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How to advertise your vacation rental

When you spend a lot of time and effort into building the perfect place for your rentals, you can't expect the guests to flow in without spreading the word. That's not how things work, especially in today's competitive world. Therefore, you should try to increase your vacation rental's visibility by advertising to get first-time visitors and increase your booking rates.

Fortunately, you have many online and offline advertising options to promote your property--and most of them are free!

How Do I Advertise My Vacation Rental Property?

Vacation Property

Every owner or rental business trying to spread its reach to potential customers needs to follow some fundamental steps. Without these, you can't expect to gain much traction.

Here's how to get started:

Set Up Your Own Website

If you don't have a website, it's definitely time to do so. Every real estate business should have a website of its own to establish an active online presence and adopt an online advertising strategy. Vacation rental websites are the best way to advertise vacation rental homes, where owners can easily post appealing photos and provide up-to-date, relevant details about them.

The importance of attractive pictures is so essential, that it pays to hire a professional photography service to take photos for you.

But looks are only the initial step in the process. Your website needs to be helpful and functional for visitors. You want your potential guests to find you, be attracted to your property, and book or rent it online.

You also want to make sure visitors don't need to leave your website to book or rent your holiday home. So, you'll need to have a direct booking engine installed on your website.

Set up a strong privacy policy, so that your website users feel secure while using your website and don't have to worry about any breach to their personal and credit card data.

Take Care of Your Vacation Rental Website SEO

The next step is to make your website visible on Google through SEO. Having an ۵ increases your page views.

Therefore, make your website highly relevant by putting yourself in travelers' shoes. What do they want to know when they start searching on the Internet?  What do they search for that leads them to your website? Targeting the right keywords can help you attract more guests by increasing the probability that travelers find your website.

You could start with the type of property you're renting out, like a forest cabin or a bed and breakfast. But since these are generic and highly competitive keywords, you would need to make them more specific. Long-tail keywords with less search volume and at least three words can help rank you higher.

Your images should also be optimized for Google. The names and descriptions should contain keywords related to your property.

Start a Blog

To have a successful vacation rental marketing strategy, set up a vacation rental blog, and publish a couple of posts each month about your property as well as things to do in the area where it's located. This is a great way to provide people with more information about your rental property and encourage them to book it.

Try to establish a personal bond with your rental website visitors by sharing information about yourself and the background behind your property. This way, you'll give them a reason to trust you and the services they're going to get if they rent your vacation home.

You could either write a blog or record a video, which shares your story and how you decided to become a host. Storytelling, in a heartfelt way, is the key to creating that bond with your potential customers that will make you stand out from the competitors.

That said, try not to come off as an owner who only cares about promoting his or her property at all costs. Instead, adopt an amusing or entertaining tone in telling your personal story. Authenticity is fundamental, since it helps your potential customers bond with you and establish rapport, even before they meet you in person.

To get your posts noticed, share them on your social media pages. This way, other people will start sharing your blog posts, talk about your property, and even endorse you.

The key point about blog content is patience; it takes time to see your efforts take effect. Don't expect to get instant results, especially if you've just started your online activity.  But if you do it right and take your time, you'll see how this free online marketing tool pays off in the long run.

Where Can I Advertise My Vacation Rental for Free?

LANDSCAPE OF COTTAGES

You don't need to spend tons of money on advertising your rental property with the surprisingly vast amount of free opportunities available. Here are some tips on how to advertise your vacation rental without spending a single penny.

Advertise on Free Vacation Rental Sites

You can piggyback off other successful travel sites to complement your online marketing efforts. when you list your property on other vacation rental websites, you can increase exposure, spread the word about your brand, and get more bookings and guests.

Some well-known vacation rental websites like Airbnb, Expedia, FlipKey, Booking.com, HomeAway, Vrbo, and TripAdvisor won't charge you to advertise your property. You only pay when your property gets a reservation.

Airbnb charges owners 3-5% of the booking fee and leads in the short-term rental business with more than 80 million visits a month.

After Airbnb, HomeAway and Vrbo specialize in single home rentals. They have two subscription plans: pay per booking and subscription models. The latter might be a better choice for you, because you only pay 5% of the booking fee. The annual subscription fee to host your property on their platforms is $499 per year.

The good thing is you can list your holiday home on any number of rental listing sites you want. And actually, you should! Here are some of the vacation rental websites you can advertise your vacation rental on for free.

Bobzio.com

Bobzio.com is a popular and free rental listing website that helps its members get the most out of advertising on their website. They do regular surveys to see what methods and ideas work better for vacation rentals marketing. The surveys identify the marketing and managing approaches that vacation rental homeowners or property managers have taken. It works like a network of homeowners who share their experiences and opinions regarding services and products they've tried in running their vacation rental business.

Vacation Rental Connection

This website is also 100% free to list your vacation rental, which lets homeowners list as many homes as they want. It offers a free basic and a premium program where members can upgrade for $69 a year. They don't charge you for uploading pictures or hosting, either. It has a straightforward listing process, where the property owners sign up, enter their dashboard, and list their property on the listing page without paying any processing fees.

Free-rentals.com

This website's services are also 100% free, enabling renters and hosts to directly contact each other. It's one of those vacation rental sites that doesn't get any commissions per booking or get in the middle of their transactions. You'll receive inquiries directly and there's no fee to pay per booking.

TravelStaytion

This website offers free property listing services and the tools that help you grow your vacation rental booking and occupancy. You can list any number of homes you want free of charge and receive 24/7 customer support. The website has a secure payment system allowing you to do all your transactions directly on the website.

Domegos

This is another listing site that gives your property exposure to millions of international visitors with no subscription costs. It has a country network that includes ten sites in different countries. When you list your holiday property, they translate it into five languages and send it to this network of property renters. The ten countries include the US, UK, Spain, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, France, South Africa, and Italy.

Euro Direct Rentals

Euro Direct Rentals specializes in European rental properties and offers you a free membership for ten years. In your control panel, you can have up to five vacation rental listings at no cost. Your guests can make bookings directly through you.

This list isn't exhaustive, and you can find many other vacation rental listing sites online. Handling all these listing sites might be time-consuming and overwhelming. That's why it's a good idea to use a channel manager to get rid of manual updates on each channel. This way, you'll save time and target a greater percentage of your audience on different rental websites.

Offline Advertising

TV Ads

It's a known fact that these days, an overwhelming majority of travelers make all their travel bookings online. But it doesn't mean you should ignore the offline world in your attempts to grow the visibility of your vacation home. There are still many ways in which offline advertising can help you stand out from the competition and increase your property occupancy.

Print Ads

Tap into the potential of the physical advertisement world by printing low-cost ads. There are still plenty of newspapers and magazines that specialize in tourism and travel. Publishing your ads in these newspapers can promote your property and increase your booking rates by targeting a specific niche market.

Be succinct and present the reader with exactly what he or she wants to know about your home. How many rooms does it have? What services or specific features does it offer? And of course, include the address, the price ranges, and the number of guests allowed. List all of your contact information such as the phone number, email address, and a link to your website.

Radio and Television Ads

If you're ready to spend some coins to attract more guests, advertising on TV and radio could be a good option for you. But if you're a small vacation rental business or have just started renting out your vacation rental, these ads might be beyond your budget expectations.

Radio ads are more affordable and allow you to reach a broader range of potential guests. So, weigh all the options and see if investing in these kinds of ads is a suitable way to connect to your target audience.

Grow Your Network

Networking is an effective tool that helps you grow awareness about your vacation rental business. Establish connections with local people and businesses to stay informed about local developments and issues.

The local tourist information center is another place you'll need to network with. Register with the tourism association, so that they can link your business to their website. Tourism pages are one of the most go-to references for travelers when they decide to visit a city and find a short term rental. Some tourism associations offer free services and benefits like advertising for vacation rentals. Others might charge monthly or annual membership fees.

You can also get plenty of ideas from other professionals to plan your business strategies. They can help you figure out what you need to work on or share their experiences with you.

If you have a business card, distribute it among local businesses and your partners to pass on to their customers. If you don't have a business card, get one! It's very helpful to have, especially during busy seasons, when your property will have more visibility.

Brochures

Brochures are also a great way to attract the attention of potential guests looking for holiday homes. If they're designed properly, they can significantly increase the visitors' chances of choosing you as their host. Here's what you can include in your brochure to make it more attractive:

  • A full and detailed description of your property
  • Clear and eye-catching photos of your vacation rental
  • Your contact information

You could even include testimonials from your past guests who recommend your property and highlight your services.

Participate in Local Events

Look for different ways to get involved in the community, especially if you live in the area. You can build your vacation rental business profile and establish yourself as a responsible member of the community by sponsoring events, volunteering for causes, and participating in different local area activities.

Collaborate With Other Local Businesses

Business Meeting

It's an excellent idea to tap into the potential of already established local businesses to build yours. You can create and develop this partnership in a way that both of you will benefit from.

Most guests rely on other people's recommendations when they decide to use a service. So, you can ask local cafes, restaurants, or shops to recommend your vacation rental to potential guests.

Have the guests' needs in your mind and make a list of excellent local businesses that can really help your guests enjoy their stay. Contact them and create a partnership to cross-promote your services. This way, you can improve your guests' experience by assisting them to make decisions outside your range of services. It will have a great impact on them, leading them to leave positive comments for you and even come back in the future.

And don't rely on traditional ways to create partnerships. You can also use social media reach and the user base of your partners to promote your holiday home. This way, you target an audience that you couldn't have reached otherwise.

The only important thing is that all the partnerships you build must be meaningful and relevant to your service and your guests' needs. Naturally, it would be senseless to partner with a local business that your guests wouldn't need.

Make Use of Local Search Listings

Local listings include your online profile that contains your business name, address, and phone number, as well as other features of your business. You can attract travelers who look for vacation rentals using search engines through these local listings.

Search engines optimize them based on the specified locations. When a user searches for a vacation home, your listing, along with pictures, reviews, and other details about your business appear on the search page. Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and Craigslist are among the best local search listing options.

How Do I Advertise My Vacation Rental on Social Media?

Social Media

Social media is the primary medium people use to share their thoughts, plans, everyday activities, and pretty much everything going on in their personal lives. The use of social media has become so widespread over the past handful of years, that it's huge mistake not to consider it in your rental marketing strategy. Get savvy in using the tools that social media offers you to get the word out effectively with minimal effort!

Which Social Media Channels are Best?

There's a wealth of different social media channels that you can use. You might be tempted to build a presence on all channels, because each of them has a different focus and demographic. But it's better to choose ones that are most suitable for you and focus your attempts on growing your audience through them. In choosing the right channel, you should consider three things:

  •  Which ones are you familiar with?
  •   Which ones does your target audience use?
  •   Which one is best for vacation rentals advertising?

All of these factors determine the type of strategy you should take to promote your vacation rental. No matter what platform you choose, make sure to keep up with your updates and posts. Suppose a visitor lands on one of your social media pages, only to see it hasn't been updated for months. Undoubtedly, he or she would either think you're unreliable or the business isn't in operation anymore.

Each social media platform has a different focus. So, you can't post the same kind of content on all your channels.

Be Active and Interactive on Social Media

Social media has an interactive nature. It's not your mouthpiece to promote your vacation rental. Instead, it's a two-way relationship where you should talk to your audience and listen. So, think of your followers as friends. Follow them back, ask them to tag you, and encourage them to comment on your posts.

Share your experience on groups and channels related to the vacation rental industry. And if you get negative comments or reviews, never delete them. Be understanding and clear in the answer you give. And if the conversation proves to be long or complicated, move it to private messaging.

Instagram

As a platform primarily used for sharing photos and videos, Instagram is the perfect tool for promoting your vacation rental. Whether you're a budding business trying to gain traction or an established brand seeking to create brand loyalty, having an Instagram account is a must for you. Here's what you can do on Instagram to make waves.

Create an Instagram Business Account

This is the most critical step, since you shouldn't promote your rentals with your personal account. Start by setting up your profile. Include all the details about your business, a bio about your vacation rental, and a link to your website. Also, add a profile photo, preferably your business logo or an image of your property. Lastly, don't forget to make sure to include relevant keywords in your bio.

  • Connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Since Facebook and Instagram belong to the same company, you can connect your accounts on both platforms. It allows you to share media that is on one of the platforms to the other and boost your vacation rental marketing efforts.
  • Help your website users connect to your social media pages from your website. That's why you should add icons of all social media platforms on your website, so that potential guests can visit those pages and see your posts.
  • Decide on the type of content you want to post. Although Instagram is a visual content sharing platform, don't overlook the importance of captions. The frequency of content posting on Instagram doesn't matter much. Just remember to keep a steady pace and be consistent in posting. If you post at irregular time intervals, you might end up losing your followers.

Make Use of Hashtags

Instagram uses hashtags to display relevant posts to the right people at the right time. ‌You can use up to 30 hashtags on each Instagram post, so use them wisely and research which ones are the best fit for your business beforehand. Think about the keywords users search for to find travel destinations. Generic hashtags are also useful in engaging users. Use tags like vacation, summer, or BBQ day to engage users.

Use Branded Hashtags

It's not enough to use generic or local vacation rental hashtags. To promote your brand identity through branded hashtags, you should also use branded hashtags of your property's name. If it doesn't have a name, try to come up with creative ideas to reflect your vacation rental's personality. These hashtags should be short, catchy, and unique to your brand.

Add Locations

When you publish a new post on Instagram, add the location so that individuals looking for places, events and highlights in that location, can get to know what you offer. Others may simply find the content and get inspired to choose your property for their future stays.

Make Use of Instagram Live

Go live on Instagram to connect with your followers on a more personal level and portray the real experience of staying at your property.

Facebook

With more than 250 million users in North America alone, Facebook provides you with an excellent opportunity to promote your vacation rental. You can target potential guests with a wide range of interests and different age groups. It's a great place for you to help users learn about your vacation rental through your posts and reviews and further engage with you.

If you manage to maintain an active presence by posting regularly, being responsive to inquiries, and providing unique customer service, you'll attract many more customers.

Unlike Instagram, posting on Facebook can be more limited. One post a day is enough to get your followers engaged.

Just like for Instagram, you'll need a business account on Facebook, too. Provide a link to your website and other rental websites on which you're listed.

Twitter

Twitter might not be a hub for travelers, but you can still use it to build a virtual network with other people active in the vacation real estate field. You can connect with other vacation rental owners, stay on top of the news, and retweet relevant posts. It's an ideal place to become part of the vacation rentals community, give and receive advice, and interact with other local businesses.

Twitter posts are different from other social media posts in that the former has a short life-span. So, it's not a suitable place to post general content promoting your rentals. Instead, you can post real-time news or updates, or content about your area and your property.

For example, if there's an upcoming event in the area and your place is available to be booked, tweet a reminder, and promote your property.

Make sure to be active and quickly respond to tweets mentioning you. You can also tweet pictures, videos, and gifs to grow engagement.

Hashtags are also important on Twitter, giving your account more exposure. But don't use more than five hashtags, and remember the character limit of tweets.

Ideas for Website and Social Media Content

Laptop with website

No matter where you publish and share your content, you can use these content-creation ideas and adapt them to the platform in question. Get started with these ideas:

Guest Reviews

Reach out to your guests and request feedback and pictures. You can publish them on your website, other listing sites, and your social media channels. You could also ask them to write postcards or sticky notes and display them in a specific part of your home for future guests to see.

Talk About the Local Area

Promote the local area by writing blog posts or making promotional videos. Seasonal events, attractions, lesser-known facts, useful tips, and all the things you like about the area can be great topics to feature in your posts.

"Top Ten" Post Series

These lists provide a wonderful source of regular content, because you have endless options: first date ideas, restaurants, family activities, adventures, weddings, romance, you name it.

Travel Tips

You don't have to only focus on your vacation rental or the local area. You can also write about more general but related topics like travel tips. These topics can provide a wide range of things for any visitor to consider and attract many viewers to your website or social media pages. Share ideas on how to save money on trips and plan low-budget activities. Introduce affordable restaurants, free local attractions, and anything that helps your future guests save money on their trips.

Use Videos to Showcase Your Home

Although high-quality photos are essential, it's better to have a mix of different media to attract potential guests.

Videos are a good complement to photos, giving visitors a feeling of what it's like to stay in your vacation rental. Like photos, ask a professional to record videos and edit them in a way that best represents your brand and the message you want to get across.

Offer Discounts or Gifts

It's a great way to encourage people to choose your vacation rental. You could think of different incentives like discounts for first-time guests, returning guests, or off-season stays. You could also use your partnership with other local businesses and get discounts on their services for your guests. Offer a free night giveaway and announce it on your website or social media pages to create instant interest. Be creative and think of what you can offer to make the stay worthwhile for your guests.

How Can I Increase My Vacation Rental Bookings?

Sending Emails

Advertising your property both online and offline is the primary way of getting more bookings for your rental property. But you can do a lot more to ensure you'll get enough bookings during high and low seasons in order to grow your income. Here are some effective strategies you can implement:

Email Marketing Campaigns

Being in touch with your former guests helps you get more vacation rental bookings and further promote your rental. You could build an email list by encouraging your guests and website users to leave their email address and receive updates about your rentals.

You could send them weekly or monthly newsletters that cover a wide range of topics. For example, send them updates on the lowest prices, discounts, and giveaways, and share the new features you've added to the property. Provide new photos or recent guest reviews. You have a whole range of options when it comes to staying in touch with your guests. Don't forget to add a call to action in your email or newsletter content, such as "contact us here", on order to encourage your subscribers to take further action.

Using an email marketing automation platform like Mailchimp or Zoho can help you manage these campaigns more efficiently.

Increase Your Property's Amenities

Adding and updating features to your property goes a long way in attracting new guests and getting repeat bookings. When a guest chooses to stay in your vacation rental for the second time, you should provide an improved experience for them. Here's an idea on what you could add:

  • Pet-friendly options
  • Washer/dryer
  • Fast Wi-Fi, TV, movies and books
  • Video games
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Shampoos and soaps
  • Free snacks
  • A hot tub

Offer Flexible Options

Try to be flexible to get more bookings, especially during low seasons. If you offer options that not many competitors offer, you could encourage more bookings. Here's what you could do:

Special Offers for Weekdays

While weekends are always in demand, weekdays might not be so busy. You could make special offers like lowered prices for weekdays.

Attract Smaller Groups

If your house is large and suitable for families with kids, consider closing 1 or 2 bedrooms and offering the place to smaller groups. This way, you'll make the price per night more affordable without lowering the value.

Contact People Who Didn’t Book

It's a known fact that you should reach out to your previous guests. But what about those who showed interest and never booked for various reasons. You could have missed bookings, because your property was full, or the guest had their trips canceled. Reach out to them through email or SMS text message and offer to have them stay with you again. Remind them about your place, give them a special offer, and sent them pictures of your place. These are the lost leads you could recapture by reconnecting.

The Bottom Line

Promoting your rental property requires spending time, effort, and money. However, there are many free or low-cost ways you can use to drive more bookings. Traditional marketing strategies like brochures, business cards, and word of mouth can sometimes be as effective as social media advertising.

The key here is to try various ways and adapt your strategies based on the results you get. Your target guests and the location of your property can also determine the best advertising strategy.

Whatever you do to promote your property, never forget that a happy guest can go a long way in attracting new ones and getting repeat bookings. An essential principle is being honest with future guests. Don't try to hype up the features or promise something that you can't deliver. Be truthful in your descriptions and be accurate in advertising what you have to offer.