Owners often ask the question: “Besides advertising my vacation home on the Internet, which types of marketing are effective?” The answer isn't cut-and-dry. Different types of marketing work for different owners in different markets. However, the one universal truth: No form of offline marketing (besides word-of-mouth) will ever be as cost-effective for a single vacation rental homeowner as the Internet. With the Internet, interested renters are coming to you. Offline you're sending out messaging to reader, viewers, or listeners that may or may not be planning a vacation, traveling to your destination, etc. It's like throwing a dart at the dart board in the dark. You might hit the bull's-eye—but it's not likely.
That's not to say that you can't find success in off-line advertising. Just be sure to think of it as a supplement to your online advertising efforts—not a replacement.
Traditional Print AdvertisingTraditional print advertising in newspaper and magazines tends to be expensive and produces very few leads for most owners. For example, a 12 word classified ad in Southern Living costs around $325.
To cost-effectively advertise, you've got to determine who your target renter is and figure out a way to speak to them directly. This is why niche magazines (and websites) work well for some owners. Own a condo on a golf course? Consider advertising in one of the many golf magazines. Other niche markets include: fly fishing, antiquing, hunting, hiking, and surfing. The call-to-action in your ads should be for the renter to either call you or visit your personal website (or listing) for more information.
Here's an example of a 12-word classified ad for the fictional magazine, Antiquing Today.
“3BR Luxury Home in Stockwell's antique district. Call 555-5123 or visit HomeAway.com/199999.”
TV/RadioProhibitively expensive for most vacation property owners with little return on investment. Cost per 30-second radio spot can range from $12 to $100 depending on the size of the market and time of day. That may not sound too bad. However, keep in mind that you seldom can buy just one spot—they typically are sold in packages.
30-second local television ads cost at minimum $5 per 1000 viewers, not including production costs (which start around $1000).
“Guerilla” Marketing TacticsMany owners that we've talked to have experienced some success with some of the following “guerilla” marketing and advertising:
Flyers and door hangers. Inexpensive to print, but take a lot of (literal) leg work to distribute. You'll likely have to handout/hang up 1000s of flyers to produce one booking. If your kids are looking for a little spending money, consider paying them to post flyers in key neighborhoods, golf courses, restaurants, and health clubs. Avoid copy centers like Kinko's for color-copies. Instead try online printing vendors like ClubFlyers.com for low-cost, high-quality flyers or door hangers in bulk quantities (5000 3.5 x 8.5 in. door hangers will cost about $400).
Business cards. Low-cost and worth their weight in word-of-mouth bookings.
Car Decal Stickers. Not the prettiest form of advertising, but can be effective.
Brochures: Leave them in Chambers, business centers, etc.
The key to success with any kind of advertising is creating a clear and compelling call-to-action. You not only want the person seeing (or hearing) your advertising, you want them to at the very least seek more information. That's why it's important that you not only include a phone number in your ad, but also include a web address to either your personal website or your listing on a reputable portal site (like HomeAway or VRBO).
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