Five Essential Tips and Tools for Vacation Rental Agencies and Owners

Guest blog post by: Anthony Dodd, Channel Relationship Manager at Kigo

We get asked for tips and inside tricks here at Kigo all the time, so we rounded up five of our best ideas to help you maximize bookings. Some are new additions to obvious solutions; others are from feedback we’ve had from our agencies. So, our top five…..

Gmail

For smaller operations or individual owners, Google Mail is a great free tool to manage your email contacts. Its range of plugins and tool make it a real time-saver for vacation rentals agencies and owners. Tools like Boomerang (where you can automate the re-sending of emails to keep inquirers attention) and Canned Responses (where you can save a selection of template responses to inquiries to quickly respond) are just two great examples of the hundreds available that can really save you time and make sure that your inquiries are not going unanswered or leads going cold.

MailChimp

For larger operations, MailChimp is an excellent solution. Free for your first 12,000 emails per month, the fantastic selection of templates, and the ability to add your own designs give so much scope for personalization. You can harvest emails by embedding a sign-up form in your website and automate emails following actions on your site and in previous email campaigns. All this comes complete with a detailed, granular analytics package to monitor your emails’ performance and automated postings on your various social media accounts. With great free options and affordable, scalable paid solutions, MailChimp is a great product for your email marketing.

Website

This is not exactly news to most of you, but it’s crucial to have a website for your vacation rental agency or property. From WordPress and Blogger to professional design agencies, having something to refer your customers to is always a big plus. It verifies your agency in an age where customers are ever more vigilant regarding fraud, gives you a showcase for your properties and helps you to establish a brand, all of which will help you to boost your bookings.

Google Analytics

One of the finest pieces of analytics available, Google’s free analytics package is a great way to monitor your sites performance. From an overview of which keywords are driving the highest number of visitors to your site, all the way to the granular details of how individual pages are performing and how long each visitor spends on your site, all the data is exportable, instantly assessable and segment-able. To get vital data on your site performance and how you can improve your site in a variety of ways, Google Analytics is a great tool.

Channel Manager

Managing your vacation rental properties through various online channels is always a rewarding experience in terms of bookings. But it can be time consuming and difficult to keep your own site up-to-date in addition to all the listings you have on great portals like FlipKey. Using a channel manager simplifies this process; all your availability data, pricing, and property details and photos can be instantly synced with your vacation rentals website so that every channel you market with is constantly updated in real time. Saving you time and money while streamlining your vacation rental business, a channel manager is a fantastic tool for your vacation rental business.

Kigo offers a Channel Manager option as a part of their vacation rental software package. Linking your vacation rental properties to Flipkey is made effortless through Kigo’s channel manager, with all data synced in real time. Contact us today to find out more.

Why Your Vacation Rental Needs a Name

Guest post by: Sarah Brubaker of WebChalet.com

I recently received this email from a friend: “I found the perfect vacation rental for our Bahamas trip. Available September 10-18. The house is on FlipKey (#506635) called ‘Sunset House’ and sleeps 10. Check out the photos and your calendars. Who’s in?”

When I received the email, the first thing that stood out to me is that the friend not only included the FlipKey listing number but also called the vacation rental by its name “Sunset House.” I realized that the owner of “Sunset House” is actually a WebChalet client because I recognized the name of the vacation home.

Create a Brand for your Vacation Rental

A name is a way to establish an identity for your vacation rental, build a brand and help generate word of mouth marketing. A name is also a way for guests to remember your rental. I can guarantee you that when someone asks me where I stayed in the Bahamas a year from now, I am not going to remember a FlipKey number but there is a good chance that I will remember the name “Sunset House” (and associate it with cocktail house and the amazing view at sunset). With an easy-to-remember name, you can also increase your word of mouth referrals. Word of mouth – recommendations made by friends, co-workers, or neighbors you know and trust – is the most effective and cost-effective way to win new guests. You cannot create this word of mouth buzz when your past guests don’t have a brand name to share.

Show Up in Search Results

A second reason to name your vacation rental is that it is highly likely that guests will type your vacation rental name into their search engine. In fact, a recent vacation rental marketing survey found 74% of people looking for vacation rentals would definitely “Google” the name of the property or the owner outside the listing environment. Today guests are doing their own research before booking. Let’s say you gave your vacation rental a generic name like “Bahamas Vacation Rental.” In addition to not being memorable, it is very difficult to optimize your listing or your personal vacation rental website for this search as you will be buried below many other websites. Now type the phrase “Sunset House in the Bahamas” into Google.com. What shows up? The Sunset House’s FlipKey listing, VRBO listing, and the owner’s personal website.

Importance of a Vacation Rental Website

Because users may type your vacation rental name directly into Google or Bing, you should not only include your vacation rental name on all your listings, but also optimize your personal website for the keywords as well. You can expect users to research your brand online and this is a way to take control of your brand image. Guests will look to see where else the house is listed. Are there other reviews on other listing websites? If you have a professional vacation rental website design, you can establish a brand and instantly impress your guests. A user doing her due diligence can now find more information about the vacation home and local area and is more likely to book.

How to Name your Vacation Home

The vacation rental name can be whimsical, but most importantly, it needs to be memorable so it is top of mind when a guest is choosing which vacation rental to book. If your vacation rental has a special feature or attribute, you could tie this into the name. A great name will help set you apart from your competition and help you create a brand that past and future guests can identify with. As for me, I am already daydreaming about sunset hour at the “Sunset House.”

Sarah Brubaker is Co-Founder of WebChalet.com, a vacation rental software company making it easy for owners and managers to book travelers directly with their own professional website. Starting with a variety of vacation rental website templates, owners and professionals can create their own professional website with availability calendars, online payment processing, and a suite of marketing tools built into the software.