Vacation Rental Marketing Makeover: Introduction

Vacation Rental Marketing Makeover Session 1.0

So today is the day I’m starting Amy Firmani’s vacation rental marketing makeover!

If you didn’t read about the amazing application process that brings us to this point, you can see all the posts right here

This is the totally transparent process of a vacation rental marketing makeover — starting from pretty much scratch, conducted by an expert, and available free to the public — on the journey for more bookings outside of listing sites.

Without any further adieu, let’s jump right in…


The Property Itself


Amy’s vacation rental called Palazzo Paradiso is a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom villa in Bermuda Springs (a development) just a few minutes from the Las Vegas strip.

Palazzo Paraiso

Her pricing ranges from $250-$450/night and her ideal client profile is families, groups of women on vacation, and groups of people who want to be in Vegas for fight night.

Matt’s Tip: When I asked Amy about her guest profile, she had to think about it a bit. It is very important to have a precise idea of who is your ideal client demographic. That will act as a road map for your marketing.

Her property is one of 526 ‘Las Vegas’ rentals on VRBO and one of 471 ‘Las Vegas’ results on HomeAway (at the time of my research).

So considering all the competition, it’s really no wonder that her occupancy rate is less than ideal.


Amy’s Existing Marketing Efforts


Amy Firmani - Palazzo ParaisoAfter a few additional chats with Amy, I wanted to share with you what we are working with – in other words, the current marketing efforts Amy has in her portfolio:

–       A relatively new WordPress blog:

–       A Facebook fan page:

–       A VRBO listing (she uses the calendar for bookings):

–       A HomeAway listing:

–       A name and logo for her rental

–       What she calls “Snail Mail” or little email blasts she sends out to former guests that “tend to get bookings sometimes”

What you see in Amy’s marketing repertoire is a pretty common representation for most owners…

She gave AirBnB a try but didn’t get one booking so she cancelled her account.

She also was listed on a few other listing sites that didn’t send any bookings.

At a glance (and it doesn’t take an expert to come to this conclusion) it looks like Amy pretty much relies on her VRBO and HomeAway listings.

This means that practically ANY bookings that we generate on top of those results will be added profit to Amy’s bottom line…

And if you look at it this way, we have nowhere to go but up!


What’s Physically Missing From Amy’s Marketing Efforts?


So to sort of reverse-engineer things, let’s run through some of the vital marketing components Amy has been operating without (just to name a few):

–       A personal website for her property

–       A comprehensive email marketing strategy

–       A compelling listing description (preferably written by a professional)

–       Sharable content on her blog such as restaurant tips, travel secrets, insider access…etc.

–       An Insider’s Guide

–       Professional photos and/or video

–       Press release(s)

–       A Twitter account


So, Where Do We Start?


Because time is scarce (we want to increase bookings ASAP), here are my first orders of business:

1. Choose a domain and get Amy’s website under construction ASAP (as this process usually takes the longest, we’ll want to initiate the process with Villa Marketers yesterday)

2. Get professional photos taken immediately (more on this to come in a following blog post)

3. Create a compelling description for the property using vacation rental copywriter Christine Anderson

Some other important items soon to follow:

4. Begin stockpiling unique articles about her region, her property, and Amy’s family themselves (both collecting those that exist online and writing new ones). Also, create 1 (one) exceptional viral post that will start generating attention.

5. Setup an email marketing platform

6. Implement best correspondence practices and improve Amy’s “conversion” tactics to convert more inquiries to bookings

7. Setup a Twitter account with tool that automatically Tweets articles (#4)

8. Examine her listing site tiers and determine: Is upgrading is a sensible option?

Matt’s Tip: I find it much more manageable to set small goals for myself over shortened periods of time… instead of saying “I want to reach 90% occupancy by the end of the year,” we will consider the activities above as short-term (and totally feasible) indicators of success.


Palazzo Paradiso’s Occupancy Statistics


One of the last things I asked from Amy was that she go into her records (since she uses the VRBO calendar, all the data is sitting right there) and calculate her past year’s results so that we can see (apples to apples) how much of an impact our work has…

July: 15 nights booked* (50%)
August: 8 nights booked (27%)
September: 13 nights booked (43%)
October: 13 nights booked (43%)
November: 17 nights booked (57%)
December: 14 nights booked (47%)
Total Nights Booked in 2012: 80 (Average monthly occupancy rate: 44.5%)
Average Estimated Income in 2012 (using $350/night rate): $28,000
*Amy began renting in July

January: 21 nights booked (70%)
February: 22 nights booked (73%)
March: 16 nights booked (53%)
April: 15 nights booked (50%)
May: 16 nights booked (53%)
June: 20 nights booked (67%)
July: 21 nights booked (70%)
August: 16 nights booked (53%)
September: 11 nights booked (37%)
October: 9 nights booked (30%)
November: 18 nights booked (60%)
December: 6 nights booked (20%)
Total Nights Booked in 2013: 191 (Average monthly occupancy rate: 53%)
Average Estimated Income in 2013: $66,850

January: 12 nights booked (40%)
Total Nights Booked in 2014 :12 (Average monthly occupancy rate: 40%)

Matt’s Tip: If you have never created this sort of simple chart, it is essential. There is practically no way to improve if you aren’t acutely aware of your current (and past) performance. This could be something as simple as a Homemade Excel document.

This leaves us with a great starting point for Amy’s rental.

My ultimate goal is to increase both occupancy AND income: while you may be thinking “Aren’t they one in the same?” I firmly believe that having guests in your rental can alternatively be used as a branding mechanism and should not always been solely about the bottom line.

I hope everyone is excited to see all the improvements, tests, and probably failures along the way.

I will be sharing these posts exclusively with subscribers to my Free VR Marketing Newsletter.

Please stay tuned and feel free to use the comments section below for any questions/comments along the way…

About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)


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