Social Media

8 posts

Grand Dunes Condos in Destin, Florida are restricted to only long term rentals.  Short term renters are not allowed and not welcome.

After a great social media workshop during the 2012 HomeAway Summit there were lots of questions that we brought back to follow up on for you.  This post will address some of them and we'll be creating demonstration videos to further explain other topics.  We'll be posting additional follow up topics soon so stay tuned for more!



  • What is a good tool for scheduling Facebook or Twitter posts for a future date?
    • is a free or inexpensive option to schedule content, monitor comments and review analytics.

  • Where do I go to create a Facebook page?


  • What should be my page category?
    • See a more detailed discussion of this topic here


  • What should I name my Facebook page if:
    • I'm located in a complex?
      • Suggestions would be:
        • Complex Name & Property Type (Windsor Point Condo #251)
        • Complex Name & Property Type (Windsor Point Condo Rental)
        • Location & Property Type (Aspen Condo Rental or Aspen Condo)

    • My property has a name such as Hilltop Hideaway?
      • I'd suggest using your property name and including the destination
        • (Hilltop Hideaway in Aspen or Hilltop Hideaway)


    • My business is an LLC?
      • This will depend on how you market your business/rental. Do you use your business name or the name of the property/properties?
        • If you actively market your vacation rental using your LLC name then your page should be that name as well.
        • If you have a name for your house or are okay with using a naming convention similar to the 1st example, that would be the option to choose.  The About area on Facebook provides a significant amount of space to provide information about your business and contact information, so that would be the best place to include that. See the HomeAway About section


    • I'm a property manager / I have multiple rentals?
      • If this applies to you there are a couple of questions to ask. Are all of my rentals in one location? Do I promote my business name versus the location of my properties?
        • If you own/manage rentals in a single location consider using a naming convention such as Premier Property Management or Premier Property Management in Destin
          • In this case you'd have a single page where you put information about all of your vacation rentals
        • If you own/manage properties in multiple locations you can name your page with your business name and advertise all rentals on the same page or create individual pages for each property with one of the above naming conventions.
          • Premier Property Mangement Aspen or Hilltop HideAway by Premier Property Management


    • I want to include a popular local activity in my name?
      • Suggestions would be similar to Hilltop Hideaway Ski Condo, Windsor Point Ski Condo


Note on Page Names: You can try a name variation and occasionally it will be rejected in which case you'll receive an email from Facebook informing you that they'll change the name.  Facebook guidelines state that pages should have concise names: Page names may not be excessively long, and may not include taglines, superfluous descriptions, or unnecessary qualifiers, such as "official." Campaign names and regional or demographic qualifiers are acceptable (e.g. Nike Football Spain).   See name guidelines



  • How do I choose a customized URL for my Facebook page?
    • See detailed information on how to get a customized URL here

  • What is the difference between a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page?
    • See the Facebook Help Center answer for a good definition and list of differences.

  • Can I convert my Facebook Group to a Facebook Page?
    • Unfortunately you aren't able to convert groups to pages.  There are a few things you could do to entice group members to Like your new page such as:
      • Offer a coupon, discount, gift card, etc as an incentive.
      • Start a discussion in the group about the purpose of the page. Let members know what they can expect to find there and why they should connect.
      • Start a discussion asking what the group members would like to see on your page and update them when that content is available.
      • Offer "insider tips" for your local area on your page and link to them within the group

  • How do I get data/analytics on my page?
    • Facebook has a great tool called Insights that will give you a significant amount of data about your page. Read about all of the features and FAQs here.


  • On my Facebook page, using the Milestone feature, can I add multiple photos?
    • You aren't able to add multiple photos to your Milestones on Timeline. If you'd like more than one photo to show I'd recommend creating a small collage using a photo editing tool and saving that as a single image to use when you add a Milestone.


We conducted a few interviews with community members regarding social media marketing and what tips they may have for vacation rental owners.  Following is a discussions with community member webchalet (Sarah Brubaker), who shares her thoughts on how social media can benefit owners. 


What social media outlets have you used for marketing your vacation rental?  Which of these do you think have been successful in terms of marketing your vacation rental?

  • Each social media outlet has its own strengths, and the ultimate goal is to create a healthy marketing mixture that allows you to take advantage of these different strengths.
  • Facebook allows you to build and engage an active community around your vacation rental business. A recent study by a large advertising company showed that 84% of a typical brand's Facebook fans are existing customers. This means the goal of marketing to your Facebook fan base could be driving repeat guests, rather than acquiring new business.
  • YouTube gives owners a platform to showcase videos of their vacation rentals to a large audience and can be used for customer acquisition.  In addition to posting on YouTube, you can embed these videos on your personal website.
  • Twitter is great for learning about the latest vacation rental news  (for example, HomeAway’s announcements about new features) and expanding your knowledge base. Plus, you can share your own news and “tweet” blog posts, driving users back to your website.
  • The vacation rental website is the hub of these activities because ultimately you are looking to drive users back to your website so they can easily inquire or book your vacation rental.

What criteria do you use to determine if social media marketing is beneficial for your vacation rental business?

  • One of the challenges of social media is the difficulty in measuring the exact ROI (return on investment).  You can spend hours posting on Facebook or tweeting, but is it actually affecting your business and driving bookings? There are a few ways to obtain data and measure your success.
  • Using Google Analytics, you can look at how much traffic is driven to your website from websites like, and
  • Secondly, you can look at each marketing channel individually and set goals.  Facebook provides weekly reporting the number of posts/likes made by fans on your business page.  If your goal is to create an engaging audience and drive repeat business, you can monitor the rise or fall in activity.



What are three tips for success that you’d give to other owners, based on your experiences with social media marketing?

  1. Test, test, test.  Facebook may work for some vacation rental owners while YouTube may work better for others.   You will not know what works for you until you try it.  Continue to experiment until you find the right mix for you.
  2. Be patient.  Do not expect instant success. It takes time to build a community of fans or followers.
  3. Leverage your personal website to act as a central hub for your social media marketing.  When you promote a deal on Facebook or Twitter, you can link to your personal website and provide more info on the special offer.  It is important to have clear and consistent messaging in order to get the most out of your marketing campaign.


What types of content drive the most engagement?

  • Photos and videos are very important.  When you are “selling” your vacation rental, you are not only selling your home but the entire experience of the location.  Images and visuals help to create a compelling experience that make users want to go on vacation.
  • With arrival of Groupon and other flash sale sites, consumers are becoming seasoned to seeing special deals and acting on these deals. A special offer is a great way to create a sense of urgency to book now and also gets guests’ attention.  During the low season, one of our clients offers a special “private chef for dinner” when guests book her villa for a week.


Have you tried running Facebook ads? If yes, have you seen good results from Facebook advertising?

  • Facebook ads are a good way to reach new eyeballs.  With Facebook ads, you can choose your audience by locations and interests. It is all about trial and error and figuring out what works for you.
  • While Facebook ads may work for some vacation rental owners, and they may not work for others.  You have to try out different channels to see what works for your business.


Should properties have a place page for renters to “check-in” via FourSquare or Gowalla?

  • The “check-in” is becoming increasingly popular.  For the vacation rental business, it may not be as relevant because you do not have the foot traffic of a restaurant coming in and out.  But if a guest wants to check-in and share this with friends, why not let him or her?  As always, test it out and see if you gain any traction.


Do you allow renters to post photos of your properties on their social profiles?

  • We would recommend this strategy.  Facebook is all about sharing and recommending content to friends.  If a Facebook user posts photos, this will show up on their own Facebook feed so their friends can see the photos as well, expanding the reach of your Facebook page.
  • Remember, you can always monitor and remove inappropriate photos.



About Webchalet:

Sarah Brubacker co-founded WebChalet (, a leading vacation rental website design and hosting company.  Sarah has been working in online marketing and sales development for the past 8 years and worked with several premiere media clients, including Fox Networks, BravoTV, the Weinstein Company and CBS.

In this final post in the Social Marketing 101 series I’ll provide you with lists of tools to assist with managing your content, monitoring the social web and determining which of your efforts are effective.


Monitoring the Social Web and Managing Your Content:

There are many free, or inexpensive, tools available to help you monitor the social web for mentions of your vacation rental location, travel and events that are relevant to you. There are also free or low cost tools that can help you schedule in advance the content you want to publish on your accounts, as well as keep track of engagement happening with your accounts.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of tools available; these are just some of the more popular ones on the market now.


The best thing to do would be to test these tools and see which work best for you. Scheduling content ahead of time is a helpful time saver, and I’d recommend trying the tools below that allow you to both schedule content and monitor your account.  Another time saver is finding the best tool that will allow you to keep track of the interactions happening with your accounts in one location.



Determining if your Efforts are Effective:

Once you have started your social marketing efforts you’ll want to determine what is working well and what isn’t, so you can focus on the most productive activities.  Within Facebook and YouTube are in depth analytics data that will provide you insight into your account growth, content that is most engaging, where your fans are located and more.  Beyond using the information that the networks provide, there are more free tools that help you gauge your overall social presence. For Twitter- there are countless free tools to help you measure performance.  Below is a list of some of the most used tools, but again, this is not a comprehensive list and you might find additional services that work better for your needs.





With that, I’ve covered the basic phases to getting started with social media marketing. I look forward to seeing the conversations about what works for your vacation rental in theCommunity Forums and in this group.



Jennifer Stafford

HomeAway Social Media Manager

The previous posts in the “Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental” series covered the basics of goal setting and determining the social networks and content that best suits your needs. Now I’ll cover how to build fans and engagement on your profiles within the largest social networks.


Tactics for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter vary, but the main challenges and keys to success remain are universal. Building fans can be a challenge when you are starting to market your rental using social media. In order to attract people to your social profiles, you need to create quality content that’s relevant to your vacation rental and its location. Again, content is defined here as anything you’re publishing; from photos, to videos, to updates on events, deals or the weather. To keep people tuned in to your social profiles, you need to consistently update your content and engage with your fans and followers.  Let’s cover some strategies to build your accounts and engage with fans.


1.  Building awareness: What are some of the most common ways to inform people of your social media accounts?


•    Promote them on your website

     o    If you have a website, consider adding the social plug-ins available from Facebook such as the Like button, Comment box or buttons from other networks like Twitter.  By allowing people to share content from your site, you gain access to their social networks and therefore a larger pool of potential travelers.

     o    Consider adding a feed of your Facebook or Twitter content to your website.


•    Include your social media accounts in your communication to guests

     o    If you email guests, be sure to include links to your social accounts or via email signature so they receive updates from you.

     o    Add a note on your check-out instructions at your vacation rental to remind guests to Like your Facebook page or Follow you on Twitter, and provide the URLs.


•    Test Facebook ads

     o    If you have a budget for marketing, try testing a Facebook ad to encourage people to like your page. You can also use ads to try and fill vacant dates or inform travelers about specials.

          ♣    You can set any budget for your ads, from $1/day to $500/week, it’s up to you.

          ♣    To find more information on Facebook Ads, here is their ad guide.

     o    Facebook offers a variety of ads that enable you to promote content on your page, ask people to Like your page, promote dates you have availability and more.


•    Find others who post content relevant to your rental

     o    If you need to reach new fans of vacation rentals or the location of your rental, try reaching out to people who already have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or YouTube channels about similar topics. To find these people use the search features of the social network and look for people mentioning the destination of your vacation rental.

     o    If you respond to content they are posting and share information with them, you can then ask them to interact with your account or repost your content.

          ♣    For example, if your local Visitor Bureau tweets about traveling to their destination, or about an upcoming event, respond to them with a link to your property and available dates.


•    Do you often have specials or deals?

     o    Consider promoting them through deals sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Facebook Deals or Facebook Ads to reach a larger audience.


2.  Increasing engagement: How can you get people to interact with your accounts?

•    Content relevance is key

     o    In the third part of this blog series, I covered content types that work for each of the main social networks.  Ensure that your content is relevant to your audience and has a purpose.  It’s better to post less but ensure that the quality is high - versus posting regular superficial content.

     o    Content testing is also important. Vary and track the content/information you post to see which produces the most engagement with the people connected to your social accounts.


•    Stay engaged

     o    Push for interaction with your audience by asking questions, requesting reviews or testimonials, asking for comments when publishing photos, etc.

     o    Don’t over extend yourself. To be successful you have to publish quality content and spend time looking for opportunities to get involved in conversations that extend beyond marketing your rental. Engaging regularly with others will make them more likely to interact with you in the future.


•    Encourage interaction with your past guests

     o    When you email past guests or leave them instructions at your rental, tell people what you’d like them to do versus just mentioning your accounts.

     o    Provide a link to your page, but if you’d like to get reviews on your Facebook page ask guests to post them there; if you’d like people to share photos on Twitter or videos on YouTube ask guests to share them with you. Giving guidance will increase the likelihood that you’ll get content from fans which will in turn get shared to their networks as well.


•    Offer social media exclusive discounts

     o    If you are connected to guests through Facebook or Twitter consider offering exclusive discounts to encourage travelers to stay connected to your accounts.


I also wanted to include this infographic from Ad Age that shows demographic data for some of the various social networks.  As you can see, many people using social media now fall into the target demographic for travelers that you’d like to market your rental to. This reinforces the importance of not only engaging in social media, but choosing the social networks that will have a higher probability of helping you achieve your goals.


In the final post of the ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’ series, I will cover managing your content and monitoring the social web, and how to determine whether your social marketing efforts are effective.

In the first two posts I’ve discussed goal setting and determining which social networks will help you achieve your goals, as being the first steps to take when marketing your vacation rental using social media.  Today I’ll cover how to decide on types of content that you could publish.


Step 3: Decide on the types of content that you want to publish on social networks

First, let’s define content; in this context we are talking about any information, photos, videos, links to websites, etc that you have available and want to share. Different types of content work better for different social networks.  If you’re time constrained you need to think about content that is readily available to you, and easy to publish, but if you have more free time then you can be more creative with what you publish.  Be imaginative with information that you can share and create content that encourages engagement.


            Think about:

    • What information do you have that’s “insider knowledge” for the location of your rental, or just some of your favorite things in that location? Do you know the best shop to go for coffee in the morning, know of great deals at local restaurants, or the perfect spot to see that amazing sunset?
    • Photos of your rental or local events and attractions near your vacation home are easy ways to create new content and share relevant information with potential guests
    • Offering a deal or freebie that is exclusive to your fans on social networks
    • Sharing videos of your rental or the town where your rental is located. If you don’t have any video consider creating a few short tours of your rental or favorite attractions in the area. Adding a personal touch through video could make a potential guest feel more comfortable when considering renting your home.


Again, let’s go through the well known social sites and talk about content types that work best for them.  Keep in mind though, without engaging with the community, publishing content isn’t going to yield results.

  • Facebook
    • Updates about your rental business and events in your rental location
    • Links to local attractions, restaurants you enjoy, discounts being offered in the area, posts about “things to do” or “what you should know about X city”
    • Photos of your rental and the area including attractions and events
    • Video tours of your rental and the local area and/or local businesses you enjoy
    • Deals can be publicized or offered exclusively to your Facebook fans on your page. You can also utilize Facebook’s new Deals product which will allow you to create a deal that can be found on mobile applications and by subscription.
    • Poll your fans about your home or fun facts about the area with the Questions product on your page
    • Add your vacation rental as a location guests can “check in” to on Places and updates will be shared with their networks giving your business more exposure
    • There are also easy to use applications that allow you to create custom landing pages, or Welcome Tabs to greet visitors of your page. These applications, such as Pagemodo or Involver, are easy to set up and install on your page.


  • Twitter
    • Short snippets of information about your rental and the area such as:     
      • Deals for your rental, calendar updates, reviews received, last minute vacancy dates, events and attractions in the area, deals being offered from nearby businesses or restaurants
    • Photos uploaded through a site or application like TwitPic or Instagram
    • Links to video tours you’ve posted on YouTube or your website


  • YouTube
    • Video tours of your rental
    • Videos of events or attractions in the location of your rental
    • Video of tips for things to do, places to eat, museums to visit, etc


  • Flickr
    • Photos of your rental, your local area, events and attractions


  • Yelp
    • Contribute reviews of your favorite restaurants and shops
    • Join conversations in the Talk and/or Events areas. The key here is to contribute to the conversation and not only talk about your rental. Look for conversations where it may be appropriate to join and talk about your rental though.


  • FourSquare
  • Deals if you offer them
    • Tips for what to do in the area


  • Forums
    • Contribute your expertise about the vacation rental industry, your business or your local knowledge
    • The important thing about Forums is to find something you’re interested in talking about and become a part of the community with conversation and not just marketing your rental
    • Local information can be a great conversation on destination based forums where you can add value with local knowledge


  • Blogs
    • Blog on your personal website about local information and features of your rental     
      • Provides an opportunity to engage with travelers and potential customers through your blog
    • Find opportunities to guest blog on other sites that discuss topics where you could add value to the       blogger’s site     
      • Often you will be able to include your bio with a link to your personal site or vacation rental listing so guest blogs aren’t overly “salesy”
      • Guest blogging can also help with search engine rankings by providing links to your personal website or your vacation rental listing
  • Pinterest
    • Pin attractive and eye-catching photos (and videos) of your vacation rental.
    • Create boards associated with your location in order to educate travelers about the area.
      • Things To Do, Sights to See, Area Attractions, What to Pack, Local Beaches; all relating to the location of your rental.
    • The content you pin surrounding your rental will inform travelers about the area, and make them more likely to be interested in your property.    


In Part 4 of ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’, we’ll discuss how to build fans and engagement on your profiles.

In the first blog I discussed goal setting as the first step to start marketing your vacation rental using social media sites.  Now we’ll cover how to determine which networks will help you accomplish those goals and the time needed for each.


Step 2: Determine social networks that can meet your objectives and time commitments

As much as we’d all like to participate in all of the social networks, there are too many at this point to be able to utilize all of them effectively. You need to take your business objectives and availability and match them to the various social networks to see which is the best fit for you. Remember, just because the mainstream media is mentioning a social network everyday that doesn’t mean it makes sense for your business.


Let’s break down some of the basic uses for the more well-known social sites as well as the time commitment required to succeed on each:



    (HomeAway research has shown that Facebook is the most utilized social network among our travelers)

Good for:

    • Connecting with past guests
    • Finding potential guests
    • Connecting with other owners and vacation rental-related businesses
    • Publishing a variety of content types (photos, links, videos, stories, etc) in one location
    • Using it as a website if you don’t currently have one
      • To get the most out of Facebook create a Page, not a profile for your business

Time Commitment:

    • Initially low, if your page grows significantly and is very active then medium



Good for:

    • Finding potential travelers
    • Connecting with local businesses and events organizations
    • Publishing short updates about your business and links to other sites

Time Commitment:

    • Medium if you want to build an active and engaged network



Good for:

    • Showcasing videos about your rental and the area where your rental is located

Time Commitment:

    • Low to Medium depending on how intricate you want your videos to be and whether you’ll spend time filming and editing versus hiring someone

Options for videos: Below are examples of owners and managers who’ve done well at showcasing their homes through a variety of different video setups.

    Slide Shows – Example 1, Example 2 Showcase home & attractions    

    Video Tours –  Example 1Example 2 Showcase home, attractions and add personal touches




    Good for:

    • Showcasing photos and other information of your vacation rental
    • Sharing photos related to travel, home décor and other related categories
    • Engaging with your target market: women interested in travel, home décor, weddings, food, DIY
    • Building links to your property page
    • Creating a conglomerate of shared images, resources, and links

    Time Commitment:

    • Medium in order to build up your page by creating a few boards that cover different interests
    • Medium in order to gain a following, you need to pin and repin photos quite frequently
    • Low once you get the hang of it, and even use the mobile application



    Good for:

      • Showcasing photos of your vacation rental

    Time Commitment:

      • Low if you are only going to upload photos



    Good for:

      • Connecting with local businesses through the reviews system
      • Engaging with the community through Yelp Talk & Events (if available in your area)

    Time Commitment:

      • Low if you engage as you have time available



    Good for:

      • Exposing your business to an audience in the area of your vacation rental
      • Promoting specials
      • Building loyalty with social savvy guests

    Time Commitment:

      • Low beyond setting up your location and updating with deals, if you offer them, or local destination tips



    Good for:

      • Contributing to conversation on topics related to your business, events and/or attractions in your area
      • Connecting with others with similar interests, potentially finding new guests as well
      • Talking with other owners about best practices in vacation rentals

    Time Commitment:

      • Low to high depending on how much time you want to dedicate to the community


    In Part 3 of ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’, I’ll cover how to decide on the types of content that you’ll create for marketing your vacation rental via social media.




    Jennifer Stafford

    HomeAway Social Media Manager

    As I’m sure you’re aware, everyone is trying to market their products or services using social media.  If you’re just getting started with social media marketing, it can be difficult to decide where to start and how to most effectively use your time.  Some people think the “try a little bit of everything” approach is best, but if you have limited time and resources, you need to concentrate on networks that will be most effective for your goals.


    This series of posts will discuss the steps you should take to create an effective plan to market your vacation rental using social media. Over the next few days we will cover setting goals, determining networks to use, deciding what types of content to publish, building fans, monitoring the social web and measuring your effectiveness.


    Step 1: Set goals and realistic expectations for your social marketing

    To be successful with any type of marketing you need goals to determine what tactics you need to do to meet those goals.   Is your goal to reach new travelers or to communicate with returning guests? Do you want to try to market locally or nationally? Would you consider yourself a success if you are engaging with people who love your rental or do you need to drive inquiries to feel that social marketing is worth your time?


    Once you’ve answered those types of questions, you can decide how much time you have to allocate to social marketing. If you have a few hours a month, you need a social outlet that doesn’t require much commitment, such as a blog or forum participation. If you are able to be active daily or weekly, one of the mainstream social channels, like Facebook, Twitter or Yelp, could be a good choice for you.  The other thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to participate just to be involved in a social network.  In order to be effective when you’re engaging on a social network you need to be adding value to a conversation, not just providing information, or else others won’t be receptive to your communication.


    After you’ve defined your goals and how much time you’re willing to devote to social marketing, it’s time to decide where to participate. In Part Two of ‘Social Marketing 101 for Your Vacation Rental’, I’ll discuss how to determine social networks that can meet your objectives and time commitments needed.



    Jennifer Stafford


    HomeAway Social Media Manager

    Filter Blog

    By date:
    By tag: