The competition is fierce when it comes to marketing your vacation rental! There are hundreds of properties on listing sites that you must outperform if you want to drive traffic and get bookings for your own vacation home. To properly target your listing to potential guests, you will need a marketing strategy.
Marketing your property is a difficult task. The vacation rental industry is extremely competitive; finding the best tools, tactics, and overall strategy to outrun your competitors takes a lot of trial and error.
However, there are a few elements that every successful vacation rental marketing strategy must include.
Above all, you must discover how to get to your target audience and ensure that they convert. And that is exactly what we are going to assist you with today.
We have tips to help you boost direct bookings, increase your OTA conversion rate, or drive as much revenue as possible for your homeowners regardless of the source.
If you only remember one thing from this guide, make it this: finding the right mix of distribution channels - booking sites where you advertise - is critical to effective vacation rental marketing.
Your vacation rental distribution strategy determines whether you can get your listings in front of and convert your target audience.
Relying on only a few channels is risky because algorithms can change, booking sites can fail, and your business could be jeopardized.
So, the first step is to find channels that match your rentals and target audience and get listed on as many as possible. (The second, equally important step is to ensure that your listings are optimized across all channels).
Using a vacation rental channel manager, such as Hostaway, can help you manage your listings across multiple channels and keep your availability, pricing, and calendar up to date at all times.
However, there are numerous channels available. How do you know which ones are right for your company?
You're probably already advertising on global online travel agencies (OTAs) if you've been managing short-term rental properties for a while.
High-traffic sites such as VRBO, Airbnb, and Booking.com, are critical components of any property manager's distribution strategy. Every day, they can get your property listings in front of thousands, if not millions, of travelers.
That is not all. OTAs are constantly improving their platforms to provide property managers with new tools to help them increase conversions and revenue.
Vacation rental metasearch engines are websites that compile listings from thousands of different booking sites. As a result, they make it simple for travelers to compare prices and find the best deals available.
HomeToGo (in the United States) and Holidu (in Europe) are popular among budget-conscious travelers. Aside from offering low-cost rentals, metasearch engines employ the same marketing strategies as OTAs, such as offering flexible cancellation options. This means that property managers can improve their listings and, as a result, increase their conversions
Local or regional listing sites, which are frequently overlooked by property managers, can be excellent sources of bookings.
Guests regard these websites as experts in a specific country, region, or destination. By focusing on a specific geographical area, these websites are able to tailor their inventory and provide hyper-localized expertise that global OTAs cannot.
Niche channels, like local listing sites, specialize in specific areas - but their expertise lies in something other than a geographical location.
Niche websites cater to specific groups of travelers who have specific needs and do not always look for accommodations on OTAs. This is why listing on niche channels can be extremely profitable: you can reach new audiences and target travelers who are specifically looking for what your rental has to offer.
Niche websites fall into two categories: those that create curated lists and those that respond to travel trends.
Example of curated lists:
Examples of growing travel trends that these websites address include:
If you have rentals in your inventory that fit into any of the above themes, make sure to list them on the appropriate niche channels. There is no better way to reach a targeted audience.
For the longest time, hotels had exclusive access to wholesalers and global distribution systems (GDSs). Vacation rentals had no access to business-to-business (B2B) distribution and were frequently excluded from the offerings of traditional brick-and-mortar travel agents.
This, however, is changing. There are platforms that aim to bridge the gap between vacation rentals and B2B buyers, providing property managers with another way to diversify their distribution outside of the major OTAs. You can now target retail travel agencies, wholesalers, tour operators, airlines, corporations, and others with your advertising.
These days, one of the best sources of commission-free vacation rental bookings is Google.
Google has been the talk of the town since it first announced plans to display vacation rental listings alongside hotel listings in search results.
However, most property managers are yet to take advantage of the opportunity to advertise in front of millions of travelers who use the world's most popular search engine to find accommodation.
It is not enough to be listed on several websites. You must also ensure that your listings perform well, which means they rank high in OTA search results and have a high conversion rate. Otherwise, you will not see the desired results.
The best way to accomplish this is to write excellent listing descriptions, and catchy headlines, upload high-quality photos, and highlight your rentals' most popular facilities and amenities on your listing page.
Photos are an important part of any vacation rental listing. Your revenue is directly affected by how you present your property in photographs. Guests are less likely to book your rental if your photos aren't compelling enough or if you haven't uploaded more than a handful.
You should have as many high-quality photos as possible, and they should highlight your rental as the dream house that it is.
Descriptions, like your photos, should be tailored to the type of guest you're hoping to attract. Keep in mind that this may differ depending on the channel - you may require a few different variations of your property descriptions (and photos).
For example, you could target business travelers on a niche channel that specializes in corporate stays, but market the same rental as kid-friendly on a family-oriented channel.
Consider what your target persona requires and what will stand out to them. Make those points the first in your description. When writing your descriptions, it's also a good idea to keep current travel trends in mind.
Every vacation rental manager's marketing strategy should include reviews. They give you credibility and inspire trust in travelers, the majority of whom want to read about other guests' experiences before booking a rental.
Positive reviews can not only help you get more bookings, but they can also provide you with valuable feedback from guests to help you improve your business.
Using a review automation tool built into your property management system is the best way to encourage guests to leave reviews. You can use these tools to leave an automated review on your guest's profile and then send them an email asking for a review in return. If your guest does not respond to your review request within a few days, you can send a reminder email or text message to them.
You most likely already have a vacation rental website if you manage more than a few properties.
Your own website allows you to accept online bookings and become less reliant on OTAs, so it should be a key component of your vacation rental marketing strategy. Here are two ways to drive traffic to your website:
To increase organic (unpaid) traffic to your website, you must become a search engine optimization expert. Improving your SEO is the only way to ensure that your website pages appear in search results when visitors enter relevant keywords.
A mobile-friendly website that checks all the technical boxes, is clearly structured, and provides a great overall user experience is the foundation of good SEO - and it doesn't hurt if it's translated into multiple languages.
If you have the budget, paid ads (also known as PPC or pay-per-click ads) can be a great complementary source of website traffic.
You can create PPC ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, or you can use Google Ads to have your ads appear at the top of the Google search results page.
However, keep in mind that running ads for popular keywords can quickly become incredibly expensive. It is best to seek the assistance of a digital marketing consultant who can assist you in setting up ad campaigns and ensuring that your ROI is appropriate.
While setting rates may appear to be a routine administrative task, it actually has a lot to do with vacation rental marketing.
Pricing assists you in positioning yourself and setting expectations. It's one of the first things travelers look at when searching for lodging on OTAs. It, like your headline, photos, and description, is an essential component of your vacation rental listings.
You will lose bookings if your pricing is incorrect, i.e. your rates are too high or too low in comparison to your competitors. It is critical to keep your rates competitive at all times. What complicates matters is that demand is extremely volatile, fluctuating constantly from high season to low season, weekdays to weekends.
When you have more than a few listings, manually adjusting your rates in response to the fluctuating nature of demand becomes impossible.
Algorithms are used by dynamic pricing tools such as Beyond Pricing, PriceLabs, and Wheelhouse to generate price adjustments automatically. They analyze your competition and consider various factors such as real-time demand, occupancy, performance, and so on. They also integrate with channel managers such as Hostaway, ensuring that your smart prices are updated across all of your channels.
Leading dynamic pricing providers claim that their data-driven solution can boost your revenue by up to 40%.
Every year, vacation rental marketing becomes more difficult as competition grows and consolidation shapes the industry.
Whatever strategies you employ, it is critical to understand that vacation rental marketing does not stand alone. It is inextricably linked to other fundamental aspects of property management, such as listing distribution and revenue management.
If you can get your company's departments to collaborate, you'll have a much better chance of effectively increasing your bookings, occupancy, and revenue.