You may notice that your vacation rental is underperforming compared to others in the neighborhood or locale. Why is that? The other homes are located in the same neighborhood and may even have a similar layout as the one you have been trying to rent out. Turns out, fewer rental inquiries may not be attributed to a lower quality rental, but a less effective marketing strategy.
What makes a profitable vacation rentals marketing strategy? A strong marketing campaign for a vacation rental is characterized by:
- A highly specific target audience
- Appropriate use of media channels
- Fair pricing
- Professional photography
- Online booking
It can be difficult to come to terms with poor rental performance but be reminded that a lack of renters may not be attributed to a lower quality of your home. Instead, other property owners may simply have a more reliable marketing strategy. Though you may be discouraged at first, don’t get lost in dismay – this is fixable! Use the guide below to perfect your marketing campaign to maximize the revenue generated from your property.
Change Your Perspective on Your Vacation Rental Marketing Approach
Vacation rental marketing is no longer characterized by the “mom and pop” style business approach within the scope of the hospitality industry. It is a booming, mature business venture, supported by all types of business-oriented individuals of all backgrounds such as:
- Travel experts
This means that there are a wider range of resources available to you to develop a wide-reaching, technologically adaptable marketing strategy.
Even if you specialize in renting out homes in remote areas, you can still find a way to marketing your vacation rental to a wider audience. Many newcomers to the industry believe that their homes must be located in a major city to attract a viable pool of consumers. Yet, the appeal of homes in secondary and tertiary markets continues to grow and reach a broad audience of eager travelers. No matter where your home is located, you can find a dependable, sustainable way to market your rental.
How to Increase the Specificity of Your Target Audience
An integral part of a functioning marketing plan is to identify a specific target audience for your marketing efforts. You cannot reliably attract people to your business if you don’t have an idea of who you’re aiming to attract! To bolster your revenue and generate greater interest in your vacation rentals, increase the specificity of your ideal guests.
Once you increase the specificity of your target audience, your marketing efforts will become increasingly accurate. This will inevitably yield conversions from initial interest to bookings. Some of the best options for a vacation rental target audience include:
- Large groups of friends. For example, think of the target audience of Groupon: groups of friends or family who are looking to travel and experience new things together! You might consider offering seasonal discounts or offers for a minimum number of guests in a single visit to attract more customers.
- Families. Small and large families alike are great to target your marketing campaign. They are likely to feel more comfortable when renting a vacation home, especially with small children. Instead of being cooped up in a hotel, they may find greater relaxation when allowing their kids to run around in a suitable home. They may also be attracted to a higher number of rooms in the house as opposed to having to rent out multiple rooms in a hotel.
- Note: If you choose to market to families, make sure to highlight any kid- or family-friendly elements in your locality or the home itself. For instance, if there are playgrounds nearby, make sure to note that in your campaign.
- Millennials. No one looks for travel deals quite the way millennials do! Now, when you market to this age group, remember that not all fall under one blanket personality type. Some millennials are quite outgoing, while others prefer quieter, more reserved vacations. Take a good look at where your vacation rental is located and choose your niche based on that.
- Note: If your rental home is located in a big city, highlight the metropolitan, busy “city living” aspect of the vacation. Note all the amenities nearby (movie theater, mall, etc.). For homes in more remote locations, focus on the natural environment surrounding the house (visitors may find serenity in the landscape of rolling hills or the forest backdrop, for example).
- Business travelers. Why not offer someone who is obligated to travel a little luxury and comfort here and there? Your success in marketing to business travelers will be partially influenced by the size of your home. Most often, these travelers are on the road alone or with only a handful of colleagues, so they may not want to rent a 4-bedroom, 2-story home.
As you narrow down your target audience, be aware of the key attractions in your area. You may still wish to market to families, for example, but you will be targeting an entirely different family if your vacation rental is located near Yellowstone National Park versus Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Pay attention to the features in the locality you would like to capitalize on and allow that to assist you in specifying your ideal guests.
Reaching Your Ideal Guests
Now that you know who your ideal guests are, how in the world do you expect them to see the marketing content you create? This is where many vacation rental owners fail, as they do not take advantage of the technology and media channels that were once sparse in this industry, but are now widespread.
Those who have taken advantage of the appropriate technologies, however, assert that as a vacation rental owner you should capitalize on a personal, emotional story about your experience in the home. When you first reached this destination, what were your feelings? What memorable, positive experiences have you had in this vacation rental? Can your guests experience the same joy?
As you begin to narrow down the particulars of your target audience, you will begin to clue into what types of media they consume. Chances are, if you are aiming to communicate with younger generations like millennials or large groups, they will be best reached through social media. Facebook events are a common tool for planning large get-togethers, so they’re likely to see your marketing content on such platforms.
If you’re hoping to catch the attention of families or lone travelers, you might look into securing a feature here and there on a lifestyle blog. To help you in choosing the perfect media channels you’re your marketing efforts, check out the options below.
Who better to market your vacation rental than someone with a loyal audience of tens of thousands, even millions of followers, all with similar interests? Lifestyle and travel bloggers are a new frontier for marketing, as they can bring your target audience directly to your rental. Influencers can virtually bring your target audience inside the home you wish to offer and give praise where it’s due.
It’s almost as if they’re doing the legwork for you! Reach out to an influencer who has a substantial following, as they will reliably offer you some fantastic publicity. (You don’t have to stay within the scope of media influencers. You can also reach out to journalists and other communications or media specialists!)
You can find the appropriate influencers through avenues including:
Of course, you can also simply reach out to an influencer that you are subscribed to! If you have a favorite YouTube channel or TV program (such as those on the Travel Channel), shoot an email or Direct Message to your chosen individual and see if they’d like to stay at your rental! It’s best to offer the stay at a steep discount or even for free to provide an incentive for their visit.
2. Travel Forums
When people plan their vacations, they almost always seek out information from other travelers who have been to the same or nearby destinations. You can make your way into some travel and lifestyle forums to share information about your rental, or even join forums with other owners of vacation homes.
(Note: If you choose to market your home through a forum, make sure to read the terms and conditions of the forum ahead of time. Many forums specify that explicit marketing content is prohibited in efforts to prevent or reduce spam. Still, if anyone asks for suggestions on where to stay on their next trip, you can simply suggest your own rental without violating any rules.)
If you happen to fall into a forum with other owners of vacation rentals, don’t be afraid to ask them about what works and what doesn’t (especially if they’re located in the same general area!).
3. Social Media
This is pretty much a given. Social media is becoming one of the core necessities in marketing efforts for business owners across all industries. So, you must learn how to use it to your advantage if you wish to gain a viable pool of interested parties for your rental. Social media platforms through which you can market your property include:
Keep in mind that social media marketing (SMM) is an art. You don’t want your profile to be aggressively commercial – that will surely drive potential customers away, as people now have a natural aversion to advertisements. As you curate content for your profile, keep the following ratio:
- 30% This portion of your profile should be dedicated to promotional material. This content should flow naturally, avoiding overly sales-oriented language.
- 70% Share information about the happenings in the surrounding area. Are there local events taking place during a certain time of year? Do you have suggestions on where travelers should visit while staying at your rental?
Above all, make sure that your content is engaging and genuine when marketing via social media. Otherwise, your audience will sniff out the corporate disconnect right away and will likely avoid your profile, and therefore, your rental.
A Double-Edged Sword: Pricing Your Vacation Rental
It can be tempting to set the price for your vacation rental quite high, especially if it is located in a highly-sought-after area. You may want to milk the price as much as possible to get the maximum profit, but this is the wrong outlook – one that can quickly backfire, too. However, on the other hand, pricing your rental too low can cost you money. So, what do you do?
First, understand that the price of your vacation rental is not static! This will change throughout the year according to seasons of:
- High tourism (people are more likely to travel and take vacations during winter and spring breaks, for example).
- Special events such as concerts.
- Other time-sensitive attractions like the summer for beachside vacation homes or winter for rentals near ski resorts and similar destinations.
For instance, a vacation rental located in Los Angeles can be priced much higher if there is a huge concert in town. Travelers may expect a rental located near Yellowstone to be more expensive during hot travel seasons like spring, when all the young animals are romping around.
As your adjusting the pricing, make sure to avoid the following mistakes:
- Restricting the scope of your pricing to only short-term gains. This is primarily where people tend to fall into the trap of making their rental far too expensive. When thinking of how they can make a profit from their property, they focus too much on a nightly basis, when they should be thinking on a grander scale.
- For example, you should not allow yourself to get caught up on how much money you can make if you offer rooms at $200 nightly versus $300 nightly. Instead, stop thinking on a per night basis and put yourself in the mind of the renter. Emphasize value over pricing, and travelers are sure to want to take advantage of your amazing rental home.
- Considering the wrong properties to be competitors. As you begin defining the key characteristics of your rental to highlight in your marketing campaign, you will have to compare those traits to others. This distinguishes your property from others – but only if done right. Making the mistake of choosing the wrong competitors can either do little to nothing for your rental or completely backfire.
- While you conduct your market research, seek out homes that are equivalent to yours in terms of location, layout, and amenities. Why is your home better than the others? If you raise your prices to compete with homes that are in no way similar to yours, this misguided decision may end up losing bookings altogether.
- Pricing based on personal or sentimental value. You must remember that your vacation rental is not about you! Although you may value your home tremendously, not everyone has the same perspective and prospective renters may be deterred by a high cost. Your proposed rental price needs to be based on market value, rather than personal value.
- Keeping pricing the same year-round. We’ve already touched on this, but it bears repeating. Pay close attention to events and tourism patterns in the area in which your rental is located. Take advantage of the seasons in which travelers are willing to pay more and change your prices accordingly (but fairly). Again, you must research the current offerings on the market to gauge what’s fair and what’s not.
Pricing is a large part of a successful marketing campaign. If there’s one thing buyers hate (across all industries), it’s a lack of transparency about the price of the product they’re interested in. Don’t hide the nightly price or additional fees or make it difficult to find this information. Create a fair price that is based on market research to successfully compete in the hospitality industry, while providing your renters an incomparable value.
Final Tips on Vacation Rental Marketing
Vacation rental marketing is an incredibly competitive industry. As property owners become more technologically savvy and marketing expertise grows, the industry leaves the familiar, comfortable environment of the “mom and pop” world and becomes a profitable commercial endeavor. With this in mind, it is clear that you must adapt with the times or get left behind.
To keep you up to speed on what works in this industry, use the following tips when marketing your vacation rental home.
- Use professional photos in your marketing campaign. This may seem overly simple, but the old phrase is true: “A picture is worth 1,000 words!” Draw potential renters to your listing by displaying crisp, breathtaking pictures that bring the rental description to life.
- Optimize your rental headline and description for search engines. Don’t neglect the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) in your online marketing campaign! This will organically bring traffic to your listing and, consequentially, help to generate more revenue.
- Accept online bookings. Get with the times! Almost everything is digitalized nowadays, so you’ve got to be, too. Accepting online bookings will streamline your rental process and attract more customers. This is due to the convenience of not having to call or travel to your physical location to book a stay at your beautiful vacation home.
With this guide, you’ll see a dramatic change in the conversions yielded from your marketing efforts. Use the technology and media channels available to you to reach your ideal guests and base your pricing on value and the current market, and your efforts will not be in vain.