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Vacation Rental Marketing Ultimate Guide

Vacation Rental Marketing Ultimate Guide

It can be easy to let marketing fall by the wayside when you are busy with the day-to-day operations of running a vacation rental business. But if you want to run a successful vacation rental, growing occupancy, rates, and revenue, then you can’t ignore marketing. In fact, you should make it a top priority, devoting time, effort, and money to marketing your vacation rental.

Top Marketing Strategies for Your Vacation Rental

  1. Market Your Brand
  2. Determine the Right Channel Mix
  3. Optimize Your Listings
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Host Your Own Blog
  6. Email Marketing
  7. Pay Per Click Marketing
  8. Video Marketing
  9. Niche Marketing
  10. Remarketing & Retargeting
  11. Google My Business
  12. Ask for Reviews

What is Vacation Rental Marketing?

Marketing is the act of promoting and selling your products and/or services. In the case of vacation rentals, it involves all the activities that are designed to promote and sell your vacation rental to prospective customers. This can include advertisements taken out in newspapers and magazines, social media content related to your vacation rental, emails, etc.

To do marketing right and ensure you are maximizing returns on spend however requires an understanding of the vacation rental marketing space and a lot of thought and care. You will need a marketing strategy, i.e. the overall gameplan of your vacation rental business to reach potential guests and turn them into paying guests who book stays at your property. Once you have figured out your marketing strategy, you outline it in your marketing plan, detailing the specific actions you take and the timetable on which you roll each activity out.

Why is it Important to Market Your Vacation Rental?

Like any other business, your vacation rental operation requires sales to keep going. That is, you need enough paying guests coming in at at least adequate prices to meet the costs of running your vacation rental business and generate a profit. Marketing also does so much more for your vacation rental business.

  • Increases visibility of your business
  • Builds your brand
  • Engages customers effectively
  • Builds a relationship between you and your customers
  • Creates demand, drives bookings
  • Maintains your business reputation
  • Provides you insights about your business and customers
  • Maintains the relevance of your business
  • Helps you make informed decisions
  • Helps you beat the competition

How to Market Your Vacation Rental?

There’s no need to take out a loan to effectively market your vacation rental. Unlike a large hotel chain, there is no need to buy an ad on your local TV or radio station to let people know your business exists and that it offers an attractive value proposition to customers. Digital marketing in particular is extremely customizable to the budget that you do have while being effective at reaching the type of customer you are looking for rather than just everyone. Read on to find out the different types of marketing best suited for vacation rentals and how you can utilize them to extend reach and convert consumers to customers.

1. Market Your Brand

Successful businesses are built on the solid foundation of an authentic brand. Your brand is the sum total of the experiences and perceptions of your business of consumers. It increases the credibility of your business, improves business value, and differentiates your vacation rental from the rest of the competition. In the context of competing against hundreds, thousands, and even millions of other vacation rentals, branding has become even more important. Brand marketing is the concept of marketing your business via your brand. It involves ensuring all your efforts, marketing or otherwise, reflect your brand guidelines and ultimately making a statement about the identity, value, and offering of your vacation rental business. Brand marketing is a long-term activity that

  • Increases exposure
  • Helps your vacation rental stand out in a crowded marketplace
  • Gain guests
  • Grow your vacation rental business

2. Determine the Right Channel Mix

Whether you plan on focusing on direct bookings as your primary revenue stream or an OTA, it is always advisable to rely on more than just one source of bookings. In a market dominated by OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, and Expedia, you are better off diversifying your revenue streams. Take into account each OTAs main audience. For example, Airbnb guests are likelier to be younger, more adventurous, and prefer host interactions. Meanwhile, VRBO guests tend to be older and travel in family groups. When determining the right multichannel distribution strategy for you, take into account

  • Your vacation rental offering (tent vs hostel vs apartment, for example)
  • The location of your vacation rental (a theme park destination like Orlando vs one catering to both couples and outdoors/adventure like Lake Tahoe)
  • Your on and off seasons
  • Your target audience


3. Optimize Your Listings

It is not enough to list your vacation rental on OTAs. If you really want to market it, you need to optimize your listing for each platform - Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, etc. This ensures not only visibility for your vacation rental but also conversion to bookings. Optimizing your listing requires an understanding of how search and ranking on each platform works. But there are general things relevant to all platforms you can follow:

  • Ensure your information is up to date
  • Use standout photographs. If you can’t afford a professional photographer you can try playing photographer using your smartphone.
  • Write an attractive description
  • Make sure your listing is customized to each platform’s SEO
  • When it comes to your website, make sure it is optimized for SEO, well designed, user-friendly, loads fast, is mobile responsive, and that its domain is HTTPS and SSL encrypted.

4. Use Social Media

Social media is really important to grow your brand, reach out to more people and convert users to guests. There are a number of social media platforms available to you to use. Use at least two. Don’t forget to engage with your users directly, replying to their questions and thanking them for their comments.


With nearly 2 billion daily users and access to a broad range of demographics, Facebook is a great platform for reaching out to potential guests, establishing your brand, and finding customers. Generate traffic, keep in touch with guests and advertise to specific audiences.


Instagram can be a versatile marketing tool when used strategically. Home to over 1 billion active monthly users, 9 out of 10 users follow a business on the platform. The visually focused social media platform increases exposure and discovery and engagement with potential guests while inspiring users with aspirational content.


Though often overlooked, Twitter can be a great place to market and grow your vacation rental. Being on the platform helps you stand out from the competition, engage users on a more personal level, act as a main customer contact point, create long-term relationships with customers and increase bookings.


Pinterest delivers an engaged audience in search of specific content, making them more likely to convert to guests. It is also a great tool for driving organic traffic to your website and/or OTA listings.

5. Host Your Own Blog

A good blog can be a great marketing tool and do wonders for your vacation rental business. When done well, it can

  • Get the word out on your vacation rental
  • Encourage direct bookings
  • Generate social media content
  • Improve SEO

6. Use Email

Email marketing is a tried and tested tool to drive conversions. Allowing for targeted and shareable messages it not only drives high sales but also allows for tracking of opening, clickthrough, and conversion rates. Email marketing is

  • Easy to get started
  • Low cost
  • Delivers high ROI
  • Easily tested and refined
  • Easy to share

7. Use Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC marketing involves advertising online but only paying a fee when the ad is clicked, bringing users over to your website. This involves paying for performance, i.e. clicks, rather than reach. While Google AdWords is the most common PPC platform, there are other platforms such as Bing Ads and Facebook Ads that provide the service. With PPC, you can

  • Have a flexible budget
  • Get immediate results
  • Know exactly the number of clicks, leads, bookings, and calls as well as average time spent on site, bounce rate, etc.
  • Increase visibility and brand awareness for free

8. Use Video

94% of users prefer watching a video to learn about a product while 92% of mobile viewers share videos they like with their online communities. Using video, on different digital channels, to market your vacation rental is video marketing. Video Allows guests to easily visualize their stay at your vacation rental Is highly shareable Is a preferred format by many users

Sports Tourism

9. Market a Niche

Niche marketing is when you market to a particular segment of the market. Not all niche markets are small in size but they are always an audience with unique needs. Sports tourism is a great example of niche marketing in the vacation rental business, catering to specific groups such as those interested in sports events, sports activities they can participate in, and sports celebrations. Niche marketing allows you to

  • Enjoy low or zero competition
  • Improve relationships with customers by connecting on a more personal level
  • Gain the benefit of organic word of mouth marketing
  • A chance to pioneer
  • Spend less because you are reaching smaller numbers of people overall

10. Remarketing & Retargeting

Remarketing is when you re-market your vacation rental to past visitors and existing customers. It is a second chance to convert or retain customers. Retargeting involves serving ads to users based on cookies while remarketing collects user information and compiles lists that are later used to contact them. While both are effective marketing techniques, the combination of both can boost marketing and bookings.

11. Google My Business

Signing up for Google My Business allows your property to show up on both Google Search and Google Maps as well as third-party websites and apps. The free service also allows you to see and communicate with customers as well as monitor how they interact with your business. It acts like a virtual business card that also

  • Increases organic traffic to your vacation rental website
  • Increases overall exposure on Google
  • Helps understand customers using Insight data
  • Increases bookings

12. Ask for Reviews

Most guests will read reviews of your vacation rental by other guests before booking. It helps them trust (or not) what you are selling before making their decision to book (or not). Having good reviews can also help improve your SEO on OTAs. A good way to encourage your guests to review your vacation rental is to review them. While reviewing each and every guest can be challenging, you can use review templates to help ease or even automate the process. An important means of avoiding bad reviews is to screen bad guests who can damage your property and leave you with a bad review to cover up their misdeeds.

Key Takeaway

There isn’t just one way to market your vacation rental property. There are several. The most effective way to market your vacation rental for success requires incorporating many different marketing techniques into one comprehensive marketing strategy. Which techniques you choose and how you choose to utilize them will depend on your vacation rental type, the audience you are targeting, the period (season, off season, special event, etc), the amount of time you can allocate to marketing, and your BUDGET.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!