You’ve established your first (maybe second or third) vacation rental and have worked out the early kinks. Now the bookings are coming inconsistently. Congratulations! But you’re ready for more and want to grow your vacation rental business and revenue.
There is no time like the present to start thinking of how to elevate your vacation rental income. 2020 is here and most industry experts agree that this will be the year when vacation rental bookings actually overtake hotel bookings. There are many strategies you could implement to bring your business to the next level. You don’t need a Harvard MBA to succeed, but you DO need a plan.
First and Foremost: Create Your Marketing Plan
A marketing plan helps you to focus on your specific goals and lays out logistics for how you will win more customers and grow your business. A good marketing plan should be high-level, strategic and include facts and objectives. Three key things that need to be included:
A situation analysis:
Take an objective look at where your business is now and where you want it to go. This section should take an honest view of your strengths and weaknesses (no pool, near a railroad, recently renovated, new appliances, walkable to the town center, etc.). Basically, layout what your “competitors” in your market do better than you and what does your property offer that theirs cannot. This exercise allows you to focus on your strengths in your marketing outreach and highlight specific key features your competitors can’t offer. Most importantly, it is the first step to grow your vacation rental business.
Define a target audience:
It may be hard to admit this to yourself, but no business can appeal to everyone. There are things about your vacation rental that appeal to certain travelers and not to others. Embrace that and define who you need to be spending most of your marketing budget and time on to get the biggest return. Look back at data from past bookings. Where the majority of families, couples or business travelers? Did most guests stay just for a weekend or for a week or more? Knowing facts such as these allows you to hone in on your marketing efforts and messages in order to attract the guests that your home may appeal to the most.
List your goals:
Be very specific here, and don’t think too small. Do you want to see a 20% increase in bookings in 2020? Do you want to raise your revenue enough so you can add an additional property to your business? Set both short term (6 months: increase Facebook followers by 1,500) and long term (24 months: Have a total of 10 properties) goals. Then for every goal you set, type up a few actions of how you are going to get there and when. Create a timeline of content that needs to be written, social media campaigns or email blasts that need to be sent, photography that needs to be updated, etc.
Additional Strategies to Grow Your Business
Once you have your plan written, use that as your guide to inform all marketing actions you will take in 2020 regarding business growth. “No brainer” actions will likely include:
Leverage seasons and events
Getting more bookings is more than just selling the awesomeness of your home. It’s selling the awesomeness of the local neighborhood too, and marketing the whole rental as an experience, not just a house. Make people want to get involved in everything your town has to offer, so that they can’t resist booking.
- Highlight great local bars, restaurants, and places to shop.
- If you have a favorite local butcher or grocer, name them – the foodies who love to cook will want to make their vacation even more special with these inside tips.
- Put extra marketing effort into touting fun festivals or events and consider linking to a local calendar of events directly from your listing.
It’s no secret that having quality photos of your vacation rental property will help increase bookings. The influx of vacation rental homes on listing sites requires you to do more to stand out. That means professional-looking photography — not dark and blurry smartphone photos. Make sure you have the right lighting, no room clutter and a good lens to work with. High-quality photos of your place can make all the difference in someone choosing your rental home over another. Check out more photography tips on our blog here.
Utilizing social media tools is a no-brainer in today’s world of marketing. Check out our tips on how you can increase your rental’s brand reach by using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Another tip: don’t forget to offer “share with your friends” buttons on your site so that they can send the link of your vacation rental home to their friends and family. Lastly, use Facebook and LinkedIn to network and learn from other property owners via groups.
Offer Direct Bookings
Having your own website with a powerful booking engine is a must for any business looking to get to the next level. The #BookDirect movement is a hot topic in the short-term rental industry. There are lots of advantages to direct bookings, including being able to see who is staying in your home and communicate with them directly. Perhaps the biggest advantage of taking direct bookings is more money in your pocket. Don’t let the idea overwhelm you, however. Taking direct bookings doesn’t mean you need to be tied to your email 24/7. Use a software tool to set up auto emails that give your guests all the information they need when they need it. Your booking software should make it easy to add guest information, update calendars and send notifications.
In addition to these tips, there are lots of strategies you can use to make your vacation rental business soar. We encourage you to check out this great e-book from our partner, Rentals United, about the secrets of growing your vacation rental business with tips and advice from some of the largest property managers in the business.
As your business grows, so will the time and effort you put into it. Let us help you stay organized and maximize your time. With countless features that make reservations and guest communication a cinch. Bookfull puts everything you need to manage your vacation rentals in one place. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, Bookfull has the features you need to get you there. And guess what? It’s FREE!