Let’s begin with a myth that goes around all kinds of online businesses and their marketing plans –Many entrepreneurs believe that they can withhold marketing to begin only after the launch of the business.
Take vacation rental business for instance. You might drag yourself in believing that you can sketch your marketing plan once you have your website ready and launched. However, it’s a myth that may cost you your entire business. Here is the thing-
Online businesses depend on web applications or mobile apps to offer the values capable of bringing revenue to the business. Modern-day marketing aligns so much with an application’s abilities that even a minute restriction in the features can restrain the entire business from adopting profitable marketing strategies. Let’s understand this with an example.
Say, your vacation rental marketplace and mobile applications are ready and live. On a fine day, you came to know that high-quality videos of the properties could increase the bookings by say, 20%. Hence, you went and tried uploading some professionally created HD videos, only to discover that your website does not even support files over 100 MB.
This is a situation where you know a certain marketing strategy could boost your revenue, but you cannot adopt it, as your rental marketplace software limits you from doing so. That’s why you should not retain your marketing strategies as an aftermath or “we would look into it later after launching the business”.
Aligning with the same view, the first tip for a profitable vacation rental-marketing plan talks about how to start an online rental marketplace with a competent technology at your disposal.
1. Build a powerful web application with online booking management
HubSpot, a well-known marketing brand states, “94% of the users on an online platform do not trust a website or application only because it has a poor design”. Good website design is one of the features that retain authority over how users feel about your business.
How to make sure your rental marketplace platform is up-to-date in terms of website design, cutting-edged features, and competitive marketing feasibilities? It’s simple, by knowing all the options you can adopt to build your online rental marketplace, and what kind of competent rental marketplace software you can adopt as per your budget constraints.
There are two major ways to build an online rental marketplace platform:
- Develop from scratch
- Use an Airbnb clone
Development from scratch:
Building a rental marketplace from scratch is a massive project that requires a lot of development, workforce, time, and money. Considering the modern-day web development cost, required features, and customizability, and time to implement the same, we can break the cost components of a simple Airbnb like rental marketplace platform into the following segments:
- Android development
- iOS development
- Website designing
- Graphic designing
- Front-end development
- Back-end development
- API integrations
- Server Administration
- Software Testing
- Technical Writing
Following is a breakdown of how long the development of each segment will take in hours:
The overall turnaround time for such a project may cross 2700 hours of development. Even if we take the development cost as low as $50/hour, it would cost you around-
- $50,000+ for Web development
- $80,000+ for Android development
- $70,000+ for development
Development from scratch is something that requires a significant amount of time and money. However, if you are not willing to spend a fortune and looking for cheaper alternatives, the second approach using an Airbnb clone would come handy.
Using an open-source Airbnb clone script:
A well designed Airbnb clone script comes with a package of website and mobile apps. There are software vendors who sell complete suites of Airbnb clones for as low as $2000. If you are lucky, they might also offer free of cost assistance for deployment and installation.
Since these scripts are open-source, you can also customize them to modify website design, add new features, or remove unused features. If you have a limited budget, purchasing an Airbnb like script will be profitable, as they come with all kinds of modern-day feasibilities to accommodate trending marketing strategies.
2. Aim at qualified traffic with
SEO, local SEO, and citation marketing
Although I suggest offering a niche rental service to stand out from popular platforms, if you still going eye-to-eye with Airbnb and Home away, you want your
To be honest, a large number of travelers will visit popular vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and Home Away directly. However, there are still significant amounts of travelers who look on Google directly using keywords such as “vacation rental house in ‘local area name’ “. You should focus on driving such users on your site.
Nonetheless, don’t just rely on Google
So focus more on local
3. Optimize property listings for not just
SEO but also for Customers
Ranking on top of the search results is not enough. Even if you come in the search results, you still cannot drive traffic or bookings without optimizing your listings for the customers. There is always a room for improvement in your listings and their representation to the users. This is conversion rate optimization (CRO) where you optimize your touchpoints to convert as much traffic into paying customers.
Production listing optimization is the first step towards CRO and intriguing users. You can start with high-quality photographs of the properties, detailed description of the amenities, estimation of the charges, mentioning accepted payment methods, and reviews from previous customers. You can take a cue from the following listing page on Airbnb:
This particular listing is a one-stop example to explain everything you should include in your listing to attract the users. It has everything from property details, availability details, customer reviews, host’s details, house rules, and neighborhood information, to the local attractions.
You too can make your listings further informative by mentioning the distance from the nearby airport, train station, bus stop, and popular landmark. Moreover, intrigue them by showing the HD images of local attractions, out-side view from the property, and fun activities.
4. Balance value with competition to set the pricing right
There is no doubt that people look for affordable accommodations, and affordability was actually one of the biggest values proposed by Airbnb when it went to eyes-to-eyes with expensive hotel accommodations. The idea applies to your vacation rentals too.
However, vacation rentals are not just about affordability but a lot more is important to consider while pricing your properties:
- Rentals in the areas that lack hotel accommodations
- Amenities that traditional hotels cannot provide (Example: self-cooking, activities)
- Comfort and option to rent entire property rather than just a room
So, don’t just focus on affordability; focus on balancing the same with unique value propositions such as;
- Great interiors
- Additional activities
- Multi-lingual hosts
- Great customer service
Bottom line is that travelers on a vacation seek a reason to enjoy their time. Unlike hotels where guests just lookout for a place to spend the night and leave, vacation rentals are more about creating memories and great experiences. The better the service, the lesser people go skeptical about the pricing.
5. Accept local as well as international payment methods
Vacation rentals are international by default. You will have guests visiting from home as well as international locations. Therefore, overlooking international payment methods would not be a good idea. Offer both local and international payment alternatives to attract all of the following kinds of travelers-
- Those who book and pay from their home country
- Those who pay after the visit is complete
- Domestic visitors
Credit card payments are a must. Make sure your rental marketplace software is open to the API integration with popular credit card payment solutions such as PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree. Besides this, also integrate local payment solutions such as mobile wallet payments and traditional payment options such as Net banking. In short, accept as many payment options as you can.
These were some of the most important requirements to excel in a vacation rental business. Besides them, you should also sketch a marketing plan on the following fronts to make the most out of the available opportunities:
- Social media: Build a strong brand identity with social media marketing. Use your social media handles to let your followers have a glimpse of the experiences, latest offers, upcoming events, and of course, for handling the customer grievances too.
- Customer-generated content: Generate as many customer reviews and respond to the same. Whether on social media, public forums, or your own website, you need customer reviews to build a trustworthy brand image.
- Dynamic pricing: Don’t just stick to a price. Use dynamic pricing and offer coupons, vouchers, and seasonal sales to attract customers. Offering an affiliate program is a good idea to not only generate revenue but also boost word of mouth marketing.
- Advertise everywhere: It depends on your budget. The more you advertise, the popular you would become. So depending on the marketing budget, utilize all sorts of paid advertising to gain popularity. For example, TV Ads, News Paper Ads, Search Ads, Social media Ads, collaboration with travel bloggers and YouTube creators, etc.
It takes some patience
No marketing produces results overnight. It takes a lot of willingness and patience to launch a successful marketing campaign. Especially, when you are running a highly competitive business, you should not afraid of going extra-miles to stamp a positive impression. These tips will help you start with your journey. Rest depends on how you implement and how much value you are willing to offer without breaking your margins.