copy writing for holiday rentals

3 Essential Steps to Writing an Effective Holiday Rental Listing

We see it all too often on the holiday rental sites; in a rush to get a new rental listing out via as many channels as possible, owners succumb to the urge to write the advertising copy as quickly as possible, rather than taking time and care to do it properly.

It’s a big mistake, and if you are guilty it could be costing you bookings.

The words and phrases used in your holiday home marketing can make a massive difference to enquiry and booking rates. In the expanding holiday rental landscape, it´s simply not good enough to throw up a listing with brief and mediocre descriptions, and still hope to get the lion’s share of enquiries.

Just like your photography, your holiday rental description needs to be attention-grabbing, enticing, compelling, and written with your “perfect guest” in mind.  It should only need a quick scan for your potential guests to know that they are in the right place, and that you understand their needs enough to provide the perfect holiday.

Some people find descriptive writing difficult and owners, being so tied up in running the rental, can often lose sight of what makes their property special and appealing to guests.

If you’re not comfortable with writing, or find it hard to convey the unique selling point of your property, then hiring a professional copy writer to bring those boring, tired descriptions back to life could be the best investment you make.

There’s a fine balance between creating an evocative and captivating listing, and over-selling and over-promising though. We are not talking about bigging up your place so much with misleading claims that you have to beat them off at the door (though that would be nice!)

That kind of “over marketing” strategy will just come back and bite you – once your guests realise the “huge glistening private pool” is actually a 6 x3m dip pool with an apartment block overlooking from the side lines, then watch out Trip Advisor!

Rental Tonic have a network of copywriters, photographers and designers, so we can always help you with getting this right.  Hiring a professional copy writer to give your content some pizzazz costs surprisingly little when you consider the potential return – more enquiries, more bookings and more potential to attract the right kinds of guest.

After chatting to some of our colleagues about what makes for great copywriting for the web, we’ve picked out the 3 essential steps to writing an effective holiday rental listing.

We hope that no matter what stage in the season, you can put these tips into action straight away – even if you already have your property listed on several sites it´s never too late to go back and refresh the copy to make it more compelling.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

Before you do anything else, stop and think deeply about who you are trying to communicate with – How can you write effective descriptions for your holiday home if you´re not clear on who your ideal guests are, and why your villa is perfect for them?

One of the first things we do with our coaching clients is to do some brainstorming to paint as accurate a picture as possible of their “perfect guest”. Then we go deep into what makes them tick, their deepest desires for a holiday, and why your property is perfect for them.

Here are some quick questions to get you thinking about your audience.  Let your imagination run wild, writing down as much as possible until you have a clear picture of your ideal guest. If you write all your copy and communications as if you are speaking directly to that person, then you´re doing well.

  • Where do they come from? How old are they? Who are they travelling with?
  • Why are they coming on holiday? What is motivating them?
  • What is their wish list for a perfect property? …or a perfect holiday?
  • What level of education or income do they have?
  • How much do they want to explore the area and what kind of activities do they want to engage in?

Next, write as many features and benefits of your property as you can to remind yourself of why it is so fabulous.  To help, look at your past photos and ask friends and family who have stayed there for inspiration.

Finally, who is most likely to be booking your holidays?  Studies have shown that in some countries women tend to do most of the research and booking of holidays online, which can make a real difference to the language and images that are most effective.

Action point: Go back and read your rental ads or website from the perspective of your ideal guest – does it answer their questions, needs and deepest desires?  Do you quickly get across why your holidays are so appealing? Will they be encouraged enough to make a booking?

Step 2: Chunk it down

Writing for internet shoppers is always going to need a different approach to, say, writing a piece of literature. People have a shorter attention span online, so tend to scan pages rather than taking the time to read whole chunks of text.

Our eyes can’t handle too much text at once, so it needs to be broken down with compelling subheadings that tell your story with ease.  Even if they don´t read anything else in the main copy, the headings should paint a picture that makes it easy for them to step closer to making a buying decision.

A great example is the way that this holiday villa agency chunk down their listings into blocks that easily pull the reader through to the end of the page. See an example here.

So think about how you can break up blocks of content with bullet points, lists and headers that instantly highlight your property’s main benefits – yes, you can even do this on your listing page on a rental portal!

Action point: Go back now and look at your existing copy on your website and listing pages –  what headings or bullet points would help to highlight the main points quickly and easily?

Step 3: Write for the Web – follow these key principals

  • When writing for the web, try to be warm and friendly, not straight and corporate – we’re in the business of selling holiday experiences here, not Real Estate!
  • Treat your readers as friends and write as if you are speaking to them in a one-on-one conversation, not as a large collective.  Use contractions “I´m” versus I am “We’re” versus We are, and stick to a friendly vibe.
  • Make it varied for readability – white space on a web page is your friend, while bolding, bullets, subheadings, and images all help to pull the reader through to the finish line.
  • Don’t confuse – stick to one main idea per sentence, and use short paragraphs to break up blocks of text and deliver your content in easy to digest, bite size pieces. A paragraph should be no more than 2 or 3 sentences long.
  • Write from the point of view of your Perfect Guest – talk to her aspirations and dreams.  Does the copy move you when you write it? Does it make you fall in love with your property all over again, like the way you felt when you bought it?  If it does, then the chances are your potential guests will feel it too.
  • Use specific numbers to quantify your ideas – ie, “7 great activities for each day of your holiday” or “Our 3 favourite child friendly beaches”
  • Use language that resonates; the way you converse with a backpacking student will be very different to speaking with the guests of a luxury chateau in Cannes. Choose your language appropriately to let your perfect guests know you understand them
  • Remember too that people are not very forgiving of spelling and grammatical errors, so take care to be accurate and professional.

Action Point: go back, read your copy and check

1)      Readability – is the text clear, engaging, easy to read with short, succinct sentences? 

2)      Accuracy – are details up to date, relevant, without grammatical or spelling errors?

3)      Are you following these key web-writing principals?

Knowing how to write an effective holiday rental description can really make a big difference to your holiday lettings business.  So I want to leave you with some more inspiration here as well as encourage you to sign up for our free updates.

Take a look at how our colleague Fiona uses captivating words to evoke an emotional response in her writing for a big travel website here.

Too busy for any of this?  Then get in touch and ask about our great copy writers who can take your holiday home listing page and work wonders with it – you will be surprised at how little it costs!

For more goodness like this on how to improve your holiday rental marketing, sign-up to the Rental Tonic newsletter.

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