Four key ways the vacation rental management sphere has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how to adapt your rental business.
Wil Slickers of the Slick Talk Podcast talks about his vision for a new era of Destinationaires. What the heck is that you ask? Read on to find out
In a crowded holiday lettings market, how can you make your property stand out from the crowd?
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
I 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
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.
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 Spain-holiday.com 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.
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.
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.
Question: What do you think is the more convincing review?
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
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.
Where to be
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.
- 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.