We are super excited to be participating with the VRMA in the first ever Vacation Rental Week! This week is about bringing awareness to the benefits of professionally managed vacation rentals for guests and property owners. It’s definitely hard to stand out against the crowd in the vacation rental industry especially with an abundance of Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s). This week is all about spreading awareness about professional vacation rental managers and celebrating the impact companies can make in the vacation rental space.
It’s amazing how the vacation rental industry has become so dependent on online travel agencies. There’s nothing wrong with OTA’s but let’s face it, it results in extra fees for the guest. With the online travel agencies owning a large portion of the online advertising space, it can be difficult to find your place when it comes to digital marketing for vacation rentals. Particularly when your goal is to generate direct bookings!
Ready or not, it’s here! It’s 2020 and social media marketing is changing daily. So it’s time to really put some thought into your 2020 social strategy.
- What sort of audience are you going to target?
- How are you going to increase your engagement with your content?
- Overall, how are you going to leverage your social channels to increase conversions and drive revenue?
These are all questions that need answers if you are planning on implementing a social strategy this year. And if you aren’t giving your social marketing any thought, consider this: There are over 2.8 billion people using Facebook and Instagram daily! That’s a huge number and it’s growing. Even the smallest campaigns with little to no budget get results because the audience base is so massive. Furthermore, the amount of data that can be utilized for targeting is the best we’ve seen in the marketing world to date.
We finally did it, we’ve finally started our very own podcast! If you’re not very familiar with podcasts, it’s basically like talk radio, only a little funnier. On our podcast, Vacation Rental Ninjas, we talk about everything related to the vacation rental industry including marketing strategy, SEO, social media, website development, and so much more. Our topics are relevant and relatable, and we’re pretty funny to listen to as well.
What To Know About Blogging
Blogging is an extremely helpful tactic in many ways when it comes to marketing. It can add to various aspects of your overall marketing including SEO, Social Media and even Sales. But what makes blogging so powerful and furthermore, how do you write a good blog post? Let’s face it, everyone has a blog. Some are successful and some are not but those that are successful can really add value to your marketing channels.
Writing Is Half The Battle
Many people begin blogging and just expect some sort of magic to happen. It’s like the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, that isn’t necessarily true in the case of blogging. Writing is half the battle, the other half is promoting. You really have to spend some time thinking about where your audience consumes the most content and come up with a strategy to promote it through those channels.
For example, a popular blog promotion channel is social media. Social Media is a great way to distribute your content to an audience that has some sort of interest in you or what you are talking about. You can also recycle content through your social channels to stretch your content a little further. It is not uncommon to promote the same blog post twice in a month, most likely it’s going to be seen by different people anyways.
You can also look at other avenues of promoting your blog such as forums, message boards, email, etc…Reddit and Quora are two popular avenues worth looking at. Anywhere you can post it that is related to your audience group is an avenue of promotion.
Links Are Your Friend
We are so excited to launch our very own podcast where we will be talking about everything from Marketing Strategy to Vacation Rental News and everything in between! Alright, we will have a little fun with it too and there might be the occasional joke or two. We pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve in the Vacation Rental Industry not only when it comes to Website Design and Marketing but also how the industry functions, right down to the consumers. What better way to share than just plain talking about it.
Are You Swimming Into or Against the Current?
I left a marketing position for resorts in 2009 to join ICND where our focus was on vacation rentals. I quickly learned that the vacation rental industry was similar to the hotel industry, but growing quickly and up against some of the same hurdles as the hotel industry as well as many different challenges. Similarly, the hotels had already gotten comfortable with putting their inventory on the OTA’s only to learn that the OTAs then wanted rate parody, didn’t give the guests information, and were squeezing profit margins with their high commission fees. The hotels had to learn how to get guests to come back and book direct through direct marketing channels such as email and direct mail. They already understood the power of an email address and how important it was to get a guest to come back and #bookdirect.
As a digital marketing agency we hear a lot of wives tales when it comes to vacation rental marketing. Many of these myths exist in the Vacation Rental Industry when it comes to marketing and can really cause confusion when it comes to measuring results. We are all about the truth, and nothing but the truth, which is why we are going to bust a very common myth for you today: Your Google Analytics Data Is Accurate. Yes, that is a bold statement, but we didn’t say it’s not accurate, just that it isn’t always accurate.
Wait a second, you’re telling me that Google Analytics data isn’t correct? Well, let’s just say sometimes the numbers can be misleading and sometimes requires some digging the find the real data. One great example of this is how revenue is attributed to a user. But first let’s talk about how that process works.
How Google Analytics Works for a Potential Rental Guest
When a user visits your website Google Analytics sets a cookie for 2 years and this is called the first touch source path. Let’s say they visit your website a second and third time, but on different devices each time, those are different touch source paths with the same user. Finally, they book on the fourth session to your website and the revenue is then attributed to that last source.
Now, this is IF that person uses the same device, such as their home computer, through this entire process. In the vacation rental industry, we KNOW that’s not the case. They will visit your site 3-7 times before booking!
The following graphic is a bit more accurate for the life cycle of a rental guest.
In this instance above, analytics will attribute the BOOKING to the Home Computer, as a direct visit.
So Where Are My Guests Really Coming From?
So what about the four previous sessions? Especially if the first session originated from a social channel or a PPC campaign, it would be really great to know that those things are actually pulling their weight! But instead you see that the booking came from a direct search because by the time they booked, they knew exactly who you were and what they wanted. Sometimes the data can be misleading if you don’t do some digging.
In this picture you can see the differences in Last Interaction compared to First Interaction for Organic Search and Paid Search. Those numbers are completely different and it is important to note that the First Interaction will not be attributed to the revenue generated by a user. Ok, so this is all good information… well, we think so. But how do you start tracking these users to show that what your doing is making a difference when it comes to what matters most, Revenue?
Start using different =&0=&and =&1=& to monitor PPC, email and social media. This will allow you to see where the correct attribution lies in regards to specific channels.
Customers Using Different Devices Mess Up Your Data Too
#BookDirect day isn’t a day to bash Online Travel Agencies and that isn’t the goal for February 7th, but it is a day to show people that there are some amazing, unique brands out there that can offer some great prices and amenities when they book directly with the company. Let’s all use this day for a positive impact on our industry.
You may be wondering, how can I make a difference? That is a great question and #BookDirect day is only impactful if we all do our part. Here are some things you can do to help spread the word and be heard:
Social media has definitely earned it’s place in the ring with the big boys when it comes to vacation rental marketing. It has allowed us to engage with audiences on a very personal level and connect with people that were outside our grasp previously. However, there are some things that social media does not do and, in some cases, it tends to get a little too much credit in the grand scheme of the digital marketing plan. Today we are going to discuss