Is this STR marketing strategy too aggressive?

12 Replies

Here is my business environment:

The town I am in has a population of 9000.  There is a petroleum refinery on the edge of town.  During any given week, there can be 20-200 traveling contractors working short term jobs at the refinery.  I rent 22 STRs to them and them only.  I don't rent to locals because it's too expensive for them.  I don't do VR because the rental duration is too short.  Half my places are two bedrooms, the other half are bigger.

My competition is 5 motels and a trailer park with itsy bitsy cabins.  I can not compete against people that bring their own motor home or camper to stay in while they work.  Motels and the cabins are my competition.

My advantages are that my STRs cost less, there is a full kitchen just like back home, a full size washer and dryer in the house, and one bed in every bedroom.

I'm making a promotional flyer.  It has inside and outside pictures of my houses plus a sales pitch extolling everything in the above paragraph.  On the back I list a cable channel guide and a map of the town.

HERE IS WHAT I WANT TO PUT ON THE FLYER

List each motel, their address and their phone number.  I would say something to the effect of "Call any local motel, then make your own decision on where you want to stay while working here."  I'm not going to mention anything about cost or quality.  It's just my competitions phone number and address.

Good idea?  Bad idea?  Do you have another idea?

I would be mailing these to the HR dept of companies before they send their workers here. 

Well Paul, I would say no to listing out the competition. Keep to the "why" benefits and how your STR's are like staying at home. Your top paragraph is perfect! Hotels can never offer what you do. Plus, when you are a little dog and try to pick a fight with a big dog, someone is going to get bit - most likely the little dog. Bummer that you do not offer VR's. If I ever make it to Coffeyville, KS I'd would rent one of your places. Good Luck!

I agree with @Chewie G. - I don't see the benefit of listing out your competition, but I think there's plenty of ways that could come back to bite you.  However, I think you have a really strong position - the merits of your homes sell themselves.  If I were in those traveling workers' position, I'd definitely rather stay at one of your houses than in a motel or trailer park!  

I remember you mentioning you get a lot of workers who are Spanish-speakers - you may want to consider getting the brochure translated into Spanish to give you an extra edge.  

Though, could you clarify something?  You say you're going to send the brochures to the HR department of companies - do you expect HR will pass the on to the workers, or does HR make any of the housing decisions?  I'm trying to figure out if the people actually looking at your brochures will be the workers, or the HR people, because you'll want to tailor your message accordingly.  (based on what you've said so far, it sounds like the workers are your primary readers, and who your message is already geared towards, but just double-checking)

Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu :

Here is my business environment:

The town I am in has a population of 9000.  There is a petroleum refinery on the edge of town.  During any given week, there can be 20-200 traveling contractors working short term jobs at the refinery.  I rent 22 STRs to them and them only.  I don't rent to locals because it's too expensive for them.  I don't do VR because the rental duration is too short.  Half my places are two bedrooms, the other half are bigger.

My competition is 5 motels and a trailer park with itsy bitsy cabins.  I can not compete against people that bring their own motor home or camper to stay in while they work.  Motels and the cabins are my competition.

My advantages are that my STRs cost less, there is a full kitchen just like back home, a full size washer and dryer in the house, and one bed in every bedroom.

I'm making a promotional flyer.  It has inside and outside pictures of my houses plus a sales pitch extolling everything in the above paragraph.  On the back I list a cable channel guide and a map of the town.

HERE IS WHAT I WANT TO PUT ON THE FLYER

List each motel, their address and their phone number.  I would say something to the effect of "Call any local motel, then make your own decision on where you want to stay while working here."  I'm not going to mention anything about cost or quality.  It's just my competitions phone number and address.

Good idea?  Bad idea?  Do you have another idea?

I would be mailing these to the HR dept of companies before they send their workers here. 

Let me respond to this on the both sides of the coin. As an employer paying for these people that are staying in your houses and as one who has had to stay at places not of my choosing. I'm a little different than most because I have been a road warrior all my life and know what its like to actually stay in some cheesy motel and fight the roaches for my supper. When I put my guys up I try and find the best affordable places. That way I know I will get more work out of well rested and happy employees. Plus if I call and need them to stay an extra day to finish they are less likely to "drag up'.

That being said, most big companies dont think this way. The ones making the accommodations are often pencil pushers hired to squeeze 10 cents out of a nickel. They often dont realize that labor is a greater cost and unsatisfied labor is even worse. So in my mind if you post the motels on there they will likely get the call. You will be relegated to the per diem guys that just refuse to stay there and spend that per diem money.   

From what I have seen you post you sound like you have a very good business with repeat customers. Word of mouth is your best marketing tool. 

I’m a huge @Paul Sandhu fan, but my gut tells me don’t bother mentioning the competition. Just tell them why you’re the best.
BUT how often to these folks come back? Is it always a constant new crop or are there repeat visitors? The reason I ask is why not just try it for a month and see if your numbers change or how they change. Keep us posted. Say hello to your housekeeper for us!

@Julie McCoy @Mike Reynolds

Since I started doing STRs to contractors 6 years ago, I have encountered only 2 employers that make motel reservations and pay for their employees rooms ahead of time.  The other 99% of the contractors receive a weekly per diem from their employer and they are free to spend it how they see fit.  If they don't spend it all, they get to keep what is left.  With that being said, they are free to choose where they stay and where they eat and where they do laundry.

I drive by all the local motels each morning and evening and count the vehicles that look like contractors (and not vacationers or travelers) in the parking lots.  I normally have more renters in all my STRs than any individual motel has contractors.  But if you add up all the contractors staying in all the motels, that combined number is greater than what I have staying with me.

Most contractors come to town on a Sunday afternoon and they check into a motel.  Monday morning they have a safety orientation meeting at the refinery, then they see me for a drug screen to get in the gate.  That's when I give them my sales pitch.  That's when I hear the same thing over and over again...."I wish I would have known about this yesterday."  No kidding, I wish they would have known about it yesterday too, or the day before yesterday, or the day before that.

That is why I want to send these flyers to the HR dept of companies doing work here. HR doesn't make any motel or STR reservations, but they can pass the information on. It's my hope that they pass this information on to a foreman or project leader or general laborers that are coming here. I have done this in the past, and it has worked to some extent. When someone new rents from me, I ask how they heard about me. It's usually word of mouth, or someone sent them a picture of my flyer.

I know my places are hands down better to live in when compared to staying in a motel for an extended time. Kitchen, laundry, more living space & lower cost; those are my 4 selling points.  That's why I want to put the motels number and address on my flyer.  If my potential renters see that I'm listing my competition (in smaller print on the back page), they would think the person that created the flyer is either really stupid or really confident about the quality of the product/service that they offer.

@Lucas Carl  It seems like people work this sort of job for 5-10 years then get something local to where they permanently live.  My regular tenants from many years ago, I find out through word of mouth that they now have a full time job that doesn't require traveling.  I see it happening every other month, my regular tenants tell me that they have found another job back home, and that they don't have to travel.  The job that they are giving up is still going to be here.  I just have to find the new person that is filling that job.

@Paul Sandhu Ask these contractors how they found or selected the motel?  Google search?  Directory of some form?  Advertisement somewhere?  If you can get listed next to wherever they are finding the Motel before they book with them, that seems like a great place to be.

@John D.   How did they find the motel?  This is what I hear:  "It's the first motel we saw when we drove in to town."  They can drive into town on 2 different highways.  There is a motel at the edge of town on both of those highways.  It's not real scientific, these guys have a high school education and some went to a trade school.

Sounds like you need two billboards, a few miles outside of town on each of the highways.

I would skip putting the competing motels on the flyers as well. It sounds like being better is not your problem, being first in front of the eyeballs is.

Like some others have said, sounds like you found your answer.  Market where they are looking, at or before the edge of town in both directions, billboard, road sign, etc..  Any restaurants, liquor stores, gas stations, etc. before the edges of town might be worth a little effort as well.  

Sell an experience & ignore the competitors. There’s a reason they want a whole home. Sell that experience & there will be no competition, certainly not from from hotels.

@Garry C.

I really like the billboard idea! You can put your listing ID or website right on the billboard and have it booked before they even see a hotel or motel in town. 

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