Vacation Rental Marketing Makeover Session 1.8: Learning Traveler Preferences – VRMB
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Vacation Rental Marketing Makeover Session 1.8: Learning Traveler Preferences

If you haven’t heard, I am working to totally makeover one lucky vacation rental owner’s marketing portfolio live (and step-by-step) for my subscribers to follow. You can read all the prior posts here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.20.35 AMWhy predict something when we can test?

Why guess when we can know?

In a recent post titled The ONLY Way To Find Out Precisely What Vacation Rental Guests Want, the comments section blew up with all kinds of great feedback…

“I like how the 4 questions you ask direct guests toward a more positive and helpful answer track,” said one owner.

“These guests are paying good money to stay in my place,” said another. “While I don’t ‘love’ to hear negative comments, any improvement I’ve made is as a result (usually) of a constructive criticism.”

And “Big ears produce more valuable feedback than a big mouth every time….so asking the right questions is key.”

For many owners and managers, accepting feedback or criticism is a massive learning hurdle to overcome!

So when it comes to her Las Vegas villa, I wanted to share with Amy Firmani a market research tool that we can use to accelerate this process.

 

The Best Way To Solicit Feedback

 

Most of us don’t have access to big focus groups or market research budgets…

So we need to utilize smarter tools to optimize our work.

One such tool is called Zipinion, which allows you to get 100 opinions on just about any type of image or text comparison.

Here are some previous posts where I’ve used Zipinion effectively:

> 71% Of Guests Want Floorplans In Image Galleries According To Zipinion

> 59% Of Travelers Would ‘Book Now’ In Exchange For Discount

> 74% Of Vacation Rental Travelers “Google” You Before Booking

The beauty of little experiments with Zipinion is that you can test your hypotheses.

Sure, you could use a dinner table discussion or a friendly phone call to ask friends for feedback. But Zipinion speeds up the collection of trustworthy info…

And for Amy Firmani, I decided to use Zipinion to answer a few burning questions we had with regards to her marketing campaign (and ultimately, her brand new website as well).

 

3 Impactful VR Marketing Experiments

 

Why predict something when we can test?

Why guess when we can know?

Here were three of the polls I ran for Amy’s rental that generated 100 responses each (in a little under 1 hour)…

 

Poll #1) How Can Amy’s VRBO Listing Stand Out?

 

The first little test was to compare Amy’s listing up against her VRBO competition…

I thought it would be super helpful to show a screenshot of the top 4 results for Bermuda Springs, and ask people which listing they would pick first (and why).

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 10.04.45 AM

We got tons of feedback (the large majority) of people choosing Amy’s listing (the first one), citing reasons like “it has the most reviews” and “range of prices” and “it’s simply number one!”

Of course this is all great reaffirmation for the work Christine Anderson did in Session 1.1: Titles & Descriptions.

But what I was really interested in those who preferred other listings. They cited reasons like:

> Listing #3 because it has the only photo of an interior and it caught my attention

> Listing #2 simply because I want to know what an $11k vacation rental looks like

> Listing #3 because it’s the cheapest (I’m a thrifty renter) and it’s closest to the Vegas Strip

> Listing #3 has the best price and best rating combination

> Listing #2 because it has a map pinpoint

Using this kind of feedback can help Amy inject a detail or component that she may not have thought about otherwise (such as the map pinpoint or the pricing).

 

Poll #2) Which Photo Should Be Amy’s Featured Image?

 

In this poll, I shared the two (what I considered to be BEST) photos from the brilliant Cameron Carothers’ Session 1.4: Professional Photographs (one of the back pool area and one of the front street view) and asked pollsters “Which image grabs your attention first?”

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 2.24.12 PM

Two thirds of people said they preferred image #1, citing reasons like:

> It shows the area in which you’d relax and enjoy yourself: after all, that is what I go on vacation looking for. Does it really matter what the house looks like from the street?

> Because it shows me a taste of paradise compared to a mere front lawn.

> Image #1 looks like paradise whereas the other one looks like…a nice house.

> l prefer the view of the patio and furniture. Why? Because I can see myself lounging there…the pure the perfect vacation escapade!

> Image 1 grabs my attention more as the morning sun rays are striking feature with the reflection off the pool near the resort. Beautiful scene, eye catching and would be the most optimal photo for the ad too. (Matt’s Note: I love how this person assumed Amy’s rental was a resort!)

This gives Amy great insight on which photo is more eye-catching.

She can even take the winner of this poll (image #1) and pit it against a new image of the pool to see which one of those comes out on top.

Constant upward progression!

 

Poll #3) Should owners pressure guests to get on the phone?

 

In Makeover Session 1.2: Correspondence, Amy revealed that getting guests on the phone was working really well for her.

But she was also weary that some percentage of people didn’t really want to talk on the phone (they just wanted to book!!!).

So we asked 100 people, “When looking to reserve a vacation rental for your family, do you a) prefer to speak with the owner/manager over the phone or b) prefer to limit communications to email (no phone)?”

And since this applies to so many of us, I’ve decided to publish the extended results for anyone who shares this project using the content lock below…

[wpsharely id=”11160″]

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.14.46 AM

The funny thing is that it was split almost right down the middle (53% choosing the phone call and 47% choosing only email) which actually says a lot about where to go from here…

Travelers on both sides of the coin voiced their preferences:

> I feel like more context can be given over the phone and I can explain my needs better (and it’s quicker) than email. Example: it will be easier in the phone conversation to inquire about how easy is it to stay a few extra days or is that problematic.

> I like to know whom I’m speaking to, if they are an honest and reliable person to rent from.

> I prefer to talk on the phone because I can get a better sense of what I’m getting myself into that way. You can tell a lot about a property from how the owner talks.

> I think it’s important to know whether the other person is real or not, and if they are willing to communicate directly. This tells me that they don’t have anything to hide and they’re confident in whatever it is they’re offering.

> I always prefer to know the personality of the person, which helps me get a feel for the place. A friendly phone conversation can often strike a deal, and/or show honesty about the location.

> I prefer email because I can do it at any time of the day. I like to do things late at night outside of business hours. When I email questions late night and receive answers back the next morning, it works just fine.

> I hate when vacation rental owners try to PUSH something on me. Or manipulate me by using my emotions. If I can keep it to email, it eliminates that part of it (I think)

> I’m really shy so I find it difficult talking on the phone.

> I don’t like having someone give me a sales pitch over the phone. Generally, that’s what a call degrades to. If I don’t have a specific question or request, I don’t need a phone call.

> I prefer email because it presents a record or documentation of the information exchanged such as price and dates availability. Plus, my questions can be much better thought-out. Email leaves a history you can easily come back to. I always want the details in writing.

> I stick with just email because it acts as written proof if anything goes wrong

So while these results aren’t really enough to drive Amy one way or another, it’s incredibly helpful to have peaked under the hood and know where both types of travelers are coming from…

Heck, Amy can even use some of that verbiage in her marketing.

She can add to her emails, “Wanna speak to Amy and truly know who you’re renting from? Call XXX-XXX-XXXX”

Or, “Do you have special needs? Give Amy a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”[/wpsharely]

 

Conclusion

 

As you can tell, the ability to investigate what others think about your vacation rental is just as important (if not moreso) than what you think of it yourself.

Using tools like Zipinion, or even if you’re artfully canvassing your current/past guests or friends and family, can do amazing things for the pinpoint accuracy of your vacation rental marketing:

Why predict something when we can test?

Why guess when we can know?

About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.

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