Vacation Rental Peak Season Coming to an End…. What's next?

Vacation Rental Peak Season Coming to an End.  Where do we go from here?
As vacation rental managers start to feel the lessening of the weight of the world off their shoulders, we urge them to take some time to evaluate their marketing and websites.  The off-season is the perfect time to explore, make changes, and gear up for a prosperous 2012 rental year.  Here is our list of the top things we recommend you do, if you haven’t already:
1.    Install Google E-commerce Tracking to your website.  You can't effectively evaluate your SEO company, email campaigns, and PPC campaigns by the traffic alone that’s driven to  your website.  You have to be able to track your rate of conversion and your revenue generated from every campaign.  It’s so easy with Google E-commerce tracking.  If you don’t have it, that is NUMBER ONE!  Get Google E-comm set up within your booking engine pages.

2.    Look at your PPC vs SEO keyword phrases.  You’re paying big money for PPC ads and you’re paying big money to be on the top pages of the search engines for popular keyword phrases.  For PPC, you’ll want to check your quality score for your keyword phrases and see if you can improve them by adding quality content to your landing pages thus, making them more relevant to your keyword phrases.  You’ll also want to see which keyword phrases you are converting best on (in which you have the best conversion) for PPC and make sure that those are also keyword phrases that you are ranking well for.  If you aren’t, you know where to focus in the off season (your off-season focus should include) working on content, backlinks, and blogging.  You may also want to explore with PPC other (with other PPC) keyword phrases that you haven’t been targeting through SEO and set up a few campaigns to see if they are a niche you can optimize organically.

3.    Call tracking.  If you haven’t evaluated a call tracking company you should really get in the game.  It’s one thing to be able to track your online reservations, but it’s even better to be comprehensive.  Sure, Google may offer this for free in the future (Yes! Please!) but in the mean time you really need a well-rounded approach to tracking your marketing.

4.    Evaluate your marketing mix – Social Search and Social Media are getting bigger and bigger.  Sorry.  You’re not going to be able to avoid it.  You can’t hide from it.  If you haven’t found a way to make money off of the 4 hours a day your reservationist is spending on Facebook, then it’s time to talk to a specialist.  Social Media can be very time consuming, but there are ways to generate fans and followers fairly quickly and there are ways to convert them to reservations. 

Remember, it takes a certain number of touch points before you can convert a new customer and you need to cultivate relationships with your existing customers.  Email marketing is still producing, but let’s be honest, I haven’t checked my personal email in well over 4 weeks!  In addition, the search giant, Google, has recently released Google + to invitation only.  It’s only a matter of time until it’s publically released and another avenue you will have to manage and maintain.  In addition it’s the first SURE sign of social and search being integrated and that’s even a whole new world for you to keep up with.  Check these articles for more information about Social media and Google +.

5.    Review your website and make changes and upgrades as you need.  Important things you have to do are highlight your amenities, feature reviews and lots of them, interact with social media sites with share functions, have good content, make your website easy to use and easy to find what people are looking for—Vacation Rentals! 

Analytics is another great tool for this.  Check your bounce rates, your top landing pages and their bounce rates, your top exit pages, your pages with the highest bounce rates and look at how you are driving traffic to those pages and how to improve.

6.    Do you have a mobile site?  If you look back at your analytics, you’ll see how many visitors are viewing you on mobile browsers (and iPads etc too).  Do you have a mobile version of your site?  Sure the phones are getting faster and faster, but it’s so much easier to navigate if you get rid of a lot of that fluff and just let the visitor find and book a vacation rental as easily as possible.  Mobile apps are handy too.  If you have a smart phone, you know the web can be rather slow and jumping on an app that allows you to do exactly what you are setting forward to do will really help out your mobile conversion rates.
And you thought the off-season was going to be easy!  Give us a call for more information about any of the topics above.  We’d love to help you out and do the analysis for you, for free.

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