Vacation Rental Marketing: Why It’s Still Important


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Vacation rentals of the past got their start as a cottage industry where rental owners worked directly with guests to create an optimal leisure experience.

Vacationers returned to the same properties on a regular basis, often generating family traditions that lasted for years and even carried over into the next generation, and the personal touch played a big part in keeping tenants coming back.

Vacation rental marketing was largely word of mouth back then, and although that particular aspect still plays an essential role in cultivating interest in vacation rental properties and creating a loyal return-customer base, marketing is more complex now than ever before.

The internet has changed the way all businesses market themselves, and the vacation rental business has evolved from its cottage industry roots into a competitive field that requires on-target marketing in order to maximize results.

Why is Vacation Rental Marketing Important?

You may already have your property listed with an online travel agency (OTA) and understand the value that these services provide, but using them as your only resource is playing a dangerous game with your investment.

Competition is stiff on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO, and you stand to lose a lot of revenue if bookings from these OTAs dwindle or stop altogether. With a rapidly increasing number of investors getting into the vacation rental market, it’s more important than ever to make your property stand out from the crowd.

What is Vacation Rental Marketing?

Instead of booking the same lake cabin for a month during summer for years and even decades in a row, today’s vacation rental consumers are doing it differently.

They’re embracing adventure by trying new places, and instead of asking family and friends for recommendations, they’re turning to the digital marketplace for inspiration. Whether you own one vacation rental, several of them, or manage numerous vacation rentals for others for a living, you’re missing out if your rentals don’t have positive online presence.

Successful vacation rental marketing makes your property or properties easy for prospective customers to find, provides an appealing portrayal of them, and offers customers an easy booking process.

The following marketing disciplines are commonly used in the marketing of vacation rentals:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Otherwise known as SEO, this strategy is designed to put your rental on the first page of Google. Meticulous keyword research, technical fixes, content and strategy increases organic visibility in search engines. This helps prospective customers who are looking for your properties or properties in your location, find you quickly and easily.

Content Development and Creation

Content development begins with a comprehensive understanding of the needs, preferences, problems, and desires of your target audience. The next step is to take a close look at your current website traffic and assess how much traffic it’s missing out on due to lack of compelling content. The final step is to create the kind of compelling content that provides value to those seeking information.

Persona Development

Identifying your target audience helps create a relatable persona, and you can achieve this by establishing the major reasons why vacationers choose your particular location. If your properties are in a community with a vibrant arts and cultural scene, for instance, arts and culture enthusiasts should have a big influence on your persona development.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) & Display Advertising

PPC & Display ads are a classic marketing staple of digital advertising, but optimizing them isn’t for the inexperienced. Carefully monitoring metrics is essential to identifying which ads are the most effective and which ones should be put to rest.

Retargeting and Remarketing

Consumers seeking vacation rentals naturally browse several listings to seek out the one that best suits their individual needs and preferences, and they may even go through the initial stages of booking your rental but then click away when something distracts them. Retargeting/remarketing allows you to reach out to consumers who’ve come to your site, shown an interest in your property, and left without making a reservation.

Remarketing is a tactic that involves showing ads to people who’ve visited your website recently. This strategy is a particularly cost-effective way to increase your bookings conversions because you’re reaching out to guests who have already expressed interest in your properties.

Social Media Influencer Marketing

Social media marketing is a particularly effective advertising strategy for vacation rentals due to the visual nature of travel. Those who “like”, share, or otherwise engage with your social media posts introduce your rentals to those on their contact lists. A personable yet professional social media voice is essential, as well as top-quality photos and videos.

Social media influencer marketing is a natural offshoot of social media. Influencers can help get your property noticed by those who are seeking what you have to offer.

Email Marketing

Carefully targeted email marketing campaigns can work, especially if the recipient list is curated from those who have visited your website as well as those who have rented from you in the past. Keep emails short, enticing, and to-the-point. As a general rule, emails should be sent once per month and should always contain an offer, such as a coupon code for a small discount.

One popular discount option for vacation rental home owners and managers is the offer of one free night for those who book two or more nights during the off-season.

Direct Mail

Direct mail marketing may have some benefits if your target audience includes an older demographic, so consider giving it a try if the area where your rental is located is popular with retirees.

Considering the competitiveness of digital marketing, receiving direct mail may actually gain some attention as it is an uncommon method used these days.

Video Marketing

Video marketing can be an effective tool if you’ve got visuals and a message capable of attracting attention right away – professionally produced on-brand videos placed on your landing page can significantly increase conversions.

Radio Ads

Radio ads can serve as an unexpected source of exposure for vacation rentals as long as you stick to national stations such as SiriusXM -after all, advertising on local stations won’t reach your target audience because they won’t be seeking vacation rentals in their own communities. Timing and targeting matters as well.

For instance, if your property is located in an area that has a big bluegrass festival on an annual basis, start advertising your rental on the SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Station about a month or so before the festivities are slated to take place.

Who Should You Trust for Your Vacation Rental Marketing Needs?

Individual vacation rental owners and property management companies frequently try to make do with handling the marketing side of the business themselves or designating that responsibility to in-house employees.

This approach is problematic because it’s almost always time-consuming, and the hit-and-miss techniques used by those with little experience in marketing results in unnecessary expenditures that provide little or no ROI.

Marketing is a skill that most office employees and temporary workers simply don’t have.

Many of those in your position are relying on digital marketing companies such as Magnetic Strategy to bring professional expertise to their marketing campaigns. Although hiring expert consultants can come at a high price, most vacation rental property investors find that the ROI is well worth the initial expense.

Mike Archer
Mike Archer

Mike has over 17 years of experience in the digital marketing field, beginning his career in-house at one of the nation’s top sporting goods manufacturers, followed by succe...

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