Reverse psychology in promoting STRs?

23 Replies

My STRs are specifically marketed towards refinery contractors.  There is a billboard of mine in the contractor parking lot.  

Right now my rentals have a higher vacancy than normal.  So does my competition, the local motels.  There's just not that much work going on right now at the refinery.  When the tide is low, all the ships get lower.

My idea is this:  Put a "NO VACANCY" sign under the billboard.  I would leave it there for 2-3 weeks, then I'd remove the NO so that it just says VACANCY.  

Here's my thinking:  Initially the sign will get peoples attention.  They will think "Hey, he has no vacancy.  His places must be in demand or they are a hot commodity.  The motel I'm in is mostly vacant.  80% of the rooms are unoccupied.  Why am I staying in this motel?  Let me call him and ask to be put on the waiting list."  2 weeks later the sign will say VACANCY.  Someone will see the change and think "Hey, there is a vacancy now.  Let me call him to get a house and I can get out of the motel I've been staying in."

What do you think?

Hmm, could be worth a shot!  I know you have plenty of sources for tenants so if this doesn't work, you're not cutting yourself off from other options.  I do think it would create some curiosity, though whether that would be enough to make someone want to "move" is hard to say.  (also, is there a risk of any of your tenants blowing your cover?  Probably not much of a risk, but something to consider)

My thought is give it a try for a couple of months, see if it seems to have an effect.

Any insight on why there's fewer contractors coming through at the moment?  Fingers crossed business gets better soon!

@Julie McCoy the refinery is probably putting off all the maintenance that they can until March of 2020.  There's going to be a big turnaround.  By big, I mean it's the kind of operation that's done once every 30 years.  The whole plant will be shut down and all the worn down parts and components replaced.  Pipes, pumps, valves, exchangers, reactors, pressure vessels, everything.  Right now, every component in the plant is being inspected to determine what will be replaced during the turnaround.  

This turnaround should last 3-6 months.  Someone told me that about 5000 contractors will be coming and going for the duration of the shut down.  In yesterdays newspaper I read that a county official is trying to get the 2020 census taken during the turnaround so that all the temporary workers here would be included in the population count.  The article also mentioned 5000 people.

The future looks good. It's just kinda sucky right now.  My final straw was losing a guy a few days ago.  His job here was going to last 2 more years.  He fell off his front porch and broke his arm.  Now he's gone back to his home.

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Hmm the turnaround sounds fantastic, but March 2020 is a ways away!  (LOL very clever of the county to try and get the census taken then - though it seems like the census should document permanent residents)  

Perhaps you could use this downswing to your advantage in other ways... take a couple of houses "off the market" and complete any needed improvements, make sure that when the onslaught hits in March all your houses are ready for maximum occupancy.  

On the upside, this is the perfect opportunity to try a new marketing strategy!  

@Julie McCoy  The work for the March 2020 turnaround started in January of 2019.  The scaffold builders (current renters) come here to do the first work.  The inspectors (current renters) can do the next step in the work when the scaffolding is in place.  Engineers (current renters) do their work from what the inspectors tell them.  The next people to come here will be the fabricators.  They make anything and everything out of metal.  They get their work from the engineers.  The welders and boilermakers come in March 2020, and use the material provided by the fabricators.  When their work is done, the scaffold builders take their work down and everyone goes home.

So I'm waiting on the fabricators.  In the mean time I'll take your advice and start buying beds to fill up living rooms and dining rooms.  Each one is worth $200/week.  Current bed count is 83.  I'll shoot for 100.

@Paul Sandhu Wow, the amount of work (and money) that goes into that is bonkers!  I mean, if I'd ever given it thought, it makes sense that such things are necessary - but it's still pretty mind blowing.  

+17 beds @$200/week for 3-6 months = $40,800-81,600 gross revenue increase... not too shabby!  Here's to a head in every bed :) 

@Julie McCoy  The amount of money this refinery deals with is hard to comprehend.  $13,000 in sales of product every minute, 24/7/365.  In reading the annual report and earnings conference, there is $180,000,000 budgeted for the turnaround.  That's 1-2 million dollars a day.  That's only 75-150 minutes per day of their revenue.  In the past, when I had fewer places, I would gross 1/10 of 1% of whatever was budgeted for a project.  With a head in every bed and more beds, that number should be better.  Maybe 2/10 of 1%?

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

How about "No Vacancy Here"
and then "Call For Nearby Vacancies"

and then "Phone Number"

Originally posted by @John Underwood:

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

The majority of potential renters come in to town on a Sunday and check in to a motel.  Monday morning they attend a safety orientation meeting then see me for a drug screen.  That's where I give them my pitch.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "I wish I would have known about this yesterday" I'd have about $10.  By the time they see my billboard, they have already checked into a motel.  Motels make them pay for a week in advance, no refunds.  After the drug screen, they get a pen with my info on it.  If they come back to town in the future, they normally give me a call.  Most of my current tenants are repeat renters.

The billboard is basically seen by people that have already found accommodation's.

Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

The majority of potential renters come in to town on a Sunday and check in to a motel.  Monday morning they attend a safety orientation meeting then see me for a drug screen.  That's where I give them my pitch.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "I wish I would have known about this yesterday" I'd have about $10.  By the time they see my billboard, they have already checked into a motel.  Motels make them pay for a week in advance, no refunds.  After the drug screen, they get a pen with my info on it.  If they come back to town in the future, they normally give me a call.  Most of my current tenants are repeat renters.

The billboard is basically seen by people that have already found accommodation's.

 Sounds like you need a bill board as they are entering town prior to the hotels.

Originally posted by @John Underwood:
Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

The majority of potential renters come in to town on a Sunday and check in to a motel.  Monday morning they attend a safety orientation meeting then see me for a drug screen.  That's where I give them my pitch.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "I wish I would have known about this yesterday" I'd have about $10.  By the time they see my billboard, they have already checked into a motel.  Motels make them pay for a week in advance, no refunds.  After the drug screen, they get a pen with my info on it.  If they come back to town in the future, they normally give me a call.  Most of my current tenants are repeat renters.

The billboard is basically seen by people that have already found accommodation's.

 Sounds like you need a bill board as they are entering town prior to the hotels.

I've seriously considered that.  There is a baseball field directly across the highway from my main competition.  The outfield is fenced in.  4' x 8' billboards are on the chain link fence facing the highway and the front doors of all the motel rooms.  It's $250/year.  My wife doesn't want to attract too much attention with our STRs.  The motel owner lives at his motel.  I'm pretty sure he would be pissed.  He already tells people that contractors stay at his motel for one week then move in to one of Paul's houses, which is true.

I'd try to get ahead of them rather than market to them when they arrive. Where do the contractors come from and can you get marketing to them before the motel? How do they find the motel? 

Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:
Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

The majority of potential renters come in to town on a Sunday and check in to a motel.  Monday morning they attend a safety orientation meeting then see me for a drug screen.  That's where I give them my pitch.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "I wish I would have known about this yesterday" I'd have about $10.  By the time they see my billboard, they have already checked into a motel.  Motels make them pay for a week in advance, no refunds.  After the drug screen, they get a pen with my info on it.  If they come back to town in the future, they normally give me a call.  Most of my current tenants are repeat renters.

The billboard is basically seen by people that have already found accommodation's.

 Sounds like you need a bill board as they are entering town prior to the hotels.

I've seriously considered that.  There is a baseball field directly across the highway from my main competition.  The outfield is fenced in.  4' x 8' billboards are on the chain link fence facing the highway and the front doors of all the motel rooms.  It's $250/year.  My wife doesn't want to attract too much attention with our STRs.  The motel owner lives at his motel.  I'm pretty sure he would be pissed.  He already tells people that contractors stay at his motel for one week then move in to one of Paul's houses, which is true.

 I wouldn't put it there as this could make the guy mad. I'd try and put one up a few miles up the road before you get to the hotel area. 

@Wendy Schultz The refinery bids jobs out.  They go with the lowest bidder.  The contractors mainly come from Texas, Louisana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.  You don't know who will be coming here until they arrive.  I only know about them because they need a pre-employment drug screen.  How do they find the motel?  They enter town on the highway and the motels are the first thing you see when you cross the city limits sign.  It's not a big town, you can't miss not seeing the motels.

Originally posted by @John Underwood:
Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:
Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu:
Originally posted by @John Underwood:

Do you not have new people rolling into town that would not have known you just took down the "no vacancy sign"

And for the people rolling into town that see the "no vacancy" sign wouldn't that deter them from calling you when you actually had room?

The majority of potential renters come in to town on a Sunday and check in to a motel.  Monday morning they attend a safety orientation meeting then see me for a drug screen.  That's where I give them my pitch.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "I wish I would have known about this yesterday" I'd have about $10.  By the time they see my billboard, they have already checked into a motel.  Motels make them pay for a week in advance, no refunds.  After the drug screen, they get a pen with my info on it.  If they come back to town in the future, they normally give me a call.  Most of my current tenants are repeat renters.

The billboard is basically seen by people that have already found accommodation's.

 Sounds like you need a bill board as they are entering town prior to the hotels.

I've seriously considered that.  There is a baseball field directly across the highway from my main competition.  The outfield is fenced in.  4' x 8' billboards are on the chain link fence facing the highway and the front doors of all the motel rooms.  It's $250/year.  My wife doesn't want to attract too much attention with our STRs.  The motel owner lives at his motel.  I'm pretty sure he would be pissed.  He already tells people that contractors stay at his motel for one week then move in to one of Paul's houses, which is true.

 I wouldn't put it there as this could make the guy mad. I'd try and put one up a few miles up the road before you get to the hotel area. 

I was the first person to place a billboard on the fence in the contractor lot.  A few months later some more billboards showed up.  Someone elses furnished houses, a mobile home/cabin park, and other kinds of accomodations.  My billboard was bolted to the fence on a sheet of plywood.  I presume the other billboards/banners were affixed with zip ties.  The motel that we were discussing earlier is about 1/4 mile away.  You can see it from the contractor lot.  

One day all the other signs/banners were gone.  Mine was the only one up.  It's my guess that the motel owner took down what he could with a box cutter.  A metal bolt defeats a box cutter.

do you run ads in the local newspaper? Some people still look there (room for rent) , including the online newspaper. You may also get a few locals looking for a place to stay

Have you consider offering some rooms at a lower price?

Have you considered trying to get people on a long-term basis for just a few rooms?

Have you looked for the Craigslist Alternatives, of which there are a few? 

Have you considered the Airbnb long term rentals?

Have you considered the travel nurse option? There must be a hospital there.

 Have you tried Google AdWords?

Do you have your Vistaprint business cards that you give a few to each past guest to hand to people they know for the future?

do you run ads in the local newspaper? Some people still look there (room for rent) , including the online newspaper. You may also get a few locals looking for a place to stay

Have you considered having a vacation rental in say the Smokies or Branson or somewhere, that has a different rental income situation then you're boom or bust situation in Coffeyville?

Have you consider offering some rooms at a lower price?

Have you considered trying to get people on a long-term basis for just a few rooms?

Have you looked for the Craigslist Alternatives, of which there are a few? 

Have you considered the Airbnb long term rentals?

Have you considered the travel nurse option? There must be a hospital there.

 Have you tried Google AdWords?

@Ken Latchers that's a lot of questions.

The local paper is a joke, and locals don't make the kind of money to afford an STR. The only locals I've rented to, their house burned down. Their insurance paid $400/week for them to stay in a 2BR for 3 months. There are zero LTRs in this town that rent for $1700 or more a month.

We do everything with our rentals, cleaning, maintenance, collecting rent in person, showing them etc.  Plus the properties are dirt cheap here. 

I'm priced the same as the cheapest motel.  I'm not going to price myself any lower.

I've had long term people stay in my STRs.  One scaffold builder stayed for 81 weeks.  The only reason he left was that his girlfriend was pregnant and he didn't want his kid to have a Kansas birth certificate.  Another guy had a house for 51 weeks.  The only reason he left was because his dog let the place get infested with fleas.

Craigslist alternatives.  I've tried one other, with zero response.

I don't know what an Airbnb long term rental is.  Nobody comes here to take a vacation.

Travel nurses, I've rented to a few.  There might be 4-6 that come through here each year.  They don't get a big per diem like the refinery contractors, and they squawk over my rates.  I tell them to go stay in a motel for 13 weeks.

I talked with google ad works.  They can get me all over the local market.  I told them my target market does not reside locally.  They said they can get me all over the local market.  I told them that nobody I rent to lives locally.  They said they can get me all over the local market.  I said my market is in south Texas and Louisiana. They said they can get me all over the local market.  I told them to have a nice day and hung up.

@Kevin Manz STR is a short term rental. Everything is in the house except people clothes and their groceries. People with a per diem rent them. Their only responsibility is to do their own laundry, cook their food and pay rent.

LTR is a long term rental.  It's an empty house.  People need to furnish it and provide appliances and pay the utilities and mow the lawn etc.