Vacation Rental “New Reality” Checklist
May 5, 2020
As we re-open and re-enter the world after our first pandemic experience together, check lists are going to be useful. This particular checklist is for your marketing efforts. Take a lesson from the real estate sales side – photos only aren’t cutting it anymore. Properties need to convey more detail, and more information these days. Agents are upping their game with 3D tours, walkthrough videos and social media vignettes, and frankly so should property managers.
The experts are saying that it is better to invest in new visualization products, but to do so in the context of a “new reality” we are all facing. We are all shell shocked from the news and possibly even personal losses as well, so our new reality includes a need for security, safety, reassurances and familiarity. Here’s what you need to market your properties post-COVID-19:
Get these items in order before the end of May:
1. Target Your “Drive-To” Audience
If you don’t have a drive-to list already, create it now. Airplane travel will be avoided this summer, if not the rest of the year. Who can drive to your location in six, eight, even 12 hours? Get to know this audience well. They are your new best friends. You should reach out to them now.
“Drive market targeting is going to easily become the new norm, says Paul Hanak, Marketing Director of InterCoastal NetDesigns (ICND). “Even over the last few weeks, we have seen traffic and searching picking back up for the VR industry.”
Paul also said that most of the website traffic is coming from potential vacationers who live shorter distances away from their destination. This makes them good candidates for a fighting chance for last-minute summer bookings, he added. Now is not the time to cancel all pay per click ads. Instead, Paul suggests reducing spending to keep some awareness out there. if you’re going to part that client from their money
2. Consider Offering Longer Stays
With potential longer drives, weekend getaways are predicted to be less popular than week-long or multi-week rentals in the coming months. Tom Caton discusses the importance of mid-term rentals in this podcast. While roughly 80% of vacation rentals are traditionally seven or fewer days, that number has dropped significantly to 30% due to COVID-19. While the 8-15 day rental period percentage has remained consistent, the ratio of 15+ day period is rapidly growing. Consider adding in multi-week booking options or specials for the summer of 2020.
Not only will this make the drive-time and extra safety precautions taken seem to be a better time investment for the guests, but it will also save on cleaning costs.
3. Update Your Marketing
If you haven’t already, please add the words “flexible, clean, clear, close” to your marketing communication. These are the keywords your audience is looking for and is what they will gravitate towards. They are also looking for more information about the property, such as what can be communicated through 3D tour technology, which allows them to see every nook and cranny of the place. If another property manager offers more visual information than you do, you could lose the business to them. That’s how important this is going to be going forward.
According to an article in Forbes from January: “We’ve found virtual tours are especially valuable for guests with accessibility concerns,” says TurnKey co-founder and CEO John Banczak. “If they’re traveling with someone who has difficulty with stairs or is looking for a particular home layout, the virtual tour will help them determine if a home meets their travel needs.” The same article also stated: This is going to be a breakout year for virtual tours, experts predict.” Little did they know how right they would be.
Communicating how thoroughly your properties have been cleaned is best done through HDR photography, which reveals the shine in stainless steel appliances and the sun reflecting off the pool. The investment in updated photography, floor plan tours and 3D tours is “worth its weight in gold” for converting browsers into bookers.
4. Re-Vamp Your Digital Marketing Plan
We’ve seen some creative uses of our 3D tours on social media lately. Property managers are using Facebook and Instagram to increase the speed with which they are communicating – as everything seems to change by the hour! This builds trust with audiences who want to know there is a real person behind all the online branding. Now is a great time to be a real person.
Social media, along with Google’s Knowledge Box, also contributes to showing up in local searches. A presentation from ICND states that social media has become one of the main ways people found community during the shelter in place orders. Brands sharing positive, uplifting messages got shares and attention.
In that same presentation, the online experts at ICND suggest now is the time for stockpiling content to start slowly rolling out May and June. Get the promos ready, they say, for the dreamers starting the booking process.
Although the Summer 2020 season may not be the same as years prior, it is a great opportunity to stand out to guests and leave a lasting impression. An excellent booking experience for guests in this stressful time can result in future bookings for years to come.