The vacation rental industry’s record-setting summer has come to a close, and 2021’s fall “off-season” promises to be just as unprecedented–and likely more unpredictable–as the months preceding. How do you market your business during an offseason . . . that isn’t? How do you address ongoing health concerns and the potential reemergence of difficult restrictions? These are daunting tasks. To help, we’ve asked Bluetent’s ace digital marketing team to provide their tips for 2021’s coming months.
“When I talk to vacation rental managers about their digital marketing strategy, a key point right now is staying nimble,” says digital marketing sales executive Jessie Hjorth. “Be ready and able to address changes as they happen, and use the opportunity to make your brand a trusted resource for travelers. Create purposeful content on your website—whether it’s blog posts, updated event pages, or COVID-19 resource pages—that addresses concerns travelers might have about your destination’s safety or current restrictions. You can build a lot of trust by answering their questions before they have a chance to ask. And an added bonus: Google rewards this type of content.”
Hjorth also urges vacation rental managers to remember the lessons we learned in 2020. “During last year’s downturn and closures, the brands that chose to continue even a scaled-down version of their digital marketing efforts were able to preserve their rankings in organic search results,” she states. “In fact, because their competitors dropped out, many brands even improved their presence on search pages—and for a smaller Google Ad spend.”
DITCHING DISCOUNTS and CHANGING FOCUS
This year’s vacation rental bookings have gone through the roof, making it necessary to adjust the standard focus of digital marketing efforts. Two distinct marketing trends are important to note: increasing revenue per reservation and acquiring new inventory.
Senior strategic account manager Kara Kacmarcik gives this advice: “With the wild successes in our industry this year, your brand’s digital marketing strategy is not necessarily going to be about deep discounts. It’s more about adding value to whatever you’re already offering your guests. Be in touch with your reservation staff to learn what guests are seeking, and use your data to really hone in on what kind of value-added packages and content you can offer.”
Marketing your brand’s add-ons and packages isn’t the only way to increase revenue this year, however. “There’s never been a better economic climate for expanding your property portfolio,” states strategic account manager Eliana Miteva. “Right now, there are fabulous opportunities for small- to mid-size vacation rental brands to build inventory. Now is your time to shine: show prospective owners your superior value and service.”
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR ONLINE ASSETS
Your digital marketing efforts, at their core, are meant to bring travelers to your website to book the perfect vacation rental. “It’s easy to get caught up in only one aspect of a website’s functionality: direct booking. But there’s so much more to a modern vacation rental website! It’s all about the experience a traveler has while they’re searching your site,” says Hjorth. “A website that is built not only to mesh with, but enhance, your digital marketing strategy can really position your brand ahead of the competition.”
To prove the value of pairing the right digital marketing plan with the right website, Bluetent data analysts put their Rezfusion Cloud web platform to the test. “Search engine visibility was front of mind when we originally built Cloud. As we’ve upgraded and released new features on the platform, the results have only gotten better,” says vice president of product Tom Kenyon.
The data confirmed Kenyon’s sentiment. Bluetent clients who added digital marketing services onto their existing Cloud web subscription have seen stellar results. “In one case, the client saw a 670 percent increase in online revenue, and it was common for clients to see numbers like a 175 percent increase in online transactions or a 115 percent increase in e-commerce conversion rates,” Kenyon reports.
ASSEMBLING THE BEST TEAM
There’s no shortage of online advice regarding the perfect digital marketing plan. Finding experts who have their eyes on the overall economic climate, know what works best for our industry, and understand the unique nature of your specific business, market, and competition is essential to the success of your strategy.
Are you interested in tapping into Team Bluetent’s wealth of digital marketing knowledge? Reach out at bluetent.com/connect-with-us.
I’ve worked with a number of clients in the past who were skeptical about their need for a website. It’s pretty mind-boggling, if I’m honest. Your number one priority should be the appearance of your company’s website. Essentially, potential clients will see it and base their first impressions of you on it, rightly or wrongly.