Marketing Vacation Rentals: 101 Guide

marketing vacation rentals

By The Hospitable Team

If you have a vacation home in a popular tourist destination that you visit only a couple of times a year, renting it out may be the perfect side hustle for you. You can hire someone to manage your property, clean it, and maintain it when you’re not there. But as a vacation rental homeowner, you’ll need to take care of marketing to help potential guests find and book your property.

Marketing vacation rentals is imperative to survive and thrive in this highly competitive market. Even unique vacation rental homes can stay empty if potential guests don’t know these properties exist. That means you need the right vacation rental marketing strategy in place to build your vacation rental brand, keep your property visible to your target audience, and get bookings.

Vacation Rental Marketing Strategy

Before creating your marketing plan, you need to identify your target audience and determine your ideal guests. Consider who would be most interested in staying in your vacation home—business travelers, families with children, couples, large groups of people, or people who travel with their pets.

This essential step will guide the rest of your marketing efforts and help you determine how to furnish and decorate your home to create a welcoming space for your potential guests. And in your marketing, you’ll want to highlight some unique features and popular amenities that cater to those travelers. For example, if you decide to target families with kids, you should mention such things as baby gates, a high chair, and a shatter-proof dishwasher.

Create a website to get direct bookings

A professional vacation rental website should be an important pillar in your marketing plan because it’s your strongest marketing tool. Think of it as an online hub to drive travelers to with all your marketing efforts. It can be an excellent place for potential guests to learn more about your vacation rental home, check availability and amenities, see photos, and take a virtual tour of your property.

Your website will also allow you to accept direct bookings, build relationships with guests, and generate new leads. A basic direct booking website must have a booking processing capabilities.  

The good news is that you don’t need to hire a developer or learn coding skills to build your direct booking website. There’s an easier alternative—you can build a fully functional direct booking website quickly via Hospitable.com Direct. You’ll have a beautiful website that perfectly showcases your vacation rental property, comes with a booking widget, and has built-in automated guest communication tools.

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Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, and your guests get the best experience.

Creating your vacation rental website is just the beginning, so don’t expect to achieve online success overnight. To reap the benefits of direct bookings, you need your target audience to find your site first. So let’s take a closer look at the top ways to drive traffic to your direct booking website.

Incorporate SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization and includes a variety of techniques that can help your vacation rental property rank higher on Google and other search engines. Here’s what you can do:

  • Optimize your website and brand name with relevant keywords to rank on Google search results pages when your target audience looks for a vacation rental in your area.
  • Include professional photos of your property and write alt tags for all your images to provide context and allow search engines to index images correctly.
  • Create and claim your vacation rental on Google Maps—it’s crucial for local SEO and allows guests to find you via location maps and leave public reviews.
  • List your business in local directories and review websites to build “local citations”—online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Your NAP mentions will help prove that your business is real and trustworthy.

Organic search traffic comes to you without you having to pay a cent. Just make sure to move your website visitors toward a booking. Write a vacation home description that sells and include plenty of CTA buttons that encourage potential guests to book.

Expand your online presence with social media

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok have billions of users and offer much potential for your vacation rental to capture someone’s attention. Social media allows you to reach a wider audience to attract prospective guests and connect with travelers that have stayed in your rental space.

Create business pages on social media platforms to provide viewers with relevant information, including photos of your vacation rental home, contact info, and a link to make the booking. It’s important to stay active—regularly post traveler-centric content, update your photos and videos, and respond to comments, questions, and reviews. You can also share promotions and discounts you may be running, local information, restaurant recommendations, and travel tips.

If running multiple social media accounts seems like too much of a burden for you, you can start off with a couple of social media websites you are familiar with. For example, Facebook offers one of the largest audiences for marketing vacation rentals. You can find Facebook local travel groups and communities and share your property with people looking to visit your area. 

Instagram is popular among guests looking for travel inspiration, so you can use it to highlight the aesthetics of your home, especially if your property has amazing views and unique décor. You can post pictures of your property and photos of local attractions, adding relevant hashtags to help your posts appear in searches.

Facebook and Instagram also have extensive online advertising capabilities, so if you have a budget, paying to advertise your vacation rental on these platforms can be a worthwhile investment. You can filter who’ll see your ads to get the most out of your advertising budget.

Join vacation rental forums

Participate in online conversations and discussions and offer advice and support to travelers that can become your potential guests. For example, websites like Quora and Reddit have threads dedicated to travel. Being active in these communities, you can build a good reputation as an expert who can offer helpful advice and may even get a few bookings.

Digital Marketing for Vacation Rentals: How to Get Repeat Bookings

Getting repeat bookings via your website is the best way to boost occupancy rates, build customer loyalty, and secure higher profits. And it also means less stress for you. No wonder repeat guests are a vacation homeowner’s dream, especially if they are responsible and treat your property with respect.

But repeat guests don’t just appear out of nowhere—you need to give them a reason to keep coming back by exceeding their expectations. So you should do your best to offer your guests a great stay, establish perfect communication with them, and focus on building relationships with them before, during, and after their stay.

It’s important to continue relationships with your previous guests on social media and via emails to keep your place front of mind. So when your guests book for the first time, you should capture their email addresses and add them to your database. If your guests give you permission to email them with marketing updates, you can send them regular news, out-of-scene content, deals, and discounts to entice them to book again.

Your guests will appreciate it if you add a personal touch by timing your messages with key events, such as their birthdays, anniversary, or seasonal holidays. This way, you can show your guests that you are a real, friendly person who cares about them, and they will be more likely to book again or even recommend your vacation rental to their friends.

But before you start emailing your guests after their stay, you should build a good rapport to make them feel cared for. You’ll need to establish an effective message flow for the best guest experience. Writing each message and sending them at appropriate intervals is a rather time-consuming task, so coordinating it with other daily operations can be very challenging.

But with Hospitable.com, which offers excellent communication tools and many other useful features, you can automate about 90% of your guest messaging, making the process much easier. Hospitable.com can help build strong relationships with your guests and secure repeat direct bookings.  

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Marketing Rental Properties on OTAs

Your direct booking website is always your best distribution channel because you can save money on OTA’s fees and commissions and secure repeat guests. But it’s better to rely on more than just one source of bookings and list your property on several popular OTA platforms, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, and local listing sites.

You should find online channels for marketing rental properties that fit your vacation rental and target audience and create listings on as many as you can. Just make sure that your listings are optimized across all your channels:

No matter how many OTA platforms you’ll get listed on, Hospitable.com can help you manage all your listings and keep your prices and calendar updated. With Hospitable, you’ll be protected from double bookings and save a lot of time.

Final Thought

Marketing vacation rentals is a complex task, and it takes a lot of trial and error to find the best tools, tactics, and overall strategy to outrun your competitors. Hopefully, our tips can be a strong foundation for getting your vacation home booked. Over time, you’ll be able to determine what tactics of digital marketing for vacation rentals work best for you. Then you’ll be able to refine your marketing strategy to attract more guests and run a successful vacation rental business.  

Drive Repeat Direct Bookings

7 Ways to Drive Repeat Direct Bookings

How can you make sure happy guests come back to you directly, so you don’t have to pay OTA fees over and over for the same guests? Especially when you’ve already done the hard work of building that good rapport and offering them a great stay?

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