Luxury rentals are in high demand, and we largely have the internet to thank for it. The popularity of online booking services has opened the eyes of vacationers, business travelers, snowbirds, and sojourners far and wide, giving hotels a run for their money. Now, it’s not only possible but in many cases preferable to forgo the traditional accommodations in favor of something more private and luxurious that offers all the comforts of home.
If your goal is to secure bookings for your own luxury villa, you’re fortunate to be living in a Golden Age of luxury rentals. The demand is sky high, and the profit potential is enormous. In fact, a report from Research and Markets estimates that the global vacation rental market will reach nearly $170 billion by 2019.
This is great news for property owners, but it does come with an important caveat. Your success as a renter is fully contingent on your success as a marketer, and proactive vacation rental advertising is essential.
As we all know, high demand almost always begets increased supply. In the case of vacation rentals, this is proving to be especially true. In 2016, the private accommodation market grew at twice the rate of the general travel market, and the trend is showing no indication of slowing. If you want to succeed in this rapidly expanding enterprise, you need to treat your villa like a full-fledged business and market it accordingly.
Luxury properties present unique challenges, as consumers are far more discriminating when it comes to these types of rentals. While just about any bargain seeker is willing to make allowances in the pursuit of a great deal, luxury shoppers demand the best.
If you want to ensure that your vacancies remain filled, here are some steps you can take to excite travelers and maintain an edge over your competition.
You wouldn’t purchase an expensive watch without first being able to examine the case, the band, the bezel, and the crown. You want to see the movements for yourself, peer at the sapphire crystal beneath a bright light, and study the diamonds that line the bracelet. Think of your luxury villa like that watch. People know that it’s a significant investment, and they’re not going to make such an investment without knowing exactly what they’re paying for.
Far too many property owners make the mistake of posting a few low-resolution photographs and a brief general description of the property. Then they’re surprised when the bookings don’t come pouring in.
If you want prospective tenants to take you seriously, make them feel as though they’re already inside the property. Post stunning high-definition photos of every room and use drone videography to provide a breathtaking guided tour of the property and surrounding community. There are luxury real estate photography services that offer Matterport technology that enable you to create and publish your own 3D virtual tours using a state-of-the-art camera and VR technology. If you’re looking for the best way to advertise a vacation rental, create a visual experience that people won’t soon forget.
Some research has found that simply adding video to a landing page can increase conversions by a staggering 86%. So if you’re still relying on the bare minimum of visual enticement, it’s time to take your listing’s user experience to the next level.
What amenities are emphasized on your listing? When someone reads the description for the first time, are they immediately provided with the square footage, number of bedrooms, and general location? That’s certainly how a lot of listings read, but it’s not going to get you much mileage with a luxury property.
Again, luxury-minded renters are a different breed, and they’re less concerned with the number of bathrooms than with the high-end accommodations. Think about the features that will get people excited. Is there an infinity pool? An in-house club or game rooms? Tennis or basketball courts? The most exquisite features shouldn’t merely be mentioned. They should be emphasized. Don’t bury them in the third paragraph of your description or hide them in an “Amenities” tab that a user has to click on. Make sure that the biggest selling points are front and center.
If you’re still using vacation rental platforms to market your villa, that’s great. These platforms can provide extensive exposure to consumers who would otherwise never find you. However, these platforms aren’t without their limitations, and if your listings on third-party websites aren’t supplemented by a website of your very own, you’re selling yourself short.
If you want to maximize your exposure and your bookings, you have to have your own website. More importantly, the website must have a professional design and a functional layout, providing visitors with useful information like rates and available dates. There are a few important reasons for this:
It provides you with an air of legitimacy and professionalism that many of your competitors’ properties are missing. Visitors feel like they’re working with a serious property management team.
It enables you to instantly answer questions that aren’t easily answered on third-party listing pages. For example, let’s say that a potential renter is curious to see if you have a vacancy on Memorial Day weekend. If you have a website with an updated calendar, they can easily find the answer they’re looking for, and that greatly increases the likelihood of an on-the-spot booking.
A website allows for more precise tracking. The third-party platforms will usually allow you to examine a few user behavior metrics, but nothing compares to having your own website with Google Analytics installed. Keep track of your new vs. returning visitors, see how your bounce rate changes over time, conduct AB tests on different landing pages, and fine-tune every aspect of your vacation rental marketing strategy. You can then use what you’ve learned to optimize your third-party listings in addition to your own website.
A website affords you greater marketing and SEO opportunities. Just make sure that the site is properly optimized for relevant local keywords (“local” is the operative word here). This will typically require the services of a reputable SEO agency. It’s a worthwhile investment when you consider the value of all that organic traffic. Consider that nearly one in five local mobile searches leads to a conversion within one day.
A brand new website without even basic search engine optimization is doomed to failure!" Mike Zhmudikov, COO of Seologist.
As previously noted, renters of luxury properties are looking for the best. Many potential guests are going to want services like personal chefs, personal masseuses, limo transport to and from the airport, and other high-end services. By offering concierge services, you place these perks within your guests’ reach and spare them the hassle of having to hunt down qualified professionals on their own — which can be very daunting in an unfamiliar city. By offering this simple convenience, you give yourself a massive competitive edge in the luxury rental market.
Of course, this will require a bit of legwork on your part. Business networking is essential if you want to meet and vet the professionals who offer these services. Seek out professional organizations, networking meetups, social media networks, and any other outlet that will enable you to make the right connections. You’ll also want to seek out recommendations from your existing business contacts.
We’ve talked about using the power of the internet to drive organic traffic to your website. But organic traffic is only piece of the online advertising puzzle. Vacation rental advertising through social media can be enormously beneficial, as people who reach a website through a paid ad are 50% more likely than organic visitors to actually make a purchase. What’s more, the real estate industry has one of the highest average click-through rates when it comes to paid advertising. Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity.
For paid advertising, your best bets are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as these platforms traditionally offer the highest ROI. Facebook is usually the best place to start; in one survey, a staggering 95.8% of social media marketers found Facebook to have the best ROI. That’s because the site’s algorithms are designed to help you pinpoint the most relevant traffic possible. Facebook can help you isolate traffic based on age, gender, location, and even lifestyle. Add to this the fact that there are more than two billion people using Facebook and the fact that Facebook ads average a nearly 10% conversion rate (nearly five times the average website conversion rate), and you’re looking at a potential advertising goldmine.
In general, the best bookings are the ones that come through your own website. You pay no fees or commissions, and you remain in full control of the transaction. There are times, though, when it’s in your best interest to contract with a villa rental company.
Let’s say that you own a luxury villa in Aspen, Colorado, and the vast majority of your bookings take place during the winter ski season. You could use the services of a villa rental company during the off season and secure bookings that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
Keep in mind that sites dedicated to villa rentals get targeted traffic from your ideal customers so listing your villa with them gives you a much better shot at bookings. While you do have to pay a commission to the villa rental company, you are still making money and your villa isn’t sitting unused for extended periods. It’s similar to the benefits of affiliate marketing; yes, you have to hand over some of your profit to the affiliates who promote your product, but they’re helping you to land customers who wouldn’t otherwise find you, so it’s a win-win.
If you’re still wondering how to advertise a vacation rental property, the bottom line is this: if you want to maintain a full calendar of bookings, you have to sell. Treat your luxury property like a business, and constantly work at improving your listings, your ads, and your website. Use the power of social media, think local, and don’t skimp on the customer service. By simply being proactive on a regular basis, you’ll achieve a massive competitive edge that will pay for itself time and time again.
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