5 Mozcon Takeaways for Vacation Rentals

David Angotti
September 22, 2016

This post is written by David Angotti, Co-Founder of SmokyMountains.com, the fastest growing property management firm in the Great Smoky Mountains region. David's post is about his major takeaways from one of the world's most progressive marketing conferences.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend mozcon, an expert-level marketing conference, for the eighth year in a row. Over the past eight years, this conference has grown from 150 marketing geeks gathering at the Westin to over 2,000 of the industry’s brightest minds gathering at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

This conference, which focuses on brand building through web presence, always provides a high-level snapshot of where the web is headed along with tactical elements to move your brand forward.

Below are five key takeaways that I feel every vacation rental owner and property manager could employ as they strive for excellence. If you have any questions about how they might apply to your business or observations about how they may impact the industry as a whole, feel free to use the comments section at the bottom.

1. Search Over Social

Rand Fishkin, moz

As we look at aggregated web trends, search engine traffic is continuing to dominate the social chunk of the web traffic pie. Over the past year, search traffic increased from 27.79% in 2015 to 28.32% in 2016. During the same time period, social's small slice of the pie shrunk from 5.81% (2015) to 5.71% (2016).

Search engines are currently driving about six times as much traffic as social media and bringing customers who are more likely to purchase.

Why Does This Matter For My Vacation Rental?

With current trends favoring search (SEO/PPC) over social media, we should take a long look at the strategies we are using to produce bookings. Are we depending on listing sites for all of our bookings?

If so, where does their traffic come from? This matters. For example, FlipKey was likely penalized by Google last year. The result? Vacation rental owners and managers paid the same amount for the listings and were hurt by a sudden decrease in lead volume.

Part of being Listing Site Independent is a thorough understanding of each lead channel you decide to use. Does the channel work? If not, why not? We must commit to learn from both successes and failures and a complete understanding will allow us to do this.

2. Marketing Has Nothing To Do With Blasts

Email has the potential to make us happy or grumpy. Who likes spam and impersonal messaging? No one. Our emails should strive to be delightful and impactful for the reader. When we achieve this goal, the user will feel happy and our conversion rates will steadily rise.

Instead of focusing on open rates and click-through rates, we must be laser-focused on the real needs of real people. Only an absolutely incredible and well-crafted email can simultaneously meet the subscriber’s needs and the business’ needs, but this what we must strive for.

Why Does This Matter For My Vacation Rental?

As we pursue listing site independence, email marketing is an opportunity that we must maximize. The combination of well crafted messaging and a large list of potential guests will help us deliver revenue at the push of a button.

In order to do this, we must be able to stand out in a cluttered inbox. Otherwise, our email will just get deleted. How do we do this? Through personalized messaging that resonates with the end-user.

Sound impossible? I recently wrote a post on persona-based marketing, which details out the process and I am confident that you can do it!

3. How To Do Reputation Marketing

Rhea Drysdale, Outspoken Media

Reputation management has been a buzzword in the marketing industry for nearly a decade. However, traditionally this marketing method has been focused on limiting the impact of negative publicity.

Rhea introduced a new and possibly radical concept named reputation marketing and made a strong case that is should replace reputation management. Instead of using reputation management to minimize negative publicity, Rhea stated that brands must stay focused on growing brands.

I was enjoying her presentation, but then she mentioned a simple formula that floored me:

How much is your reputation worth?

Market Value - Tangible Assets = Reputation Value

Why Does This Matter For My Vacation Rental?

Because it’s magical. Reputation marketing can simultaneously increase guest satisfaction, nightly rent, and the value of your property/business. Imagine a world where a vacation rental that you bought for $500K could sell for $1M. With reputation marketing, this world exists.

Rhea's formula can be rewritten for vacation rentals:

Vacation Rental Value - Tangible Property Value = Reputation Value

Rhea mentioned three keys to reputation marketing success:

  1. Grow your reputation through a commitment to consistency and excellence
  2. Stay dedicated to your brand’s mission statement and do not compromise
  3. Surprise elicits powerful emotions. Impress people with unexpected, but pleasant interactions

Through reputation marketing, you will increase the value of your vacation rental - stop thinking of it as a property and start thinking of it as a business!

4. Inertia Is Our Problem - Not The Competition

Joanna Wiebe, CopyHackers

Our biggest threat is not our competitors - it is inertia. We are oftentimes overwhelmed by monitoring our competition and lose focus of our current and potential customers.

Joanna discussed a recent study and how it found that 60% of sales are lost to non-decision. These are sales lost because of our inability to communicate effectively not because the client ultimately went with the competition.

Consumers are bombarded with ad messages every day! In 1986, the average consumer was exposed to 2,000 ad messages every day. Today, that number has risen to 5,000 messages. Out of the 5,000 daily ads, the average consumer will recognize 50 and remember only 4.

How the heck do we compete with 5,000 other messages? We don’t. We compete with the four they remember - the rest don’t matter. If we can find the common elements of the failed messaging, we can quickly slice through the noise and capture attention.

Why Does This Matter For My Vacation Rental?

We wield copywriting power. The words we write paint pictures on our guests’ mind. Do we want to haphazardly sling paint at that canvas and create garbage that gets discarded or create a masterpiece?

To create conversion-oriented copy for your vacation rental, follow these steps:

  1. Be specific: Make the recipient feel as if you crafted the message to specifically address their needs
  2. Connect the dots: Specify precisely why your vacation rental is the perfect property for them
  3. Create word pictures: Help them visualize your property by painting word pictures

By creating conversion-oriented copy, you will increase the total number of nights your property is booked, lower your per-booking lead cost, and increase your profits. This is important stuff!

5. Relationships Matter & Friends Share Knowledge

Darik Eaton, Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals

After the conference one night, my business partner and I had the chance to hang out with Inner Circle member Darik from Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals. For those of you who do not know Darik, he runs the top vacation rental business in the Seattle market and is a wealth of knowledge for everything vacation rental related. He was kind enough to meet us for dinner, give us a tour of his operation, and share both his evening and his knowledge with us.

During our long dinner we discussed everything from regulatory challenges to housekeeping to business development. The discussion with this high-level property manager was encouraging and left me refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges associated with this business.

As I grow as a businessperson, I am finding that relationships drive all aspects of business. The value of your collective business relationships will likely determine the overall success and value of your brand.

Side benefit - You get some awesome friends out of the deal!

Why Does This Matter For My Vacation Rental?

The relationships you have with other vacation rental owners, customers, and vendors will ultimately make or break you and your business.

Eventually you will need help - we all have moments of discouragement and times we reach an impasse. This is not weakness. It is reality. A time of trial is the worst possible time to learn that relationships matter. Now is the time to invest in relationships and help others. By helping others today, you are helping yourself long-term.

Are you sad that you missed out on this incredible conference? No worries! Some of my friends over at a marketing company named unbounce took meticulous notes with all of the actionable tips and insights and they’ll email them for free.

Grab a cup of coffee and download their 191 pages of detailed notes. If you can’t figure out how to apply a concept or idea to the vacation rental niche, hit me up in the comments below.

Together, we can strive towards listing site independence!

About the Author

Matt Landau is the Founder of VRMB. He spends most of his time inside of VRMB Communities, one of the leading collaboration platforms helping vacation rental owners and managers build more profitable & sustainable businesses.

David Angotti

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