Short-term vacation rentals are an undisputed way of making extra money. However, as more people experience its potential, and with corporate and commercial investors also tapping into the short-term rental business, it’s becoming more difficult for property managers to fill up their bookings.
One of the more popular tactics property managers and owners use to drive more bookings is social media. While it gets all the credit for keeping people engaged with catchy content, email marketing is a tried and tested tool that can keep a property filled all year round and keep your listing top of mind for past and potential guests.
Whether you’re starting fresh or have been in the business for a while, it’s important to have a strategy in place to build a database of names and contact details to start your email marketing strategy. There are a few ways to get these details, however, each method comes with advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out.
Ask clients directly when they make inquiries if you can add them to your email list. They might say no to providing their contact details, but they might say yes! Just be prepared to let them know exactly what they are subscribing to - whether it be discounts and offers, local travel tips, or even let them know it’s a way for them to provide reviews on their stay at your property.
Leave a guest book out at your rental and have clients fill out their contact details when they check-in. Be weary of untidy handwriting as a downfall of this method.
The best way to get email addresses from guests is to make it part of a process. You can do this by having guests type in their email addresses when they log in to the Wi-Fi.
Solutions such as Stayfi integrated with Hostaway can help hosts automate the collection of guest information. While you will definitely end up with the required information (because everybody needs Wi-Fi), the downside to this is that guests may not actually give you permission to use the email addresses. We’d recommend including a checkbox for guests agreeing to the terms and conditions of using wifi at your short-term rental which can include some text around consenting to receiving email communications.
Incentivize potential guests who visit your website with lead magnets. Lead magnets can be incentives you give to visitors on your website in exchange for their email address. The visitor would fill out a form to access a variety of incentives. Some examples of this include discounts or sales, newsletter subscriptions, or access to area and property guides.
It’s important when collecting emails to always give an option to unsubscribe from your emails (though, we hope they don’t). You should always check your country's email spam and consent laws before you start building an email list.
Okay, so now you’ve started building your email list. What now? You should focus on keeping potential customers engaged and turning them into customers who make bookings for your property. Using email marketing to increase your vacation rental bookings.
Once you have an email list it’s important to optimize it to convert potential clients to fully paying guests. There’s hardly any point in having an email list if none convert into customers. Here are some ways to ensure conversions.
Once you have an email list it is important to optimize it in order to convert potential clients to fully paying guests. There’s hardly any point in having an email list with thousands if none convert. Here are some ways to ensure conversions.
Treat your client's email inbox like a special place and resist the urge to continuously bombard them with emails - start with emailing your database once a week and monitor the unsubscribe rate.
At any point, if your unsubscribe rate creeps above 2%, you might consider reducing the frequency of your emails or evaluating the offer and content you are providing in your emails.
You could include a promotion once in a while to push reservations. Most of the time, try to offer information that can serve some value to guests traveling to your locality.
To further pique their interest, send personalized emails based on the information you have on them. If they are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, maybe offer them a birthday or anniversary discount.
Or if they’re known to travel with pets you could include information about finding vets while traveling and other institutions like pet-friendly cafes, etc.
Since you can’t be expected to remember the important days of all your guests, a tool you can use to start with is iCal. It has an integrated calendar that reminds you of guest birthdays and anniversaries. It works with platforms like iCloud, Yahoo! and Google, you can also use it to identify guest emails and phone numbers, which can, in turn, be added to your database.
Setting a schedule ensures that your property gets regular coverage and is frequently on the minds of your target audience. We recommend sending 2 emails a month. According to statistics, the open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month.
Keep your emails value driven and concise. Why not try inserting interesting local facts and trivia as part of your email? This might help keep your audience interested and pique their interest in traveling to your local area.
Remember that guests have given you their email addresses to keep up to date with what’s new in the area, so make sure your emails give them that.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Use pictures to help clients imagine their holiday at your vacation rental. Use flattering photographs of your holiday rental that guests would love to show off when talking about their holiday. People love an Instagrammable photo-op and your emails can help show them the opportunities.
According to statistics, most people read only 20% of the text on a page and 80% of people remember the visuals they see as opposed to the text they read. Therefore, while it is important to have a great copy for your email, a well-shot photograph of your short-term rental in the best possible light and angle can take you way ahead. If you ask us, we recommend keeping the words at a minimum and let the pictures do most of the talking.
Most email inboxes have thousands of unread emails from companies that people forget to unsubscribe from. The only way to make your email visible in a sea of unopened mails is an intriguing subject line. Statistics show that 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject lines that create intrigue.
However, don’t fall into the trap of using click baits because once customers lose trust in your company they may opt to immediately unsubscribe or simply ignoring the rest of your mails. Create curiosity and make the body of the email as relevant to the subject line as possible.
According to Campaign Monitor, more than 50% of all emails are opened on mobile devices, therefore it is important to optimize emails for mobiles. Not just the text but the images too must be aesthetically pleasing for mobiles. Just to be sure, send yourself the email first and check in your phone to make sure it is an email you want to receive.
The end objective of every email you send is to encourage your audience to take action. Most often this action would be to click through to your website, which could be to the landing page or blog. In case of limited-time offers and discounts, you can have them go straight to bookings. Opt to have one clear CTA as giving too many options may confuse your audience.
In terms of mobile optimization, make sure your CTA is above the fold as customers might not scroll low enough and end up missing it. Don't give them too much information that they won’t feel the need to click through. Give them just enough information to create curiosity and encourage them to click through to find out more.
Email marketing is not as difficult as it looks but it requires trial and error before you can get it right. If you want to start right ahead but don’t have the time or the skill to do so, consider outsourcing. One of Hostaway’s partners ICND (InterCoastal Net Designs) could be just the right fit for you.