The world of travel is opening again. With COVID-related restrictions lifting and vaccine distribution expanding, the public is hungry for travel—and they’re booking vacation rentals. Our industry is seeing record numbers of reservations. To ensure your brand is in front of today’s eager audience, you need a strong marketing strategy. But to address our new economic climate, you also need to shift your marketing message.
Ryan Austin, Bluetent’s Director of Email Marketing, and his expert team have helped clients successfully pivot their email strategy for the new challenges presented in 2021. Austin has identified two marketing concepts that all vacation rental brands should consider implementing for the summer—and beyond.
Shift your focus to book remaining inventory and promote engagement.
In recent months, Austin’s team has worked with many managers whose inventory is almost fully sold out. Often the remaining inventory has been lower tier: properties that aren’t particularly photogenic or suitable to feature in an email newsletter. However, having only little (and possibly unattractive) inventory left to book doesn’t mean you should stop sending emails; it’s important to continually keep your brand in front of potential guests.
With a slightly different approach, one concentrating on experience and amenities instead of on actual inventory, Austin’s team has developed email campaigns that have garnered reservations for his clients’ remaining available properties. Instead of typical monthly e-newsletters, the team has launched single-message postcard emails playing to the fear of missing out (aka FOMO). “Book Now, Inventory is Filling Fast” and “Summer 2021 Vacation Alert” emails are driving bookings successfully, regardless of their listing desirability. And although it sounds outrageous, emails promoting future vacations—for the 2021 holiday season and even into spring 2022—are yielding transactions.
Another email strategy to drive engagement and keep your brand in front of travelers is to revisit the inspirational messaging that proved so successful in 2020. Invoke nostalgia or excitement with email postcards featuring rich photo and video content that reminds potential guests that “the beach is waiting” or “the mountains are calling.” Educate travelers about the beauty and recreational opportunities in your region by linking to in-depth articles or blog posts. Encourage subscribers to “give the gift of travel” with special offers and rewards. Run a photo contest. The possibilities are endless, so be creative!
Drive owner acquisition efforts with automated email campaigns.
Given the current popularity of vacation rentals and the scarcity of inventory, Bluetent’s client base is increasingly turning its marketing efforts to acquiring more properties. A successful owner acquisition campaign starts with driving traffic to the property management page on your vacation rental website, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Capturing homeowner contact information comes next, and most importantly, capturing their attention must follow.
Capturing homeowner information can be as simple as including a contact form link on your property management web page. However, Austin and his team have seen consistently higher conversion rates by using carefully deployed “pop-ups” to request contact information. Although frequently disparaged, pop-ups can be incredibly effective when used thoughtfully. Ensuring your pop-up doesn’t interrupt users who are actively viewing your site is key. Providing relevant content—a pop-up associated with your property management page might offer additional information about partnering with your brand—increases the likelihood that a user will provide their email address.
After the email address is collected via a form or pop-up, an automated email journey kicks in to capture homeowner interest. Although every campaign is different, Austin’s team recommends an initial confirmation email followed by a series of educational emails (sent at regular intervals) that highlight your value as a property manager. This is your time to shine. Each email’s content should reflect your professionalism and feature one clear value in terms of partnering with your unique brand.
The opportunity to connect directly is a critical component to include in each email. Provide a link to schedule time with a company representative—and remember, the easier it is to schedule an appointment, the higher your conversion rate will be. Note that scheduling a conversation should stop the homeowner’s automated email journey.
The automated campaign not only captures the homeowner’s attention but also provides you with essential data for refining future campaign messaging. A review of engagement via open and click rates for each email yields information regarding which of your value propositions are most important for potential homeowners.
Remember—building your subscriber list will always be of utmost importance. Cultivating and nurturing an audience that sees you as a trusted advisor and inspirational host will never go out of style.
Are you interested in fine-tuning your email marketing strategy? Our experts are here to help. Contact Bluetent at 970-340-4400.