You can have the most beautiful vacation home in the most desirable location, but it takes more than a fabulous property to make it a success as a rental. Owners need solid marketing strategies for vacation rentals. It should be multi-prong and sustainable. You don’t have to be a vacation rental marketing expert to create a successful vacation rental marketing plan. All it takes is to know what typically works and tailor the techniques for your specific rental.
Create a Picture-Perfect Listing
Marketing a vacation rental begins with an irresistible listing. A successful vacation rental property needs a listing that captures the attention of the guest, holds that attention so they keep reading, and then inspires them to click through to book the home. A listing that really pops usually has these components:
- A descriptive property name/title
- An appealing headline
- A detailed and compelling description
- High-quality, staged photos
- A call-to-action (as simple as “Book today!”)
It’s important to note that the property name/title is not the same as the headline of the listing. The property name is just a few words and it needs to capture the essence of the home. Names like Quiet Mountain Retreat, Ocean View Condo, and Sun Valley Ski Chalet are good examples.
The headline is longer and typically follows a formula like Adjective + Property Type+ w/+Top Features. Following this particular formula, an example headline is: Quiet 3BR Mountain Retreat Close to Trails. After the headline, the descriptive part of the listing follows. Don’t be afraid to be specific, point out unique features, and show guests how the space can be used. At the end of the listing, include a call-to-action. This encourages the guest to click through and book the property now. The final aspect, but one of the most important for your vacation rental or airbnb marketing strategy, is the photos.
High-Quality Photos Are a Must for Marketing
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? In our digital world, it may be worth a lot more than a thousand words. We live in a society obsessed with images. It’s hard not to be when highly-advanced cameras are at our fingertips 24/7 courtesy of our smartphones. Even the most inexperienced “photographer” can produce a good picture with a little help from filters and editing tools, also available right on the phone.
However, for vacation rental marketing, it’s advisable to get professional photos taken. Opt for a professional to capture the right angles and show off the best possible images of your rental. These pictures can then be used for a variety of marketing, including as part of the listing.
Not all your photos have to be professional. Snap a few staged shots around the home—a throw blanket artfully strewn across a chair with a closed book, a steaming mug of coffee on the patio table in the early-morning light, or capture the sunset from the cabin’s back deck.
Note: When using professionally-shot photos be sure to have full permission to use those images for any and all of your marketing. Add photo credit/attribution where needed or required by the photographer.
Choose a Management Company with a Marketing Department
Make the decision not to go alone. Choose a management company with a marketing department that has both the resources and the technology to promote your rental property. Working with a management company, like Casago, you are never alone. You’re backed by professionals who make sure your vacation rental listing shows up not only on their site, but on other platforms, like Airbnb, VRBO, booking.com, HomeAway, Google Vacation Rental, HomeToGo, TripAdviser, Expedia, and more.
Working with a management company like Casago also means you have access to a property manager and a local team of professionals (ideal if you live a distance from the rental). We have relationships with local real estate agents that can be helpful if/when you’d like to rent the property out long-term.
List on Multiple Sites
It’s essential when marketing a vacation rental to list the property on multiple sites. The broader the reach, the more eyes are on the listing. More eyes on the listing means a higher booking rate and earning potential. One of the easiest ways to do this is to work with a management company like Casago. This type of partnership alleviates the stress and worry about getting the property listed on multiple sites. Working with a company like Casago also means access to insider pro tips for how to enhance the listing for specific sites like Airbnb.
Did you know that Airbnb allows both long and short descriptions? While the ideal length for a vacation property listing is usually about 700 to 1,000 characters (about 108 to 200 words), sites often have specific rules or word counts. For example, Airbnb has a maximum character limit of 500 for their short descriptions and they don’t allow emojis in titles. VRBO usually recommends listing descriptions that fall between 700 to 1,000 characters (industry standard).
Utilize Social Media
You can’t talk about any type of marketing today without discussing how to utilize and maximize social media. Every business can benefit from some level of social media presence, even if it’s minimal. Guests looking at vacation rentals are online and if you’re not there to greet them, you’re losing out on bookings.
Statistics from the Pew Research Group show that seven out of ten Americans “use social media to connect with one another, engage in news content, share information, and entertain themselves.” Studies have shown that Facebook and YouTube typically are the most-widely used platforms by the population as a whole. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok,Pinterest, and LinkedIn are also used widely, but usage may vary by demographic.
For guests searching vacation rentals, Facebook and Instagram are top choices. However, you may find guests gravitating toward a well-curated Pinterest page or enjoying a TikTok post as well.
Do you have to have a presence on every social media platform? No, but choose wisely. It’s important to know the type of guests your rental property typically draws. Do most of your guests use Instagram or are they more comfortable with Facebook? Cater to both groups easily by linking your accounts. With a Facebook business page, you can schedule regular posts for both Facebook and Instagram through the Meta planner and publishing tools.
Join a Facebook Group for Vacation Rental Owners
Because Facebook is still a widely used social media site by a large demographic, nearly three billion active users worldwide (statista.com), it’s helpful to know there are multiple ways to use it as a marketing tool. While you should definitely have a separate business page for your rental property, also consider joining a few groups specific to vacation rentals.
You can find groups for people who love to travel and prefer to book privately-owned vacation rentals. Being a part of these groups can give you powerful insight into what guests want and their ever-changing needs. It can also be beneficial to join one of the Facebook groups specifically for vacation rental owners. These groups share information about the industry, marketing tips, and offer each support.
We’ve talked a lot about digital marketing, but it’s important not to overlook good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Don’t be shy about letting your friends, relatives, coworkers, and others know about your fabulous vacation rental. When your coworker asks how you spent the holiday, tell him about your beachfront property and the fun you had relaxing on the white sands.
Let your mom or sister talk about the property to their friends and colleagues, and even post it to their personal social media accounts. You’ll be surprised at how far and fast the word gets out.
Word-of-mouth marketing can also be done online. This is different from the curated posts you share directly to your business (the rental property) accounts. Share a casual post from your personal Facebook page with a picture of you at the property enjoying some down time. Add a lighthearted comment like, “Oh, and yes, we do rent our condo, so message me if you’re looking for a getaway.” You can make similar posts from your personal Instagram, Twitter, or other accounts as well.
The key to word-of-mouth marketing is to make it non-sales-y and casual.
Reviews are part of marketing because they have influence over potential guests. Part of your vacation rental marketing plan should include ways to encourage reviews and how to use those reviews to increase bookings.
The simplest and usually effective way to get a guest to leave a review, is to just ask. Make it easy and always be polite. A follow-up email after a guest’s stay should thank them for being a guest and then ask if they’d take the time to leave a short review. Include a link for the review so they don’t have to struggle with how and where to leave it.
You can include snippets of reviews in your social media posts, but don’t ever use names of the guests (respect privacy). If you do get a negative review, don’t respond angrily. Be professional and let the guest know you will look into the issue.
Many Ways to Market A Vacation Rental
Vacation rental marketing needs a multi-prong approach to be truly effective. What may work for some owners and properties may not work for yours. However, working with an owner-centric property management company like Casago can eliminate a lot of marketing guesswork for you as an owner.