Marketing Your Vacation Rental, Part 2

In our previous blog post we discussed how to create a listing for your vacation rental that will stand out from the pack and attract guests. However, just having a catchy title, a great description, and professional-looking photos is not enough. With so many vacation rentals on the professional listing sites, you need to be proactive in promoting your property.

The main place that travelers search for and book their arrangements is online, so naturally this should also be the place that you focus most of your marketing efforts.  Listing services like VRBO offer ways to increase your listing’s visibility, for a price. Purchasing a higher subscription level or paying to temporarily boost your property with a “special offer” or “featured listing” status can greatly increase the number of people who will see your listing, especially if it’s located in a crowded market. But not everyone has the budget to spend on these services, and while more viewers might get your more inquiries, it doesn’t guarantee more bookings.

Spam
The only good Spam is in a can. Source: Flickr user freezelight

One way to promote your property that doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything is to utilize social media. It’s free to set up an account with the major services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. With so many people checking in on these sites daily, it’s practically a given that you should have a social media presence for potential guests to verify your professionalism.  Social media users generally don’t appreciate being spammed with blatant advertising, but if you post a good mix of interesting links, funny pictures, and some subtle self-promotion, your base of followers will start to grow. Who knows, you might even go viral!

The most direct way to reach potential guests is with targeted emails. Start compiling a list of email addresses from everyone who has ever stayed with you or even sent you an inquiry. Using a service like Vertical Response will allow you to create a promotional offer or informational newsletter and send it to select groups of people. You can also track how many people open the email, click on included links, unsubscribe from your list, etc., which lets you know just  how effective your email campaign is. Targeted email can be a powerful tool, but should not be used carelessly; if too many people report you as spam, you risk getting your service suspended.

Not all marketing needs to be online. There are still plenty of traditional print mediums where you can advertise your vacation rental. Local visitor’s bureaus and chambers of commerce publish city guides that often include advertisements for short-term accommodations. Websites like Club Flyers offer an affordable option for printing flyers and brochures that you can place in local visitor’s centers. And don’t forget about one of the most reliable forms of advertising: the good old business card. Make sure you always have a few on hand to turn the next stranger you strike up a conversation with into a potential guest.

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