Drop Everything and Check Out My Biggest Breakthrough Of 2014

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 2.05.48 PM[Warning: I predict that HomeAway or FlipKey or one of the other big companies will take this idea and turn it into an app within the next 2 years. Just remember, you heard it on Matt Landau’s VR blog first!]

I’m constantly on the lookout for new tools or secret weapons I can use to better engage my potential guests and convince them to book a reservation faster…

And when I first came across the idea of video messaging (not professionally edited videos like these ones, but rather homemade videos that you use in the correspondence process to build trust and personality) I had the following concerns:

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1. Good video equipment is expensive and kinda complicated

2. Editing video is a skill I simply do not have (or care to learn)

3. I hate listening to my own voice on my podcasts and I hate even more watching myself on video: I just look so goofy!

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So while I knew that using my webcam to make a short video messages to guests was a good idea (I’ve seen it done really successfully in other industries like real estate, financial services, sales teams), I wasn’t super thrilled to adopt it.

Until…I Was Convinced To Give It A Shot

My new friend Will Franco owns jiveSYSTEMS (a video marketing company) and he was just in Panama where we met in person.

He is the creator of “The Digital Handshake” in which you send a short video email to a potential guest to connect with them on a more personal level.

“Matt, you NEED to be using video for your vacation rental leads,” he said. “You’re absolutely ridiculous not to be doing this.”

And his argument (as it related to my 3 concerns above) went like this:

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1. Equipment: Actually there are cheap webcams and microphones nowadays that give near-identical quality as the fancy shmancy DSLR cameras (heck, some laptops have them built in). Specifically, this Blue Nessie mic and this Logitech webcam.

2. Editing: It’s possible to adopt a more casual style of video in which you don’t edit at all (you just ride it all the way through, little flaws and all) and basically hit one button to upload

3. Embarrassment: Get over it! Everyone including the biggest actors on the planet hate the look of themselves on camera but they realize it’s something they need to do to make lots of money…so just do it and stop being all dramatic!

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So I gave in.

To avoid complications of the learning curve, Will encouraged me to adopt a simple recipe of a) using a cheap but good webcam and microphone, b) not editing at all (I just do one take and then hit a button to upload to hosting), and c) doing more and more videos to get comfortable with seeing myself on camera.

And the quick results summary is that I’m absolutely crushing it.

Here’s an example of a follow-up video I sent out to an inquiry from a lady named Emily this morning:

She responded “Wow, Matt that was indeed unexpected! I will pay for the booking as soon as I return home. Thanks and looking forward to an amazing Jazz Fest!”

And this is not an unusual response.

And actually, pretty much every owner/manager in My VR Marketing Inner Circle who has tried it out is getting insanely good results.

Video is now like our secret weapon. It’s like a phone call…on steroids!

The 6 Video Techniques That Work Best

Of course I’m not going to claim ownership to this theme of video marketing, but I have developed some practices that seem to work especially well in the vacation rental industry.

I try to implement or consider each of these before making a new video:

1) Offer special bonuses: If it’s not something exclusive like the Jazz Fest tent in the video above, it could be an offer to make them a reservation at the best restaurant in town or to pre-stock their fridge with some delicious snacks.

2) Mention calls to action in email: “I have provided the payment link below” or “please just give me a call at XXX-XXXX if you have any additional questions” seem to really piggyback onto the personalized theme of the message and work extra well

3) Take the videos in interesting spots: As long as it is professional enough, I have had good results showing the ocean in the background (from our balcony) or sunset in the background (from our roof). A smartphone works perfectly well for this.

4) Don’t use Youtube: I use the jiveSYSTEMS account for my video hosting instead of YouTube as it’s faster and more professional (there are a few others that do the same thing). With this set-up, the upload process is ONE CLICK and then the insertion process into an email or a blog post is a simple COPY/PASTE away. The entire process (not counting the message itself) takes about 60 seconds.

5) You CAN. NOT. BE. PERFECT.: When I started it was sooooo easy to keep re-doing the videos in order to get them absolutely perfect because I’m usually a perfectionist. This took forever. But with video, I’ve found the casual style to be totally sufficient in getting results (and not to mention, a massive time-saver).

6) Consider The Evergreen Effect: Will also suggested that those who don’t want to follow up every single time with video can do one pre-recorded generic “Thank You” video that doesn’t feature any names or dates, rather just an appreciation for inquiring…etc. I have a few of these stowed away for easy usage.

Concluding Thoughts

So there you have it!

I’m guessing that many of you (who have been in the VR game for a while, or those just getting started) can see the value in a personalized video: either as a follow-up OR as the actual first communication response point blank.

After testing it for the past few months (and waiting to get this post juuuuuust right), I’m going on a limb and saying that video will be the future of vacation rental guest correspondence. One of the big guys reading this right now will (if they have not already) push it into their IT development priority list (De Nada, Dude).

I’d be curious to hear feedback from anyone who’s getting results or plans to give it a try in the comments section below…


  1. I wonder if the videos could be hosted from your wordpress site, perhaps imbedded in your bespoke template? I realize you don’t get the jive systems video tracking.

    1. Just answered my own question. Not recommended however you could embed your video on your bespoke page and host it in one of several locations.

  2. Matt,
    As ever a great idea and it will totally close more bookings. The key is then to make sure the guest can pay directly from the email.
    Did I tell you we can do that for owners? (Shameless self promotion!)

    Thanks Matt

    Andy

  3. Great idea Matt! You know I love video so this is another great way to add to the authenticity and “yes I’m a real person” of our niche vs. stuffed suite at a hotel. Love it!

  4. Matt, I want to try this video messaging and ordered the microphone and camera and now that I’ve received them, I want to sign up with Will. What happened to the special offer for your readers?

    1. He may have taken it down because he filled his quota. I’d sign up for the free test drive and ask him if you can still get the deal he posted here. No guarantees however.

  5. I have been working on this, and I have an EASY TIP if you don’t like looking at yourself on the video and feel really self conscious. I found that my using “mirror image” I feel more comfortable with what I see. To the viewer, its exactly the same. But to ME and YOU – seeing ourselves on the video exactly the way we see ourselves all the time, which is in a mirror, it makes you feel more comfortable with the image. Especially, probably, for women. I think I look so strange in “real image” as its not the way I think my hair and face looks. Click mirror image (in the Logitech software its easy) and Bam– so much better!

    1. Hahah this is such a good tip. I totally do this. Another tip, when you feel like you’ve done a good “take” — just publish it and never watch it again. Not sure what FlyWheel would say but, HEY, it works for me!

  6. Hi Matt 🙂
    I’m so brand new my paint isn’t try yet! Ridiculously, my career has been and healthcare and I’m looking for a transition. Just stumbled into VR and LOVE! I’m great with the guest side of it (all 5 stars) but am struggling with acquiring more inventory (other people’s property to manage). I’m only charging 15%, which is very competitive, but there are so many “big dogs” here on the Gulf Coast….any suggestions???
    Thanks for sharing all your expertise!!!!

    1. Great a DIY guide for property owners to get those 5-star managerial reviews. Give it away for free. The creme of the crop of owners who read your expertise will bubble to the top and be drawn to your services.

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