Those of you who attended the KigoWorld conference in Barcelona learned a lot about the latest trends and developments in marketing vacation rentals on the Internet. More and more, keeping up with these trends make the difference between burgeoning property management businesses and those experiencing little or no growth.
You can use the following as a checklist to ensure you're on top of the critical components of your digital marketing strategy. We can't go into lots of detail here, but a quick Google search on any of these topics will turn up a wealth of more specific advice. And of course, we at Kigo are always standing by to support you in any way we can!
1. Going mobile
Google has moved to a “mobile-first” policy, in recognition of the fact that mobile devices are now the primary devices being used for search.
Your websites MUST be optimized for mobile. This means not only that the appearance, organization and navigation of your sites are user-friendly on a cell phone, but also that the pages load quickly. In fact, page load speed will figure in search result rankings.
If you’re building your own websites, you need to engage experts who can implement mobile optimization for you. But if you don’t have the staff or budget, note that Kigo Premium sites are not only mobile-optimized but are also loaded with features proven to engage and convert prospects. So you can avoid the cost and headaches of doing it all yourself.
2. High quality content
There was a time when "content" meant almost any sort of babble peppered with keywords, cranked out in hopes of affecting search results. Not anymore. Google's algorithms have become so sophisticated that they can distinguish useful, engaging content from mere filler. Decide exactly whom your audience is, provide truly useful information, and yes, use keywords that Google will recognize as important to them. The techniques for search-engine-optimizing your content constantly change in response to Google's evolving search algorithms, but fortunately information on the latest is a few clicks away on the Internet, covering subjects such as metatags, hashtags, keyword usage, format of photos and videos and more.
The VARIETY of content matters a lot these days as well. You need a strong mix of content marketing, including blog articles, photos, videos and social media content to cover all your bases in digital. Posting property pics to Instagram or an occasional YouTube video are great, but you need to be exploiting multiple channels using content that is specially tailored to their desired formatting and user expectations.
3. Social media posting
No surprise here: social media continues to explode, and to be critical to the success of any vacation rental management business. But leveraging it for marketing is a science in itself. Each platform has its own posting guidelines, along with best practices for achieving engagement. You can’t simply create universal content for use in multiple channels. Information on the content for each important channel, from Pinterest, to Instagram, to Facebook, YouTube and beyond, is free and readily available on the Internet. Affordable solutions such as Buffer (there are many to choose from) act as command centers for scheduling, posting and tracking all your social media posts, dramatically simplifying the task.
4. The advent of Google Travel
Google Travel is here, designed to “simplify trip planning for travelers through Google Travel Planner and the Google Travel App.” Learn more in this recent article.
5. Don’t forget video
It’s now understood by almost everyone in the business that the marketing of vacation properties is primarily driven by eye-catching photos and videos. (Factoid: images of the rooms themselves are the most searched on.) While most businesses get this, many are not doing nearly enough with video. And that’s a problem. YouTube (owned by Google) is today the world’s second largest search engine. If your videos are not optimized for this platform and showing up regularly, you’re missing a huge opportunity. (Of course, you can use them on your websites and on other marketing channels as well.) The best length for YouTube videos is around 30 – 45 seconds for sharing quick bits of information, where videos of two to five minutes are great for more explanatory videos and video streams. A sweeping panorama of a beautiful beach, with shots of the neat rooms of your charming property, will sell like nothing else!
6. Email marketing and GDPR
Email marketing continues to be a solid part of any vacation rental marketing effort. Several criteria separate professional email campaigns from sloppy ones. First, choose a professional email platform that is easy to use, monitor and produce reports from, based on the size of your database and frequency of sending. There are many to choose from, and it is well worth paying for a good one; the fees are quite modest. Make sure the solution makes it easy for creating various types of email, including newsletters and announcements that look professional and demand attention. As described above, it is critical that the emails are optimized for mobile devices. Include links to videos, photos, website content and social channels. And finally, for marketing in Europe, be sure to understand fully the new GDPR privacy rules and how they apply to your email campaigns and other marketing.
7. Reputation matters
Online reviews are everything these days. But you are not powerless in the face of customers whose posts you cannot control. An organized program for managing your online reputation will pay big dividends. First, you should be monitoring the various marketing channels to identify positive and negative sentiments (there are software solutions that help with this). Respond quickly and genuinely to all of your critics, and amplify positive reviews after you thank the customers by re-posting them on other channels and your websites. Capture and re-publish stories of wonderful vacation experiences booked through you. And be sure to encourage your guests to post reviews during or soon after their stays at your properties (unless of course you get the sense they aren’t happy)!
There's more to marketing than these seven components, but they represent the most dynamic and rapidly evolving opportunities to grab the attention of new guests. Keep up with these seven and you'll dominate competitors who are fighting hard for the same vacationers!
John Heffernan is a Digital Marketing Expert and Sales Director at Red Live Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01785 719844 - 07977 440690.