There is no doubt that vacation rentals are much in demand, but it does not mean that if you are one of those long established into this business you can be successful without really marketing yourself. Remember markets are efficient; if there is good demand, we will eventually see competition coming in, which is likely to be making more efforts than existing players so as to be heard louder and clearer than others. Hence it is important to see your brand is sustained and continually endorsed by customers. And to make this happen in a competitive world, you should blow your trumpet as loud as you can.
To be successful, delivering the right product is not sufficient alone; it is also essential that the product is marketed well. Fine execution skill backed by a sound marketing strategy is the key to success when it comes to being profitable in the vacation rental business. Some of the essential elements of a marketing plan / strategy have been discussed below.
Defining the Target Audience
Identifying the right target audience is an essential part of a well designed marketing strategy. This should allow you to optimize your return on the marketing spend that you make, as the success rate of any targeted marketing effort would be much better than a marketing plan that is not selectively targeted.
The attributes that would define the target market include age, location, marital status, income group, etc. To understand and decide on the target audience for you own holiday property do an internal benchmarking against competition and also review the past history to understand the profile of customers who have stayed with you. The key things that you can look to benchmark against competition are your location, pricing, amenities offered and the quality of your furnishings and construction. Once this is done, you would be in a comfortable position to know who your target audience should be.
Build Awareness about your brand and product
There are several ways you can build you awareness among target customers and quite a few and important among these include:
a) Using Social Media -Utilizing social media for marketing has gained significant traction these days. Whether it is large corporate or small business, leveraging social media to communicate with potential customers has become an important element of the marketing plan. Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and the most popular of all Facebook have become an intrinsic part of a corporate communication today. The multiplier effect of a Facebook ‘Like’ or Linkedin ‘Share’ and its impact on the reach is unparalleled as compared to any other form of promotion.
So don’t forget to have a page of your vacation rental on Facebook or Linkedin. You may even upload videos of your properties on YouTube so as to enhance your visibility.
However, you cannot solely rely on social media as a marketing tool. It is essential that you integrate it with other marketing channels. Remember that the role of social media in your marketing plan is to use it as a communication vehicle – It should make your rental reachable to those interested in staying in it and noticeable to those who are not aware of it.
b) Having a website so that you are reachable and searchable – A lot of people, who intend to stay at holiday houses, do a scan on the internet to find out the right place for them. Hence it is crucial that you should have a well designed website that communicates really well about the quality and services that customers can expect if they opt to stay with you. The webpage should carry images and videos that bring forth the most beautiful aspects that define and distinguish your vacation homes. Testimonials / reviews from existing customer posted on your website would be helpful, as this would shape up the confidence of a potential customer looking for a stay in rental property.
To add to the visibility of your website, make sure that your website is listed at the relevant portals so that customers don’t miss to consider you while they are planning for their vacation rental stay.
Besides generating awareness amongst the target audience about your product, the other important thing that is crucial for success is that whenever people are looking for holiday homes, the first name that they should recall is yours.
For a good recall value, it is important that you continually reach out to your target audience. A good way to reach out to them could be Newsletters – You can have a newsletter published weekly or fortnightly. The newsletter can contain topics of interest of potential travelers or customers. You can talk about the new developments in places where you might be owning a vacation rental or just provide them valuable insight into various aspects of travel planning. The newsletter can also carry images of your property or house.
Leveraging Existing Customer Network
It is always much easier and cheaper to retain a customer than get a new one. In the business of vacation rental, it is essential that existing customers are satisfied and happy with your services. A referral from a satisfied customer who has stayed with you is the most effective form of advertisement than any other. You can also reward your customers who provide you a referral. The reward could be anything, a small gift or a gift voucher. Another way to incentivize your existing customers is provide them a discount on subsequent stays at your accommodation. You can also extend the discount scheme to relatives of your existing customers, which will help you broaden your reach and visibility. You should also plan to remain in touch with your existing customers. One special way to stay in touch is to send them e cards on holidays or their special days such as birthdays and anniversary.
So if you are in the mood of turning your gorgeous vacation home into a profitable business do keep these marketing strategies in mind and devise a marketing plan that best meets your specific business requirement.