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MARKETING YOUR VACATION RENTAL BUSINESS

The global short-term rental market is currently worth an astounding $100 billion and is projected to hit $170 billion by the end of 2019. Homeowners are increasingly seeing the benefits of vacation rentals and making money in the industry, and there are more than 660,000 U.S. vacation home listings on Airbnb alone. Guests are continuing to move away from hotels and into vacation rentals, with one Goldman Sachs study showing that people who stayed in a vacation rental in the five years ending in 2016 are now half as likely to prefer a traditional hotel in the future. 

If you're wondering how you're going to get the word out on your vacation rental, there are some steps you need to take to ensure a world-class experience for your guests. This isn't some rent-it-and-forget-it process. You need to ensure that you address all the finite and meticulous details of renting a home and provide an experience that guests will remember you by.

Market Your Property Online Through Various Channels

Partnering with a vacation rental marketplace allows your property to reach a wider audience. Posting on well-known travel sites helps build a trustworthy reputation as a rental property. Some popular channels include the following:

Based on your type of rental, level of service, and client base, you may want to turn to social media. Create a hashtag that will allow your guests to tag their own photos on Instagram and Facebook with your property brand. You can also use the PPC option via Google, pay for Adwords as well as other marketing options through Google's platform. You can also leverage YouTube video ads as one of your desired channels for online marketing.

Have a dedicated website for your property, be sure to hire a professional, keep your prices and calendar up to date and accept online bookings. Drive all your social media traffic to your website. Travelers are twice as likely to book with properties that have online booking capabilities. 

Create An Accurate Description of Your Property

Use descriptive words and paint a picture of what it will be like to stay at your rental. Your property description always ties back to marketing to a specific renter. This is why it is important to include the details of your property and its size. A small, one-bedroom apartment in the city is going to draw a different kind of renter than a cabin in the mountains. So, when describing your property type, you should include:

  • An eye-catching title

  • Property overview

    • Choose two or three accurate adjectives.

    • Don’t mislead potential renters with incorrect information. Do not say your apartment is large if it is tiny. Instead, use accurate descriptors with positive connotations like “cozy” or “intimate.”​

  • Will you allow pets?

    • If so, will you charge an additional fee? What kind of animals do you allow?​

    • Be aware that service animals are not pets. Property owners and managers with properties located in the United States and U.S. Territories must accommodate guests who require the use of a service animal. This applies regardless of a property’s normal house rules pet policy since service animals are not pets.

  • The property’s best features​

    • ​Do you have a backyard? Are there any unique features or amenities? Is it good for entertaining? How? Describe the rental space and common areas.

  • Number of bedrooms

    • The number of people you can accommodate influences your bookings. The more specific you are, the easier you will find your target audience.

    • What types of beds to you have? Do you have bunk-beds? Singles or double beds? King or Queen? These details will decide the type of renters who book your property.

  • Mention the neighborhood or what’s nearby

    • Don’t let the surrounding area overshadow your property description. Otherwise, a renter may look at other properties nearby. Sell your rental property first, and then the larger neighborhood. What activities will attract your ideal renter? Are there restaurants and local hangs nearby?

  • Finish with your contact information.

    • Provide a phone number or email address (or both) that renters can use.

 

Don’t take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your home’s listing. It should be a living piece of copy that you update regularly. Be sure to revisit your listing whenever there is a change:

  • When you make improvements to your home, such as performing renovations or adding new amenities

  • When a new, anticipated restaurant, bar, or museum opens nearby

  • When the seasons change. In the winter, words like warm and cozy are far more enticing than summer words, such as breeze and sunshine. This is especially important in resort destinations, where learning to market to the seasonal guest is critical. 

 

Take High-End Photos And Drone Videos

Hiring a photographer should be your priority once everything else is in order. Photographs lead to bookings. Professional photographs prove that everything in your property description is true. Renters want to see all aspects of your property. This includes interior and exterior photos. It is important that you pay the extra money to hire a professional photographer. 

 

Some properties could also benefit with videos as well. An interior walk-through will help give people an accurate sense of the space, much more so than standard photos on their own. People have learned not to trust photos by themselves, so you may need to have some kind of walkthrough that will depict how the space looks aside from those nicely Photoshopped pictures of the best angles.

 

If your property calls for it, hire a drone operator to capture the exterior surrounding area of the home in order to convey a better sense of the area and everything around it. This speaks volumes and is much more effective than Google's Street View. Spending money here is important. 

Quantity also matters. A study by FlipKey found that travelers are 83% more likely to inquire about property listings that contain over 20 photos.

Calculate Your Rates

Take a step back to make sure you understand your ultimate goal in renting your vacation home. If you are planning to spend large amounts of time in your home, know that total revenue will be lower. However, many people find this is a great way to pay for the home’s total costs, even if margins are lower. What you decide will affect all revenue-based decisions when it comes to renting.

 

You should have nightly, weekly, and monthly rates. Also, determine your number of “minimum stays.” You may not want to have many one night bookings. Instead, make it a rule that bookings are a two-night minimum.

Rates may fluctuate with the seasons and if there is a special event in the area. Plan for peak sessions in your area. Make sure you do your research. Compare your property to similar vacation rentals in the area. What are they charging? What features are they advertising? Consider what a hotel would cost for your ideal renters. You want to be less money than a hotel, but still covering your own expenses.

 

Generate And Respond To Reviews

Remember, response time is key, not only for inquiries but for any request during their stay as well as reviews. These are all things that are important and that you need to consider in any vacation rental space. There are a tremendous amount of items for consideration when marketing your vacation rental online.

Actively participate and respond to reviews and inquiries within 24 hours and the customer's experience and word will spread. Don't be afraid to ask for a good review. Especially the guests that you know had a great experience. According to a study by Homeaway, 57% of travelers looking to book a vacation home will go somewhere else if they haven’t gotten a response back in 24 hours.

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." - Warren Buffet