Everyone wants to improve their vacation rental’s online presence, but not everyone knows where to turn. In addition to spending your valuable marketing dollars on annual memberships, here are 8 cost-free online hotspots where you can submit your vacation rental website – whether it’s a listing page or your personal homepage (preferred) – and see immediate results. I like to suggest owners spend one hour every month searching for (and applying to) new sites like these. They are worth their weight in gold...
1. Dmoz: The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as Dmoz (from directory.mozilla.org, its original domain name), is an open content directory of World Wide Web links. It is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors and it’s the database from which hundreds of thousands of other directory websites draw their data. Which is to say, once you submit your vacation rental site to Dmoz (and get accepted) the amount of residual links to your property will increase monumentally.
2. Google Places: Google Places is a free web mapping application and you may have seen it pop up on your Google searches or perhaps embedded in other websites. Once you submit your vacation rental company to Google Places through Google’s Local Business Center, your contact information (email, phone number, address, etc) will display on all kinds of hyper-local searches meaning, if someone is looking for a place to stay in your area, they’ll be presented with your information almost like a phone book listing.
3. Yahoo! Local: Much like Google Maps and Google Places, Yahoo! Local is a platform that’s still worth your vacation rental site’s inclusion. With their free basic listing, you can submit your contact information, select 5 categories in which to list your rental, as well as list any services you may offer on top of a traditional nightly stay.
4. Purple Roofs: Gay travel is an ever-expanding industry and lots of vacation rental owners report tremendous results when posting on sites like Purple Roofs where your free listing submission will most likely make you the only “gay friendly” accommodation in your area (a huge boost for bookings). The only requirement is that you are actually friendly towards gay travelers: easy enough!
5. Gay Journey: The gold-standard in gay travel sites, Gay Journey is the go-to site for many gay travelers and posting your rental on their site is guaranteed to bring in good new traffic. They even give you the option of registering as gay owned (in addition to gay friendly). Gay owner listings are highlighted with a rainbow flag and tend to get extra clicks.
6. TripAdvisor Forum: TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel review site so it’s not a surprise that their massive traveler forum is frequently crawled by tourists looking for new accommodations, especially alternatives to traditional hotels. By creating an account on TripAdvisor (if you don’t have one already), browsing the discussion threads in your area, and anonymously recommending your rental with a link, rental owners have reported huge upticks in bookings.
7. LinkedIn: One of the most direct and no-nonsense ways of getting the details of your vacation rental in front of potential guests is using one of LinkedIn’s Groups. Joining groups like travel agents, tourism boards, specialty travel, etc and posting a simple introduction message to its members about you, your rental and your excitement to host new guests can do wonders to generate new bookings.
8. Thorntree: Imagine taking Lonely Planet’s loyal traveler following and consolidating the individuals who have area-specific travel questions all in one place. There might be no better place to plug your vacation rental as an authentic/private/alternative place to stay than Thorntree, Lonely Planet’s uncensored traveler forum. Thorntree also tends to be very easy on moderation, meaning as long as you’re not overly promotional in your posting, the advertising is free! I also recommend offering advice in your area of expertise as this tends to garner much more traffic.
Matt is the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog where you can find lots of juicy free tips for generating more bookings as well as his $77 report, which on average increases owners year-round occupancy by 10%. When he's not marketing his vacation rentals, Matt plays soccer with members of the US Men's National Team.