Creative and innovative ideas for marketing a holiday rental property

A Proven Checklist to get A 5-Star Airbnb Guest Reviews

A Proven Checklist to get A 5-Star Airbnb Guest Review

Guest Post: There are around 4 million listings on Airbnb – great news if you’re looking for a place to stay. But if you’re a host, then you’re going to have to give some serious thought as to how you will make your pad stand out from the crowd.

How Does the Airbnb Review System Work?

Reviews provide valuable information, both host and guest have 14 days to leave an appraisal. You then have 14 days to respond to say thank you for positive comments or to offer a reply to any negative ones! Be sure you check out the Airbnb content policy prior to posting a review, just to make sure you are sticking to the rules!

Why Is It Important to Get a Positive Review?

Lots of positive guest reviews will lead to a higher SEO ranking, which means more exposure and more bookings. If you’re bookings result in great reviews then you could earn you the impressive accolade of Airbnb Superhost.

How Do I Get More Rave Reviews?

Just getting reviews can be tricky, as not all guests bother to leave one. Try to counter that by always following up – leave a review for every guest. This starts the ball rolling and will hopefully prompt your guest to leave feedback for you in return.

Types of Guest Reviews

Both guest and host can leave personal and public feedback for one another. As the name suggests public feedback refers to a review that can be seen by anyone visiting the Airbnb website (the general public), and private feedback can only be seen by the guest/host.

Hosts should keep in mind that guests are also able to give star ratings based upon their stay. This relates to ease of check-in, value for money, accuracy of the description, location of a property, how clean it was, and their experience on the whole.

As a host, you should also give careful consideration before canceling a booking. If you cancel on or after your guest checks in then be prepared for a public feedback on your listing page and profile. If you cancel a reservation that you have already accepted, you will receive automated feedback on your profile. You do get the chance to explain yourself, but make it good – potential guests don’t like hosts that make a habit of canceling!

Proven Checklist to Get a Positive Review

Guests have certain expectations – the five-star guest review gives you some indication as to what matters most. Disappointed guests may neglect to leave a review or offer negative feedback. As a rule of thumb a host should always:

  • Provide Excellent Communication – respond to queries promptly and accurately, always keep your guests informed.
  • Ensure Check-In Is Smooth – Will you be there to greet your guests or do they need a code to access a key locker? Make sure they know what’s happening!
  • Give an Accurate Description – Does your property match the photographs and description on your listing? Underplay your place rather than over exaggerate.
  • Present Clean Accommodation – Guests like to feel the property they are renting is super fresh and clean.
  • Supply Details on Location – You can’t move your pad closer to the beach or away from a busy road. Be honest about its location! Make sure your guests know about local attractions too, closest shop, pub, park etc.
  • Avoid Cancellations – If you do have to cancel then make sure you offer an apology and try to help your guest to find an alternative place to stay.
  • Offer Value for Money – Adding a few extra touches can make the experience even better for guests. A bottle of wine and a box of chocolates can go along way!

Time to Be Proactive

If you want to bag yourself more five-star reviews then you need to be proactive. Avoid negative feedback by ensuring you offer a great overall experience. Encourage guests to leave positive accolades by writing a personal review for them, and mention how you would love to welcome them back at any time. Your chirpiness should hopefully be infectious and your guest will leave a positive review in return!

Thanks to Julia Shutkevych from AirGMS Technologies for her tips and checklist on how to get your 5-Star Airbnb guest reviews.

SEO for vacation rentals and bed and breakfast providers_Rental Tonic

A Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Small Accommodation Providers

This week we had the privilege of being interviewed by a UK hospitality magazine on basic SEO for holiday let and bed and breakfast businesses. We’ll share the article when it’s published in July.

We decided to condense the interview into an article for our Rental Tonic followers around the world, who won’t get a chance to read the published article.

How would you describe SEO to someone new to the subject?

On a very basic level SEO is a means to get noticed by your ideal guests.

I always ask clients to think about what they would type into Google to find their business? Nowadays we don’t just type a keyword to find what we want on Google, we type a question. What we refer to as a query. Your accommodation business has to answer that query to get noticed by your ideal guests.

On a more defined level I would describe SEO as one of the most important tools for marketing your holiday lettings or bed and breakfast business online. And the most important tool if you want your business to grow organically, and  rely less on paid-for marketing channels, such as listings sites. Ultimately using SEO will help improve your ROI and attract repeat guests.

What are the benefits of developing an SEO strategy?

The most important benefit of SEO is how it can help you become less dependent on listings sites, directories and other paid-for channels.

To understand why SEO works the way it does, it’s important to understand the cycle of a holiday, and where you, as an accommodation provider, fit into that cycle.

Google identified the five stages that travellers go through in a holiday cycle:

Dream Stage: Every holiday starts with a dream

Planning Stage: Before long travellers are on to the planning stage. Statistics show at this point they may visit 20 or more sites, shopping around before booking

Booking Stage: Hopefully with you!

Experience Stage: This is where you have to ensure you haven’t oversold and that their expectations are fulfilled

Sharing Stage: If you’ve done your job well, then they’ll be sharing a happy experience – reviews, social conversation, word-of-mouth

When you are reliant on paid-for listings or advertising, you are only ever going to be found at stage 3 – the Booking Stage. At this stage you are always going to be competing for a share of enquiries and bookings with competitors. And we start to compete on price, something we want to avoid at all costs, because there will always be someone prepared to offer accommodation cheaper than you.

Ideally you want to stand out before the booking stage and you want to attract guests who are looking for exactly what you have. At the planning stage, travellers are researching a destination, and the type of holiday they want to enjoy. If you identify your niche and create an SEO strategy around that niche you can create experiences that your ideal guests will buy into.

Travel businesses rank higher when they create experiences. Think destination and experience, over accommodation.

Always remember: Nobody dreams of accommodation. They dream of a holiday, of an experience. And that is what you have to deliver in your marketing. And that’s how we use SEO. As a means to deliver a holiday experience, not just accommodation.

What are the fundamentals of good SEO?

Finding the right keywords: A small accommodation provider is never going to be able to compete on top level keywords, such as ‘Holiday cottages Devon’, or ‘Bed and Breakfast Dordogne’ for example. Just take a look on the first 2-3 pages on Google, they are maxed out with listings sites and directories.

When you are developing an SEO strategy you have to bring it down a level, you have to think about your ideal guest, your niche market and those queries, or long-tail keywords as they are known, which pinpoint exactly your experience.

To break this down:

Example of a search query: What are the best hiking routes around Harrogate?

Answer it in your website copy: A guide to the best hiking routes in Harrogate.

Answer it in your listing: Our bed and breakfast is situated next to some of the best hiking routes in Harrogate. Free guide for guests available!

No OTA (listings site) is ever going to answer that query, but you can. And that is what your absolute ideal guests are searching for at the planning stage, when they determine what type of holiday experience they want to enjoy.

Keyword implementation: In your website and advertising copy: Keep it organic and authentic.

TALK TO HUMANS FIRST: Don’t overuse keywords and phrases. Be expansive and warm, not repetitive in your content.

In Metadata: Use a plug-in such as Yoast to write targeted titles and descriptions that appear on Google. They highlight the correct length of a title and description, so your Google listing appears in full and isn’t cut off mid-sentence. Just don’t get too hung-up on getting a green light for every aspect of your content with Yoast. Stay authentic and organic, be the local expert, and don’t worry if you have a few orange lights along the way.

Link building and internal links:

  • Don’t set up a useful links page
  • Do keep your links relevant and contextualised within your organic content. Linking to local businesses is an excellent way of Google understanding that you are a local expert.
  • Do build meaningful relationships with local businesses and work on building links between each other.

How important is social outreach to SEO?

When it comes to SEO, content is always king: textual, visual and video. But unless you want to play the long-game and wait for your amazing content to rise up through Google’s rankings, you’ll need to find another outlet to share your amazing content.

So where content is king. Distribution is queen. And that’s where social outreach comes into play.

Social outreach can come in many different forms and definitely needs a good strategy behind it. Blogging on other platforms, your social media profiles, user generated content and getting influencers involved. But that’s a whole other article! Have a read of our article on the power of User Generated Content for your social media strategy.

What pitfalls should people look out for with SEO?

Not investing in enough time to make it work. SEO is all about keeping content fresh and answering those queries. If you don’t keep it up, then expect your rankings to fall or disappear.

Unrealistic goal setting. If you are aiming to target a mass audience then forget it. Don’t waste your time. It’s never going to happen because there are the likes of and Airbnb, etc. that spends millions every year on reaching the masses. Be realistic. Understand your niche. Set realistic goals to attract your ideal guests.

The great thing about understanding your niche and not targeting a mass audience is those clients who find you via a very niche search are looking for exactly what you have. They are going to love your holiday experience and these are prime clients who will become your repeat guests.

What about measuring your results? What tools exist.

Setting up Google analytics and a search console is all you need to measure and analyse website traffic. There are paid-for tools such as Moz  and SEMRush, but Google will deliver what you need in terms of analysing where your traffic comes from, what query makes it arrive at your site, and how it reacts to your content.

Is it really so important to be number one on Google?

Number one is to achieve the nearly unachievable.  But yes, it’s important for Google to know you exist. And for your future guests to find you.

At Booking Stage – especially for small hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation – travellers tend to search through listings, make a shortlist and then go over to Google to find you directly.

It’s all about authenticity and making a personal connection before they book. Something that the OTAs have taken away. If you don’t have your own marketing channels they will find someone else who does. For this reason, it’s essential to have a presence on Google.

There are other ways of getting your business on to Google in the short-term, such as Google My Business and a PPC (pay per click) or AdWord campaign.

Where does PPC or SEM advertising come into the picture?

SEO is about the long-game. A long-game worth playing, as organic traffic ultimately costs nothing and delivers a higher conversion rate. But organic SEO doesn’t happen overnight. For example an article you write today, might not get ranked on Google for three to six months. You need to plan your content well for it to be visible at exactly the right moment that a client is looking for that type of content or information.

If you have just launched your business and want to get instant exposure then use PPC. Otherwise use it when you have specific promotions, seasonal messages, or when you find that your organically ranked pages have for some reason dropped down the page rankings.

Can a business really do it on their own? Or is SEO always a job for the professionals?

It depends on what you already developed in terms of your own marketing channels and how much time you have to dedicate to the project.

If you already have your own website, with a little bit of coaching, or research, and putting aside time on a regular basis, you can manage your own SEO. It’s about being constant and consistent. Keeping content fresh, analysing your queries and being able to answer them.

If you have time to spend a couple of hours a week on staying fresh and keeping your social channels fresh then the answer is yes. But as soon as you let it go, then expect to see your business disappear down the rankings.

And if we choose to work with a holiday lettings marketing agency like Rental Tonic?

We’ll start by analysing what channels you are currently utilising. What generates enquiries and what channels convert best to bookings. We then look at your ideal scenario within 18 months to 5 years and together we set goals on how to achieve that.

We always work together with the client to set goals, identify your ideal guest and niche market, and from there we create the channels and the content to entice your ideal guests to book.

I have written a course on copywriting for holiday lets and small accommodation providers, which takes you through four steps for creating content for your accommodation listings, social media and website, totally focused on organic SEO and targeting ideal guests. You can sign up to the course for $70 in the Vacation Soup Learn Centre.

Five good tips for getting started on the right track with SEO

  1. Understand your ideal guests and what they want from a holiday experience
  2. Don’t try to compete on top level keywords
  3. Instead focus on search queries/phrases and answer them in your content
  4. Be authentic, not repetitive in your message and content
  5. It’s all about creating a destination and experience channel. Remember.You have to sell more than just a bed to sleep in

Need help getting started with a website and SEO? Contact us for a free virtual assessment and let us help you conquer Google!


setting up a bed and breakfast

Starting a Bed & Breakfast Business? Things you need to know

Bed and Breakfast or for that matter B&B businesses have actually gone on to experience quite a surge of popularity in recent times thanks to their brilliant ability to bring the best of both worlds — i.e. luxury and private living—right to the tourists.

What should you know about Bed and Breakfast Businesses?

Very simply put, bed and breakfast businesses are generally smaller establishments than the luxury hotels with around 10 or so guest rooms as against the 50 to 100 rooms of hotels. The most striking aspect of these hotels is that they actually have the owners living right at the site interacting with the travelers. The travelers are regarded more as invited guests rather than temporary boarders assigned different room numbers. However, the popularity of B&B businesses shouldn’t really be the only reason for you to start it in the first place. Embark on such a venture only when you are passionate about running such a business – passionate about knowing your boarders – passionate about bringing them the best of both worlds… the comfort of the luxury hotels at the price of private lodgings. Documented below are certain ways with the help of which you will be able to start such a business.

Planning and research: Their significance is unparalleled

Needless to say, it all boils down to some solid planning and research at the same time. Now, merely knowing that bed and breakfast businesses are drawing tourists in scores will not really do. The key is to find out whether B&B businesses enjoy some kind of demand in the area where you are planning to set it up or not. This again will require you to resort to substantial market research in the first place. Do invest time in market research before going ahead with your plans.

The skills you need to portray

bed and breakfast businessIt is extremely important on your end to consider the fact that you need to portray a combination of skills including administration, operation, social interaction and overall flexibility. You have to remember that one of the ways in which you can add a personal touch to the whole experience of the boarder is by interacting with them on a regular basis. There might as well be complaints or grievances that your guests might want you to look into – quite frankly because they are interacting with you and not your manager.

Plus you have to keep in view that most of the B&B businesses actually are family run and don’t end up promising a huge amount of money as well. You have to weigh all these pros and cons before you are initiating your business.

What about the branding?

Consider reaching out to professionals, such as the Rental Tonic team, to increase holiday rental bookings. Yes. There are credentialed professionals whose job is to help holiday rentals increase their bookings through happy repeated guests.

And how exactly do they help you do the same? By:

¨       Helping you identify your client needs so that you are in a position to create amazing plans that are sure to draw them

¨       Make your business look stunning so as to attract immediate attention of potential guests

¨       Promote your strengths so that potential guests are inevitably drawn towards your business

¨       Plan a perfect marketing story that your guests can hardly ignore

¨       Will help you design decent rates for your holiday home

When it comes to branding, you know that you have to depend on the social skills of professionals. You just cannot go on depending on the age-old mouth to mouth publicity to work wonders for your business.

Everything starting from the optimization of the social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn should be capitalized on in due fashion.

Consider leveraging the power of digital marketing in a bid to realize the true potential of your business. Explore the power of insights when it comes to facilitating business returns. See how rivals are actually building success stories around social media collaborations and internet marketing.

Do not hold back. Start researching the credentials of the marketers before you are actually getting one of them on board. Make sure you are researching core skills before roping them in.

Wrapping up…

Don’t just go on to settle for services of digital enthusiasts on an arbitrary basis. Look up their experiences and previous projects as well. You should be prudent enough to find out whether these consultants have the prior experience of dealing with the needs of businesses like that of yours. If not bed and breakfast hotel, find out whether they have actually gone on to help luxury or regular hotels or not. Look up their previous social media campaigns as well. Do remember that you can actually find out whether they have gone beyond social marketing to capture the next phase of social loyalty in a bid to help businesses or not. These are just a few ways with the help of which you can actually go on to identify names that can actually help your business.

So, basically, you know that there is a lot to do when it comes to transforming your dreams into reality. Plan ahead and definitely invest time in gauging the plausibility of your business idea!


Sarah is a senior content curator in, a leading holiday portal in Dubai, UAE

Airbnb superhost badge

Tips for becoming an Airbnb Superhost

If youre a host wanting to take your Airbnb game to the next level, you might already have your eye on the Superhost prize. Earning the Superhost badge means youve been recognized by Airbnb for your outstanding efforts as a host. And not only do you get to feel all loved and appreciated by the Airbnb community, you might well get a boost in business too.

So before we dive into our tips for nabbing that Superhost badge, lets take a quick look at some of the benefits of having it.

Airbnb Superhost Congrats

Why become an Airbnb Superhost?

Better search visibility: Your listing will show up when guests use the Superhost search filter. Airbnbs search algorithm also looks favourably upon Superhosts, so regardless of whether the filter is on or not, youre more likely to show up higher in results.

Immediate trust: Guests who are familiar with the Superhost badge can spot it on your listing at a glance. This immediately breeds a better sense of trust: they don’t need to read your reviews to know that you’re a responsive, five-star host.

Priority support: If you need to call Airbnb’s support team, you’ll get expedited to the front of the phone queue just for being a Superhost.

Travel coupon: Superhosts who maintain their status for a full year receive a $100 travel coupon, so they can get involved in the sharing economy as a guest as well as a host.

As for how to fast-track your way to Superhost status, it’s all about understanding how the system behind it works.

How Airbnb awards Superhost badges

Superhosts are evaluated by an automatic process. So while it would be nice to imagine an actual human being checking out all the great work you’ve done and manually bestowing that little golden badge, the reality is more impersonal.

Every three months Airbnb will automatically evaluate you, the host, to see if you’re eligible for Superhost status. You have to have met all the Superhost requirements for the past 12 months up to the evaluation date in order to receive (or keep) your badge.

If you meet the requirements the Superhost badge will automatically be added to your listings and profile page.

Tips for achieving Superhost status

And now, the thing you really came here for: the secret ingredients to Superhost status success.

Netting the Superhost badge isn’t actually that hard, but you do have to meet all the requirements, and continue to meet them in order that your badge isn’t revoked at the next evaluation date. In order to meet all the standards, here are some key tips to bear in mind.

1. Screen guests properly
One requirement of being a Superhost is that you don’t regularly cancel bookings. While occasionally mistakes happen, like accidental double-bookings or personal crises, cancellations should be kept to a minimum. Always screen guests properly for this reason: you don’t want situations where you accept a booking only to cancel later because you’re unsure the guest is a right fit for you.

2. Get your responses flowing
Superhosts must have a minimum response rate of 90%. Make responding quickly a habit or a process. If you can’t be available to respond in a timely way, look at ways to automate or outsource responses. Hiring a property manager to take care of it for you means you’ll not only have your response rate sorted, you’ll also have more time and less stress on your plate.

3. Nail your listing description
Superhosts have to complete at least 10 trips per year to their listings. To bump up your bookings and hit that quota, put some time into crafting and re-crafting your listing description to make it shine. That means great copywriting, accurate information, and possibly tailoring your listing to appeal to particular market groups (for example, families, luxury travellers, or couples). Need help writing a listing with Wow-Factor?

4. Take beautiful photos
Descriptions are well and good, you might be saying, but it’s the photos people look at first. You’d be right: for the same reason as above, having great photos is paramount to getting potential guests to click through to, and book, your property.

5. Manage guest expectations
The other requirement of being a Superhost? Impeccable reviews, of course! At least 80% of your reviews need to be 5 stars. That means doing your utmost to give guests a positive experience. One thing to bear in mind: impressions of your property aren’t just based on how good it is, but on how good it is compared to guests’ expectations. Managing expectations means being honest in your listing about any downsides it may have. It means being clear about your house rules. And it means open communication with your guests.

6. Personalise the experience
Another key tip in netting those 5 star reviews: guests always appreciate is a little personalised touch to their stay. It might be a hand-written welcome card addressed specifically to them, or a customised recommendation of a local activity based on their interests. If you can make their stay just a touch more personal, odds are they’ll reward you with a handful of stars. And your Superhost badge won’t be far behind.


Looking to maximise the Return on Investment (ROI) on your Airbnb or Vacation Rental? Short of time every week to properly manage all the things that you need to do with an Airbnb or Vacation Rental?

Well, Airhosta can help.

Airhosta is an online marketplace that connects Airbnb and Vacation Rental hosts with very best service providers — from property managers to concierge experts to cleaners — and a whole lot more. Our mission is to help you find and hire experts and make managing your property easy.

Rate your holiday experience

Featuring… Business travellers, guest experience and how to personalise your VR marketing

Boy am I busy at the moment! And loving every minute I have to say. But when you are a service provider it’s often the case that you dedicate so much time to managing your clients, you don’t find the time to look after your own business. Do you find that with your holiday rental and the home where you live? You put so much time and effort into your holiday let business, your place of residence doesn’t get a look in! I bet some of you can identify with that, even though you don’t like to admit it.

Right now we are writing content, developing websites and brand strategies for clients, and running their social media channels. It’s been so busy we had to decline an invitation to speak at the VRMA European Conference in Amsterdam this March. There’s always next year! Are you going? I’ll be writing on the conference for my next article.

As busy as I have been, I always have time to collaborate with Vacation Rental colleagues around the globe and I wanted to share some of the content here on our Rental Tonic blog. Enjoy, and I promise we’ll be back to regular writing very soon!

How to Market your Vacation Rental to Business Travellers

If you haven’t thought about attracting the business travel market, it’s about time you start. The business travel market is worth 1.2 Trillion dollars and there was a 57% growth year on year in 2016 for business travellers using Airbnb and HomeAway to book accommodation.

I spoke to vacation rental software experts, Lodgify about what owners and managers need to do to attract the business traveller.

Why Guest Experience Matters

Guest experience accommodationI had a super interesting conversation with Jonathan from property management and guest experience experts Vreasy on why the guest experience matters so much in today’s market and what you can do as an owner or manager to build a more memorable vacation rental business.

If you want to achieve full calendars and happy, repeat guests, you need to read this article on the guest experience and start considering if your standards are high enough to entice guests back for more.

Top 10 Tips for Family-Friendly Vacation Rentals

In 2015, according to the ABTA Consumer Survey, 38% of British consumers took a holiday with their immediate family, and 20% took a holiday with their extended family, that’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. In terms of global figures: family holidays represented around a third of the market, that’s 115 million annual holidays!

So if you have space, and you don’t mind welcoming children to your holiday home, you need to think on how to furnish and market your holiday let to attract families. Family holidays can take painstaking organisation and lots of patience, so when a family finds the perfect accommodation, they repeat book time and again. Don’t leave it to chance to attract families to your holiday home, read this article and make it happen!

Why Holiday Homes Don’t Make A Profitable Property Investment

Second home property investment

Ok, Ok. I know. But if it’s decision time and you are not sure whether to buy that second home as an investment or not, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration before splashing out. This articles covers some of the cons of owning a holiday home.

And if you are in the decision-making process, please do get in touch with our Rental Tonic team. We’re always happy to give your a virtual assessment on your vacation rental business plan.

How to Convert Enquiries into Bookings for your Holiday Cottage

Your holiday home is one in a million. Or should I say one amongst a million of other holiday homes listed on the likes of HomeAway, Airbnb and my partners for this article, Direct Holiday Cottages. In fact every holiday rental is unique, but as an owner you have to work hard to create a home-from-home experience and to convert enquiries to real bookings, there’s a few things you need to do, to make your property be that ‘one’ in a million potential clients want to book.

Read the article and start converting those enquiries!

How Rich Guest Profiles Can Transform Your Holiday Rental Business

An oldie, but one of my favourite articles. I am a firm advocate for enriching the guest experience, and one of the most effective ways to do so is by profiling your guests and personalising your communication and experience. Check out this article I wrote for on how to harvest guest data and use it to create a rich personalised experienced pre, during and post-stay.

Finally don’t forget our Rental Tonic team is here to support you in the creation of an enriching guest experience and in developing all of the marketing tools and resources you’ll need attract to your ideal guests.

Marriotts Elviria Marbella

Adopting a User Generated Content strategy for your holiday rental marketing

If you follow the Rental Tonic marketing blog you’ll be accustomed to our banging on about selling the experience, not the accommodation. These days you have to sell the guest experience. Nothing less will do.

There are two ways you can do this through visual content. You can create your own or use the visual experiences of your guests. This is called user generated content.

What is User Generated Content?

UGC isn’t a new medium, but it’s snowballing in terms of its true potential, especially within the travel and accommodation sector. User Generated Content is any content: blogs, images, social media posts, reviews, which have been created and are shared by unpaid contributors, i.e. fans, i.i.e. your guests.

The evolution of visual content marketing

Visual content plays a huge part in how marketers convert consumers to their brand and its come a long way since the days of banner and button advertising. The objective of which was to convince the client of a quick sale, playing up to consumer pricing – something we want to avoid. The visual aspect was uninspiring.

These days the way we create, view and share visual content has become somewhat of a phenomenon. We play out our lives through a camera lens and share it with the world. We are in a moment of perpetual discovery, continuously seeking new experiences to live and share; not just with friends and family, but with like minded people around the world. Our reach is limitless.

Hike along the Rio Chillar in Nerja

Great hike along the Rio Chillar in Nerja. Highly recommended if you’re visiting Andalucía.

Our shared experiences make the consumer buying process more enjoyable. No longer do we have to rely on what a brand tells us. We can find out what like-minded consumers think about a brand or product. We trust ‘people like us’ more than we trust the advertising message. In fact we have at our fingertips visual content that echoes our dream holiday and motivates us to plan and book the next adventure.

As travellers enter into perpetual discovery mode, your task as a holiday rental owner or manager is to grab them with visually exciting content at the inspiration (planning or dreaming stage), before they’ve reached the buying (booking) stage, when you lose them to a hundred other accommodation options.

Reaching your ideal guests through visual content marketing

Consumers attracted to visual content tend to purchase with their heart and are much better at engaging with content and using review systems. Ultimately they are not driven by price, the trigger we most want to avoid, so instead of creating content you should be creating experiences; capturing inspiring, authentic moments that captivate your ideal guests and provoke a reaction.

Visual reviews

Question: What do you think is the more convincing review?

Visual travel reviews

Getting your guests to share their instagrammable moment during their holiday is a super way to grab the attention of potential holiday rental guests who want to visually digest travel experiences. If text reviews already offer potential guests a credible assessment of a travel experience, can you imagine adding a photo? All of a sudden the review becomes even more authentic and anticipated. It instantly humanises your holiday experience.

Customers want to be able to picture themselves in the place of the reviewer, so all visual content should be relatable, not perfect. Nobody can imagine themselves in a stock image. Your focus should always be on content that’s authentic and original.

Will my guests want to share their best moments with me? Some will, some won’t. Take the attitude that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Mention the concept during pre-stay communication, perhaps when you send them your insider’s guide or digital welcome book. You might want to wrap up the request with an offer, such as a discount off future bookings (more repeat guests), or a free welcome pack (happy arrivals).

How should I use them? Visual reviews should be featured across your own holiday rental website, as part of an evergreen social media campaign and linked to within your pre and post stay guest communication.

Getting influencers involved

Leah Travels Instagram

From Leah Travels. Travel writer and photographer.

The next step, or rather ‘big leap’, in your user generated content journey is to get influencers involved in your story. Influencers  – travel bloggers, photographers, instagrammers – take photos of everything: on the way to the airport, on the plane, arrivals hall, in their accommodation and during every moment of their trip. They use geofilters and hashtags to map out their adventure, so their followers feel like they’re travelling with them.

Clever travel brands use these influencers to reach out to new and wider audiences, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t too. Their take on your holiday home could have far reaching possibilities for the future of your holiday rental business.

The thought of reaching out to a travel blogger to ask them to review your holiday experience may seem a daunting thing, but it’s worth a few knock backs. Start by following the top influencers in your region or target market. These might be micro influencers in the grand scheme of global audiences, but they will help you reach and captivate new audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own steam.

You’ll need to start by building a rapport:

  • Add your expert and, importantly, friendly opinion as comments in some of their blog posts
  • Follow, like, share and retweet their posts to your followers
  • Share your holiday experiences, visual reviews and related travel and destinations news with them via social media
  • Recommend them to your followers and guests as an expert travel blogger for your destination or holiday experience

Once you’ve built that rapport and shortlisted the influencers that are most engaged with your content, you could take it to the next level and ask them to personally review your holiday accommodation.

Before you go wild, you’ll be disappointed if you aim to convince macro influencers to review your holiday. Those guys and gals are earning big bucks from big brands to review their product. Do your research well, identify influencers who are either currently travelling your region or live within a reasonable distance and offer them a stay in your holiday home.

Obviously that’s not going to work for all of you. To get a travel influencer to stay in your holiday accommodation you have to have a pretty special proposition. A unique home, location or a quirkiness that might just grab their attention. This level isn’t for everybody and it will cost you a weekend (that you probably couldn’t fill), but the opportunities are far reaching and outweigh the expense.

Look out for our next article: Five Countries, Five Top Travel Bloggers and Instagrammers to Follow!

Doing it for yourself

While you’re building up your user generated content, there’s no reason why you can’t be creating your own visual content. Think about your holiday experience, what are your instagrammable moments? What moments would evoke your guests to take a photo during their stay?

Until you can get them to capture the best moments for you, you can recreate them through your own eyes. Just remember to make them authenticate and rich with life. Forget photographing your holiday home, step outside and look at what’s around you. Capture the view, the locals, the sunset, the cuisine, the cocktails. Basically capture life. Remember forget picture perfect and focus on the human experience.

Traditional Korev Cornish beer enjoyed along with great views from our garden.

Traditional Korev Cornish beer enjoyed along with great views from our garden.

Where to be

Teeny tiny flamenco bar in Castellar de la Frontera

Vertical images are viewed better on mobile devices.

Ok, so for those taking the first steps onto the social media marketing ladder, the first question is always where should I be? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIN? The answer is everywhere, but don’t panic. There are tools and methods that will help you schedule and share your social media and blog posts, so don’t worry about where.  What you mustn’t lose focus on is the what. It’s the medium that counts. And that medium should be visual content.

Instagram and Snapchat are the visual platforms that have really snowballed in 2016. The most important statistic you need to know about Instagram is that brand engagement is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter. Revealing Instagram as an essential channel in any travel marketing strategy. (Oh and pizza is the most popular instagrammed food 😉

Top tip: Nearly 80% of social media time is spent viewing on a mobile device, so whilst traditionally we would recommend taking horizontal shots, vertical images and video bring experiences to life better on a mobile device.

Make it actionable

As with any marketing, there’s no point in doing it if there’s no ‘call to action’ or route to purchase, in our case, to book your holiday home. All of your beautiful experiences need to be actionable, so showcase the experience together with a call to action. Your engagement should always follow through, whether that be to your website, advertising listing, email or other sales funnel.

Top takeaways

  • Showcase the experience not the features: think outside the box to highlight your experiences
  • Highlight your best moments, the instagrammable moments: take your guests and followers along for the ride
  • Take them on the journey and provide advice and guidance along the way
  • Use visual and even video reviews: they’re authentic and humanise your experience
  • As always, knowing your ideal customer is key to delivering visual content they want to see
  • When reaching out to travel influencers first research their reach and followers. Do they resonate with your ideal guest persona?
  • Make all customer experiences actionable

What are you waiting for? Go get started creating inspiring visual content!

If you want to find out more about how visual content marketing and user generated content can help your holiday rental business, get in touch with me today and tell me about your instagrammable moment.

Holiday Retreat with Private Pool

Nine indisputable steps to holiday rental success


The holiday rental landscape is growing at a rapid rate. Worth in excess of $100 billion dollars, it now sits proudly amongst mainstream travel accommodation. In the US alone, over 40% travellers have stayed in holiday rental accommodation.

As our industry grows, technology platforms and booking partners launch channels to streamline the work of the holiday home owner or rental manager, and the landscape of advertising portals is constantly changing.

To run a successful holiday rental business in today’s market takes commitment and perseverance. It will always be a work in progress: marketing channels grow, the market becomes ever more competitive and your guests demand more. Yet if you get down to the core of the business, there are still fundamental elements, that if you get right, will prepare you to compete with the best.

Know your ideal guest

‘Ideal guest’ seems to be a buzzword in the world of holiday rental marketing at the moment, but our Rental Tonic team have been working with clients for many years to identify and create successful holiday rental businesses with the ideal guest in mind.

Taking the time to identify your niche market and defining your ideal guest are essential elements within your marketing strategy, which help you create a holiday rental experience targeted at guests you want staying in your holiday home.

It’s also more effective and less of a strain on your marketing budget, when you communicate your proposition to a smaller target group. And importantly, it’s far more enjoyable to connect with the one person who is going to book and love your home, over any other.

Tip: When you have a good idea of who you want to target, it becomes much easier to create the story around your holiday, and create a home that will attract your ideal guests time and again.

Affordable quality

The prime objective of any owner is to develop a holiday rental business that enjoys full calendars, ideally based on a high percentage of repeat bookings.

Why repeat bookings? Less marketing expenditure and work to fill your calendar. And guaranteed happy guests.

It doesn’t matter whether your holiday home is budget or luxury. If you don’t fit it out with good quality furnishing and equipment, and update and maintain the property on a regular basis, you will be chasing new bookings every season. If you want to create a serious income generator, it’s time to inject sensible quality into your holiday home.

Good quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. You will need to invest time, over money, in finding furnishing that will be comfortable and withstand wear and tear.

Tip: Tight budgets can go further when you think on your feet: add a mattress topper and good quality pillows to an economical bed; scatter comfy quality cushions on your sofa and adorn your walls with lovely destination photos and tasteful artwork. Coffee tables can be expensive, but two attractive side tables will give your guests some space to put their coffee down, and to add a lamp.

Be visual

Do you ever scroll through your advertising channel to see what your competition is up to and then get despondent about how they achieve such a professional look? It’s no big secret. It’s all in the staging…

Holiday rental staging and good photography are essential in creating an enticing presentation for your holiday home and ultimately will maximise your booking opportunities.

Good staging and photography will paint a picture so entice, a guest can imagine themselves in the scene; as if they are living the experience already.

Another essential reason to maintain a good level of photography is to maximise the opportunity to be seen in listing search results. In most cases, a percentage of your quality score is based on posting a decent volume of images.

TripAdvisor statistic: Travellers are 150% more engaged with listings that have more than 20 photos than properties with only a few photos.

Don’t compete on pricing

The first and only thing I want to say on the subject of pricing: never compete on price.

Do not enter into a price war with the local competition, there will always be someone prepared to beat you on price. If you have followed the previous steps: set up a quality holiday home, know your niche market and ideal guest and have taken the time to create a compelling story, then you should be able to step out of the price war and charge the rate for your holiday home that meets YOUR expectations i.e. covers costs and somewhere down the line generates a profit.

Tip: Price should be based on three principles: running costs + location + quality. It’s really very simple.

Placement? It’s a jungle out there….

In today’s holiday rental landscape there are a myriad of portals to choose from. The likes of the giants, such as Holiday Lettings/Trip Advisor/FlipKey, Airbnb, and HomeAway/Owner’s Direct, will be a necessary evil when you start out and need to get immediate bookings, but ultimately your long-term goal should be to become independent, before they gobble up your profit and run your business how it suits them; taking away your client interaction and sitting on your booking payments.

In the first couple of years you should be testing the water with the international portal sites, and getting regional coverage from some of the smaller destination-focused portals. Use forums such as to get advise from owners who have tried and tested the market.

Tip: Whatever channel you use, your holiday rental must be instantly bookable.

Copy that creates that WOW factor!

Free Copywriting e-book for vacation rental ownersAnyone who knows me, knows I am a bit of a content freak. I have been travel writing and blogging for many years, and I can say unconditionally that getting your headline and description just right – or incredibly wrong, can have a huge impact on holiday rental enquiries.

Of course, if you’ve done your preliminary work and know your niche and ideal guest, writing exclusively for them is much simpler than trying to please everyone within a 500 word description.

Tip: Stop focusing on your accommodation. Become the local expert – create local experiences.

Learn how to create WOW-FACTOR copy and achieve full calendars and happy guests. Click here to grab a copy of our FREE 7-Point Checklist to WOW-Factor Copy!

Happy holiday experiences

So far, so good. You’ve got the bookings. The guests have arrived. Now you have to ensure they have a happy holiday experience. One that they want to share and replay.

Of course, if you’ve worked out your ideal guest credentials and created a quality rental, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll enjoy your accommodation. Perfect scenario, they’ll be leaving with long-lasting memories of their holiday experience.

Here you have a part to play.

Two of the biggest motivators for choosing holiday rentals, is authenticity and connection. The way you interact with your guests, even before they’ve arrived is like gold. It can be the make or break of a booking. If you think about the success of Airbnb. It’s actually the guest/host interaction that makes its proposition special.

During their stay, your guests will appreciate how much effort you, or your manager put into making their stay just perfect. It will be the icing on the cake, the part of their holiday that gives them a warm, cuddly feeling inside.

Tip: Nothing is too much for the ideal guest. Help as much as you can. You may want to consider adding a concierge-style service to your business.

Marketing? Do.It.Yourself

What do we want? Listing independence. When do we want it? Now!

No longer is having your own holiday rental website a question for debate. The consolidation of the global listing sites has lead to a controlling and costly marketing landscape.

The only way to survive is to strike out for independence. Creating a content rich website, which shows you for the local expert you are, and creates a platform for personal connection with travellers and guests.


Example: Casita Sitges Website

Your social media channels should then become a natural extension to your holiday rental website, where you can freely engage with guests, media and the industry.

A good social media strategy will help you build a community of people who have a common interest in your destination. Where you can share stories, and ultimately earn the trust of potential guests. Studies have shown that people need to “see” your brand as many as 7 times before they will consider doing business with you. This makes social media an important asset in your holiday rental strategy.

Reviews and reactions

In today’s market, guest reviews are at the very heart of travel marketing. They can tell a traveller everything they need to know about accommodation, activity or transport mode, to help them make more informed decisions. So we recognise how important reviews are to our travel business, but it’s not just about getting five star reviews and publishing them.

TripAdvisor statistic: 70% of guests say that seeing a management response to a guest review influences where they stay.

When you reply to a guest review, you aren’t just interacting with that guest, you are also engaging with the hundreds, even thousands of people who read your reviews and your reactions.

Repeat bookings

The mother of all things. The icing on the cake. The reason for living…  OK maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but as an owner it’s ultimately what you should be aiming for.

If you’re working hard to achieve all of the above, then your repeat bookings will start to follow. But if you want to go a little step further to achieve those, then how you interact with guests and clients post-stay is as important as your interaction before and during their stay.

Email marketing, post-stay surveys and guest profiling, are just three of the ways you can stay on top of client preferences, dislikes and key dates i.e. anniversaries, and create perfect personalised marketing actions to attract them back.

Tip: Research shows that personalised promotion is 9x more effective than generic marketing, so don’t follow the crowd. Don’t try solely to compete on generic advertising listing sites. Consider your ideal client, communicate to them, be local, and make it personal.

Wave goodbye to your last guest of the season, but don’t relax just yet!

Wave goodbye to your last guests of the season, but don’t relax just yet!

High season is over. You’ve said farewell to the last guests of summer, and brushed away the final grain of sand from your doorstep. You can breath a sigh of relief… Hang on! Don’t relax just yet. You’ve got work to do to get your holiday rental ship shape and ready for this year’s autumn/winter season and for the coming year’s spring/summer bookings.

If you want to run a successful holiday rental business, there’s no sitting on your laurels after high season. Now is the time to plan, update and maintain contact with your valued guests. So, what’s next?

Half-term break

family friendly holiday rental marketing

Depending where your holiday rental is located you might have 4-6 weeks turnaround between the end of the summer season and the all important half-term school break. Many families choose to catch the last rays of sunshine in the October half-term.

If you have a family-friendly holiday rental, this will be a key week for you, which if prepared well, can be the start of some valuable family repeat bookings.

Here are some ways to put your family-friendly holiday rental in front of potential half-term guests.

  1. If you have your own holiday rental website, write an article, or listicle, for your blog on the Top Attractions/Activities for Half-Term in your area and share it like crazy
  2. Promote special half-term offers on the advertising portals you are using
  3. Use your social media profiles to shout about the reasons why spending half-term in your destination is fab, fun and family-friendly
  4. If you don’t already, start to connect with family-friendly specialists via social media and tag them in your ‘Things to do’ and ‘Promotional’ posts. Make the posts fun, interesting and shareable.

Seasonal marketing

Blue skies and swimming pools might be the primary draw for guests visiting your holiday rental, but if you want to attract low-season bookings, you need to paint a four-seasons picture.

Even if your destination enjoys year-round sunshine, show potential guests what your holiday home looks like dressed up for Christmas; how locals celebrate New Year’s Eve and Easter, or what your ski destination looks like in the spring and summer months, with flowers blanketing the ski slopes.

Just after summer season ends, start to populate your advertising listings and website with autumn/winter seasonal photos and quirky mentions of what guests can expect during this time. During, or just after the Christmas period, you can start to add seasonal photos and descriptions for spring and summer next year, and so the cycle goes on.

Of course you will always focus on your high season, but adding a touch of four-season magic, could be just what your holiday rental needs to secure those low season bookings.

Keep in touch

If your guests leave your holiday home happy. Having had a positive holiday experience. Keeping in touch via email marketing is not just a courtesy, it’s a very impactful way of getting them back for another stay. Repeat guests provide the best ROI (return on investment). You don’t have to spend a lot of marketing budget on them. In their case it’s time and effort, over budget. Plus they often reflect your ideal guest profile, which means they are likely to stay loyal and recommend you to their friends and family.

When the busy holiday season is over, get in touch with your guests. Tell them what they can expect out of season. Use an early bird discount for next summer to get to them to fill out a post-stay survey, keep them up-to-date with your latest offers and articles, and of course, invite them to follow you on social media.

Review your holiday rental marketing

Better the devil you know? Not when it comes to spending your hard earned holiday rental income on marketing. At the beginning of each year, or at the end of each advertising contract, you need to decide what provides the best ROI (return on investment) and ditch what doesn’t perform.

Stay on top of new platforms, investigate local portals focused on your destination and develop your own holiday rental website and social media profiles. Perfecting your self-promotional channels will ultimately provide a better ROI and more credibility for your holiday rental business.

Focus on the audience

We’ve already discussed adapting your holiday rental marketing to attract families during half-term, but you can also target couples looking for a quiet break, retirees looking to get away for the winter, or group activity bookings: golf, hiking, cycling, etc.

Remember: consumers like added value over discounts, so think about offers that will make them feel as they are getting extra:

  • Special one month winter stay prices
  • 14 days for the price of 10, or 7 from the price of 5
  • Long weekend special promotions
  • Weekday rates for weekend stays

Maintenance check: fix and replace items

Holiday rental maintenance checkOn to the boring stuff. I know, I know… But keeping your holiday home updated, clean and fresh, and with a full inventory, is an essential part of your holiday rental business.

Here are some of the spot checks and updates you need to do after the busy season ends:

  1. A lick of paint will freshen your place up and make it feel like new
  2. Buy new bed linen and towels. After a season of lotioned up guests, your sheets and towels will have seen better days
  3. Give the cupboards a clean to get rid of unwanted breadcrumbs, coffee stains and sugar granules.
  4. Stock up on complimentary items, such as coffee, tea, soaps, toilet paper and washing up liquid, etc. Make sure your new guests won’t be left short.
  5. Make a recce of utensils and cutlery: Recently, an owner mentioned to me that when she came to clean up after her last guests of the summer, she had no teaspoons left! You should be keeping check throughout the season, but after the last guest has left, make sure you restock all kitchen utensils and cutlery, ready for new guests, new season!
  6. Maintenance check: Check all your kitchen appliances function properly, light bulbs don’t need changing, the toilet flushes and there are no dripping taps.
  7. Bathroom and kitchen fungus: With so much usage during high season, areas such as the bathroom might need a touch up. Make sure all surfaces, tiled floors, showers, etc. are cleaned and free of mildew and if you’re feeling up for it, why not reseal the bath and shower edges, so everything looks sparkling new.
  8. Wash down your patio and terrace: If you can invest in the rental of a jet washer to bring out the original colour of your patio and get rid of all the dirt in between the tiles, go for it!

Write a list of things you could have done better and action them for next season!

Changeovers, marketing and advertising, guest communication, post-guest surveys, maintenance, and security. Now is the time to evaluate how success your holiday rental business was this year, and what you can do better for the coming season. Need help bringing all this together to create a holiday rental success? Rental Tonic is here to help!

Finally… Give yourself a pat on the back. Yep go ahead, you deserve it!

Rental Tonic call for help

Help us shape the future of YOUR holiday rental marketing

Rental Tonic has been working with holiday rental owners since 2012. Yes, we’ve been around that long! During that time we have built-up a resource portal focused on how to build a successful holiday rental business.

We have coached many of you, built your holiday home websites, worked with you to create advertising descriptions that WOWed your ideal guests, and showed you how to successfully stage and photograph your property.

Now as we move into our next phase, growing into a brand new kind of holiday rental coaching business, we want to share the moment with you.

In fact, we want YOU to be part of that moment. To help make it happen.

Rental Tonic call for help

We are super excited to be creating brand new content modules, tailor-made to help you develop a business delivering full calendars and happy guests!

Over the summer we’ll be fine tuning our content. To do that, we need your help. We know our business inside out, but in order to support your holiday rental needs, we want to know your business inside out too.

Talk to us about your business

So I would like to invite 7 holiday rental owners or managers to talk to me about their business, to help us understand and create solutions to your biggest challenges:

What support do you need to help your holiday rental business grow?

And what do you struggle most with in your holiday rental business?


In return for sharing your challenges with us, I will give you a FREE 30 minute marketing review. Then I’ll share ways on how to make quick and easy improvements that WILL make your advertising more successful!

 I only plan to speak to seven owners, so don’t delay in getting in touch. Don’t forget you will benefit from a free coaching session!

Shoot me over an email to to help us create the next generation in holiday rental marketing training. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!


Convert more holiday rental bookings with floor plans and virtual tours


CubiCasa Floorplan

Have you ever considered adding a 2D or 3D floor plan to your holiday home advertising or website? In recent years, several digital floor plan and virtual tour resources have launched onto the market, offering added value marketing tools for holiday rental owners.

Is it just another marketing fad to get you to spend your hard earned rental income?

Traveller surveys show that floor plans are a welcome addition to holiday rental advertising descriptions and image galleries. They can give your marketing an edge and help convert more enquiries quicker, by lending confidence to your property.

Visualise it!

Floor plans help guests quickly visualise the space in a holiday home. This is especially beneficial for families who want a place to stay, where there is ample room for kids and adults. A space for the children to play, and the adults to relax.

When you consider that a third of all holidays taken each year are in family – that’s approximately 115 million family holidays! It’s a no brainer to add tools that will provide families with all the information they need to choose your holiday rental, over next door.


Cubicasa’s cool 2D floor plan conversion

Think about some of the questions you are asked by guests:

  • Is there ample space for my children to play indoors?
  • I want to make sure the main bedroom is close enough to the children’s bedroom, so I can hear and attend to them quickly.
  • Is there a bedroom on the ground floor?
  • Is the kitchen big enough to prepare family meals?
  • Is the kitchen closed off, or open-plan?
  • Is your holiday rental wheelchair accessible?
  • How many doors to the terrace/outdoor space?
  • Do you have plenty of outdoor space for dining?

Your floor plans or even better, a virtual tour linked to a floor plan, will help answer many of the queries that your guests have about space: where to eat, sleep and poop, and will cut down conversation time.

If you have an original floor plan scan, there are some economical digital options, that let you design an eye-catching floor plan yourself.

If you want something a little more striking, there are services that will create digitally enhanced floor plans, linked to interactive virtual tours, using your holiday rental photography. Guests can click on the floor plan to visit a digitally enhanced image of a room and to scan around from different angles. This is an excellent way to showcase your holiday rental in style and give a good feel of space.


Planomatic’s interactive floor plan

Rental Tonic has compiled four of the best virtual tour and floor plan companies offering tools designed for holiday rental owners:

Roomsketcher is a Scandinavian company that provides the tools for you to design your own 2D and 3D floor plans, plus you can create 3D snapshots of your home. I have seen some great examples of holiday rental homes using Roomsketcher to design their floor plans. The floor plan designer isn’t free, but at $49 per year, it’s not a bad price for the tools it offers.

Cubicasa helps you create stylish floor plans through its application, even when the original plan isn’t available. It is not a complete DIY solution like RoomSketcher, but a combination of DIY and automation. It keeps the manual work for you to a bare minimum.

Planomatic is a US-focused application. A representative visits your vacation rental to take photos, which are then transformed into really stunning floor plans and image tours. They also offer a virtual service, called “Tour Creation”, generating floor plans without having to visit your property.

The US company Truplace has a dedicated holiday rental (vacation rental) service. They will take your holiday rental photography and turn it into an interactive virtual image and floor plan tour. Room images appear, when guests click on the floor plan.  The tours can be linked to from your FlipKey and HomeAway adverts.