What’s the Most Effective Way of Marketing a Vacation Rental Property?

What’s the Most Effective Way of Marketing a Vacation Rental Property?

Vacation rental owners face a number of challenges and usually, chief among them, is that which comes with maximizing rental revenue and occupancy rates. Frequently, these issues arise because vacation rental owners are having a tough time marketing their properties. We’ve heard the same question repeatedly from our clients, “What’s the most effective way to market a vacation rental property?” And while we wish we could provide a simple, straightforward response, anymore, there just isn’t one strategy you should follow to ensure vacation property success. Instead, the most effective way to market vacation homes and condos depends on incorporating several different types of marketing techniques into one comprehensive strategy.

Build Your Brand

 

Elevate your vacation rental into something beyond just a home or condo by creating a brand for your property. While this may sound like a grand undertaking, it really only involves a few steps. First, give your vacation home or condo a name.To guests, properties that have names come across as having more personality than those that don’t. In addition, repeat or referred guests will have an easier time finding your property online when it has a specific name. Try to find a descriptive name that captures what’s special about your property (Mountaintop Manor, Lakeside Chalet, etc.). Before you commit to a name, do a quick internet search to guarantee your chosen name’s uniqueness.

 

Set Up a Website

 

Computer Showing Website Creation PlatformOnce you’ve got your name picked out, it’s a good idea to set up a website for your property. There are a variety of platforms out there that make setting up websites quick and easy. Website hosting is also very affordable, with many plans costing just a few dollars a month. In order to get your site showing up in search results, take the time to optimize it for search engines. If you’ve never dealt with search engine optimization (SEO), we’ve put together a vacation rental SEO guide that covers just about everything you should know.

 

Set Up Social Media Accounts

 

Social Media Marketing App for Vacation RentalsSocial media accounts are another important element of your vacation rental brand. You can use Facebook and Twitter to show off photos of your property, events in your destination, and much more. Facebook is also great for advertising and getting reviews. Set up a Google My Business page for your vacation home or condo, too. This will ensure that your property shows up in local map search results. Plus, if you get Google reviews for your property, they’ll show up in these search results as well. Having these types of accounts makes it even easier for guests to find your property online.

Listing Sites

 

Listing Site for Vacation RentalsIf your property isn’t listed on the major rental listing sites (VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, etc.), now’s the time to create those listings using the property name you previously devised. Many factors on these sites will affect how successful your listing is at attracting guests. First and foremost, your destination and its market saturation can negatively impact your property’s visibility. For example, major metropolitan areas can have thousands and thousands of vacation homes and condos available for rent. Getting your property to stand out and rank higher than all those other rentals, will take time and effort.

Listing sites take several criteria into consideration when ranking vacation properties in their search results. Most of these have to do with how good of an experience potential guests have with your listing. Best practices include:

  • Giving guests the ability to book online
  • Responding to guest inquiries in a timely fashion
  • Keeping the availability calendar up to date
  • Using high quality property photos
  • Having good and current reviews
  • Providing an accurate and engaging property description
  • Verifying your property’s location on the map

Content Marketing

 

Person Writing a Blog Post for Vacation Rental WebsiteContent marketing is one of the more effective marketing strategies out there for the travel industry. Essentially, with content marketing, you’ll need to write articles about your property or your destination and then post them on your website and social media accounts. The key to great content marketing is research. You’ll need to take some time to research what your target audience is interested in and what they’re looking for online. Topics will obviously depend on your destination but may include things like events, seasonal activities, festivals, transportation options, restaurants, and lots more. If you’ve put together a quality, SEO article, search engines will notice and your article will rise in results rankings, which will get more organic traffic to your website. Infographics and videos are other great content pieces that appeal to a wide variety of audiences.

While search engines love quality content, so do guests. Your content will lay the groundwork for developing customer relationships and establishing your brand’s personality. And, the more frequently your content pieces come up in search results, the more brand recognition you’ll develop. If potential guests come to identify you as an authority on the area, this makes them more likely to trust you and to consider your rental when thinking about their next vacation.

Keep in mind that content marketing will take time. You won’t see results immediately as you’ll need to wait for search engines to find your content and index it. But the results from your efforts will be long-lasting, which is what makes content marketing quite affordable and cost-effective.

Email Marketing

 

Emails Received on a SmartphoneEmail marketing is a cost-effective and useful strategy that can help to maintain occupancy rates throughout the year while also keeping previous guests engaged. Most email platforms that are out there have free and low-cost versions that will more than pay for themselves. Emails make it easy for you to stay fresh in the mind of your previous guests and to continue building on your relationship with them. In addition, emails are a great way to encourage repeat business through things like discounted rates, last minute deals, and reward programs.

An added bonus of email marketing is that you can easily see how well your messages are being received. You’ll be able to see how many people opened your emails, how many clicks they get, and more. You can also use custom campaign parameters (snippets of code at the end of your link URLs) to better help you see how users are interacting with your site once they get there. When you know what messages are resonating with your audience members, you can tailor your emails to suit their interests, which will result in higher open rates and an increased potential for bookings.

How’s Your Marketing Strategy?

 

As the online marketplace for vacation rentals continues to evolve, property owners must adjust their marketing techniques accordingly. Currently, the best and most effective way to market your vacation rental property is by using a combination of marketing strategies that work together to increase your property’s online exposure, develop its brand reputation, and increase the organic traffic to your property’s website. With these items in place, you can look forward to getting more booking and more rental revenue.

If you’ve got questions about marketing your vacation home or condo, we’re here to help. We offer full-service marketing packages that can get your property seen online. To get started, give us a call at (720) 336-3939 or contact us online.

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Why Email Marketing is Key to Increasing Occupancy

Why Email Marketing is Key to Increasing Occupancy

All vacation rental owners will, at one point or another, struggle with low occupancy rates. Frequently low occupancy rates are seasonal occurrences but things like economic downturns and unfavorable weather conditions (no snow in a ski resort town, for example) can also result in low occupancy. The challenge that vacation rental owners must face is how to maintain occupancy rates throughout the year in order to maximize profitability. Though frequently overlooked, email marketing is one tool that often plays a key role in increasing vacation rental occupancy. When vacation property owners develop a comprehensive email marketing plan, they’ll have an easier time ensuring that their rental is receiving consistent bookings.

Email Marketing is Cost-Effective

Calculator and Expense Sheet

Regardless of your marketing budget, email marketing is incredibly cost-effective. There are a number of user-friendly platforms out there that provide free or low-cost email marketing services. One of our favorite services to use is MailChimp. Their system makes it incredibly easy to design beautiful emails and if you have less than 2,000 email subscribers, you can take advantage of their Forever Free Plan. If your contact list has more than 2,000 subscribers, monthly plans can be as cheap as $10 to $15.

Getting just one booking from your email marketing efforts will more than pay for the cost of your email marketing plan and the effort that goes into it.

In addition, it takes far less of an investment for you to keep previous guests than to find new guests. Sending emails to your previous guests is a great way to keep them on board, because…

Email Marketing is Engaging

 

When your previous guests get regular emails from you, it helps to further establish their guest experience. Essentially, it provides them with an ongoing ‘interaction’ with you and your property. While some of your emails will be sales-based in nature, it’s a good idea to incorporate other elements as well, like local events, changes to your property, exciting area news, etc. These types of emails give your former guests a sense of familiarity with your rental and destination, which can play a big part in their decision to return to your property in the future. If your guests had a great experience on their trip at your vacation property, these consistent updates do a nice job in reminding them of their pleasurable experience.

When you choose your email topics and offers wisely, you’ll most likely increase the number of bookings from former guests, because…

Email Marketing Shows Your Appreciation

Smartphone with an Email Newsletter

Guests who stay in vacation homes or condos and leave feeling unappreciated will most likely never return to that vacation property. As with all consumers, vacation rental guests want to feel that their patronage is appreciated. While much of this feeling of appreciation will come from your interactions before, during, and right after their stay, you can continue to build on it by providing them great opportunities for future stays.

Give your former guests the chance to take advantage of special rates for loyal customers or, if your rates will be increasing, the chance to book their next vacation at the former year’s rates. Consider offering your previous guests a rewards program and if you can, send out holiday greetings or birthday wishes. Last minute deals are another great option for showing customer appreciation.

Again, consistent communication will be extremely helpful in showing how much you value your former guests. You’ll want to stay in touch with them if you want them to stay in touch with you. And even better, you can easily gauge how well your efforts are working because…

Email Marketing Efforts are Quantifiable

When you send out your emails, you can easily establish how many people are opening them, clicking on links, etc. This data is very helpful as work to tailor your messages to your guests. It will give you a good idea of what types of offers and email types are most appealing to your guests. With that information in hand, you can adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. In addition, you can add campaign parameters to your URLs so that you can further track your guests’ interactions with your website using tools like Google Analytics. Campaign parameters are custom bits of code that are appended to your URLs where you can identify exactly which email brought a visitor to your site and that person’s interaction with your site after they arrive. For example, you’ll be able to tell how many pages on your site they visit after arriving, how long they spend on your site, and how many are new users.

Google Analytics of an Email Marketing Campaign

You’ll get the best results when you test different messages and offers and then use that information to further segment your campaigns. How to best segment your email lists will depend on a number of factors. You may find that you achieve the best click-through-rates when you segment by email engagement. Those who open and click on your email may be classified as interested and as such, will receive more emails. Meanwhile, you may want to design a campaign specifically to re-engage those guests who rarely open your emails.

Another option is to segment by geographical location and send only last minute deals to those guests who don’t live too far from your vacation rental.

The options for segmentation are nearly endless, with even more varieties available when you mix and match different audiences. Your testing and retesting efforts will allow you to find the perfect email type and offer for all of your guest types. Although it will take some time, you’ll find that your efforts will be rewarded with increased guest interactions and higher occupancy rates.

 

How Does Your Email Marketing Strategy Look?

 

If you need to build up your email marketing strategy, the professionals at Vacation Rental Marketers are here to help. We offer full-service marketing packages that can take your vacation property to the next level. Give us a call at (720) 336-3939 or contact us online to get started. We look forward to speaking with you!

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How to Optimize Online Reviews for Your Vacation Rental

How to Optimize Online Reviews for Your Vacation Rental

Make your vacation rental as profitable as possible by optimizing your property’s online reviews. Many owners overlook the importance that online reviews play in securing bookings. Frequently, getting these reviews involves more than just waiting for your former guests to go online and give their opinion about your rental. As a vacation property owner, you’ll need to take certain steps to help make sure that your rental gets the reviews it needs to stand out online. We’ve put together an overview of how to best optimize the online reviews of your vacation rental so you can get more online exposure as well as more bookings.

Why Are Reviews Important?

Using Online Searches for Vacation Rentals

There a couple of different roles that reviews play for your vacation home or condo. First off, the majority of consumers read reviews and most people trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends or family. Even more notable is the fact that about half of people won’t book a vacation rental that doesn’t have any reviews.

Not having any reviews goes on to complicate the matter even further by reducing your property’s online visibility. If you list your property on HomeAway or one of its sites, reviews will play a part in search results ranking.

These sites have a listing scorecard for each property. The higher the score, the better the search results ranking. To get the highest score in the review category, you’ll need at least 12 recent reviews.

Having good reviews on other sites, including TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google, will help to ensure that your property ranks well in search results. This will help your vacation home or condo to be seen by more people, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get more bookings.

First Steps to Optimizing Reviews

Listings Displayed on Online Map Search Results

If you haven’t already, give your property a catchy name that’s easy to remember. This will play a big role in establishing your vacation rental brand. Then, you’ll need to get your vacation home or condo listed on both Google Maps and Bing Places. This way, if a potential guest searches for your property by name, it will show up on the map in search results. Also, if guests just happen to be looking at a map of your area, they may stumble across your map listing. Finally, with Google, any Google reviews are prominently displayed under the map that shows in search results.

Once you’ve completed these initial steps, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your rental on all the major listing sites. This includes, HomeAway, airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. You should also set up a Facebook page for your vacation rental as well. Essentially, you want to ensure that your guests will have no problem finding a way to provide a review for your property. Having reviews on all the sites has another bonus as well – they show up prominently in search results. Furthermore, TripAdvisor reviews will show up underneath Bing and Yahoo map results.

Automate the Review Process

Automated Emails for Property Reviews

To make it easier for guests to give your property a review (and to remind them about leaving one), it’s best to set up an email that will be sent to them automatically shortly after their departure. This email doesn’t have to be anything anything fancy. You can simply thank them for staying in your property and ask them if they enjoyed their vacation. To answer this question, they can click on Yes or No.

The Yes link can take them to a page on your website that gives them all the options of where they can review your property (links to Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google, etc.) or it can link directly to any of these sites.

For Google reviews, we’ve found the Google Review Link Generator to be quite useful. However, this will only work if you have a Google map listing for your rental.

The No link should direct your guests to a form where they can provide their feedback on why they didn’t enjoy their stay. This will help to keep negative reviews off third-party sites while also giving your guests the chance to feel like their concerns are being heard. You can then take steps to communicate directly with them, address their complaints, and fix any issues that the guests came across during their stay.

Keep in mind that with this route, it’s better respond to those guests who did not enjoy their stay than to ignore them. If you don’t open that communication channel, you run the risk that your unhappy customer will go to a third-party site and publish their negative review for all to see and limiting your options to nip the issue in the bud.

Handling Negative Reviews

Keyboard with Good and Bad Review Options

At one point or another, your property will get a bad review online. While it’s not ideal, it’s not necessarily disastrous either – as long as you handle it properly. Most owners’ first reaction to bad reviews is to get offended. Although that’s understandable, it’s also not a feeling you should be experiencing as you pen you response. You should respond to the review somewhat quickly but also give yourself plenty of time to think about your response (at least a day or two). Keep in mind that your response will live on the internet forever, so let that knowledge guide your wording. In addition, it will reflect your brand and can easily affect a potential guest’s decision to stay at your property.

Take objective look at their complaint. Is it something that you genuinely need to address (non-functioning appliances), something you can’t address (the condo pool is too far away), or something without merit (purely bogus claims)? With all that in mind, start by thanking them for their response and offering a sincere apology (even if it’s just that you’re sorry they didn’t enjoy their stay). Continue by acknowledging their complaint. For legitimate issues, let your guests know that you’ll be reaching out to them directly so that you can better understand what they weren’t happy with and how you intend to fix it. This personal contact may have the happy benefit of the guest changing their review or taking it down.

While it’s never a happy feeling to see a one-star review for your property, there won’t be much you can do for those complaints about items you can’t fix or for any erroneous claims.  For bogus complaints, you may want to consider offering some facts on the matter to give future guests some insight as to the quality of the review. For example:

“Thank you for your feedback, although we’re very sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your stay. After reading your review, we checked with our cleaning crew and they confirmed that there are, in fact, towels in the condo. Please contact us directly so we can better understand what negatively affected your stay.”

Regardless of the nature of the complaint, always take the high ground. Most future guests will be able to spot bogus negative reviews and will give little value to reviews that cite issues over which you have no control.

How Do You Get Good Reviews?

Guest Providing a Good Online Review

The best way you can ensure that your vacation rental gets good reviews is by providing top-notch customer service as well as great vacation accommodations. You don’t need to have your vacation home or condo decked out with all the luxurious touches, but take a thoughtful approach to furnishings, decor, and other items like kitchenware and entertainment options. Consider the type of service and amenities you like to enjoy while you’re on vacation and go from there. When you strive to provide a great experience for your guests, you’ll be rewarded with good reviews.

Do You Need Help With Your Vacation Rental Website?

 

The team at Vacation Rental Marketers is here to help you whether you need a full-service marketing package or you’d just like a free consultation. Feel free to give us a call at (720) 336-3939 or contact us online.

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Vacation Rental SEO: Your Complete Guide

Vacation Rental SEO: Your Complete Guide

Optimizing your vacation rental website for search engines can do wonders for maximizing your occupancy rates and rental revenue. But how do you get started with vacation rental SEO? The topic of SEO, or search engine optimization, can seem overwhelming and intimidating, especially if it’s not something you’ve ever worked with before. But, while it will take some time to learn and perfect your optimization skills, the good news is that your efforts will be well worth it. The top four organic listings in Google search results get the lion’s share of clicks. So, if you’re able to improve your search results ranking even to the first page of results, increased website traffic is all but guaranteed. In order to make it easier for you to take on vacation rental SEO, we’ve put together this guide that details all of the information you should know to get your website in front of as many people as possible.

What is SEO?

 

Essentially, SEO is the process of ensuring that your vacation rental website follows all of the search engine guidelines. While engines used to focus solely on keywords and how often they were used, their algorithms have now evolved to rank sites based on a number of factors. These factors include, but aren’t limited to keywords, quality content, backlinks, social media presence, and the user interface. There are two types of optimization that you need to pay attention to: on-page and off-page. As you might expect, on-page optimization refers to items that are on your website and off-page refers to things that are not.

On-Page Optimization

On-Page Optimization Chart

With on-page optimization, the focus is on optimizing the content and HTML code of each of your web pages. If you’re currently using a content management system (CMS), you’ll find that there won’t be too much, if any, coding work you’ll need to do. Many of these systems make it very easy to optimize your sites. Some even have plugins or other tools that can help you with your optimization efforts. In the event that you need to tackle HTML coding, there are lots of resources online – we particularly like W3Schools as they have lots of easy to use tutorials.

Domain Name

 

If you don’t already have a website, your first step will be picking a great domain name. With a domain name, you make your vacation rental its own brand. Your rental can go from just being a house in the mountains to the Mountaintop Chalet. For a great domain name, you’ll want to keep it as short as possible, avoid using hyphens, and make sure it’s both pronounceable and memorable.

Tags & Attributes

Example Appearance of Meta Title and Descriptions in Search Results

Meta tags are snippets of information that describe different elements of a web page’s content. The title tag is essentially the title of the page. It should be unique for each page on your website. It’s best to keep page titles to a length of 50 to 60 characters so that the entire title shows up in search results. The meta description provides a summary of the page’s content. This is what appears in search results and what will persuade someone to click on your link. Descriptions should be about 160 characters in length.

Alt tags or alt attributes provide alternative text for images should a user be unable to see the images or if they use a screen reader. These tags should accurately describe what the image is. They make it more likely that search engines will show your image in search results.

Diagram Showing the Different Types of Heading Tags

Finally, there are heading tags. These establish the structure of your web page and there are six different heading tags, from H1 to H6. You can think of the H1 tag as the headline or subject of your page. It’s the most important heading tag and you should only use it once for each page. The H2 and below tags serve to identify other subsections of your web page. They’re like an outline for search engines and as such, you should always keep them in order. For example, an H4 tag should only follow an H3 tag, an H5 tag should only follow an H4 tag, etc. Unless you have a very in-depth web page, it’s not very likely that you’ll need to use any tag beyond an H3 tag. Your H1 tags, much like your title tags, should be unique from page to page on your website.

Keywords should be a part of your page titles, descriptions, alt attributes, and heading tags to the extent that they make sense and serve to accurately reflect the content of the page. Page titles that have keywords as close as possible to the beginning tend to rank higher than those that don’t. Any time you use keywords, it should feel natural and not forced. Avoid repeating these words excessively (this is known as keyword stuffing) and use variations of them. Again, while these words and phrases help search engines know what your website and its pages are about, your ultimate goal is to provide your site users with a good experience.

URLs

 

Your page URLs matter! Not only should they be readable, but they should include the keywords you’re targeting. When your site comes up in results, users will look at the URL when deciding which link to click. When someone looks for “pet-friendly cabins in Georgia,” they’re more likely to click on www.coolcabins.com/pet-friendly-cabins-georgia than www.coolcabins.com/12345.html. The URL gives users an idea of what to expect when they click on the link.

 

Aim for shorter URLs rather than longer ones as the shorter ones are easier to read. Try to stay under 100 characters. In addition, using hyphens as word separators helps to improve a URL’s readability. And finally, avoid using special characters.

Keywords

 

We’ve already gone into a little bit of detail regarding keywords. As we mentioned, while they’re not the only factor that search engines use for ranking, they’re still very important. To make sure you’re targeting the right phrases and words, it’s important to do your research. Take some time to look at your competitors and see how their websites come up in search results.

 

As you approach this project, think logically – if you were looking for a vacation rental like yours, how would you search for it? Enter those terms into a search engine and see what comes up. It’s also helpful to take a look at the related search terms at the bottom of the page to get an idea of what other words/phrases might be useful.

Chart Showing How Long Tail Keywords Work

You’ll likely want to focus on long tail keywords that reflect the location, the type of property (home, condo, etc.), and amenities. Long tail keywords are three- to four-word phrases that are very specific. These serve to bring in a highly targeted audience. Someone who searches for a pet-friendly cabin in northern Georgia knows exactly what they’re looking for, which makes it more likely that they’re closer to booking than those who use more generic search terms.

Keyword research tools can provide you with valuable information with regard to finding similar keywords as well as how competitive the keywords are. The more competitive a word or phrase is, the more difficult it can be to rank for it. Google has a free Keyword Planner tool (although you must have an AdWords account). SEMrush provides some free keyword research information and they offer paid plans as well.

Links

 

Internal and external links also factor into your website’s SEO. Each page on your site should have internal links to other pages on your site. These links should make sense and be relevant. It makes sense to have your page describing your pet-friendly cabin link to the page that covers your pet policy. However, it may not make sense for it to link to your travel insurance page. Internal links also help to ensure that all of your pages get crawled and ranked by search engines.

 

External links are those on your site that point to other sites. While you don’t want to have to have an excessive number of external links on your site, it’s still good to have some here and there. When you do link to other sites, only link to those that are quality, high authority sites. These links help to convey to search engines that your site’s content is relevant. As with internal links, external ones should also make sense and pertain to the topic at hand. Make sure that your external links open in a new tab or window to help keep visitors on your site. This option is usually available through your CMS’ visual editor.

 

The anchor text you use for both internal and external links also matters. Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink, frequently shown in blue, underlined font. It should be relevant to the page to which it points. Avoid using phrases like “Click here” as your anchor text and instead use natural phrasing, like “Our Pet Policy covers…”

Responsiveness

Example Showing a Responsive and Non-Responsive Website

Is your website responsive? Or in other words, is it mobile-friendly? If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it will impact how it ranks in search results. If you use a platform like WordPress, then it’s very likely that your site is responsive as most, if not all, of their themes are. You can do a quick check on your phone to see how your site looks or you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

User Experience

 

With your website, you need to focus on providing the best possible user experience in order to maximize your vacation rental’s SEO. Tools like live availability calendars and the ability to book online are very important to many potential guests. You should go through your website and double check that all your pages and links are functioning properly. Are your navigation options straightforward and easy to understand? Can you quickly find the information that you think your guests would be interested in? Take an objective and critical look at your website in order to identify any issues that may impact a user’s opinion of your site and, by extension, your brand.

Content

 

Quality content plays a huge part in your vacation rental website’s search ranking. Not only does it help to improve the experience users have on your site, but it helps to organically attract more visitors to your site. This serves to increase brand recognition and reputation. Focus on providing visitors with the information they want. Popular activities and events are good topics for content as are things like frequently asked questions and need-to-know-information.

 

When you come up with topics, do a quick internet search prior to starting writing. This will help you to gauge interest in the topic, see how others have covered it, and see if there’s important information that hasn’t been addressed yet. In addition to blog posts, create a variety of different types of content. Infographics make it easy to convey information in a visually appealing way. Videos are also incredibly popular forms of content. It’s estimated that video makes up almost 75% of online traffic, so it’s a type of content that’s definitely worth looking into.

Additional Items

 

When adding images to your website, file names matter. Give your picture a relevant name (cabin-living-room.jpg instead of IMG-1234.jpg) and use hyphens as word separators. To see how your site is performing with certain keywords or how often it’s showing up in search results, Google Analytics and Search Console, as well as Bing Webmaster Tools, provide helpful and in-depth information.

Off-Page Search Engine Optimization

Off-Page Optimization Chart

Off-page optimization refers to a variety of techniques and strategies that you can employ off your website to improve its search results ranking. These approaches help search engines determine that your site is trustworthy and reliable. Essentially, off-page SEO efforts tell Google and Bing just how popular your website is. The more popular it is, the higher it will rank.

Social Media Presence & Engagement

 

If you haven’t already created social media accounts for your vacation rental brand, now’s the time. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ are just a few of the many options out there. These sites help you to build your online reputation. However, with social media accounts, you will need to take the time to be engaged and responsive. This works to increase brand loyalty and the chances that your online followers and friends will book with you. You’ll want to make sure that you post all of your content on your social media sites in order to get as many eyes on it as possible.

Backlinks

Diagram Showing Types of Backlinks

When your vacation rental website has a lot of quality backlinks (links pointing from someone else’s site to yours), this tells search engines that your site is popular and important. Getting these types of links can be difficult and time-consuming, though. One way to get started on your link building strategy is by checking to see where your competitors get their backlinks. Moz and SEO Review Tools offer both free and paid options for backlink checkers. If your competition ranks well for the keywords that you’re targeting, pursuing the same backlinks can help to improve your own ranking.

Local Listings

Example of What Local Listings Look Like in Search Results

Chances are your destination has a Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Board. If so, find out what it takes to get your vacation rental listed with them. Other good choices for local options include Google Maps, Bing Places, Apple Maps, Yahoo Local, and the Yellow Pages. Local directories make it easier for you to reach a highly targeted audience – namely those people who are looking for lodging specifically in your area.

Local Partnerships

 

Reach out to local restaurants and shops and find out whether a partnership might be a possibility. Not only will these partnerships enable you to provide added value to your guests in the form of things like discounted gear or food, but they’ll help to get your brand’s name out there. In addition, you may want to consider sponsoring or volunteering at local events, which can also increase your vacation rental’s visibility online.

Forums, Groups & Guest Posts

Example of an Online Travel Forum

When you join forums and groups, you can easily lend your expertise on your area. Sites like TripAdvisor have forums where you can answer visitor questions and offer your own insights. Many forums and groups give you the opportunity to include a link back to your website. This help to increase brand awareness and recognition. A great interaction with a potential visitor to the area increases the likelihood that he or she will remember you and book with you when the time comes. Guest blog posts are another good way to get your name out there while sharing your knowledge of the destination in question. Again, all of these work together to bolster your vacation rental’s online presence. The more online presence you have, the more credible you are to search engines.

Getting Your Vacation Rental SEO Plan Together

 

It will take some time to get all the moving parts of your SEO plan up and running. But with a little planning and effort, you’ll be surprised at the grand strides you’re able to take. If you’re looking for even more information, take a look at our Link Building page to learn about our process and the benefits of link building. You can also check out our Content Marketing page to get more information on why it’s such an important strategy. If all this seems overwhelming, feel free to give us a call at (720) 336-3939 or fill out our Get Started Form to get set up with a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!

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How To Create a Travel Guide for Your Vacation Rental Business

How To Create a Travel Guide for Your Vacation Rental Business

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before to find all the information you need before booking a vacation. That’s why it’s so important for you, as a vacation rental business owner, to provide your guests with a travel guide. Offering a travel guide is beneficial on a number of different levels. As potential guests are researching their destination and they come across your guide online, this helps your business to stand out as an authority. This, in turn, can increase the chances that these individuals will book with you. When you provide your guests with an in-home guide, it adds an extra level of convenience to their stay. A useful guide will help them to make the most of their vacation, which makes it more likely that they’ll give you a good review.

But, how do you create a travel guide for your vacation rental business? It’s not too difficult, but it will take some time and consideration. We’ve put together some pointers to help you create a great guide that your guests will love.

Decide What Format You’d Like

Group of People Designing a Guide
As we previously mentioned, you can opt to have an online guide, a printed guide, or both. Each one has its own advantages. A digital travel guide can be accessed from almost anywhere. A printed guide in your vacation rental makes an easy reference for your guests. We recommend offering both as this allows you to offer added value to guests and potential guests. If you’re considering creating both formats, keep in mind that printed guides purchased through a printing company may have certain length requirements depending on the style you’d like. Bound guides may need to have page lengths that are divisible by four.

If you do a quick internet search for digital publishing platforms, you’ll find that there are quite a few out there from which you can choose. There are plenty of free and paid options available that will allow you to embed the guide on your site or host it on theirs. A few online choices you might consider include Yumpu, issuu, or Joomag. There are many more platforms out there and it might take some time to find the right one for your purposes.

Printing a guide can be a bit more straightforward. If you have a decent printer and only need to create a few copies of the document, it’s very easy and affordable to do on your own. If you’re in need of lots of copies or want special touches, like binding, you should consider using a professional printing company. Many cities have local printing companies that can assist you. Alternatively, there are online options like FedEx Office and Vistaprint that will print and ship your guides.

How Do You Make the Guide?

Design Software on a Computer
Whether you’re creating an online or a printed travel guide, you’ll still need to consider how you’ll actually create the guide. If you already have design software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW, you can use them to make your guide. If you don’t, however, there are lots of great online options for free or at a low cost. Canva is one such option – it’s free, incredibly easy to use, and it has a wide variety of templates you can use. Many digital publishing platforms will require a PDF upload of your document, so you’ll need to make sure you have that capability when looking at design software or programs.

Figure Out the Focus

You need to consider what type of guide will best serve your clients. Start by looking at the reasons why guests come to your destination. Is one season more popular than another? If so, you might want to create a guide that specifically addresses that one season. You can opt for concise guides that cover just one topic, like a shopping guide, or many topics, like a winter activities guide.

Determine the Need-to-Know Info

Calendar Open to Show Important Dates

Once you’ve figured out what your guide will focus on, it’s time to define your content even more. Obviously, the amount of information you include will depend on how long you want the guide to be. It’s best to put all your content together first, craft a rough draft, and then edit it to get to your preferred length.

As you consider what to put in your travel guide, start by looking at some of the most common questions you get from guests. If you’ve heard the same query from a variety of travelers, this is information that you should include. Then, think about any items that are very important for area visitors to know. You may want to include information on certain rules and regulations, local wildlife, weather, or any other items that might fall under the category of “I wish I knew this before I booked my vacation.”

Area Events

This is one of the more popular topics to include in travel guides. As a vacation rental business owner, you’re probably quite familiar with all the fun events in your destination. But someone who’s new to the area might not know that a particular festival will be happening during their stay. Share all your expertise on the area’s events, especially those that are unique to your destination. This information will help potential guest determine when they’ll visit and it will help current guests know what’s going on while they’re there.

Local Attractions & Activities

Most destinations have much more to offer than just one activity or attraction. But, as before, visitors might not be aware of special activities that they can enjoy. You might want to highlight things to do in your destination that are popular and/or unique. If your area attracts a lot of families, consider including a section that specifically addresses family- or kid-friendly activities.

Notable Shops & Restaurants

When you’re in a new area, it can be difficult to know which restaurant or shop you should choose. By including some of the area’s top establishments, you’ll help your guests with their planning process and make it even easier for them to experience the best your destination has to offer. Information like this helps visitors feel that they’re getting an inside look at your area, which makes their trip that much more enjoyable.

Putting it All Together

Photos for a Travel Guide
Armed with all the information you want to include in your destination guide, you’re ready to start writing all the content. Try to present your information in shorter paragraphs. Not only will this make it easier to read but it’s more visually appealing on a page. Make sure you proofread everything, or better yet, have someone do it for you. Typos, misspellings, and incorrect information don’t paint your vacation rental business in a good light.

Don’t Forget About Pictures

Obviously, your destination guide needs to be more than just text. Great pictures will make your guide more interesting to read. Plus, they give guests a snapshot look at what they can expect. If you can, head out and get some nice shots that cover your guide’s topics. But if that’s not a possibility, you may be able to find online photos of your destination through stock photography sites. Another option is to take a look at your local Office of Tourism’s website. Many times, they’ll have photographs that are available for use to promote travel. Regardless of where you find your photos, make sure you adhere to any terms of use, which may include things like crediting the photographer.

Finalizing the Guide

Now’s the time when you can sit down with your design software and start creating a beautiful and informative destination guide. If you’re in need of some inspiration, you can take a look at two of the guides we’ve created below. Browsing through online travel magazines is another great way to get different design ideas. You don’t need to be a design expert to create an awesome guide. Your guests will be more interested in solid information and local pictures than they will with graphic design aspects like kerning or tracking.

Not Feeling It?

If you want to put together a destination guide but you’re hesitant to take on the project yourself, feel free to contact us or give us a call at (720) 336-3939. Our team of content marketing specialists can help bring your perfect travel guide to life.

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