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
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
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.
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!