For all those web designers and digital marketing gurus out there, you may be interested in the developments that have been happening in what was once a marketplace that was too competitive to enter. The tourism industry is once again fair game!
The spread of vacation rental websites like HomeAway and Airbnb has given us all the chance to take advantage of new technology and a new approach to the way we utilize marketing tools at our disposal within the travel industry.
Forget overpriced Facebook Ads or Pay-Per-Click marketing techniques for a moment. You can even throw out search engine optimization for the time being. We can visit these traditional marketing techniques and how to use them once we have explained how easy it is for digital marketers to create an online package using WordPress booking systems and plugins for vacation rentals.
The Key To Vacation Rental Success Is To Maximise Exposure
Every business is looking to maximize their online exposure. Obviously, this comes at a cost because you need to build blogs, get content out there, brand your product/service, and partake in other online marketing activities in order to increase website clicks.
In the travel industry, most small businesses have not been able to compete using traditional internet marketing techniques. This has been because large hotel brands and websites that sell accommodation, flights, and tours (for example Agoda) have huge marketing budgets that no small business can afford.
Even search engine optimization has been saturated by these websites.
How do you increase online exposure versus such stiff competition?
The key is by using the right software tools and multiple websites to your advantage. Here is a step-by-step guide.
- Sign up to a website builder like Lodgify and choose one of their vacation home rental websites if you have a WordPress website – this is going to be your central point of management
- List all your vacation rentals on your website
- Make sure you understand how to use the channel management software that comes with the WordPress booking system and plugin tools offered by Lodgify
- Now make a list of every vacation rental website out there that allows you to list properties for free such as Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, Booking.com, Expedia, and so on. Check out this article for more info: 50 Websites For Home Owners and Property Managers
- Create an email address that will be used specifically for your vacation rental business or make sure you eliminate multiple email addresses if you already have an email to use in mind. The idea here is that you have one central email address for all your vacation rental marketing
- List all your properties on all the sites mentioned in step 4 using the email address mentioned in step 5 (You will need to become a host to do this)
- Sync the calendars on all the vacation rental websites you have listed with your channel manager via your WordPress booking system and plugin or the website builder being used as your central point of management mentioned at the end of Step 1
- Download every vacation rental app on to your mobile device for each site you have signed up for and log in so the chat functions are open for inquiries. Also, make sure notifications are set up to alert you when new messages come through
What is the end result?
Once all the above steps have been completed and every vacation rental has been listed, the end result is maximum exposure stage 1 achieved. People that want to book a vacation rental property for their holiday will likely visit Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, Booking.com, Expedia, and so on.
- Every vacation rental property you are responsible for marketing is now listed on every major vacation rental website exposing those properties to as much traffic as possible
- Any search filters applied by vacationers that apply to any of the holiday homes you have listed on these vacation rental websites will now start to show in search results
- If a booking comes in, the channel manager will sync all the calendars across every website to make sure available and booked dates are in sync (no manual labour needed here!)
- All inquiries and messages from the websites will arrive in one single email inbox and you can apply filters and so on to organize your inbox as you see fit
- Your mobile device is set up for all vacation rental websites so you can answer inquiries as soon as they come through (Organising your support services is another aspect of this setup you will need to cover)
One of the key benefits to the above steps is that for the most part setting this up has cost you time but no money has been spent aside from maybe the Lodgify website builder that provides you with the centralized website you need or the WordPress plugins for the channel manager as well as the booking system.
Enhancing Digital Marketing Success In The Travel Industry
The above tactics make use of common sense and technical tools such as the WordPress booking system and plugin tools that you can use to your advantage. The above steps minimize the administration time required to manage all the website listings and properties. This does not mean you are home free. In fact, the hard work has only just begun.
- You will need to get reviews to increase the chances of a property being booked
- Making sure photos are high-quality but at the same time realistic
- Ensuring property descriptions are accurate
- Ensuring the correct amenities are showing so properties are no excluded from filters that they should, in fact, be included in
- Competitor research – competitive pricing and insights
- Local SEO and SEM (PPC)
- Start to build a social media presence
These 7 points are just some of the additional areas of digital marketing you will need to have covered. Remember that even though photos and property descriptions may not seem like they are a digital marketing factor to consider, they are. Online content, video, and graphic design all come under the responsibility of the marketing department.