Growing your portfolio of homes while retaining your existing owners can be a bit of a juggling act for busy vacation rental (VR) managers. Reaching either goal requires you to be a savvy marketer and a strategic planner with strong brand recognition and a robust online presence. That is the basis for positioning yourself as an expert in order to build the required trust for successful partnerships.
Having built a company from the ground up, I have a lot of experience with the peaks and pitfalls of growth. We started with just one home in 2008. By July of last year, we had 239 properties—all of which were acquired organically. The following month, we finalized the purchase of a competitor that increased our inventory by 100, and we currently manage more than 380 vacation rentals.
I put together a list of ten tools that are essentials for your “owner acquisition toolbox.” They can help you stand out from your competition as you nurture new and existing relationships.
1) Email Marketing
Whether you have access to public email lists in your area or build a database of prospective owners from scratch, email marketing is an inexpensive and efficient way to keep your brand in front of your target audience.
2) Messaging with a “Wow!” Factor
Think outside the box to attract owners. Everyone likes getting a surprise package in the mail—think promotional items that really pop! Send owners an item that is both fun and useful, and not only will they think you are clever, but items that are used daily will keep your company top-of-mind.
3) Postcards—The Old Standby
While much of our marketing efforts have moved online, don’t discount traditional methods such as postcards. In some areas, getting mailing addresses through tax lists may be faster and easier than building an email database.
4) Triggered Emails
After that first conversation, a hot lead can quickly turn cold if you do not continue the interaction. Triggered emails allow you to send follow-up messages that are both personal and informational with a frequency that you define. It is a “set it and forget it” way to keep the discussion going.
5) Turn Existing Owners into Brand Advocates
Word of mouth carries a lot of weight when choosing a management company. Showcase short videos or written testimonials on your website, and let existing owners share their experiences.
6) Connect in Person
A big step toward retaining an owner includes personal connections. Host a coffee hour or luncheon to provide an opportunity to connect with your team and to share company updates, milestones, or highlights.
7) Stay in Touch
When you are not connecting with owners in person, keep them engaged with a newsletter or dedicated owner blog.
8) Educate to Inform and Set Expectations
This one applies to both acquisition and retention. Take the guesswork out of owning a vacation rental home by answering FAQs, providing valuable tips, or sharing data on how to make the owner’s home more marketable.
9) Social Media Is Essential
An owner who is researching your company will more than likely check out your social media profiles. Posting with consistent frequency, having a large following, and promoting both your area and your homes tells owners that you are on top of your marketing efforts.
10) Make Your Website a Valuable Resource
Craft content for your website that offers value, and make it easy to find. Whether it is suggestions for popular amenities or conveying the importance of a deep clean, equipping your owners for success creates a win-win situation.
There is no simple way to secure and retain owners, but you can significantly improve your odds by including these methods in your overall strategy.