Two of the biggest challenges in building archetypes and frameworks for vacation rentals are that (1) the industry is so new that limited data is available and (2) us hosts are all so darn different.
A $70/night cabin in Pigeon Forge has entirely different operational needs from a $500/night penthouse in Tokyo.
And a 60-year old mom of three has entirely different operational skills and interests than a 30-year old who just graduated with a digital marketing diploma.
But regardless of our commitment levels, most of us (well, at least if you care enough to be reading a post like this) are REALLY good at what we do!
And on my ever-evolving quest to deeper investigate and better understand the DNA of the most successful hosts, I am increasingly seeing mindset or attitude as a big differentiating factor. To be more specific, an owner or manager with the "can do" mindset about their marketing is likely to succeed. Whereas someone less proactive or less optimistic is likely to be limited by their success.
3 Real Life Marketing Success Stories
But to many people getting started in the vacation rental world, the big picture of success can be misinterpreted to mean millions of hours and thousands of dollars spent towards the cause. Whereas actually, success is not nearly as rigid or status-based.
To prove that VR success -- by way of that go-getter mindset -- is not a cookie-cuter definition...that it can actually look like a number of different things...I wanted to share with you three Inner Circle members who are doing things their own way:
1. Rick Oster: The Golf Nerd
Rick has vacation rental homes located on a famous Robert Trent Jones golf course and 100% of his guests are golfers looking to stay for a few days and relax. So Rick asked himself, "How can I leverage my own love for golf in a helpful way?" The answer: convince his wife to let him buy a drone, fly it over each hole, and narrate insider tips for his guests:
As you can see, you don't need to be specifically interested in Rick's rentals to be able to appreciate his marketing. And even if you don't choose his rentals this time, chances are that when you come back to the area next time or when you've got a friend looking to stay, who are you gonna call?
This technique works so well because it can be adapted to your passions or interests. And based on this drone photo that Rick took -- showing his homes in relation to the course -- you may become a bit of an artist in the process.
2. David Angotti: The Foliage Guru
Guests were always asking David's property management team "when do the leaves change color?" to plan their visit to the Smoky Mountains region. But instead of just repeating his answer over and over again, David chose to take it a step further and -- with the help of his website programming partner Wes -- created an interactive Fall Foliage Map:
If you look where David hosts the map on his Smoky Mountains site, they even go into the science of it all. And it turns out, it wasn't just vacation rental travelers that wanted this information. David's little tool was soon picked up by Mashable and like a gazillion other websites.
David and Wes' work is proof that being methodical, taking what your potential guests want to know, and putting effort into delivering that information in a useful way can earn you tons of exposure. They've credited this success story to successively record years in bookings.
3. Kim Bergstrom: The Queen Of Blogging
Kim is not an inbound marketing expert, nor a hospitality guru. But she does know that helpful blog posts are a way to turn researching travelers into actual guests. And she has clearly found a calling in becoming a regional expert: her blog evolving as one of the most authoritative (and frankly, just fun to read) in the Manzanita region.
Check out her blog post The Aboslutely Essential Packing List For Your Oregon Coast Trip, which is as good (if not better) than any travel magazine out there:
It's definitely not your humdrum packing list...it features gorgeous photos, interspersed with Kim and her husband Eric's recommendations, like a portable coffee maker great for hikes:
And their favorite vineyard to pick up a case of Pinot Noir...
Kim even begins to test the waters of fashion advice with inspiring bathing suits (below) and "my current crush on these cute mahabis slippers."
Kim ads so much value to her vacation rentals simply by conveying her personality and taking the time to share her regional tips on this blog...it could very well be the most valuable asset in her marketing portfolio.
You don't need to spend a bunch of money or hire any expensive consultants to be successful with your vacation rental marketing. But you do have to embrace a proactive mindset. You do have to understand that sustainable marketing requires some creativity and some elbow grease.
But be sure to play to your strengths: if you like to write, create a blog like Kim. If you are a fanatic about birdwatching, create an insider's birdwatching guide. If you're a fishing fanatic, help prospective visitors understand what they can catch and when.
The more and more I learn, vacation rental marketing is not about your budget or your location or even your property itself. It about your desire to help travelers (not sell them)...and to put as much effort into your forward-facing brand as you do when that guest steps through the door.