4 Ways to Create Marketing Ambassadors

What do you do once a reservation is complete?  You have a deposit and have maybe sent an information package, but what then.  Your guests are excited to have booked, they are in a mood to talk about their plans with their family and friends – in fact they want to share as much as they can.  Of course your listing should look amazing to make them want to share, but your task now is to keep that excitement and anticipation going.  What does this do? [...]

Using Autoresponders

There are a lot of do’s and do not’s surrounding the use of email marketing methods, most of which would steer you against using them.  However, there may be circumstances where an autoresponder could come in useful.  Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions on the topic [...]

Honing in on Your Headline

Getting people to look beyond your headline and initial image is a tough job with so much competition in the vacation rental market.  This makes it worthwhile spending significant time in getting this part of your listing eye-catching, attractive and readable.  After all, if a potential guest is not interested enough to read further down the page, you may have lost them forever.   [...]

7 Ways to Get Creative in the Last Minute Snowbird Market

When the wind blows, the snow falls and the temperature plummets to ridiculous figures, the population of the northern states and Canada collectively sigh as they envision several more months of life in the freezer.  That’s when they start thinking of a last minute break in the sun and warmth.  Given the host of properties that are showing vacancies it’s important to come up with some creative ways to capture that hungry market, draw them to your listing and offer them a real reason to book your place. [...]

8 Photos Not to Include on Your Listing

There is no doubt that good photographs can sell.  Sparkling sunlight over a blue lake; an image of a cozy fire with festive decorations on a mantel, and pillowy duvets plumped up on a bed with throw pillows offering a stunning contrast.  These types of images will be revisited over and over again as excited guests look forward to their vacation and plan their stay.  They will pore over every photo, show their friends, and share on social media.  If you get this part wrong, not only will bookings be slower to come, but there’s a good likelihood visitors to your listing will pass it by altogether even if only one of the images if off-putting. [...]

Let's Go Geocaching!

If you have never heard of geocaching, take a little time to find out about it because it’s a great way of attracting guests in the low and shoulder seasons.  It’s a year-round activity, with millions of participants around the world, and best of all, it’s mostly free.  I don’t see many listings promoting geocaching as an activity so there’s a real opportunity to capture this niche market with some relevant text in your listing or a page on your website.  This is a relatively untapped market in our vacation rental community, so you may find investing a little time is very worthwhile. [...]

10 Tips for Creating Raving Fans

Exceeding expectations is the goal, and if you achieve this, you’ll reap the rewards which are often in the guise of social sharing. People love to share what they like and to show their friends what they are experiencing so make it a goal to wow your guests so much they will want to let all their friends know what a great time they are having.  You want them to get that iPhone out and start taking photos to show the world!  Here’s 10 ideas on ways to create shareable moments. [...]

Drive More Traffic to Your Listing with Information Videos

Videos have traditionally been used to showcase a property and unfortunately, many of them are done badly, with grainy film that jumps from image to image or simply string several static photos together with cheesy transitions and poor music.  However, YouTube search continues to gain speed, so getting some video online should be an important part of any marketing strategy.  [...]

Creating a Connection via Email

If your listing has been presented well with great photos and appealing text, it should produce a significant amount of inquiries over the course of a year.  From general inquiries to long lists of questions; requests for discounts and deals, to feedback, these emails will just keep on coming.  [...]

6 Pinterest Boards to Drive Traffic to your listing

Pinterest is growing and it should be an integral part of your social media strategy to drive traffic to your listing.  The more ways you can give potential guests to find your property, the more visibility it will get and Pinterest is a great opportunity to showcase your property, its location and activities and attractions in the area. [...]

7 Ideas for Attracting Out of Season Rentals

Whereas rental clients booking a high season vacation may book months in advance, reservations for the shoulder and low season are more of a last minute decision. [...]

Email Lists and Newsletters

This is the time of year when inquiries are coming in to your inbox frequently.  Many of these potential guests will be disappointed to find you are already booked, but it’s important to remember they inquired for a reason – because they wanted to rent. If you weren’t able to accommodate them this time around, there’s a good chance they could choose another date or plan to book earlier next year.  Keeping your place in their minds is important and one way of doing this is to include their details on a mailing list and regularly send a newsletter or email update.  Before you start to enthusiastically bombard them with promotions and special offers, there’s a few things to consider first. [...]

Pinterest for Vacation Rental Owners

Pinterest is addictive.  You find an image you love and post it on an online board – called a pinboard.  Create one board or dozens, each one devoted to a different topic, and share it with the world.  Let’s say you have a vacation rental property in the Smoky Mountains – you could have a board that displays the fabulous scenery; one that focuses on attractions in the area such as Dollywood, Cade’s Caverns, and Gatlinburg, and another showing images of activities guests can participate in. [...]

Running a Photo or Video Contest

One sure-fired way to continue the relationship with your guests is to create a competition that will engage their interest while they are on vacation and carry it on when they get home.  My son Mike entered a competition while on a sailing vacation in Thailand and won 2nd prize which was money off his next sailing vacation with the company.  He then went on a second sailing holiday to ensure he made the most of his prize.  It was a definite win for the company as they gained a repeat customer they may otherwise not have had; and the nature of the competition was a great marketing boost for them too.  We aren’t offering sailing holidays in the Seychelles but the method the company used can work for us owners too. [...]

Video Works! 10 Tips for a Great Vacation Rental Video

It's time to get creative with vacation rental videos, and think beyond the typical room-by-room house tour with a hand-held camcorder. There are far too many of these amateurish showings on web sites and YouTube and they have very little appeal to prospective renters. Instead plan to do several short videos and upload them onto a You Tube channel, and link to them from your VacationHomeRentals.com listing! [...]

Writing an Owner Profile or 'About Us' for Your Vacation Rental

Making a personal connection with your guests is a big part of marketing your property. They will email with inquiries and you’ll respond with comprehensive answers to all their questions.  Building rapport with prospective guests like this can go a long way towards converting casual inquiries to solid bookings.   A complementary way to create a relationship is to share some personal information about yourselves and your property through an About Us page on your website, and in the Owner Profile section on your listing. [...]

What to Pin on Pinterest

Apart from being great fun to do, pinning images to Pinterest can drive traffic back to your site or listing.  Here’s 10 ideas for board titles for a vacation rental site.  Don’t forget that any image must be of the highest quality – that is what Pinterest is about – so if your pictures leave a little to be desired, find some good images on your local tourist authority or travel site, and pin them.  The source will be shown below the image. [...]

Attracting Niche Guests

Most vacation rental owners create a generic listing – one that tries to attract all types of visitor.  ‘Fully Equipped Kitchen’; ‘Dining Table seating 6’ and ‘Satellite TV’ are examples of this type of one-size-fits-all ad.  However, in a more competitive market it is important to differentiate and if you are able to appeal to several niche groups in your listing there is a greater chance of it being found in a search.  This series of articles covers some of these groups and how you can attract them.  [...]

Use a Blog to Share Your Local Knowledge

Competition is fierce in many vacation rental locations, and potential guests can find it tough to distinguish between properties.  This is where building a personal connection can make a real difference and where sharing significant local knowledge can boost interest.  Creating a blog and posting regularly on topics that appeal to vacationers can help to drive traffic to your listing and boost the potential for bookings. You can even add a link to your blog on your VacationHomeRentals.com listing. [...]

5 Vacation Rental Professionals who can Save You Time and Increase Your Occupancy

Hiring a professional to do a skilled job is something most of us do frequently.  A plumber to fix the leak;  an electrician to do some wiring; a carpenter to build those steps.  These may be tasks you could do yourself if you wanted to learn the skills, but you generally accept the cost of hiring a tradesperson because it saves time and frustration.  So why do so many people take on tasks they have little  experience in, only to muddle through and hope for the best?  Mostly because they think there’s money to be saved, when in fact it’s a false economy.  Bringing in someone who really knows what they are doing can boost your bottom line and here’s five professionals that could help to take your vacation rental business to the next level. [...]

How to Tap into the Fall Vacation Market

Summer visitors tend to choose properties based on weather and location.  Beaches, swimming pools, lakefront, etc, are all facilities and features that can bring guests to your property, and in areas of high demand, it should not be a challenge to rent the weeks.  Getting the fickle fall and early winter market  to book is a tougher nut to crack and requires more persistence and ingenuity.  As the leaves turn, so does interest, from the traditional summer leisure and relaxation pursuits, to a more active and purposeful direction.  Here are some ideas to tap into activities that might drive potential guests to your property. [...]

Creating Extra Interest with Images on Flickr

One of the best ways to capture the attention of your potential guests is to create expectations and excitement with the images you use.  Your listing gives you a great opportunity to display your best vacation home photos and is a great foundation, but to increase interest in your property, consider using Flickr sets to organize even more pictures. [...]

3 Ways to Stand out from the Crowd

It’s tough to differentiate in a crowded market when everyone is trying to do the same.  Upgrading TVs and entertainment systems is one way to get attention but the trend remains the same for attracting people to book your place over another. [...]

What's In a (Vacation Home) Name?

Here’s a case study that highlights why a well thought-out name can make a significant difference to the interest given to a property.

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Renting Large Properties in the Low Season

Large properties are popular for family groups, and the flexibility offered by 4+ bedrooms makes them a great choice for multi-generational reunions.  However, the low and shoulder seasons generally bring smaller groups – those without children - and the likelihood of maintaining occupancy is much reduced.  Guests at these times are looking for smaller places with better rates so attracting them to a large property needs some creativity and imagination [...]

A Gourmet Kitchen Makes Marketing Easy

For many guests, the primary reason for renting a vacation home is because they can do their own cooking, and have far more time on holiday to indulge a gastro-hobby than they do in their busy day-to-day lives.  For extended families it may be their annual opportunity to sit down for meals and spend more time together than they do at any other time of the year.   You can contribute to this experience by providing a fully-equipped kitchen supplied with all the utensils and facilities they need to cook large family meals. [...]

What Guests Want

When searching for a vacation rental most potential guests start with a wish list that includes ‘must have’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘in your dreams’ criteria.  The more you are able to offer, the higher your property will rank on their short list, so check out these most-searched facilities and services. [...]

Creating an FAQ and Inventory

No matter how much information you include in a listing, there will be questions, because every prospective rental guest has different criteria and expectations.  Of course, being comprehensive in the listing is important but having an additional inventory list and set of frequently asked questions available to send to guests will reduce the time you need to respond to inquiries.  Otherwise you could spend a lot of time answering the same queries over and over again. [...]

Make Your Listing Work

The effectiveness of your listing can oftentimes be dependent upon the text you choose to "sell" it. A well thought out description of your property can be the difference between a full calendar and a Swiss Cheese calendar. [...]

Great Photos Sell

The images you use on your listing will drive visitors to look further or move on.  This is particularly important in areas where there’s lots of competition.  Great photographs can draw a casual surfer into the listing and create desire, which increases the chance of an inquiry and then a booking.  [...]

Facebook & Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are not going away. There may be reluctance by some of you to use the vehicles for promotion for various reasons but there shouldn't be. Facebook and Twitter are FREE and extremely effective tools for marketing your vacation rental. [...]

Words that Work Magic

While it is the images on your listing that will attract visitors initially, once you have them interested, they will move onto your descriptive text.  This should be written in such a way as to draw them into the property as if they were there; to paint a picture, tell a story and create the atmosphere they are looking for.

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Offline Advertising

Back up all your online marketing with a good supply of printed material that you can hand to business colleagues, put on notice boards at work or simply give to the person you’ve been chatting to in the supermarket line-up. You can even go further and have your own line of promotional products to sell at your property . [...]

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