Vacation Rentals are an undisputed way of making extra money. However, as more people experience its potential and with corporates and commercial investors also tapping into the short-term rental business it can get increasingly difficult for property managers to fill up their properties.
While social media gets all the credit for keeping people engaged with catchy content, email marketing is a tried and tested tool that drives conversions and has the capability to keep a property filled all year round.
Whether you are starting afresh or have been in the business for a while it is important to have a strategy in place to build a database of names and contact details to start your campaign. There are a few ways to get these details that are crucial for your business. However, each method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out.
Ask clients directly when they make inquiries, though it gives clients the option of declining to provide these details.
Leave a guest book out at the rental and have clients fill it when they check-in. Here again, clients can refuse to do so. Furthermore, untidy handwriting could be the downfall of this method of collection.
The best way to get email addresses from guests is to automate it and make it part of a process. You can do this by having guests type in their email addresses when they login to the Wi-Fi. Solutions such as Stayfi 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 don’t actually give you permission to use the email addresses so there is a chance that they may not welcome any surprise emails.
Incentivize potential guests who visit your website via lead magnets. Lead magnets are the incentives you give to visitors of your site in exchange for their email address, some examples include discounted prices, newsletter subscriptions, and access to area and property guides.
The key is to remember to always be respectful of your guests and let them know there is a way out of getting those emails if they are looking for it (though of course, we hope they don’t use it). While it is one thing to collect these email addresses, keeping potential customers engaged and converting them as you will soon find out, is a whole other ball game.
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 promotional emails. You could include a promo once in a while to push reservations. But 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 for example they are known to travel around with pets you should include information about the closest vet and other institutions like pet-friendly cafes, etc.
Since you can’t be expected to remember important days of all your guests, a really cool tool that you can use to start with is iCal which 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 Database Marketing Institute, the open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month.
Keep emails exciting and not too long try to insert interesting facts and trivia as a part of your email. This helps keep your audience interested and will definitely increase your click-through rate. 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 and keep the relationship going on a regular readership basis.
Believe it or not, your welcome message is one of the most powerful email marketing tools. According to WordStream, on average 320% more revenue is attributed to welcome emails than other promotional emails. Welcome mails give potential clients a sort of a first impression of what their relationship with you will look like.
Somethings you can include in your welcome email include:
Pro-tip: emails addressed personally such as “Dear John” tend to be better received than those mails addressed “To whom it may concern”
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.
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. It could even get you more subscribers.
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.
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.