Last week, I saw a comment on Facebook from a new vacation rental homeowner looking for some advice. She didn't want to use the listing sites (due to the fees), so she figured she would fill out her calendar organically through Facebook, a website, Instagram, etc.
As a digital marketing consultant, I can 100% appreciate this! When I'm working with non-VR businesses, establishing a robust digital presence with these tactics is typically the first plan of attack.
However, one of the first lessons I learned early in my vacation rental business was that less is more when you're getting started. Instead of trying to do everything in year one, I found the low hanging fruit was to go all-in on the listing sites.
Listing sites are a marketplace, meaning they have already done the heavy lifting by bringing a specific audience together.
If you're just getting started with a vacation rental, then this post is for you...
I am going to talk all about how to get your listing fully booked when you are just getting started. You've perhaps listed your vacation rental on an OTA (online travel agent), or perhaps several...
And maybe they're still not driving a significant amount of bookings for you.
However, before you move on to add more things to your list, like a website, or social media, or anything else... I want you to circle back and make sure that your listings are properly optimized.
There are four focus areas to concentrate to maximize the OTAs.
Focus Area #1: Understand Your Ideal Guest
The first area is all about understanding who your idea guest is and what is important to them for their stay.
You may not have a great feel for this right away, but be very attentive to the guests you welcome into your home and take notes on what they like about your home and what they feel was missing in the experience.
Focus Area #2: Write your listing for This Ideal Guest
Once you understand who your ideal guest is, the second focus area is to write your listings for that ideal guest.
You will need to take some time to understand who your guest is, so that you can then write your listing for them, and make sure that you're capturing all the wonderful things about your home that that guest is going to find important.
The key areas when you write your listing that you'll want to focus on the most are your photos, your headline, and your description.
Focus Area #3: Perfect Your Pricing
Then, the third key area is really perfecting your pricing.
You may not get it right right off the bat, and that's okay, but those first few months is a lot of experimentation, a lot of really understanding where your competitors are, and pricing a little bit below them.
If you're new, you don't have the reviews and the social proof to help you command the rates that they're getting, so you want to be about 20-25% below what they're priced at.
Then, you can slowly inch your way up there where your competitors are, after you've secured some great reviews.
Focus Area #4: Put Systems in Place
The fourth key focus area that I would say you want to focus on first is also really getting systems in place.
You'll really want a nice message flow so use those saved messages and those templates so that you can communicate really easily and freely with your guest, and make sure that you're taking care of them from the moment that they first inquire with you, to the checkout day.
It's all about getting those systems in place, and really making sure that you're a great online host before they ever even walk into your home.
If you're new, I know that those first few months, or even year, can be challenging, as it was in my experience.
But stick with it, stay focused, make sure that you really put that effort and concentration into the listing sites first, before you move onto other things.
I think a website, social media and email are all fantastic tactics, but I want your listing sites working for you first, so you're able to generate bookings on autopilot before you move on to some of the tactics that will drive the direct bookings.
If you want to dive even deeper into this topic, I am hosting a free training called “The 3 Insider Tips to Running a Profitable Vacation Rental".
I am going to talk all about how to build, launch, and grow a profitable vacation rental without platform overwhelm, prior marketing experience, or an expensive property manager.
Be sure to register for this FREE TRAINING here!