Not so long ago, there was only one option that appealed to the luxury travel market: high-end hotels that came with a matching price tag.
Nowadays, the game has changed. And due to the growing popularity of celebrities such as Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga opting to spend their vacations in luxury rented properties, this new breed of guests is increasingly choosing vacation rentals over the Ritz-Carlton and mansions over the Mandarin Oriental.
But what exactly can vacation rental owners do to help their property appeal to the more luxurious type of traveler? We’ve helped to define what luxury travel is and how to market your vacation rental to luxury travelers.
What makes a vacation rental “luxury”?
Let’s start with this simple question: how do you make your vacation rental appear luxurious? The modern high-end traveler can see right through the knock-off furnishings or faux-Van Gogh. While appearance helps, it’s not everything. There are three core elements that set a luxury vacation rental apart from the rest.
If you’re trying to book the top 1%, you can’t advertise to the other 99%. Your vacation rental needs to exude exclusivity. Luxury travelers want to feel a sense of uniqueness in their vacation rental experience. That is, after all, why they’ve opted for a vacation rental instead of a standard hotel.
Take the example of the clothing industry. What’s the difference between a mass-produced graphic tee and a hand-selected summer collection? One feels special, while the other is generic. Vacation rentals are no different. Luxury guests want to feel that your property pays special attention to the guest selection process. If you’re targeting such a particular niche, your guests should reflect this.
Once you’ve selected the guests for your property, it’s time to let them know that you’ve carefully crafted their stay. Many high-end guests work with a travel agent or trip designer to coordinate their stay, so use this point of contact to customize as best you can. Some important questions to ask might include:
Will there be any special events taking place?
Any food requests, allergies, or dietary restrictions?
What do these guests typically enjoy during their vacations?
Who will they be traveling with and are they expecting visitors?
How do these guests like to relax? Have fun? Explore?
Knowing your guest will be synonymous with personalizing the trip to outdo the typical standards of guest satisfaction.
As bespoke becomes the travel buzzword, it’s apparently clear that luxury travel is no longer just about the property itself. High-end trips extend far beyond material wealth. Now, growing trends have emphasized the importance of experience and “you’d need to be there yourself to understand it” moments.
How can you be hands-off and experience-oriented at the same time? Giving your guests the tools to enjoy and build moments at your property is going to be what creates the shift from ordinary to extraordinary.
Take a look around your home and see what already tells a story and what has potential for a new narrative. Do you have any conversation pieces in your home? Any amenities that could turn into a family memory? What additional services do you offer for your guests? Make sure your property has the potential to create special moments for your guests to enhance their stay and get them to rebook for following vacations.
Benefits of marketing to luxury travelers
It’s true that luxury guests expect you to go above and beyond for their stay. The sound of customizing every single guest’s trip can be exhausting, even with the help of automation tools. So, what makes the extra effort worth it? There are numerous benefits to attracting luxury travelers and we’re here to name a few.
Higher profit margins
This is probably the best and most obvious one. Higher quality is always accompanied by a higher price tag, which is great news for you as the vacation rental owner. When you offer luxury service, you can expect to make luxury-range profits. If you’re able to fully target luxury travelers, you can expect an increase in passive income without necessarily having to increase the number of bookings you accept.
Remember that luxury travelers don’t expect you to just sit back and enjoy the benefits of their total amount. High-end clients want service that meets their expectations which might mean 24-hour service and a full staff. Be ready to account for this added expense and remember that you can manage your entire crew with our task management tool.
Visibility for your property
“The Hamptons” is practically a household name. Why? When the elites vacation there, the world knows about it. Beyond famous guests, even rich ones are in the public eye and every jet-set is mentioned in some magazine or online column. Imagine your brand plastered across the cover of a big-name spread saying, “so-and-so blissfully holidays at the stunning vacation rental, La Casa Bonita, along the charming Monterey Bay shoreline.” Image is everything and hosting the right guests will grant you visibility for your vacation rental.
If you’re just launching your efforts to target luxury clients, consider partnering with travel influencers who can get your brand off the ground. A few days away at your home in exchange for Instagram posts, Facebook shares and even a glowing review at the end of it can work wonders for boosting your profile and booking numbers.
Expand your market
Luxury travel is no longer limited to the upper echelons of society. Older millennials and even the upper-middle class are willing to splurge on a high-end vacation rental. There are many different types of travelers who fall under the umbrella of “luxury guests.” What kind of high-end guest do you think your property will attract? Here are some other traveler profiles to consider:
The list goes on and the ability to target multiple markets does too. Make sure you’re considering the right kind of luxury traveler so you can keep your property filled and the profits flowing!
How to market for luxury vacation rentals
What sets vacation rentals apart from hotels is that they’re almost entirely dependent on marketing. It’s not like you have a glowing “vacancy” neon sign outside your front door. You need to make yourself known to guests if you expect them to book. The world of vacation rental marketing, specifically with a harder-to-reach clientele, requires a multifaceted approach. We’ve detailed ten tips to get your luxury vacation rental marketing strategy off the ground.
1. Focus on the guest experience like never before
The first rule of the hospitality business is providing an excellent experience. When it comes to luxury travelers, you need to take it up a notch further. Mediocrity simply won’t cut it when guests are expecting a five-star-plus level of service.
Achieving this level will mean pouring more time into your vacation rental than ever before to set the standard just as high for each incoming guest. Each detail must be taken care of properly – such as retouching an almost unnoticeable chip on a painted wall, or polishing silverware – just as guests would expect in the most opulent hotel.
2. Invest in professional quality photography and videography
No matter who your target traveler market is, spending on professional, high-quality photography is always advisable – so you can show off your property in the best way possible. For luxury vacation rentals? It’s totally non-negotiable.
To attract guests with bigger budgets to your vacation rental, you also need to put in the groundwork. Investing in marketing tools, such as professional photos and videos, will certainly help draw in your desired travelers – on the first look.
Luxury property owners may also consider innovative technologies such as drone videos for their vacation rental. Drone videos will provide dynamic, swooping views of your rental and its surroundings and help increase the perceived value of your property. When luxury guests know you have the budget to spend on drone videography, they get a better idea that you won’t have skimped on anything inside the rental, either!
3. Splash out on interior design
There is no point breaking the bank on professional photography if your home itself doesn’t fit the luxury bill. In order for your rental to look outstanding in photos, it’s going to need to look even better in real life!
We’re talking high thread count sheets; little-to-no clutter; luxury furnishings like oversized lamps and ornate mirrors; neutral color palettes with accent walls; and stylish (yet still comfortable) furniture. These finishing touches will stand out in photographs to really catch your guest’s eye. The smaller details involved in staging your home – such as a perfectly tucked bed, decorative flowers and fluffy, folded towels – will just add that extra “wow” factor.
4. Partner with luxury brands
Continuing on the theme of interior design, it’s not just how you decorate it, but also with who. Designers and brand names matter in the luxury travel industry. You must carefully decide what you should splurge on and what’s a tolerable skimp. Comfort and beauty are two of the most noticeable details that leave room for name-brand products. Spending extra on the top-shelf soaps and toiletries will be worth your money.
This is also a great opportunity to partner with local luxury brands. Having a charcuterie board stuffed with local jams, cheeses, and fresh deli cuts will be sure to impress your guests. As you and the local brands mutually benefit, you might also get some free publicity from the small businesses you buy from.
5. Provide an unbeatable welcome manual
A vacation rental welcome book is essential for any property, but how can you up the ante for those extra special luxury travelers? Instead of a paper copy, think about investing in an iPad or tablet to leave at your rental. This way, guests have a welcome manual that feels more expensive and exclusive, plus they can quickly search for what they need – it’s a win-win!
Using services such as Touch Stay, you can create a beautiful, visual welcome book (that looks more like a classy glossy magazine) and works great on handheld or tablet devices for an extra touch of luxury.
6. Hire the right people
One of the key differences that distinguish a luxury vacation rental from its standard counterpart is the services offered once the stay is in place. For the most part, vacation rentals are a self-serve industry. Guests find it, they book it, and once they’ve arrived, they’re pretty much left to their own devices.
For luxury guests, however, another level of service is likely to be required – and it will have to be beyond outstanding. You’ll have to think about offering a concierge service, daily housekeeping and laundry, round-the-clock maintenance, 24-hour call-outs – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other luxuries to think about could be personal chefs, mixologists, yoga gurus, surf instructors – you’ll also have to decide if these services come included or are available as an extra add-on.
Most of all, as the property owner or manager, you’ll have to make sure the service providers you contract are of the best caliber – because you don’t want anything or anyone letting down your luxury five-star experience.
7. Make sure you’ve got the right amenities – and that they work!
Increasingly, guest demands are changing. What used to be the norm when it comes to amenities may no longer be acceptable – especially in the context of luxury travelers. As the property owner, you’re responsible for ensuring the amenities your rental provides are of top quality, and most importantly? Still functioning!
Every time a guest departs, have your team check on any important appliances such as air conditioning, ceiling fans, dishwashers, washing machines, televisions, ovens and so on. Nothing screams “not luxury” as much as broken white goods. Even the finest, most minute details are of monumental importance when it comes to attracting luxury markets to your vacation rental.
8. Create an optimized website
A professionally built vacation rental website is going to be absolutely crucial for attracting luxury guests. Although this may seem intimidating, creating your own optimized business website is much easier than it sounds.
Using a vacation rental website builder like Lodgify, you can drag and drop all your content into place and publish it to start accepting bookings the very same day. Best of all, the integrated booking engine and calendar means guests can see at a glance your property availability. Plus, owners can manage all reservations from one place in the backend.
Your website is your own little piece of the internet where you can showcase exactly how a stay at your luxurious home would be. Use the space wisely – go into detail about any additional services you offer, provide a complete gallery and be sure to include accurate pricing and rates information.
9. List your property on luxury vacation rental sites
While Airbnb springs to everyone’s mind for vacation rentals in general, it’s not the first website most will think of when it comes to luxury homes. There are, however, a number of exclusive, niche websites you can connect with to get your property seen by the right type of guests.
Sites such as onefinestay, Luxury Retreats (recently acquired by Airbnb) or Villas of Distinction are all hotspots where luxury travelers go searching for the very best vacation rentals. You can check out our exhaustive list of vacation rental booking sites to see if there are any other niches to cover and sites to get listed on. Having a presence on these diverse sites when you’re starting out can help build up your overall reputation within the luxury travel industry, gain impressive reviews and make a name for your vacation rental brand.
10. Show off your “social proof” with reviews and testimonials
Luxury travelers aren’t going into their stays blindly. Even if they’ve hired a travel designer, the guests or their agent is checking to make sure your stay is legitimate. That’s why it’s vital that you have glowing reviews from all the luxury travelers who make a reservation at your property. If you do receive any negative reviews, you’ll need to quickly and carefully address them, so you don’t ward off high-end guests.
Adding positive reviews and testimonials to your website might make all the difference to your potential luxury guests. Remember that this can be done in whatever format you find engaging, be it a video recording or a direct quote from guests.
Luxury travelers are unlike ordinary guests. They’re looking for a deeper sense of authenticity, personalization, and, above all, quality. When you’ve got the property that meets their needs, you need to find a way to communicate it.
Properly marketing your vacation rental to luxury travelers is what’s going to really secure those bookings. Follow the tips we’ve outlined and let your property speak for itself. A marvelous mansion paired with high-end vacation rental software is what’s going to give you the benefit of bountiful profits. Take a walk on the side of luxury and test drive our product for up to 7 days free.
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