Attracting all kinds of guests is beneficial for your vacation rental business, from couples and families to solo travelers and fitness and wellness travelers. But what about visitors whose native language isn’t English?
Last year nearly 80 million international travelers visited the US for vacation. The top countries of origin were Canada and Mexico, with other countries such as Germany, France, and Japan making the list. Among the most popular cities to visit were New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC.
How can your vacation rental appeal to the growing number of international visitors? Your property doesn’t have to be situated in a popular tourist destination or by the beach or be a luxurious villa and pool. As there is a lot of competition in the vacation rental industry, and you’ll need to implement different marketing strategies. We’ve created 11 simple ways to advertise to foreign travelers.
1. Translate and make communication as easy as possible
No.1 tip to getting more bookings from international travelers: advertise in their native language and facilitate communication for both you and your potential guests. Translate listings, descriptions, and any other content related to your vacation rental into various languages.
If you don’t have a vacation rental website, create one which gives you the option of automatically translating into many languages. If your listing is published in an online travel agency, translate information about the property, including reviews. You want potential guests to be aware of the excellent customer service your vacation rental offers. Translate content through an acquaintance who can speak these languages or go through a professional translator. While it may seem costly initially, in the long term you’ll have more reservations.
Having a multilingual website will give you the chance to connect with more travelers around the world and boost bookings from international guests.
2. Use simple language
What would happen if a guest lands on your website or listing and doesn’t speak or understand any of the languages you have already listed?
If you use basic, clear and easy to understand terminology in your description, the user will be able to apprehend it. If they can’t, they could always resort to translating it online, through Google translator for example. If you use colloquialisms or local expressions, it will be harder for the traveler to understand, and therefore they may resort to reserving a different accommodation which offers clearer information.
3. What if they send me booking requests or questions in another language?
Many property owners worry about receiving inquiries in a foreign language, because no matter how much they translate their website and listing if someone decides to interact with them in a foreign language, they simply don’t know how to reply.
If you don’t have a translator handy that can help you out quickly, as you need to respond at the same speed you do with English inquiries, fear no more! Free online translators are your new best friend.
Or you can even get one step ahead. Do you know what kind of questions guests tend to ask beforehand? Answer your most frequently asked questions, translate them and have them ready at your disposal just in case someone asks “how can I arrive at your property from the airport?” Include FAQs on your vacation rental website too.
4. More pictures = less questions
If a language barrier exists between you and a foreign guest, don’t leave room for confusion or doubts. Showcase everything clearly through your photos. Have the maximum amount of pictures possible on your website and other listing sites, and ensure that the images are professional and display all amenities included. Consequently, there will be no need to exchange words.
Above all, show the layout of each room, so guests can see what kind of beds are on offer for example, how much space there is, if the staircase has a handrail, if the property is gated, etc. After all, photos are understood in all languages!
5. Advertise your listing on their favorite websites
In addition to having your own website, advertise your vacation rental on websites used by international travelers, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, Booking.com, and Expedia. These are just some of the most globally used sites. The more listings you have, the greater exposure you’ll get. To that end, you’ll have a higher chance that your property will be noticed. On some listing lists, there is no fee required to just advertise a home, only if there is a reservation. Be sure to compare rates and fees of each vacation rental website beforehand.
In order to sync calendars and avoid double bookings, you’ll need to have a channel manager in place. A channel manager enables you to manage all the listings of the same property or properties from one place. If you want to change the description, update photos or if someone has booked, it will update automatically across all the listings sites.
6. Offer secure booking payment options
At times international guests tend to have more fear in possible scams, as they may not necessarily have a good understanding of a website or do not know much about the country where they are spending their vacations. To avoid last-minute drop-outs, offer various secure payment methods.
Start by making a website with SSL encryption – this means, have ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL. This is just a way of showing the user that your vacation rental website is trustworthy. Offer a secure payment method for both you and the guest. Paying with a credit card not only is the most commonly used payment method, but also the safest and most trusted. Plus, it prevents online fraud.
7. Be aware of their needs
Foreign guests may require different things compared to domestic travelers. They are unaware of which supermarkets offer what, as it differs in their home country. By offering a few more basic amenities, you will differentiate from your competitors.
Think of the common travel illnesses and prepare a first aid kit accordingly. Perhaps they are not used to local cuisine? Drinking tap water has lead to stomach problems? They’ve injured their back due to carrying a heavy suitcase? They got a cold from the AC on the plane? Have everything ready for every possible occasion, include translations or well known international brands, they will appreciate it.
8. Research customs in other cultures
What are the habits in other countries? Perhaps some need a hot cup of tea before bed, or some do not feel at ease if there are no slippers to wear inside the property. Get to know your international travelers and adapt to their needs, offering them a more homey atmosphere.
Keep in mind the time difference, especially when communicating prior to their arrival. Don’t expect a reply at 9:00 am if there is a 7 hour time difference.
9. What if they’ve forgotten something?
Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and imagine the same journey traveling abroad. What could ruin your vacation if you left something behind at home? Include chargers, universal adapters, hairdryers, and even food for the first day. Your guests could arrive late and be hungry or have jetlag and stay up all night. Most importantly, make sure your property has WIFI! International travelers have to pay extra to roam abroad.
10. Have a clear and professional brand name
Having a clear and consistent brand name on your website and any other listing is a way of telling travelers that they can trust you. It’s a well-known fact: brands with a clear-cut image provide a greater sense of security for consumers. There are many tools available online which enable you to make a logo maker for free.
In addition, it will also demonstrate that you are an expert in the area, as international travelers will want advice, suggestions, and recommendations from someone who knows the city. You can do this by writing your own content (with translations) on your social media or blog.
11. Prepare a guide on your city and country
Whether you decide to publish it on your listing or blog, or leave it in the property, a welcome book guide with crucial information about the area, city and country is the key to attracting international tourists. Not only will it be a useful tool for them, but it will add points to the experience you’re offering them, as well as giving them a better understanding of the area.
What can you include in a guide for the US or vacation rental’s city? Here are a few examples:
- Local things to do in the area
- A handy guide for commercial opening hours
- Emergency telephone numbers (ambulance, police, firefighters) and local taxi numbers
- Street parking guidelines, how to throw out trash and recycle
- General customs, meal times, bank holidays, traditions, ways of greeting, how to tip
- Useful websites and apps, such as Uber, or Doordash
- Maps with the distance from your property to points of interest
- How to get around on public transport, how to ask for a taxi, how to get to and from the airport
- Where to exchange local currency
- Tourist passes, museums, monuments, points of interest
- Vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free restaurants, nearby supermarkets and pharmacies.
All in all, in order to receive from reservations from international tourists you’ll have to adapt and translate your website, as well as your welcome guide and property. It may seem like a lot of work, but the benefits will make it all worthwhile in the long-term!