to improve your business and refine your tactics, there is no reason that referrals shouldn’t be an integral part of your overall business strategy. The benefits you stand to gain in the long term are simply impossible to ignore!