by Matt Landau
My six years of vacation rental marketing research have done more than result in fully booked year-round. They’ve also made me a super savvier traveler: seeking out the best properties and enjoying the most authentic experiences. For the first time in public, I’m going to reveal some “secrets of the trade” – 6 insider tips that vacation rental owners don’t want you – the traveler – to know!
1. Vacation rental ads are often given away for free
If you’ve ever wondered how a small vacation rental could afford to pay for an ad in a major magazine or even in your local newspaper, the answer is, “they can’t.” The smartest vacation rental owners in the world trade free nights at their rental for advertising credit at leading publications so they can compete with larger property management companies or traditional hotels.
2. The longer you plan to stay, the more you can negotiate
Vacation rental owners like the least amount of hassle possible and that is especially true when it comes to check-ins and check-outs. The longer travelers are willing to stay at a rental, the less work is involved for the owner, which means the greater discounts will probably be offered.
3. The rentals with the best exposure offer the best experience
If there is one surefire way to pick out a great vacation rental, it’s by identifying the ones with great online presence. Owners who operate their own website, who offer beautiful pictures, and who display transparent guest reviews are owners who really care about their brand (and accordingly, your experience). The amount of exposure and professionalism a vacation rental offers online is almost always synonymous with end-user experience.
4. Easy guests are 10x more valuable than difficult ones
To vacation rental owners, all types of guests have different values. They range from difficult (picky guests, party groups, travelers who break things) to super easy (few questions, basic expectations, pleasant communicators). So in conveying yourself as an easy guest, you are reducing stress, risk, and costs to the owner. This means good things (such as discounts, special gifts, and free nights) tend to appear out of thin air.
5. Referral guests are the absolute best
It’s easy to tell an owner “we love your vacation rental and we’ll tell all our friends,” and quite another to actually send referral guests to said home. Vacation rental owners love referrals because they don’t have to spend marketing dollars and the guests arrive with accurate expectations (having heard so from the referrer). Refer your friends to a vacation rental and you can almost always count on substantial (if not 100%) discounts when it’s time to visit yourself.
6. Owners know you, before you know it
The best vacation rental owners in the world track their marketing closely, so don’t be surprised that when you visit their website, they know exactly where you are located, what you typed into your initial Google search, even what browser you are using. Free tools like Google Analytics make this kind of analysis, as creepy as it may sound, useful to just about all owners.
Matt (@bookmorenights) is the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, free and inexpensive tips for owners looking to increase their vacation rental bookings in 30 days or less.