Has anyone, with a vacation rental, ever attempted to attend trade shows, or even moms-to-moms sales to market their vacation rentals? We're signed up for a few, as my wife has seen others marketing their properties this way. I'm just wondering if anyone has done this and achieved any success.
The only marketing I do for my vacation rentals in Waikiki is through VRBO. I'm able to keep them rented almost 90% of the year so no other marketing is necessary. I have the gold subscription level and it costs me $750-ish dollars a year. Pretty cheap marketing, I'd say.
I'll second vrbo...we pay about $450/year. We also have it on flip key which charges 3% per transaction but no annual fee. We get less traffic with flip key but we charge %10 more too.
Hi Steve -
As you probably know, HomeAway/VRBO offers various subscription levels from Classic to Platinum. In an area where you don't have much competition, the Classic subscription will probably suffice. Here in Kissimmee FL around Disney World there is a lot of competition; therefore, more expensive subscriptions are necessary for successful marketing. I am involved in the rental marketing of a number of vacation homes in the Kissimmee area. The winning formula here is twofold - 1) Each home must offer amenities that make the homes stand out against the competition; and 2) Use the more expensive subscriptions for the increased exposure.
I've been at this for about 8 years now with vacation rentals and have been using the premium listings with vrbo, vacationrentals and homeaway.com. My rentals book solid from June - September. We have great properties, on amazing lakes. I'm just trying to get in front of people who might not necessarily be looking. I think it can be assumed that most people will gravitate towards these VR listing sites to find a rental. I'm looking at attending conventions and public gatherings, where there is a great deal of foot traffic, in hopes to create more awareness of our properties and the activites in those areas. I was just curious to see if this approach has worked for anyone else, or if there have been any other creative ways that have worked for VR owners. I typically book about 18-20 week per year, per house. However, I'm pushing for 25, each, this year.
@Steve Dove are you trying to increase bookings in your off season? If summer is booked solid, are you promoting shoulder season (May - Oct) and spring/winter months?
I would consider targeting a more specific audience (demographic) versus untargeted eyeballs. In my experience, I think the mom sales attract price sensitive shoppers, so if you offer good value or discounts, that could work.
Can you promote rentals based on regional events or activities that draw people in non-peak months? Like bird watching, spring tulips, fall leaves, wine tastings, etc.? I don't know what the events are in your area, but you could feature those. Before I had kids, I used to love shoulder season because it was less crowded. With kids, we have to consider school schedules.
You could also promote girls getaways or scrapbooking weekends if your rentals are big enough. I have friends who do that in winter months like Feb. and March when it's too cold to be outside and a quieter time of year.
@Susan Gillespie - Our rentals are located in Northern Michigan. After Labor Day, and warm days at the beach, bookings are hit or miss. The closest attractions or events, other than golf, are about an hour away. I've contacted several of the golf courses / resorts, in an attempt to bundle golf packages at a discounted rate for our guests. None of them wanted to even entertain the idea. I do offer deals for people that rent a week during the off season, where they can rent one week at regular price, and return to any of the three lake houses for another week, at the rate of $100. This has worked well. I think I may consider doing this for weekend rentals also. Anything to increase occupancy.
How would you suggest targeting girls getaways or scrapbooking weekends? I'm not sure where I would start with that approach.
Have you tries social media (with pictures of rental?) Picture get a higher CTR on Facebook, and I would think the ability to share, etc. would be beneficial for low-cost marketing of enticing vacation rentals.
@Steve Dove - this is the challenge of marketing.
You have the summer to test your marketing or package concepts with your best audience = your existing customers. Would they come back for a golf trip or girls getaway? Or something else? You could leave a short survey at your cabins to test out your ideas.
You could also try word of mouth referrals, such as current guests who refer others would both receive $x off a future stay, or some other thank you gift.
For group rental ideas, like scrapbooking, you could try to tap into related stores or events. I would try to meet people from your targeted area and get their feedback. Social media posts with photos could help you spread the message too, like @Kris Taylor suggested.
I think the girls weekend or scrapbook week etc would work well at the moms to moms sales. Offer off season discounted weekends and see what happens! Also, off season family get away for families with kids younger than school age would work.
Another online venue for vacation properties is airbnb.com. I've only looked for places to stay, so I don't know much about the rental side. But I thought I would throw it out there.
Thanks Susan. I'll put together some surveys and see what kind of feedback we can get.
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