Most marketing experts and gurus will emphasize the importance of branding, regardless of what you're selling. According to the American Marketing Association (2014), "a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as different from those of other sellers."
In order to establish your business, build relationships with potential guests, and encourage repeat business, you need an effective branding plan - regardless of whether you own a hotel or vacation rental business. In light of this, how do we incorporate branding in our vacation rental business plan, and how does one go about it successfully?
In this article, we delve into:
Vacation rentals benefit greatly when branding is done correctly. Think about it - with proper branding, you’ll save time from explaining what your vacation rental business is all about to your guests. Your branding makes it self-explanatory.
Apart from that, establishing your brand goals early on better positions you for success. If your vacation rental brand is distinctive, memorable, and catchy, you are already halfway there!
Branding makes it easier for guests to associate your business with trust and loyalty. The secret to building guest loyalty and trust for your vacation rental brand is to go above and beyond their expectations in all areas, including clear communication, an easy booking process, a well-maintained vacation home, welcome gifts, etc. Always keep in mind that happy guests are likely to come back and recommend it to their friends and family.
Additionally, guests will be more likely to make bookings directly with you if they perceive your vacation rental brand to be a reflection of an enjoyable and outstanding experience.
Branding is the foundation of your marketing. However, picking a name and logo is just a small part of the process of developing your vacation rental brand. It also involves developing consistent design elements, color schemes, and styles throughout your website, platforms, and listings.
Furthermore, how your property is marketed will be greatly influenced by these decisions. For instance, your vacation rental website should strive for consistency across all design and color elements, from a banner promoting discounts to special deals posted on social media platforms. After all, these are the primary channels travellers use to engage with your business.
Remember, you’re not the only vacation rental business in your area. With the tremendous growth in Airbnb, differentiating from the competition becomes more challenging, as travellers have endless options. Therefore, it is important to emphasize what distinguishes you from other short-term rentals. Is it the unique amenities? Is it the service? Is it the experience?
With that in mind, by clearly defining your vacation rental brand, guests will easily recall your Airbnb, setting you apart from the other Airbnb rentals. Having a consistent and cohesive brand throughout all content (images, videos, description) on the platforms you utilize becomes your identity and how guests will set you apart from the competition. Don’t forget to establish a compelling and informative story that will capture the hearts and minds of guests.
In addition to fostering brand loyalty and trust, building a vacation rental brand boosts value. For instance, niche and luxury travelers are likely to spend more if your brand is distinctive and desirable, particularly if your vacation rental brand stands for exclusivity, personalisation, and a one-of-a-kind travel experience.
Understanding your target market and competitors is crucial to building a great brand for your vacation rental business. What kind of visitors do you intend to attract, and who are your competitors in the market? These types of questions will help you understand who you’re selling to, and what you uniquely offer.
For competitor research, consider looking into:
Who appears first on listing platforms and Google when someone searches for nearby vacation rentals? What amenities are offered there? Who are they aiming at? How do they differ from you? What have previous guest reviews said about them? What distinguishes them and what are they doing incorrectly that you could improve?
Assess the platforms for social media and content used by your competitors. What are the responses from their followers and what content they have responded to?
Explore the competitors' vacation rental websites and get an understanding of how guests would look through and book.
Additionally, take note of:
Who are the ideal guests who would quickly book with you? What hobbies and interests do they have?
The guest's voice tone—do they speak in a formal or casual manner?
What kind of experience would they cherish the most?
These findings will assist you in determining what to emphasize, how to stand out, and how to position your brand.
Even if you want to draw in a diverse range of guests, it's crucial to concentrate on specific markets when developing your brand. In light of this, consider creating a position statement, which is just a one- or two-line summary of your vacation rental business's mission and objectives, after determining which specific market you want to target and address.
Here’s a tried and true template for building a positioning statement:
Our [TYPE OF VACATION RENTAL] offers [SERVICES] at [VALUE PROPOSITION] to [TARGET AUDIENCE]. We differ from our competitors' thanks to our [KEY DIFFERENTIATORS].
Additionally, visualize your vacation rental business as a person to better define your focus and brand's personality. What adjectives best describe it? What kind of friends would your vacation home have, if any? What analogies and general concepts effectively convey the core qualities of your brand?
A key element of branding is the name of your business because it embodies your brand in its purest form. Consider it this way: Despite the fact that your brand is much more than just a name, the name you choose will affect the marketing plan, website domain, logo, and tagline. Not to mention that coming up with a name can be challenging in order to distinguish it from other short-term rentals.
Your brand name should try to embody the key principles of your vacation rental and the guest experience. Be sure to make it unique, and avoid borrowing from or associating with the names of your competitors.
The best taglines or slogans should preferably be direct, timeless, and unforgettable. For instance, the tagline "Belong Anywhere" from Airbnb is a perfect example. With only two words, it makes a powerful statement about what Airbnb stands for: Why stay in a hotel when staying in a vacation rental will allow you to get a taste of the local culture and way of life while also making you feel perfectly at home.
Keep in mind that your tagline will be displayed on your website's header, business cards, social media accounts, and even in blogs, videos and ads.
Consider the fonts and color schemes you wish to use to visually represent your brand. Remember that this is especially crucial as you begin to build your own website for vacation rentals.
In addition to choosing a hue for its aesthetic appeal, think about how it may affect future guests' feelings and sensations. You’ll want to use colors that represent the ideology of your brand. Pay attention to how your brand's colors, white, and black backgrounds affect the legibility of colored text on them.
Similar to the process of choosing colors, you’ll need to find a combination of fonts for your website's headings, titles, and body text that will be aesthetically appealing, and that match the emotions you want to convey.
The face of your vacation rental brand is your logo. Ideally, your logo stands out, is memorable, and is easy to recognize. You may consider designing it using a combination of text and symbols, a letter mark, or simply with just a symbol. If you’re stuck, there are also plenty of free logo generating tools online to get you started.
Regardless, your logo design must also be adaptable in order to scale across various size requirements for websites, marketing materials, and social media. Your logo must present professionally and be supported on all platforms, browsers, and devices.
The name of the game for branding is consistency. More than just creating a logo and selecting colors, fonts, and catchphrases, it needs to be consistent and present everywhere guests interact with your vacation rental, from the design of your website to the automated messages you send to them before, during, and after their stay.
As you receive more bookings, your brand will be exposed to more travelers and can continue to evolve as you further understand your target market and how to best serve them.
A strong brand for your vacation rental could mean the difference between having a full calendar of loyal, returning guests and struggling to get bookings. In light of this, defining a strong and consistent brand is the first step towards providing a professional lasting impression, developing your reputation, and managing guest expectations.
Although you have no direct control over how your guests perceive your brand, you can still steer them on the right path.