Increase Vacation Rental Bookings–Become an Expert in 7 Simple Steps
By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher VRTG
Sure. You bet I want to increase my vacation rental bookings! But how? As vacation rental home owners or property managers, we want more bookings! Our continuous question is how can I increase my vacation rental bookings? What are the ways?
As vacation rental manager for years while putting my daughter through college as a single mom, I found ways!
Need some extra money for college tuition? To take a vacation? Or just for pocket-money? Then, implement these incremental steps, and you will be amazed how you will increase your vacation rental bookings. The effect of these steps is cumulative, so as you continue doing them, your vacation rental bookings will increase even faster. Implementing just one of these steps could increase your bookings by 10 percent or even more over time.
Seven Marketing Steps to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings
STEP ONE–Increase Booking Odds: When you start renting short term properties, you will first need to sign up with the ‘big boys,” Air BnB, Bookings.com, Home-Away, FindRentals.com, Flip Key, and VRBO. But soon after that, to increase vacation rental bookings, your quest is to get vacationers away from the big boys. As quickly as you can, strive to distract shoppers away from other choices! The more choices a traveler has, the less likely he will choose yours! Increase your booking odds. So get them over to your own website, even if it’s just a simple vacation rental website. If you are a professional property manager, you will already have one. Set up an auto-responder e-mail from all your listings to send the inquiring travelers directly to your website, and a toll-free reservations number. Build your own website, or hire someone to build a simple vacation rental website if you are a property owner and do not have one. If you are not ready for this, start a Facebook business page.
STEP TWO–Collect E-Mails: The big vacation rental listing websites send inquiries from motivated travelers. However, if you do not take some action to create a relationship with interested parties, that valuable info stays with their site. But you can collect it. Create a habit and a system to save email addresses from those who inquire or book your property. Make two separate emailing lists–one for those who have inquired, and one for those who have booked your properties. If you are a beginner at creating email lists, set up a free account at www.MailChimp.com. Many people are “window-shopping,” and you will want to capture their information with a strategy to book some of them later. Building an e-mail list is part of starting to grow your customer base.
Build a Customer Base
STEP THREE–Offer Discounts to Inquiring, Returning & Referred Guests: Be careful about offering discounts. You could simply be giving money away. Instead, make them strategic discounts. I found the best time to offer discounts is in January and February, when 50% or more of the market books their yearly vacation. I captured those who were planning ahead! In this way, I filled half of my calendar in the first two-three months of the year. This is a strategic discount. Last minute discounts are not strategic, because many others are also giving last-minute discounts, which reduces the attraction.
Watch your booking patterns to determine when to give discounts to stimulate extra bookings. Constantly build your e-mail list from inquires coming from the major vacation rental listing sites. Next, send out email newsletters using Mail Chimp or other email services (AWeber, Icontact, Mail Poet). Connect with those who have expressed interest or may want to re-book to your vacation rental home. When you do, you have significantly reduced the competition and choices, and leveraged pre-qualified interest. Build your customer base from inquires and bookings and boost your vacation rental bookings by communicating with your growing customer base.
Find a Vacation Rental Specialty Niche
STEP FOUR–Market Segmentation Think creatively about your vacation rental location and unique benefits. Market to that segment. For example, if your property is ocean front, market to surfers; or artists who want to paint beach scenery. This involves connecting with special interests to establish your vacation home as a preferred accommodation. Once a few book your property, word will spread to bring other niche guests from that “interest group.” The Vacation Rental Travel Guide suggests 10 different vacation rental niches. See them for ideas of different niches you may reach. Appealing to specific niches may capture more vacation rental bookings for the right fit. These are bookings that can be closed before the big listing sites send to the competition and many other choices.
Offer Concierge Services to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings
STEP FIVE–Offer Specialty Services: Travelers make decisions for unexpected, and even unknown reasons. As many of us know, most vacation rental listing websites send only inquiries; and we must close the bookings ourselves! With many choices of vacation rentals, it is a good idea to offer extra services. One of my guests booked a vacation property because it included airport pick-up with a translator. If your property is in a foreign country, extra service could be a key factor. Luxurious vacation homes often connect with a local massage therapist who makes house calls. For example, I worked with one vacation rental owner who set up a massage therapy room with massage table. Making these services available to your niche guest can make the difference whether they book with you or not. Offering concierge services can definitely boost your vacation rental bookings.
Soft Sell Marketing Works!
STEP SIX–Social Media Marketing: I know, I know. Not another thing to do on the Internet! However, let’s face the facts. The Internet is a standard way of doing business now. Some industries are more Internet-based than others. The vacation rental business is highly Internet-based. Therefore, connecting on the Internet can attract attention to increase your vacation rental bookings. To start with social media, first of all, if you have not done so already, open a Facebook account.
Start simply and slowly. Once you have opened a Facebook personal account, create a Facebook business page. Finally, open a Pinterest or Instagram account. Instagram is a mobile-based social media. Pinterest is desktop-based. Hundreds of social medias are available. Yet, these are the most effective for marketing vacation rentals. Inform people of specials, quotes from happy guests, and news and info from your area. Seems like it is best stay generic, and avoid hard sales pitches. Then, lead people from social media to your main site. Once on your site, they will find detailed information. They may contact you or book directly from your website. Use social media to increase your vacation rental bookings and income.
What is Publicity?
STEP SEVEN–The VRTG Gold Seal: Publicity is a much overlooked marketing tool. Consequently, most property managers do not understand its value. Publicity is media coverage. Keep in mind, vacation rental publicity does not always yield immediate bookings, but it can! Marketing, advertising, and publicity is a symphony of exposures to gain trust. You may reap publicity benefits with a review published in The Vacation Rental Travel Guide. Vacationers have written to VRTG to say they have booked a property because of a review published on our site. We therefore suggest you use the VRTG gold seal to help close bookings. See our page about the VRTG Gold Seal for more details.
The VRTG Seals Creates credibility: In your communications, include the VRTG GOLD SEAL and link to the review on the VRTG Website. Say, “Please see professional review about this property in The Vacation Rental Travel Guide.” As a result, this does three things. This sends them away from the competition. This also engages them in detail about your property, Finally, like icing on the cake, this gold seal provides you a credibility edge to book your property over others. Use the VRTG Gold Seal to increase your vacation rental bookings.
Deborah Nelson is the Author and Publisher of The Vacation Rental Travel Guide Series. She is also a passionate and writer and traveler.
Publicity, Visibility & Credibility Equal More Bookings,
Let’s face it. Guests are comforted and impressed by awards. When we go to a restaurant or hotel and see certificates and awards, we are reassured. Similarly, a vacation home featured in a travel guide creates visibility, credibility, and draws new bookings.
Many property owners are turning the VRTG gold seal into gold! Click to see how Lauren Berger does it! How can your property be included in the Vacation Rental Travel Guide?
Fill out the application to be listed in the book, and to be considered for a review. If you need help filling out the application below, contact us.