This content is adapted from our 2021 VRMA International Educational Hub session titled “Digital Marketing: What Works and What Doesn’t”
There’s no shortage of online advice regarding the perfect digital marketing plan — experts and strategists from every corner of the worldwide web have opinions to share. But what digital marketing strategies actually work? Look no further, the experts of Team Bluetent have compiled a short list of strategies your brand can deploy right now to build revenue.
Before you can deploy your digital marketing strategies, however, you’ll need to take stock of the information and tools you have at your disposal. Don’t forget: you’re the expert regarding your unique business! Using insights only you and your frontline workers can provide, you’ll be putting some combination of the following seven tools to work:
- Your traveler-centric direct booking website
- Search engine optimization
- Content creation
- Digital advertising
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing
- Data analysis / expert consultation
Ask yourself: How does your toolkit stack up? Does it need an upgrade? Did your research reveal any special tactics that are relevant to your specific market? Do your reservation agents have insights regarding which amenities are most popular among current travelers?
Using what your observations and available tools, here are six strategies that Team Bluetent suggests you put into play.
1. INCREASE PER-BOOKING REVENUE
With the wild successes in our industry this year, your brand’s digital marketing strategy is not necessarily going to be about deep discounts. It’s instead about adding value to whatever you’re already offering your guests. Use automated, informational prearrival emails to capitalize on the fact that for every $1,000 spent on a vacation rental, guests spend $400 on activities. These emails should promote add-ons and packages that enhance the guest experience. Bonus: once you’ve set up the automation, this strategy takes virtually no effort on your part!
2. ACQUIRE NEW HOMEOWNERS
Adding properties to your inventory is an essential component of a healthy business — and there’s never been a better economic climate for expanding your property portfolio. Right now, there are abundant opportunities for small- to mid-size vacation rental brands to build inventory. Use this time to shine: show prospective owners your superior value and service.
Signing new homeowners is complex and, in some cases, being successful means using many different touchpoints — word of mouth, reputation, and on and on. A good way to start capturing leads and getting the conversation started is to use search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing tools to create a property management page on your website. Your page should put your brand in front of homeowners seeking management companies with content that is genuine, tells your unique story, and clearly outlines the benefits of your service. A trackable form for capturing homeowner contact information is a must — and, for even better conversion rates, ask page visitors to provide their information via a pop-up message.
3. PROMOTE SUMMER 2022
In today’s industry climate, it seems like you can never start promoting seasons too far in advance — Summer 2022 vacation bookings have been trending for months now. By Adding an eye-catching website banner directing travelers to your 2022 rates page, you can move next year’s travelers into your booking funnel. One Bluetent Insider, Coastal Vacation Rentals of Holden Beach, added a custom “Book your 2022 Summer Vacation Now!” banner to their homepage and received more than 30 bookings in the first month!
4. USE PAST-GUEST INFORMATION TO RUN DATA-DRIVEN CAMPAIGNS
According to Forbes Magazine, it can cost five times more to attract a new customer than to retain
an existing one. Statistics like that make it a no-brainer to use data gleaned from your past guests (and their booking behaviors) to guide your marketing efforts. This data allows you to maximize your digital and social media ad spends by displaying the only the right ad at just the right time to the right traveler. For instance, you can target past guests within your drive-to market with last-minute deals. Or you can remind last season’s guests that they need to act quickly to reserve their preferred accommodations and dates.
5. CAPTURE INFORMATION FROM WEBSITE VISITORS… THEN USE IT!
There’s nothing better than effective, high ROI marketing that requires little or no effort to deploy. With an incredibly high open and conversion rate, booking abandonment emails are just the ticket. These are automated messages sent to website visitors who made it all the way to the checkout page, but then abandoned their cart. By gathering the user’s email address as soon as they start the checkout process, even if they don’t finish the booking, you can populate an email message with the exact home they had in their cart, and a link to “compete your reservation.”
6. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR OWNERS!
Owner retention campaigns often take a backseat to more flashy marketing efforts — but keeping owners happy is crucial to success! Happy owners are the best ambassadors for your brand.
Arm your owners with data showing how your company is performing – make sure they know all the ways you are investing in your marketing, and how those investments benefit them. Create custom year-end reports, monthly owner dashboards aimed specifically at keeping homeowners in the loop and happy. Send a periodic homeowner update email, keep them engaged and informed.