More often than not, hosts purely rely on online marketing, whether it be through social media, their own vacation rental website or through OTAs. But do you remember how advertising worked before the internet explosion? In our hyper-digital world, it’s easy to forget about the value of print materials.
When it comes to driving referrals for your rental, this traditional marketing medium may actually be highly valuable because you give renters something to take home and remember you by. This, in turn, helps drive referrals as guests tell friends about their unique experiences.
Consider how the following print materials can set your business apart and help boost your bookings:
1. Old School Newsletter
Guests want to know where to dine, shop and explore. That’s where your old school printed newsletter comes in. While you can put this in a digital format, print allows you to provide guests with the information they want, while creating a souvenir they can take home as a reminder of their stay with you.
Include the following in your newsletter:
- Tips for getting around
- Local events
- Best restaurants, bars, cafes
- Tourist spots to avoid — and ones they can’t miss
- Points of interest
To make this more impactful, change your newsletter with the seasons and holidays. For example, the local town will likely be hosting various events according to the season e.g. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Updating your newsletter with this information makes it more helpful and therefore memorable — the latter of which is key to driving referrals.
When designing, however, don’t just update the text. Make your newsletter stands out by using images and color as well. Colors that match the experience and mood can also help guests recall the experience more clearly.
“To stay relevant and stand out, the colors in your print marketing designs should change too. Not only should you consider holidays, like Christmas, Fourth of July, and the like — but the season itself” suggests the guide, Color Psychology for Print Marketing.
Instead of providing standard coasters, promote your rental business with custom-designed coasters that guests can take home. For example, create coasters with imagery of the local skyline, a nearby monument, or the house itself — something that makes them think, “we loved staying in this place!” What’s more, it will make your guests feel a home away from home. Don’t forget to mention in your welcome letter the coasters are for guests to keep.
To make the most of this referral opportunity, include contact information on the back, like your website and email, along with any social media handles. If guests are telling friends about their stay with you, it will be easier for future travelers to find you online. Better yet, include a small QR code at the back that goes right to your booking page.
3. Referral Cards
Not all guests who are planning to go on vacation have a destination in mind. An Expedia study found that across eight countries surveyed, “at least 50 percent of travelers are undecided on a destination and are looking for help and inspiration during the planning and booking process.” Referral cards give future travelers a reason to stay with you.
Remember that this isn’t just a business card. Your referral card should include a referral code that does two things:
- Rewards the referrer, i.e. a $25 Visa gift card if their referral books with you
- Rewards the new guest, i.e. 5% off the cost of their stay
To facilitate this process, include a referral code and directions for redeeming. If you have a high-occupancy rental, you may need to put software in place so you can identify the initial renter who referred you and send them their reward or discount. Don’t forget to add your contact details, such as phone number, e-mail, and vacation rental address. You can include a small photo of your rental too.
4. A Custom Map
Make it easy for guests to get around and jump-start their stay by providing a printed map that they can take with them as they venture out of the house. You can easily do this with a tool like PrintMaps, which allows you to design and create a map that’s print-ready and looks professionally developed.
This type of print material goes beyond sharing a list of places to visit. Instead, you’re playing an active role in their experience, allowing you to make an impression that will last. As with the coasters, be sure to include contact information or a QR code that goes to your rental page. When guests are back home and showing the map to their friends and family, your property will be easy to find and book with you.
5. Souvenir Stickers
While all the other print materials mentioned can be taken home as a souvenir, stickers present a unique branding opportunity. Guests can place the sticker on their water bottle, laptop or other items, which gives them a reason to talk about their stay every time someone asks. In today’s advertising-adverse world, stickers are a natural marketing tool.
“The power of stickers lies in the fact that when displayed they are not perceived as advertising at all. They are personal endorsements, recommendations and badges of support for a message, product or organization” according to Jeff Nicholson, Founder and Creative Director at Freely Creative Inc.
The key is creating stickers guests will want to keep. Hire a designer to create stickers with illustrations of local monuments, tourist spots, the city skyline — whatever is applicable — or use an online template to ensure the design is modern and professional.
Be sure to include something that identifies your home, such as your vacation rental brand name (exactly as it’s written on your website). For example, The Blue Bird Cottage or Red Rocks Retreat.
Increase guest referrals with these five printed materials. Drive word-of-mouth marketing by creating unique print items that encourage guests to refer you to fellow travelers. Be direct with referral cards or subtle with stickers — and wait for your future travelers to book your place for their next trip.