Vacation rentals are quickly becoming a trend. It is, however important to note that many people now days choose to rent a vacation rental on their holidays, and the competition is more than ever since the vacation rental properties are increasing day by day. It is, therefore, crucial to market your vacation rental in such a way that it stands out amongst the vast ocean of vacation rental properties.
Now, usually, marketing will cost you a lot of money, but is it possible to master your vacation rental marketing with zero budget? The answer is an astounding “YES.”
Plan out your strategies and set goals.
It’s not rocket science to understand this. It’s like any other kind of business; you have to first “plan out your strategy” and “be clear of your goals.” I am aware that this may sound like a “cliché” but if you are renting out your property without any set of plans that would be just a mistake.
For example; you have to be sure when your vacation rental property is going to be available for travelers. Let your potential guest know if your house is open for rent throughout the year or it will only be available on some particular months.
Most of the people give away their property whenever they have a customer and end up having difficulties if they need the house for themselves too. You don’t wont to end up having a tremendous inconvenience for both the parties (you can only imagine, right?). Other than this, I will mention some more goals that you have to be clear with your guests.
Make sure your vacation rental is profitable.
Be confident that renting out your property is going to be profitable including all the extra utilities that you may have to purchase and calculate your maintenance costs. After all, it all comes down to how much you make unless renting out a property is your hobby. – I believe it’s not just a hobby for you.
Make strict terms on your rental agreement.
You cannot just rent out your house to some bunch of unknown people. You have to be entirely sure that you protect your property, the first step is to have insurance for your place to cover damages of your property and the utilities, the second step let your guests read and sign your terms on the rental agreement. Be clear about the security deposit, inform the guests that in the event of any damages to your property or your utilities they are responsible for up to X amount.
Make customer service a priority.
You have to commit to renting out your property entirely. No amount of marketing will help your business if you have bad customer service. Commit to providing the best experience, and this will eventually help you in the marketing field as well.
Prepare to be flexible with dates.
Don’t make a strict rule about renting out only on some particular months. I strongly advise you to rent your property throughout the year, play with the pricing to set the right prices, so on the high demand periods to receive better offers. Remember the travelers are looking to rent vacation rental properties throughout the year and they can always find other vacation rentals.
“You cannot win a customer back once they have made up their mind to book with someone else.”
You cannot win a customer back once they have made up their mind to book with someone else. As long as you don’t need your house on specific dates for some special events in your life, or because you want to stay half of the year in that house, then make sure to have your property always available in the market because the more you rent, the more your product gets booked and recognized.
Be active and respond quickly to the customers.
The customers will not just send request/inquires to your rental property only. They usually send multiple inquiries at the same time to different homeowners (I know this from personal experience, I did this in the past many times). A quick response can make a significant difference (all the difference actually) since the first one to respond is more likely to get the clients. Responding quickly also shows how committed you are towards your business.
Know your customers.
You cannot just rent out your house because you are making good money. I know that having an income is the most important factor but not the most essential. Please make sure to talk to your clients and ask them why they need the house before you accept to rent your place. Getting the customers details (full name, address and phone number) is necessary, you can never be too sure when it comes to letting strangers stay in your place.
Determine who are your potential customers.
I can’t stress it enough; this is the most important goal you have to set, you need to identify who are your customers before you start your marketing campaigns. You can choose to see everyone as your potential customers or focus on a specific market niche or group of people to make your market and profit more effective. Acknowledging your market niche for your vacation rental will allow you to identify which group is the most appropriate target.
How to Market your vacation rental with zero budget.
1. Online Reviews
In any line of business, marketing has become more relevant than it ever did. People are going to do tons of research on various aspects before they can even consider your property. The Online reviews play the critical role when it comes to customers. Recent studies have shown that 88% of the people online purchasing products or even booking houses (in your case) they will rent or buy after they read some positive reviews.
Customer feedback system/review system is probably the easiest and the most convenient method of marketing your house. It doesn’t cost a penny to let your customers write their feedback/reviews online.
Now you have to note that the review system can also backfire sometimes. A customer who didn’t have a good experience like others may not be kind with their feedback about your service and property. It should be therefore your utmost priority to provide the best “quality” and “customer service” to enable the finest of experience to the customers. Take online reviews seriously if you want your business to grow.
Take online reviews seriously if you want your business to grow.
I feel like this is very important, so I have to repeat myself, having positive reviews on your listings is the most crucial way to market your vacation rental and probably the best return on investment – ROI.
2. Build a website for your vacation rental.
Having a site for your vacation rental is essential since the travelers can visit your site and get all the details about your vacation rental. With your website, you can help the potential customers to make a reservation in less time and with a minimal effort directly with you. The less inconvenience, the better it is for your business.
You need to make sure that the travelers can find your site and they can find with ease all the information they require about your place. Why would anyone waste an hour trying to get information on a rental house when he or she can find another property that has a website and all the details about it?
Having your personal site also says a lot about your business growth. It means that you are dedicated to your business.
Listing your property on vacation rental websites like Airbnb, Booking.com and many more is essential (I will tell you why in a bit), but it is very competitive, and it can be annoying for the travelers to look through a list of different properties until they can find your place.
Minimize the risk of losing a potential customer by building your website for your property today. Also, travelers find it easier to trust houses that have a dedicated website and share all the information about the property, and the area.
Travelers when they try to find a place to rent they always have this question “what are they trying to hide?” or “why can’t they give full details?” It’s a nightmare going from page to page trying to find details about a vacation rental house. Without a proper website, you may be losing a lot of potential customers.
3. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is the accurate display of your business. Studies have shown that 90% of the people prefer personal recommendation. It’s more reliable to the travelers when people say good things about your vacation rental. People won’t care about the things that you post on your website or the social media if word of mouth from your customers is not there to support your sayings.
Having to hear from a person who has stayed at your house is more reliable.
Word of mouth is one of the oldest and most powerful elements of marketing that ultimately helps your business grow. Positive word of mouth can do wonders for your business. Your business may be slow in the beginning, but with strong recommendations from your customers, your business can revive itself.
However, to receive strong recommendations, and customers to start talking positively to their friends and family, you have to be entirely on point with your customer service and your property has to scream quality.
You cannot expect a good word of mouth from your customers by just doing the “basics.” A vacation rental is not just about renting out your property for a certain duration and coming back at the end of the rental to bid them farewell.
Make your customers feel at home, and there is a reason why people choose a vacation rental house over a hotel room. Go beyond what hotel service provides (it might be difficult most of the times) but you have to try to provide all the necessary services as much as possible. Many customers have often pointed out this is a real drawback of Vacation Rentals (there is no service available at all).
The homeowners get their houses rented to the guests, and that’s it. Even the most basic amendments such as towels and blankets are not provided. You don’t want to offer this type of experience, because it can lead to a terrible backlash for your business. It is, therefore, necessary to provide your best services (both in utilities and customer satisfaction), this will ultimately result in positive “Word of Mouth” and will contribute to your business growth as well.
4. Social Media
Who can question the relevance of social media in our everyday life? Especially this days. People literally live on social media now. This makes social media the perfect place to market your vacation rental.
What is that going to cost you? Apart from your time, you might have to deal with some unusual random toxic people on the internet. Stay active in all social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) There is always more probability that people will come across your vacation rental in social media than in any other place on the internet.
The chances of people visiting your website directly without any means of finding out about your product are very slim. The number of the Facebook users alone as of August 2018 is “2.2 Billion users”. The number of Instagram users has also reached “1 Billion”.
Promoting your vacation rental on social media, you are marketing your property to billions of people at once.
By using social media, you are marketing your rental to billions of people at once. You don’t need maths to understand what that could do for your business.
At this point, I will like to reveal a secret, focus most of your efforts on Pinterest. Pinterest is not like Facebook and Twitter is more like a search engine like a visual Google, your pins can be found at any time and drive traffic to your website forever.
5. Promote your product with the help of influencers.
This factor falls more under Social media. There are so many people on social media that are “famous” known as “social influencers.” They are not celebrities, but they have a huge following on their social media accounts.
What you can do is that you can offer them to stay for a day or two on your vacation rental house (Rent-free). They can then share their experience (hopefully good ones, depending on your services) on their social media accounts.
Social media influencers can help you grow your business.
Do you remember what I said above about a good “word of mouth” and how important is to receive positive feedback and recommendations? Now you can receive your good “word of mouth” from the influencers and benefit from their larger audience.
You can do it with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram influencers but you can use the same marketing approach with the “famous YouTubers.” Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google having video reviews about your vacation rental home will allow you to reach more potential customers.
6. A picture is worth a thousand words
Your website and all the marketing in the world is not going to be enough without a proper visual aid. It is like you are trying to buy a car, but you don’t know how the car looks. You have to see the actual vehicle and look at its interior and exterior condition, how good the engine is running and maintenance history before you decide to buy the car. Anything other than that is entirely preposterous.
Even for ordering the silliest of things at online websites, you go through tons of similar product and compare its looks and features, only then you can decide what product to buy.
Having high-quality and relevant photos of your property will make all the difference.
For your guests’ vacation rental means more than just booking rooms for themselves; it’s more often to get a break from their chaotic routine. So people are looking for the most appealing photos that will tell them “book me to have a top-notch relaxation.”
High-quality pictures of your house is a must if you want to convince the travelers to rent your house. “Seeing is believing” it’s that simple and that’s how our brain functions. So do not underestimate the power of high-quality pictures on your website (of your vacation rental, of course).
7. The more, the better.
You have your property website to accept direct bookings, and you promote it with all the above ways I mention, is that enough? No, it is not, you need to do more.
You have to use for your benefit the vacation rental websites, which they provide you with free listings for your property or properties in exchange for a fee for successful bookings.
Use the massive organic traffic of vacation rental websites for your benefit.
8. Work together with other vacation rental properties.
Many homeowners believe that their properties are isolated and too far away from any convenient places. Nowadays this is not true you can find other vacation rentals close to yours. Study their advantages and see if their house can compliment your vacation rental. For example, if your property can accommodate a group of six people and the other property can host a group of four people you can offer both vacation rentals to larger groups of 7 to 10 people.
9. Team up with local vendors.
Offer different services to your guests with the help of local vendors. For examples the majority of vacation rentals don’t offer breakfast, you can provide your guests with a plentiful breakfast with local tastes with the help of the coffee shop next to your property.
Offer something unique and special for your guests
By doing this, you will provide your guests with an unforgettable experience; you will receive more positive feedbacks, and more significant word of mouth promotion from your guests, but also the local vendors can help you promote your vacation rental home to their families, associates, and customers since they also benefit when you have guests.
10. Give a personal touch.
This point has been discussed above too. However, don’t just provide your customers with services only when they are staying at your property. If you want to make sure that they choose your place for their next vacation, you have to be more than a “good host” to your customers you have to be their very best experience.
Collect all your customers’ information and details like names, address, phone number or social media account names, etc. Then you will be able to keep in touch with them, send them a postcard, email, PM, etc. on their birthdays or during the Christmas Holidays.
After all, if they know you better and they had a great experience at your house, it’s quite a simple choice for them to come back and book again your place.
Vacation Rental Pro Tip.
At the end of the day, no amount of marketing and promotion will help you if you are “too hard.” Let me explain this; many vacation rental properties post all these world-class jaw-dropping photos fo their place.
However, when the customers are visiting the home, they witness for themselves, that the reality is different from the pictures. A massive deal-breaker for any customer, to discover that the photos were not even close to the truth.
If you are serious about your vacation rental business, post only real facts and accurate images of your house. If you feel like your property needs a renovation, do that and make your home more presentable but DON’T try to cheat the customers.
You can spend tons of money to promote your business only, but you can take a different approach to reduce your expenses if you let your customers do the most marketing for you.
To summarize you need to set your goals and identify your niche market, build a story about your vacation rental property and share it to the social media with powerful but accurate photos to provide visual information to the travelers about your house.
Build a website for your business and also use the vacation rental sites to benefit from their organic traffic.
Team up with other homeowners, local vendors, and influencers to provide more services and promote your house to a broader audience.
Last but not least and the most essential thing to do, offer your best services every time to every customer.
Thank you for reading my article, and I hope you found it helpful.