Do you have a Website/Facebook for your STR?

17 Replies

We have 5 vacation rentals in the same area (GSMNP) and 90% of our guests are first time users of Airbnb/VRBO (lets face it any other platform is worthless). The first timers are annoying and the people with 50 reviews are even more needy. 

I've been thinking about starting a website and/or facebook to direct people to our listings and spread the bug. 250+ 5 star reviews per year I can't help but think social media and/or a website would help with return customers and word of mouth bookings. 

Does anyone else have a website or facebook for your VRs? 

Would you be willing to share the links and your experiences as to whether it's worth it or not?

Thanks!

I have both, plus Instagram.

I haven't created one yet, but I recently listened to Vacation Rental Success podcast interview with Alan Egan, who is working on building a VR community of owners. He is offering free templates and video walkthrus for creating a VR WordPress site. You may have the skills already, but worth looking into. I'm going to use it when I close on my current contract.

His site is http://rentmoreweeks.com/2016/10/13/does-your-vacation-rental-website-look-this-good/

We have a condo in Estes Park CO near RMNP.  We started with Flipkey/Trip Advisor but we also have our own site and my wife posts on FB as well.  Now 3 years in, we have started to get more and more direct contacts instead of thru the service.  You can DM and I can send you our links.

@Richard White  It’s called Vacation Soup. Vacation Soup. I noticed another bp memmber uses myvr as her website host. I’m sure there are others.

Vacation Soup is more than that because it seems Alan wants to build a community of hosts, designed for guests.  They will read about reasons to visit a geographic area, based on what you’ve written in your vacation Soup hosted website, and then they’ll find the link to your website. 

He makes money from the owners monthly subscriptions which he feels would be negated because you won’t be paying fees to the listing sites. Heather Bayer interviewed him on her podcast.

I’ve done a poor job of explains it but the link above goes to his launch website where you can read the details.

Most important thing you can do is to ensure that you are tracking the right data from your guests. Airbnb and most every other rental network out there hides the true email of the guest. They do this for a reason. That email address is more than likely tied to a facebook account and for only about $20 a month I can leverage my previous guests email addresses into hundreds of thousands of leads.

I use my guestbook as a tool for all of my marketing. You should be able to utilize your previous guests to tell who your most likely future guests would be. Jets are in Tampa Nov 12th. You best believe I am looking at my prior guests who traveled to Tampa to see their team play. Using facebook advertising I can spend about 20$ in ads for some of my premier listings and direct book guests at a much higher nightly rate than normal... 20$ is a drop in the hat at this point. That is likely what I would have paid in commission on booking.com or some other site. 

Get/advertise your own site and start tracking your guests. You will get return customers and you will get higher nightly rates guaranteed.

Jared can you share how you turn one email address into 100s of leads? Would love to know more about this.

The town I live in is definitely not a vacation destination.  I am the only listing on AirBnb in this town, and I get about 2-3 inquiries per year.  None have generated a rental.

I do have ads running on Craigslist.  One every day in the "Apartments and Houses" for rent, and I keep one at the top of the list in "Sublets and Temporary".  If you list on Craigslist, you need to have 3 ads in that first category.  List an ad for 3 days in a row.  On day 4, bump up day 1 ad.  Day 5, bump up day 2.  

I get 1-3 inquiries per week from Craigslist.  Half of them are looking for a long term rental and they don't read the ad very thoroughly.  They think they can get a furnished, all bills paid house for $200/month.  I explain the $200 is per bedroom per week, so a 2 bedroom house is $400 per week.  That's about the time they apologize or hang up.  The other half are interested and usually rent if they end up coming to town.

@Paul Sandhu is my hero but this discussion is for beach/mountain/lake properties rented by the night. Lots of good input so far I'd still love to see more links to your websites. 

@Lucas Carl

What I'm trying to suggest is using Craigslist.  I agree, we are in 2 totally different markets though.  I looked at "Vacation Rentals" in the Craigslist section for where I live.  There were 4 ads placed in the last 45 days.  Looking at Nashville "Vacation Rentals", there were 20 ads placed yesterday.  7 of the 20 ads were specifically in Nashville.

Craigslist is free.  It takes about 10 minutes to place the initial ad.  It takes 10 seconds to bump up the ad.  Your ad would be one of the other 7 that were listed specifically for a vacation rental in Nashville.  If it doesn't work at generating rentals, you are out 10 minutes of your time that you probably would have spent on the internet anyway.

@Paul Sandhu Yes you're probably right wouldn't hurt anything!! We are not in the Nashville market though and I would NOT suggest anyone getting in to VRs in Nashville you'll get nowhere. Permits are not available and you'll pay 500k for a house that would rent long term for $1800. The math doesn't work. 

My VRs are in the Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge. Gatlinburg. 

@Lucas Carl Yes I do! I set up promotions for weeks out and it really drives people to your listings. You can set up Facebook Ad's to reach the target that you want as well. I've even heard some people say they collect data on where their guests are from and target those areas for their Ad's.

One of the best uses of Craigslist I've heard cane from @John Underwood . He said he lists on CL but then links his VRBO as. I've done that and received a few inquiries, but I don't keep up with it the way @Paul Sandhu does.

I think a website is a great idea; just finding time to build and promote it while running the rentals and other things is getting in my way.

I’m in the process of building a site for my current VR - while I don’t expect it to compete with the bookings I get from AirBNB, I want the professional appearance (I’m using a WordPress template for VRs/BNBs) and I want to explore targeted marketing AND just have it for direct bookings. I’ve only had my place listed for four months but have already gotten a word-of-mouth booking, with potential for a lot more.

So, @Lucas Carl I don’t have anything to show yet but I think there’s a lot of potential uses for it.

I'm in the process of revamping my web site. I've had it up for a long time, but just added a booking engine and had my first reservation there. I plan to tie in postings to my various social media platforms. Facebook, G+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest... and probably whatever else might come along. Snapchat? Basically all of the stuff I learned from Alan Egan early on in the Bookings+4G program, which looks like has now morphed into Vacation Soup.

My branded amenities at my rentals steer people towards my web site/online guide, mentioning that it's a good way to avoid extra fees. I started doing this when the listing sites became more aggressive about hiding my branding, web site, email, etc. And obviously when they added additional fees for the guests on top of what I'm billed annually for the listings.

I do have repeat guests already, and the number of those is growing. I'm looking forward to the time when it's mostly repeat guests coming direct to my web site and I think of VRBO like I do AirBNB, just something I have setup because it's expected of me. At that time I'll ditch the annual VRBO fees and go to the commission based model.

Originally posted by @Myka Artis :

@Lucas Carl Yes I do! I set up promotions for weeks out and it really drives people to your listings. You can set up Facebook Ad's to reach the target that you want as well. I've even heard some people say they collect data on where their guests are from and target those areas for their Ad's.

I do EXACTLY this... Works like a charm... If you know a certain sports team is coming to play in your town, spend $20 and advertise there. Works like a champ!

Originally posted by @Lucas Carl :

We have 5 vacation rentals in the same area (GSMNP) and 90% of our guests are first time users of Airbnb/VRBO (lets face it any other platform is worthless). The first timers are annoying and the people with 50 reviews are even more needy. 

I've been thinking about starting a website and/or facebook to direct people to our listings and spread the bug. 250+ 5 star reviews per year I can't help but think social media and/or a website would help with return customers and word of mouth bookings. 

Does anyone else have a website or facebook for your VRs? 

Would you be willing to share the links and your experiences as to whether it's worth it or not?

Thanks!

 Hi Lucas,

I have a website that advertises my VRs as well as Facebook pages for each. I use my website to accept bookings from repeat guests, referrals and any other booking that comes my way outside of my listings on VRBO or Airbnb. I created the Facebook pages back when I started trying to build & promote my "brand" and it has helped some savvy travelers find my properties after first spotting them on VRBO.

I do need to learn more about using Facebook ads for more targeted marketing...sounds like I could learn a thing or two from @JaredHigginbotham.

Psst... Google "Facebook Custom Lookalike Audiences."  Cost of entry is extremely low. 

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