The Beginner’s Guide to Vacation Rental Online Marketing

Vacation rental owners: by now, you’re probably fed up of articles appearing in front of you that promise to help you transform your business in one way or another. You want to enjoy reading these pieces, but there’s always a lot of jargon and terminology you don’t really understand.

Good news! We’re here to help.

We’re taking it back to basics with this article, and we’ve stripped online marketing for vacation rentals down to its core. Expect to learn what it is, how it’s beneficial for your VR business and what the best online marketing channels are for increasing your direct bookings!

What is vacation rental online marketing?

Online marketing for your vacation rental (or internet marketing, online advertising – there are a few different ways of saying the same thing) refers to any strategy, tool or method of getting your vacation rental brand name out in the world.

Online vacation rental marketing encompasses all kinds of elements such as search engine marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and online display adverts. (If you’re staring at the screen thinking we’re doing exactly what we just said we wouldn’t do, then don’t fret – we’ll explain these terms shortly).

What are the benefits of using online marketing for vacation rentals?

If you have a vacation rental website, you’re going to want to use online marketing. There are heaps of advantages to using online marketing, here are a few:

1. You can boost sales

Through online channels, you’re able to distribute information about your vacation rental much more widely than you are offline. It doesn’t matter whether this is done through your own vacation rental website, through paid Google adverts or via appearances on listings sites. You’re also able to vary your prices easily depending on seasonality, to attract more off-peak bookings, for example.

2. You’ll add extra value

Online marketing enables vacation rental owners to give their potential guests extra benefits (a.k.a. more reasons to book!) or inform them of changes to the vacation rental through immediate and direct, real-time interactions.

3. You’ll really get to know your guests

Using web and email forms, polls and online market research in the form of surveys etc., vacation rental owners are able to create a two-way conversation with their potential guests and learn a lot more about them. This information can later be used to create content, drive promotions or even update the interior design of your vacation rental.

4. You’ll save on spending

When you use online methods for your marketing efforts, the nature of employing email or instant messaging communications to close or confirm direct bookings means you’ll not only have fewer costs in terms of staff as you’ll be (more or less) able to do everything yourself, but also you’ll save on printing and postage costs as no snail-mail will be necessary.

Once you’ve established your website processes (including automated email responses, if you like), you’ll see how quick, seamless and most importantly, low-cost online marketing can be.

5. It will solidify your brand presence online

Your guest’s experience on your vacation rental website, on your social channels or on any other page related with your vacation rental (like a review site, for example) will really help to build your brand name as a great vacation rental.

Having a good brand not only helps you stand out from the crowd in a saturated market, but it also builds trust, loyalty and is the basis for all your other marketing tactics.

So which online marketing techniques should you use to increase bookings?

There are many different strands of online marketing which work to complement one another as part of your overall marketing strategy. We take a look at what we feel are the most important online marketing methods for vacation rental owners.

1. SEO


What is it? The term SEO means search engine optimization, in other words, it’s what you can do to help your vacation rental site to show up first in Google, Yahoo or Bing search engine results.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? You can use certain SEO techniques to boost your organic ranking when potential guests search for specific terms related to your vacation rental. For good website SEO, there are many factors to take into consideration. These include everything from your domain name to the URLs you choose and the metadata you input.

For more in-depth information, read the full guide to vacation rental on-page SEO optimization.

Having basic SEO knowledge is becoming more and more crucial for vacation rental owners, especially as the industry is always growing more competitive. And best of all, it’s free!

2. Social media


What is it? Social media refers to all those networking sites you’re probably already very familiar with – think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube to name a few. Therefore, social media marketing is all about using these networks to engage and reach your target audience.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? VR owners can use social media marketing to gain more traffic to their websites. Depending on which channels you’re using, there are different types of updates you can post which will direct traffic onwards to your site. As well as more page visits, social media marketing can help vacation rental owners to improve booking conversions, raise brand awareness and strengthen brand identity. Furthermore, social media can be used as a real-time communication tool to speak with your potential guests and reply to inquiries.

Sounds good, right?

Facebook is currently the world’s most-used social network, but other sites like Instagram and Snapchat are rapidly catching up. For the complete low-down on Facebook marketing for vacation rental rentals, download the FREE owner’s guide.

As vacation rental owners can use social media to build business and online visibility for free, you can’t really afford to neglect them in your marketing tactics!

3. SEM and PPC (pay per click)


What is it? SEM sounds a lot like SEO, and you’d be right in assuming the first two initials stand for ‘search engine’. The ‘m’, however, means marketing, and search engine marketing is the method of gaining website traffic by paying for ads on search engines like Google. PPC is the acronym of the term ‘pay-per-click’, which means you only pay when your advert is clicked on by a user.

PPC isn’t just used for search engine advertising, though. It can also refer to other types of paid adverts, such as banner ads on social networks, or remarketing. Remarketing pixels track cookies when you’ve visited a website, then you’ll be shown said website’s ads when you enter other sites later, e.g. on Facebook.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? Bid on the keywords you define as most important for your vacation rental business to help make your ads appear at the top of the search results pages. Using PPC tactics is the easiest way to get to the top, and as a result, it can help you drive more traffic to your vacation rental website, generate new leads and take more direct bookings.

It’s a fairly economical way to get results, after all, you only pay once you receive click-throughs to your site. Keeping any potential guests interested in your offerings once they’re on your website is up to you, though.

There’s also another metric, called CPM – cost per 1,000 impressions – which is a low-cost option. If you’ve got little competition, you can bid as low as 0.10-1€.

4. Content marketingonline_marketing_vacation_rentals_content

What is it? One of the main marketing buzzwords of the moment, content marketing, refers to the process of creating worthwhile content which will capture and retain a target audience, all the while publicizing the brand itself.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? Ideally, when you create content for your vacation rental, potential guests will already be trawling the internet for answers that you can uniquely give them. When you deliver information to viewers that makes any potential guests more intelligent or more aware of a topic that they are concerned, or at the very least, interested in learning about, it makes your vacation rental brand trustworthy and positions owners as experts.

A good place to start is with the listing descriptions on your vacation rental website – don’t just sell a stay in your VR, but instead, tell its story and describe what guests can expect to do, see, taste, touch, hear and smell! Studies have shown that travelers prefer creatively written yet informative content on vacation rental descriptions, so it’s best to bear that in mind if you want to generate maximum inquiries.

To add that extra pizzazz to your vacation rental site, you could think about starting a blog to really push your content marketing efforts. A blog is an easy way to get traffic and even position your site in terms of SEO when you use certain keywords. Think about all the topics that will draw readers to your vacation rental site: “top 10 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area”; “5 must-visit rooftops to see the sunset in Madrid”. Your blog posts don’t necessarily have to be related to your vacation rental or its management – sometimes it’s even easier to rank highly for search terms that aren’t directly related to your vacation home.

5. Affiliate marketing


What is it? Affiliate marketing has been around since the beginning of time. Well, the beginning of marketing time at least… When you use your site to refer a customer to another product, and that person makes a purchase, you’ll receive a commission for the recommendation – that’s affiliate marketing. It’s not only a good way to make a bit of extra money, but it also helps you to form partnerships with other businesses in the local community.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? One of the easiest ways you could use affiliate marketing for your vacation rental would be by linking to useful services or offerings in your neighborhood, such as guided area tours, bus tours, vehicle rental, boat trips, ski hire – you name it, there’s probably an affiliate program for it!

Check out local website FAQs to see if any of these services located near your vacation rental offer an affiliate program, then they will set you up with a special tracking link to add to your VR website. For every purchase or payment they receive via your tracking link, you’ll receive a percentage of commission in return.

6. Email marketing


What is it? Many people will argue that email marketing has been dead and gone for a long time, but the stats prove otherwise – email marketing still sees a huge return on investment (ROI) in the present day. Email marketing is a type of direct marketing, meaning it’s used to contact potential customers directly in their inbox, rather than by using a third party like TV or social media.

How can you use it for your vacation rental? Nowadays, email marketing isn’t just about newsletters, but rather it’s very closely linked with content marketing. Email marketing best practice should enhance the relationships between the vacation rental host and their potential, current and previous guests. These emails should subtly persuade repeat bookings through their content. The best kinds of vacation rental email marketing examples will always show a good value exchange, whereby the owner provides valuable content in return for their potential guest’s (even more) valuable time.

Email marketing is a pretty cheap way to get your potential guests’ attention and can be hugely beneficial for vacation rental owners. What’s more, it’s so simple to measure success, email open rates and click-throughs using almost any email provider.

So there you have it, our complete introduction to online marketing for vacation rental owners. What marketing methods work for your VR business? Drop us a comment with your insights!

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