Traditionally, when we mention PR we immediately think press coverage and other types of print media. The Holy Grail question is how do I get my vacation rental business included in a travel feature in a top-tier newspaper or magazine?
However, the scope and opportunity of PR are much broader than this, especially now we are in the digital and influencer age. Our customers (guests) are everywhere and can be reached in so many ways (fantastic opportunity!). Of course through the national press, but also through digital magazines, blogging sites, on Twitter, Facebook, through third-party reviews, via influencers, directly from journalists, from our partners and the word of mouth of our past guests.
In a nutshell – PR is about reputation and building trusting relationships. Developing and delivering your key messages that will reach and convert the audiences that your business needs to thrive. At Abode PR, our job is to help vacation rental businesses reach these audiences and develop relationships through PR, social media and content marketing.
Every organization, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. This is as relevant for a small owner-managed vacation rental business with two or three properties as it is for a large villa agency handling an inventory of hundreds or even thousands of properties.
In today’s competitive market, your reputation can be your biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge. Effective PR can help manage and enhance your reputation by communicating and building good, trustworthy relationships – relationships that can then help you reach your goals, whether these goals include driving traffic to your website, attracting the right guests to your property, growing your portfolio of owners or building trust in your brand to increase the rate of inquiry conversions.
When you begin to think about developing the PR for your vacation rental business, start with some hard thinking and a clear, realistic plan. In the long run – this time spent thinking about what you need PR to achieve, who you need to be building relationships with, and what your ultimate outcomes are, will pay off in the long run.
So, what’s the problem?
In developing a PR strategy and plan, first ask, “what’s my problem?” In other words, what is the business issue that needs to be solved? Maybe a new vacation rental business has opened up on my turf and I want to ensure I don’t lose my market share. Maybe I know I am not maximizing repeat business in the way I could be. Perhaps I am a great rental for families but no one knows this. Or it could simply be that I just need more of the right kind of inquiry to my website.
Where do you want to be?
Once you have identified the issue or issues that need addressing – let’s call it your Current State – you can start to formulate where you need to be: your Future State. These are your objectives which will underpin all your activity. What does PR need to achieve for your business in order to be a success – by Bridging the Gaps between the Current State to achieve your Future State.
Your PR end game objectives could include:
- To build a reputation as the leading family-friendly villa rental agency in Italy.
- To drive quality inquiries directly to my website.
- To enhance my reputation as the leading property manager of vacation rentals in my destinations and increase the number of properties managed by my business.
- To encourage the positive word-of-mouth and social sharing of my past guests in order to reach new guests.
Who do you need to be talking to?
Once you identify what you want your end result to be, think about who you should be building relationships with to help get you there. How can you best reach your guests and who can help amplify your voice to reach these guests? Get specific. The travel press will be key but what are the actual media titles for your business? Golf specialists, family travel, luxury titles or if your market is more local, will it be your regional press…?
Identify the travel bloggers who are already communicating with your potential guests and the celebrities that love your region. Do you need to be doing some PR to reach partners and potential trustworthy collaborators who can help you – your local or national tourist boards, competitors?
What do you need to say?
What does your message need to say? For instance, your message might be….
“Vive la Famille Apartments understands the needs of families and are an excellent choice for a family vacation to Paris.”
“All Vive la Famille Apartments are equipped with family-friendly items that make your family stay in Paris as comfortable and exciting as possible.”
All of your activity needs to be embedded with these types of messages.
How are you going to get where you are going? (Bridging the Gap)
This is the meaty bit. This what we in PR call the tactics. What activity are you actually going to do differently to reach your audiences and ultimately achieve your goals?
You will have an overarching strategy – for example – everything we do will support our goal of building our reputation based on trust as the first-choice villa agency for visitors to Puglia, or Koh Samui, or in Fort Lauderdale…
Include press releases (what’s the news?), potential press trips (invite journalists to try your experience), thought leadership articles (how can you let your expertise shine?), social media activity (start engaging in conversations and getting consistent with your message), develop an easy-to-download press kit for your website, enter for an award, put on an event for local partners who can help spread your reach…
There are lots of relevant creative and innovative ideas that can get your business (story) out there.
What does success look like?
Finally, what does success look like? Is everything you are doing with your PR supporting the goals of your business? Keep asking yourself these questions so that you don’t get sidetracked or become complacent. Planning, persistence and a little perspiration can pay off.
About the Author
Jessica Gillingham is the founder and CEO of Abode PR – a specialist communications agency supporting vacation rental brands in fulfilling their potential and better achieving their business goals through integrated PR, social & content marketing.