With 80 million monthly ad postings, 50 billion page views per month and over 60 million users, Craigslist is still the number one classifieds website in the US. Since its inception in the late 1990s, many vacation rental owners and managers have been listing their properties on the website in order to generate leads and bookings.
But, is using Craigslist to market vacation rentals still an effective strategy to get results? Let’s take a look at some of the potential pros and cons to using Craigslist for your vacation rental marketing.
Pro #1: It’s free
In most locations, advertising your vacation rental on Craigslist comes at little to no cost. And if the last 20 years are anything to go by, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Signing up for a free account will allow you to post your vacation rental adverts complete with photos, descriptions, amenities and map details – all without the price tag.
Pro #2: You can direct traffic to your website
As well as online travel agencies like Airbnb or social networks like Facebook, Craigslist is yet another resource you can utilize for advertising your rental properties. Best of all, you can post a link back to your vacation rental website in your adverts which will help send more traffic to your website, generate more inquiries and win you more direct bookings.
What’s more, you can also add your email address into your listing, so some inquiries can come straight to your inbox. As well as being able to filter out any unsuitable requests that come in via email directly, collecting this database of potential guest email addresses in the first place is a great way to improve your marketing efforts in the future!
Pro #3: More guests will see you
Even two decades after its founding, Craigslist’s numbers are stronger than ever. Craigslist currently boasts around 60 million users in total! Posting your rental alongside other adverts based in your local area will help you appear in front of some of the visitors who are searching specifically for your location. And with any luck, you’ll be on your way to receiving a sizeable portion of those 50 billion monthly page views!
Con #1: It’s a scammers paradise
Increasingly, owners and guests alike are becoming victims of vacation rental scams when they post or respond to ads placed on Craigslist. That’s why it’s important to keep your wits about you when you receive inquiries through the classified platform. Also, to keep your account safe from phishing attempts, make sure you always use a different, secure password for every online site you create an account with.
Con #2: Quantity doesn’t mean quality
In a 2014 study, investigators Boeing and Waddell scraped around 11 million real estate listings from Craigslist and analyzed them to find patterns and trends about the US rental housing market. While the study was focused on metropolitan housing markets rather than vacation rentals, a big takeaway from the research is that only 1.5 million of the 11 million sample was usable after duplicates and those without clear pricing or square footage were removed.
Long story short, users have huge amounts of low-quality rental advertisements and spam postings to sift through before they find genuine listings that could be of interest to them.
Con #3: Posts have short shelf-life
Unlike your vacation rental website or other listings on OTAs, your Craigslist ads will need renewing and reposting frequently if you want them to stay active. In some of the major cities, Craigslist classified ads will expire after seven days, but in the majority of other cities you have up to 45 days before your ad will run out and need renewing.
For rental managers who have a lot of properties on their books, advertising on Craigslist can be a lot of effort for very little result, especially if you’re in some of the top cities and have to update all those listings weekly.
While there are definite benefits to using Craigslist for advertising your vacation rental, there are also some downsides to bear in mind. Have you had success using Craigslist classified ads? Or do you have any steer-clear stories to share? Let us know in the comments!