Vacation rental platforms like VRBO, HomeAway, and Airbnb are all phenomenal for various reasons. For one, these platforms are large-scale operations that have invested highly in their infrastructure, resulting in front-page results on search engines and having an active public relations campaign to uphold their positive image. As a result, listing your vacation rental on these platforms means more exposure among the thousands of options, not limited to but including hotels, hostels, boutique lodging setups, and more. With this great business opportunity also comes costs, including the added fees for the customer in the form of service fees, and payment to these platforms for any confirmed reservation. For many, this is a good exchange and is highly beneficial for business matters.
However, how can you increase your exposure among the thousands of rentals available and save money in the long run through service and reservation fees? The answer lies in establishing a brand for your vacation rental and creating the necessary social media pages help customers learn more about your rental and increase future reservations.
1. Create a Unique Name. You’ll come across various listings on vacation rental platforms that are really generic. For example, “Three Bedroom in the Heart of Nashville,” “Family House with Swimming Pool,” and “Beautiful Room near Public Transportation in Downtown.” These names do provide important details for specific amenities customers may be looking for – multiple rooms to fit a large group of travelers, a pool for those who want to take a dip in their own private space, and proximity to public transit for those who don’t want to rent a car or depend on ride-sharing services. However, none of these names will set your listing apart from others, and it also prevents you from branding your space. Think about the unique qualities that makeup your vacation rental or come up with a name that you believe exemplifies the amenities of your rental home. For the sake of this article, let’s pretend you owned an apartment on the 10th floor of a high-rise in the downtown Chicago Loop area, with some modern furniture and beautiful plants (decorating is a separate article, but if you’re going to brand, you should aim to differentiate your property from other listings.) Let’s call this listing “The Hanging Gardens of the Loop.”
2. Create a Website. Create a website that gives you more freedom to talk about the amenities of your listing and add more pictures. You can even include user-submitted pictures over time. Having a website also allows you to improve the SEO and drive more attention to your vacation rental. For example, you can convert hand-written pieces from your guestbook into blog posts, providing potential customers with more reading material about your rental. You should also install a booking platform onto your website.
3. Create Social Media Pages. The top social media platforms for your audience likely falls into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Creating an account on each platform provides opportunities for customers to contact you immediately (e.g. Facebook Messenger or Instagram direct message) instead of having to make an account on a vacation rental platform. If you make reservations through any of these platforms, you’ll also save on feeds. Instagram allows for more pictures of your vacation rental and nearby attractions, while Facebook invites reviews, community discussion, and more.
4. Create a Hashtag. Creating a special hashtag for your rental will allow you to stick out, and may also encourage customers to spread their experience on their own accounts. For example, after creating social media pages for “The Hanging Gardens of the Loop,” your hashtag can look like this: #HangingGardensChicagoLoop or #HangingGardensLoopCHI. If your former guests want to share their story of how they enjoyed Chicago on their own blog or social media page, they are likely to include a hashtag (depending on the audience) and using #HangingGardensChicagoLoop won’t mix up your listing with other hotel or vacation rental businesses. This is much more effective than writing #Airbnb or #Hotel, both which will yield thousands of different results.
5. Engage with your Audience! Social media and branding help separate you from the competition, but they should also be utilized for communication purposes. If someone posts a review, be sure to thank them and elaborate on one of their points. If someone asks a question, be sure to answer coherently. Good, and bad experiences are all chances for you to display your personality to the crowd, which is important for future business.
By following this branding guide, you will be well on your way to making your vacation rental shine and driving traffic to it. Who knows, eventually you may not need the vacation rental platforms, and with more revenue means you can raise your prices and make different investments to improve your property. Remember, your vacation rental is more than a listing, it’s a venture!