With the vacation rental industry booming and tons of new people are looking to get in on the action…
It’s becoming more and more clear which owners have a sharpened toolbox when it comes to marketing their property and generating bookings.
You can see it in the forums…
You can see it in guest correspondence…
You know you’re a vacation rental marketing veteran when…
1) You have professional photos
Anyone in today’s ultra-competitive vacation rental environment knows that if you don’t have professional photos, you’re not the real deal. Whether you beg, borrow, or trade for your professional photos, realize that they are your first impression (and probably most influential defining factor) of getting travelers to consider your rental for more than, say, two seconds.
Example: Owner Amy Greener reported rental income going from $65,000 to more than $120,000 per year due solely to hiring a professional photographer.
2) You use automated software to handle “the annoying stuff”
As a small business owner, you know you’re a marketing veteran when you’ve figured out how to utilize technology (whether canned messages in Gmail or third-party booking software) to do the little stuff like send lead-up and exit emails to a guest’s stay, thus allowing you to focus your limited time on the most crucial facets of your business.
3) You sniff out scams like they’re going out of style
When there’s a gold rush, scammers and con artists typically arrive quickly and it’s no secret that the vacation rental industry is ripe for their picking. You know you’re a veteran, however, when you can pick out those suspicious emails within a moment’s glance. Only the newbies fall for these fishing tricks that start "Dear Sirs..."
4) You send your overflow guests to competitors
What might seem like a strange technique to newcomers is actually old-hat for its veterans. You know you’ve been around for a while, when you send your overflow guests – the ones you can’t accommodate – to another owner down the street. This doesn’t just generate good karma: it generates commission referrals of up to 20%.
Example: See the more than 70 owners and managers around the world who have jumped on a small movement to send business each other’s way.
5) You connect with former guests on a regular basis
Whether it’s via Facebook or (preferably) email marketing, the oldest players in the vacation rental game know that referrals and repeat guests are some of the cheapest (and best) guests in the world. You know you’ve been around for a while if you’ve formed a solid database of loyal guests who have either (a) stayed at your rental or (b) showed interest in your rental, in order to stay booked year-round. Keeping in touch with them regularly (without sales pitches) is key to their continued allegiance.
Example: Check out the Facebook Page of Isla Palenque Vacation Homes in Panama. The owner uses an ingenious “Island Problems” series to keep guests sharing his homes when he sleeps.
6) You help (as opposed to sell)
Because so many of those entering the vacation rental industry now are looking for a quick buck, only the veterans are the ones who prefer the soft-sell: who prefer the helpful, resourceful way of handling guest inquiries (as opposed to using the pushy salesman voice). The veterans are the ones who build blogs, who share expertise in the form of Insider Guides, and who establish themselves as industry experts (not sales people).
Example: Check out this wonderful blog created for the B-Hive Rental in Austin for a great example of an owner looking to be helpful (and not salesy) for potential guests.
7) You tell stories
The art of storytelling isn’t new. But as it relates to generating vacation rental bookings, only the veterans in the industry know that (a) the history of one’s property, (b) the story behind one’s love for the area, and (c) the hilarious/interesting/crazy anecdotes that have stemmed from owning a rental are ALL things guests love to read. Only newcomers to the industry are afraid or bashful to share candid perspective.
Example: Check out my free course consisting of 4 short stories that will give you an entirely new perspective on how to WOW guests and draw them in to make a booking. Hint: In story #1, I'm having dinner on Bono's yacht.
8) You have floor plans in your photo gallery
Considered by some to be a stealth tool in the vacation rental marketing armoire, veterans in the industry know that perhaps the biggest question mark for potential vacation rental guests is the layout of any given property. Unlike hotel rooms, since all rentals are different, the floor plan idea makes totally transparent everything inside your walls and it's the savvy veterans who are capitalizing on this on a daily basis.
Example: Check out this company dedicated to providing affordable floorplans for vacation rental owners with relatively little hassle!
Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Software Blog (the largest free database of vacation rental marketing articles online) and VRLeap (an online marketplace for tools and services for vacation rental owners up to 90% OFF).