When I became a vacation rental homeowner almost five years ago, I was a full-time working mama with a toddler and a baby on the way. Sleep deprivation had become the new norm so I figured sure, why not add another job to my plate?!
I decided to jump into the exciting world of vacation rental home-ownership feet first and I had a LOT to learn. I already had a strong background in digital marketing which helped, but looking back, I still spent too much time focusing on the wrong areas.
Our cabin at Lake of the Ozarks, MO:
We all could use more hours in the day and if you're just getting started with listing a vacation rental on Airbnb or VRBO, you are likely juggling a full-time job and trying to squeeze in some time whenever you can to improve your listing.
Here are the top 3 items I would prioritize to get your vacation rental marketing in tip-top shape as quickly as possible:
You have heard this before, but photos, photos, photos! As much as I preach this to all of my clients, it actually took me longer than I would like to admit to get some photos I was proud of.
In fact, for the first six months, I continued to use the photos my parents had been using (my husband and I co-own the rental with my parents). They were dark, grainy and completely uninviting. I knew they weren't good, but I didn't prioritize this the way I should have.
If you can make the investment to to hire a professional photographer, I always recommend this first. You can search 'vacation rental photographer' or 'real estate photographer' in your area for someone that specializes in this type of photography.
However, maybe you're still making improvements to the home, you're in a season that doesn't capture your home at its best, or your just not ready for the investment (although it IS one of the best investments you can make).
I get it, if the timing isn't quite right, at least make sure you get some great shots with your Smartphone. This 4 minute video from Homeaway is a great way to get started with taking your own photos.
Each day I probably browse through hundreds of listings on VRBO and Airbnb and I am consistently surprised at how many bad headlines there are out there.
A headline is one of your best opportunities to get that click from the feed and yet so many headlines out there are lackluster.
You have some serious competition and you need a killer headline to stand out among the crowd. If you want that booking, you first need a thumb-stopping headline to get them to click on your listing.
You can follow these guidelines to give your headline a quick makeover!
I truly believe you can never have enough rave reviews! If you're just getting started, aim to get those first three as quickly as possible and if you've been listed for a while but you're having a hard time building your review count, take a look at these quick steps:
Set expectations at the beginning: Let your guest know upon check-in that your end goal is a 5 star review. Have them contact you at any time if their expectations are not met so you can address it as quickly as possible.
Invite friends and family: Post on Facebook about a great friends & family rate you're offering for a limited time. Have them book through the listing site that you most need reviews and provide them with the link they need to write you a review after their stay.
Send a post check-out message: A few hours after your guest checks-out, send them a message thanking them for their stay. Use this opportunity to invite them to review your property and let them know how much these reviews mean to your business.
Note: If you suspect the guest will leave a negative review, do not send this message. Ensure you get their feedback privately instead.
These three areas are key to your vacation rental marketing success. While there are probably hundreds of things you feel you could be doing to improve performance, start with these steps first and then address that never-ending to do list!
If you’re interested in implementing a marketing strategy for your vacation rental home to increase bookings and vacation rental income, learn more about Fully Booked here or head over to our Services page and book a free consultation. We would love to talk to you and learn more about your vacation rental business!