I will preface that there is no “silver bullet” to brand independence, It takes a combination of hard work, ability to adapt to new challenges and using every available tool that benefits your brand.
We get asked often what strategies should be implemented today given the latest policy changes to HomeAway. Your brand, and the associated investments are being completely cut off to the traveler in mid August. We took steps years ago preparing for this day. These steps we used years ago still apply today. I would submit that they are critical to the long term success of your business.
Our marketing and brand are the two single biggest assets to our business. The single biggest “technical”change we made to our business was moving to an “open” system that gave us complete control of our guest communications and marketing. We immediately had flexibility to market the unique aspects of our business to the travelers. We were also able to find the right partnerships for our business. There are many systems that claim to be “open”. Here is a list of those that we work with that are truly open and giving vacation rental professionals the flexibility they deserve.
Please let us know if we missed any other open system vendors and we will add to the list.
The decision to decouple allowed us to invest in marketing efforts that built brand awareness, solid traveler-to-guest communications and dramatically improved our repeat business over a short period of time. This included investments in social media, content development and offline campaigns that continue producing value to our business today. Many of you have compiled an email list for years….that is a great place to start.
The first two strategies will not do you any good if you don’t retain the data collected. Implementing a system that collects the data and intelligently communicates messages to all guest in all phases of the pre and post booking cycle. Having the proper retention strategy will deliver a predictable path to profitability and growth. Once you get them in…provide the customer excellence they deserve.