There’s much buzz around why we call it Black Friday in the first place. Some people attribute it to the stock market crash in 1869, while others think it’s the idea of numbers going from red to black.
The term Black Friday was first used by police officers in Philadelphia in the 1950s. The day after Thanksgiving, the city was always crowded with people doing their holiday shopping and others visiting for the Army-Navy football game being held on the weekend.
While it resulted in major sales for the shops in Philadelphia, this chaotic day also caused traffic officers to take 12-hour shifts in order to organize the wave of people roaming through the city. Because of this, the exhausted officers began to call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” Over time, Black Friday has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
How will Black Friday look different this year?
Last year’s Black Friday looked different than usual. Many shoppers were hesitant to congregate in large crowds or partake in the early-bird rush. As a result, Cyber Monday was championed in 2020. The world leaned into virtual offers and shied away from in-person bargains.
While arguably a bad thing for product-oriented businesses, this was actually a big win for vacation rentals. Short-term rental owners offer an experience, an intangible thing, making the virtual world its main space for selling. With shoppers finding a deeper comfort in buying online, especially during Black Friday, vacation rental owners can wield this to their advantage.
This year is going to be a good one for vacation rental businesses. Owners will not only have the opportunity to market their vacation rental online, but they can also aim to attract a higher-budget clientele. While the main goal of Black Friday is to find a bargain, that doesn’t mean people aren’t willing to splurge. Many guests haven’t cashed in on their revenge travel yet and still have the extra money in their savings from a year of staying at home. While Black Friday is a time to offer deals, you’ll also be able to comfortably sell luxurious packages to guests without them haggling over the price tag.
Luxury travelers will be a large audience to target this Black Friday, but they’re not the only ones scouring the web come November. With the rise of ‘workationers’ and domestic travelers, you’ll find good potential for your business. These audiences, in particular, are going to be heavily targeted this year, so make sure you’ve got a solid Black Friday vacation rental marketing strategy in place.
Black Friday Marketing: Advice for Vacation Rental Owners
With a little bit of help, you can achieve a full calendar of reservations for off-season dates by taking advantage of this seasonal promotion.
Compete with top hotel brands and ensure guests find your irresistible offers when you take into account these ten pieces of advice to help your bookings soar.
1. Plan Out the Whole Cyber Weekend
Cyber Monday is known as the 24-hour online shopping event that takes place the first Monday after Thanksgiving. No longer just a one-day event, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have merged to create Cyber Weekend, with offers lasting at least the duration of the US Thanksgiving weekend, if not longer. Although Black Friday was initially focused on in-store shopping, the concept is now changing as more people choose to shop online. The result? A whole weekend dedicated to online offers!
That said, don’t just focus on Black Friday. Create a marketing plan for the entire weekend and make sure to include sneak peeks during the earlier weeks of November to build momentum. A well-balanced mix will successfully increase the traffic and reservations of your vacation rental.
2. Prepare an email blast in advance
One of the best ways to build excitement in the run-up to Black Friday is with an effective email campaign. Whether you have thousands of newsletter subscribers or just a humble list of past guests, sending an email at the right time can do a lot to drive bookings.
Campaign Monitor found that last year, most emails were sent at 9 and 10 am on Black Friday.
It’s a great idea to plan, write, and schedule your email campaigns ahead of the big day(s) for optimum results. Here are some of the different emails you can think about preparing and scheduling in advance: Black Friday Cyber Monday special offer announcement; teaser email showing specific dates and their discount prices; 24 hours until sale ends reminder; sale extended another 24 hours announcement.
Saying that your subscribers or contacts’ inboxes will be full on the days before Black Friday is an understatement. In this case, you’re not only racing against your direct competitors but also every other company that is trying to capture the attention of your target. Catch the viewer’s attention by adding unique elements to your emails such as videos, GIFS, and interactive features.
Don’t forget to personalize your emails and create different campaign sets depending on the audience in question. In other words, you don’t want to send a huge discount offer to a guest who has recently booked in the last week – or they might just ask you for a refund!
Send reminder emails too, as during this time period guests receive tons of emails. Create a promotional content calendar to help you plan and keep track. It would also be a good idea to calculate at what time you should send the emails. Most emails are scheduled for around 9 am or 10 am.
3. Reuse last year’s landing page
If you’ve already taken part in Black Friday festivities before, it’s time to dig out your old landing page. Instead of creating a new one from scratch for this year’s promotional activities, utilize your previous year’s campaign page, and simply change the content.
Most important of all, if you have the year written anywhere (such as “2019” in the page title), make sure you update this to bring it into the present day.
Reusing an existing Black Friday landing page will not only ensure you keep all the SEO juice you’ve built up over the past 365 days, but will also help you get the campaign off the ground more quickly and efficiently.
4. Implement an on-site countdown timer
When Black Friday comes around, there’s one trick that almost always makes buyers (in this case, travelers) make that impulse purchase.
A countdown timer.
This past year in particular has seen a huge increase in the number of guests who are window shopping vacation rentals in order to get the best deal around.
So, naturally, when you add a countdown timer of how long guests have left to take advantage of the promotion – it will help persuade them into booking their stay more quickly.
As well as sharing creative Black Friday posts, this campaign is an opportune moment to make the most of some of the other tools social media sites offer, such as remarketing on Facebook or Instagram.
Retargeting your past website visitors in this way will not only make your brand omnipresent on their social channels during the event weekend, but it will also drive more visits to your website, and with any luck, more bookings!
Use free design tools like Canva to create social media graphics that look professional and catchy. By following the same theme for all your social media platforms, you will ensure a uniform look that is especially appealing for any followers you might have on multiple apps. Don’t be afraid to use your brand’s personality or a touch of humor in your posts to make them stand out from the crowd.
Finally, consider teaming up with a travel influencer to promote your vacation rental through an Instagram competition. These partnerships can be quite pricey so weigh out the pros and cons for your specific vacation rental business before diving into it.
6. Activate online booking
In 2016, Cyber Monday saw a 21% increase in online travel bookings. If you still don’t have online booking capability on your vacation rental website, you should absolutely think about getting it before Black Friday.
Online, instant bookings have revolutionized the industry in recent years and will be an essential component of your Black Friday marketing campaign. So get ahead of the game (and quite possibly, your competitors) by activating online booking.
If your website software doesn’t yet allow you to accept online bookings, you can easily add an embeddable booking widget to transform the guest experience on your site.
Remember: If your offers are only available for a certain time period (i.e. in your off-peak season), block off the high season portion of your calendar in advance. Just don’t forget to unblock it once Black Friday Cyber Monday is over!
7. Offer something VIP
Exclusive offers are a big selling point for Black Friday. Moreover, it’s a great way to make your existing customers feel special. Nothing is better than hosting repeat guests for a number of reasons. Some of the advantages of repeat guests:
They’re more likely to leave you reviews
They refer your property to their friends
You already know they’re responsible guests
They’re easier to sell to
And the best part? They tend to spend more during the holiday rush than new customers. According to Adobe, “first-time customers spend about 17% more per transaction during the peak season. While this is great news, your repeat customers spend 25% more per transaction.”
You can get in on these earnings by offering something special for your repeat customers. By giving them first access to your summer season dates or additional promo codes for being loyal guests, you can actually earn more.
8. Create your own type of “in-store doorbuster”
Traditionally, Black Friday was a time for post-Thanksgiving goers to line up at the crack of dawn for in-person sales. Thanks to the digital sphere and a big push from COVID-19, customers are going online to get their best deals, but that doesn’t mean in-person deals don’t exist.
There’s still a large majority of people that make Black Friday an event and shop from store to store. As stated earlier, we’ll likely see a continuation of the domestic travel craze in 2022, which means you should go where these customers are. Shopping malls are a hot spot during Black Friday, so don’t be afraid to go traditional by using print marketing tactics like flyers, handouts, and business cards to reel in your local guests.
9. Partnerships are key
While we’re talking about domestic travelers, don’t forget to team up with domestic partners! Many shoppers are looking for the perfect gift to give for the holidays this Black Friday, so why not sell them a full experience?
Partnering with local businesses could give you the opportunity to sell guests and gift-givers a whole travel experience. Create the ultimate travel bundle by joining forces with local masseuses, restaurants, photographers, or even attractions. Not only do you get free press from the other businesses, but you also increase your chances of getting a booking.
10. Give a free gift with purchase
Remember that Black Friday shoppers want to feel like they “scored” something, whether that’s a buy-one-get-one offer or a freebie. Vacation rental discounts and bonuses make guests feel good about their purchase and lay the foundation for a gleaming future review.
Free gifts can be an easy way to please your customers at a minimal cost. Consider what your guests might like or what might be best for your vacation rental theme. If you own a beach house, you might want to offer complimentary branded towels for them to take home. Going back to the point about partnerships, you could even offer to throw in a restaurant or winery voucher to seal their experience.
Don’t forget to take advantage of deals yourself
You may be entirely focused on planning your marketing strategies and deals for Black Friday but you should also keep in mind that this is also a terrific time for you to buy things for your vacation rental. Whether you need new appliances or decor, make a list and keep an eye out for special offers during the month of November.
Cyber Weekend campaigns can be an excellent way to drive traffic, boost reservations, and create awareness about your vacation rental business. There are many more actions you can undertake to make your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing campaign a success – these are just the basics to help you get started! We’d love to hear how you get on in the comments.
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