Every year, we plan for the Homeowner Forum the same way: by asking ourselves two questions. First, how can we best help our homeowners? And second, how can we change it up from last year’s Forum? This year, we decided to break our presentation, “Gaining the Competitive Edge,” into two sections: marketing and managing.
Becky Fischer and I took the marketing section and created our “Roadmap for Success.” It’s a step-by-step guide designed to help homeowners separate themselves from their competition. I will go through the road map a bit more below, but if you prefer to listen, here is a podcast that Becky and I recorded about the same topic –
Pictures are key
The important thing is to tell your property’s story – as accurately, thoroughly, and attractively as possible. And the first way to tell its story is to make sure you have plenty of high quality images of your home and the surrounding area. Images are almost always the very first thing a vacationer looks at when searching for a home, and you don’t want to miss out on a booking because your photos don’t show your home in its best light.
Video for greater impact
One of the biggest advancements in vacation rental marketing is the use of video. For the longest time, we made video montages using the images of a home, pan over them a few times, and set it to music. They were neat at first, but they didn’t necessarily add anything to a listing. Videos now allow a vacationer to take a virtual tour of your home. Vacationers want to see and hear your hammock swinging in the breeze, waves lapping at the shore, footsteps on the sand. These are all things that can really help tell the story of your home. Here is a look at a modest home that has a beautiful virtual tour –
Guest reviews or fail
Another way to tell your story is to have someone else do it for you. Guest reviews allow people who have stayed in your home to share their experience. While, yes, they are nice for our own egos, their real value is when a future vacationer sees them. It’s just like the shampoo commercial goes, “She’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on!” Having guest reviews, ideally at least 2-3 per season, have become vital to the success of booking a home!
Price it right
Pricing is one of those things that can fall under either marketing or managing. When it comes to marketing, your price can either bring people in – or drive people away. Regardless of what you charge for your home, we suggest “tiering” (or customizing) your pricing by the week. Recognize the shift in supply and demand during the shoulder seasons, and price your home competitively and realistically. Aim to be at about the top third of pricing against comparable homes, but not at the very top! And consider lowering your minimum stay requirements in the off or shoulder seasons – but be sure to charge enough on a daily basis to make it worthwhile for you.
Promote your listing on social media
Perhaps one of the most significant advancements in vacation rental marketing is social media. Before you click away, just know that social media brought more than 130,000 new users onto WeNeedaVacation.com this past year. While we’d like to take all of the credit for that traffic, we can’t. There are homeowners who are already driving LOTS of traffic to their listings using social media.
This property was one of the top viewed listings on WeNeedaVacation.com. Want to take a guess at what drove the most traffic to it? You guessed it: social media. Here is one of the ads we ran this past summer that helped book a week for one of our homeowners –
We have been working with dozens of homeowners to help strengthen their presence on social media through targeted ads and by creating their own Facebook business pages. While you certainly can do it on your own or with a marketing agency, the benefit of working with WeNeedaVacation is the fact that we have 20 years of vacationer data to help hyper target our ads.
While things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have all become great ways to promote and market our site and your property, you have to remember that your ad or page will only be as successful as your pictures, videos, guest reviews, etc. Think of those as a prerequisite to running a promoted advertisement on social media.
Stand out from the crowd
The key thing to remember when marketing your vacation rental is that you are not alone in the vacation rental marketplace anymore, and you have to do everything you can to stand out!
P.S. If you missed the Forum or would like to go back and watch it, you can find the video here.
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I take personal checks from my renters. What do you think about requiring a credit card number to be included in the lease? For my protection, just in case of damage.