With so many big-name companies out there to compete against in the vacation rental marketing business, one of the most difficult barriers to entry in this marketplace is getting your first booking. Next, you need to maintain a constant flow of visitors in order to maximize your occupancy rate to get a return on your investment (ROI).
Lage hotel chains, accommodation booking websites, and vacation rental websites currently dominate all internet marketing platforms. With these companies placing millions into their marketing campaigns, vacation rental owners are just a very small piece of the online marketing jigsaw.
Owning one or two vacation rentals does not justify the kind of marketing budget that the Hilton or even Travel Lodge hotels are investing. Also, dedicating a budget as large as companies such as Agoda, Booking.com, HomeAway, or Expedia do is only going to send the average vacation rental owner bankrupt. There really is no ROI to be made with such large investments if you own one or just a handful of the vacation rental.
As A Vacation Rental Owner – What Will You Learn by Reading This Article?
In this article, we will explain how you can divert from the traditional routes most people use when it comes to internet marketing. This guide will show you how to become a successful vacation rental entrepreneur using a different set of online marketing tools that are already available to you in this tough to crack industry.
We will still be following tradition online marketing models, but the techniques suggested here are customized to help you save money by avoiding the traps of Pay Per Click marketing and SEO in what is already an extremely competitive online marketplace. Instead, you will be using a proven system that has helped many vacation rental owners make a success out of their vacation rental business.
How Do You Market A Vacation Rental in Such A Competitive Marketplace?
First off, you need to invest time into your project. The time I am talking about is research and then adding your vacation rental as a listing to the major accommodation booking websites available. Some you will need to pay an initial fee, others a monthly fee, while some like Airbnb are free until a booking is made.
Once you have a list of websites and a budget in mind, then you need to take the time to list your vacation rental or rentals on all of these websites. The more websites you can add listings to, the more you are increasing your vacation rentals visibility.
“Using multiple listing will help increase the visibility of your vacation rentals”
Make sure your property descriptions are accurate, the photos are up to date and clear (get a professional photographer if you think this will help), and you need to make sure you are able to answer inquiries from potential guests.
The latter means having an email address specifically for your vacation rental business that will inform you which website you have an inquiry on. This will save you time and effort having to continuously log on to each website looking for inquires. Also, if you can have each website’s mobile app installed on your smartphone, it means you will be able to answer inquiries quickly.
As you can see, so far, we are looking at several aspects of a good marketing business model. Visibility comes first. This is because if no one can see or find your property, then you are not going to get inquiries. Next comes the brand image. Having decent photographs and listing descriptions will give those that do see your property that quality feel, which will hopefully lead them to make a booking.
Lastly, you need to manage your sales strategy. This means setting up an easy to use communication channel (your email address and mobile apps) in order to speak with those that have shown an interest in the property by making an inquiry.
What About After Care Service and Brand Building?
At first, you are going to find it difficult to get bookings for your listing with no feedback. When you do manage to persuade someone to put their faith in your property by making a booking, you are going to need to look after them with cotton wool gloves.
This stage of your marketing process is the after-care service or after-sales service that you offer. When your new guests have a question, you need to be able to answer them. Also, if there are any issues with the property, once again, you will need to be on hand to give them a quick answer.
“Offering excellent customer service will help you gain 5-star feedback – positive reviews are as valuable as gold in the vacation rental business”
A lot of people expect a similar customer service from vacation rental owners as they would from a hotel. This is why you should put a lot of thought and effort into how you will deal with certain problems that may arise, and how you will make sure you have a continuous open line of communications for your guests.
Play your cards right at this stage, and you will get that 5-star feedback that you have been looking for. Feedback will result in more bookings, and with more bookings, you can increase the daily, weekly, or monthly rates you offer. This allows you to reach your end game, which is to increase your ROI.
Building Your Own Branded Website
Once you have started to build a solid reputation for your vacation rental or vacation rentals on several different websites, you can now start to build your brand. There are so many options available to you to expand your business at this point. You could buy more properties, become a property management business and manage other people’s vacation rentals.
“You may want to consider using a website as one of your first priorities”
Whichever direction you decide to take, you will need a website. In fact, you may want to consider getting a website as your very first marketing strategy. You can then begin to build your brand there even though you are not likely to get any bookings through a website when you start out.
One website we recommend is the Lodgify vacation rental software and website builder. This is an easy to use site builder that will enable you to manage your entire marketing system and all of your vacation rentals in one place. It can also help introduce your customers to a place where they are able to access an FAQ about your property – this could include ‘direction’ and ‘how to use’ videos that your guests can easily access thus helping you with the ‘customer service’ section of your marketing strategy.
In addition to this, if you choose the right website builder, you will be able to use a channel manager. The aforementioned Lodgify has a channel manager built-in or as a WordPress, Joomla, or Squarespace plug-in or additional coding option.
Channel managers will sync the calendars of every website your property listed on. This is a huge time hack because it means when you receive a booking on one website, you don’t need to log on to every other website and block off the calendar for the property just booked in order to avoid double bookings.
“The channel manager will sync all your calendars on every website your property is listed!”
What’s more is that if you create business cards, and you have given your guests access to a website full of information about your vacation rental and its surrounding area, the chances are if the guest returns, they will book directly on your website’s booking engine. The Lodgify vacation rental software has the entire booking system and payment system built in, and you can rebrand the site to add your logo and brand colors.
After you have been rotating guests through websites you have your vacation rentals listed in through to your website, your brand will start to take shape.
Finally: Keep Your Property in Good Shape – Use the Concept of Life Cycles
One of the biggest mistakes that hotels make is they love to count their profits but do not think about the life cycle of hotel furnishing. Often hotel managers forget that in 4- or 5-years’ time the rooms will need upgrading, the hallways need maintenance and so on.
Do not make the same mistake with your vacation rental because if you do, and you run out of cash, all that effort building your brand will be wasted.
Just make sure that you keep your properties in good shape so repeat guests are coming back to the same place they originally visited. Making sure you understand the concept of business cycles or life cycles will help you manage the right time to use your money to upgrade or place mattresses, tables, chairs, pillows, and bed covers at the right time. This avoids the place getting old or outdated!
This is in fact just a short article on how you should market and operate a vacation rental business. It is a great guide for both those starting out as well as for those that are currently active within the industry. Take heed of the comments made here and do as much as you can apply these concepts to your vacation rental in a way that works with your strategy whether you are offering high end, mid-range, or budget services.
And finally – good luck!
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