Kigo Blog

Native Advertising – What is it? And how can VR managers use it?

Do you use Native Advertising or do you rely on organic search results to promote your business? Today we are looking at the options you have to expand your reach through various different types of native advertisement. This is the practice of integrating high quality content with the message or products of a business. The objective is to do this as seamlessly as possible. To make the adverts you produce inviting and interesting enough that they are not even seen as adverts, they are the experience.

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Nobody searches for advertisements. They are an inconvenience that interrupts the content and experiences we seek out organically. We are inundated with them and have become saturated with them and cynical of them. 99.8% of banner adverts are ignored. The clicks, and then purchases from them are so minute as to render the adverts almost invisible to users. We mistrust their message. Traditional advertisements are seen as the price we pay to enjoy otherwise free content. Native advertising is viewed up to 52% more than banner ads.

 We have developed a ‘blindness’ towards traditional glossy adverts. We can bypass them easily and wouldn’t share or inform others about them. So, the focus of native advertising is to produce things that are engaging and enjoyable to the end user whilst featuring your business. You produce or promote features that link in with the story of your business. You could pay to promote a Facebook or Twitter post about your vacation rental business. People come to these sites for the content they enjoy, if your business is part of that then it will be seen and shared.

But there is a uneasy feeling that native advertising is somehow trickery. It can also be described as the process of camouflaging adverts within ostensibly informative news stories. Imagine an article in which a doctor or health professional describes the benefits of relaxing in fresh, mountain air. An interesting post for a vacation rental company to feature. But would you feel the same way about reading the article if you knew a vacation rental company paid to have it studied and written about?

There is a sense that by clicking an advert or following a link and seeing a company message that we paying something as a consumer. That somehow the advertisers have won. Other people have produced the things we search for and enjoy, then adverts jump in and wave in our faces as we try to enjoy it. Native advertisement switches the onus on producing the content to the companies. For vacation rental companies there are plenty of things you can produce that your potential customers will want to read, view or watch. Producing things that your potential audience actually want not only distributes your name, but also increases trust in your brand.

Think about a video guide to the local area or a written piece. This will be relevant to your potential customers, providing them with useful and entertaining material that also links back to your business. A top ten list of beaches in the area. Your own restaurant reviews. There are numerous things that you can produce that are both relevant to your customers and your business. Instagram images of the setting of your property will be appealing and shareable. Imagine the people you would reach if you sponsored content on sites such as Buzzfeed or HuffingtonPost. Sponsored posts on sites like these reach large amounts of people, feature your business but not fall into the trap of being dismissed as a boring and cynical advert. In the world of free content people want their adverts to provide them with something of value.

Would you consider trying new ways to distribute your most engaging content to reach more people?

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Student Travellers: The Next Wave of Guests is Here

The classic image of student travellers is hulking backpacks and wild, frat-like parties in every town. And, whilst this cliché may be true for a small corner, the image of the student is changing. They are technologically advanced, using devices to research, compare and book their trips in advance. They know the value of their business and will strive to get the best price. They know the value of their business and will strive to get the best price. Imposing rental agreements, having clear guidelines for your tenants and having comprehensive insurance will protect you from the nagging concern that student travellers are going to be more trouble than it’s worth for you.

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Youth, student and educational travel now accounts for almost 25% of the entire tourism market. Whether travelling to new universities, or taking a break somewhere between terms, students are a powerful market. Not only are they impressive in their sheer numbers, but the things they look for when travelling make them very well suited to vacation rentals and they cannot be ignored. Vacation rentals are affordable and memorable, seemingly custom designed for the needs of student travellers.

Here is our six-point guide to understanding and appealing to the Student Traveller:

Travelling in Groups of Friends
Students often travel with groups of friends and will be looking for larger accommodation, with more separate rooms than hotels or traditional holiday lodgings. This is where vacation rentals are perfectly suited. Broadly speaking, groups travelling are going to be more concerned about find accommodation for all their friends and less focused on hotel type services or amenities. Vacation rentals can often provide a amazing accommodation for groups, at a similar cost to an average youth hostel.

Price Conscious
Generally speaking, most students have to travel on a budget. Keep this in mind when marketing to students. Students are often given a 10% discount on things as an incentive and recognition that they are a price sensitive group. There are sites and blogs devoted to the best accommodation. Sites like these will often feature businesses that offer this discount. It is one of the quickest, and most effective ways of establishing your business as ‘student-friendly’. Lots of places offer this discount but fail to advertise it. If you plan on offering this, make sure it is in a prominent place in your site and mention it across social media.

Time
Students have long summers and long holidays. Despite periods of intense studying, there are lots of time in the year when students have more time off than full time workers. This means that there are periods of general low demand in which students will have the time to travel. Times like this are ideal to market to students or offer promotions. Check standard times and use social media to broadcast your offers.

Individual Experiences
Students are part of the next wave of travellers that want one-off, unique experiences. They want to stay somewhere that they have never seen before; the sort of place that doesn’t exist in every city or country. Booking vacation rentals is a great opportunity to do this. No two are the same. Highlight the individuality of your property. This also lends itself very well to sharing on social media. Think of students as a great way of getting your business exposed to more young people.

Mid-Term Stays
As well as booking shorter holidays, some students may wish to book properties for a number of months whilst they study abroad or go on longer trips. These times are likely to be outside of your peak seasons as they will need to be in term time rather than during the busy holiday periods. If you have long periods with few bookings, check student accommodation sites and you could end up with a long term guest, filling your calendar in quiet months.

These are just some of the things that student travellers look out for, and some suggestions on how to market to them. Whilst it’s natural that students will enjoy the space and value that vacation rentals provide, having a few extra touches can make your business that little bit more appealing to this huge swathe of the tourism industry.

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Making Your Property Accessible For Everyone

5 Ways to Make Your Property Accessible for People With Disabilities.

Many booking portals now have a specific search filter to use if you are searching for a property that is accessible for people with disabilities. If your property is designed with features for people with disabilities, make sure it is clear on your website. Anybody that has any issues accessing buildings will need to know well in advance that your property is suitable for them. Booking a holiday requires a lot of planning in advance for anyone, not just people with specific concerns about accessibility. Part of the process is not just making physical changes to your property but taking the time to outline exactly what people can expect when arriving.

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Something we have noticed this year is that there is still a notion that booking a vacation rental is something of a leap into the unknown. They could be the holiday of a lifetime but people are unsure of just what awaits them- as opposed to established accommodation companies and brands. If you have any concerns about access or use, then this uncertainty may be enough to put you off booking altogether. Imagine choosing a property when any unmentioned step or narrow corridor could be a world of unexpected stress.

Depending on the location and layout of your property the changes you can do to make it more accessible vary in size and time. Not every change you make has to involve building work. One of the first things you can do is provide as much information on your property as possible. If there are things that make your property difficult to access that you are unable to change then at least mentioning this, and offering other properties that may be more suitable will be useful to anyone worrying about booking then being stuck somewhere they cannot access.

Today we’re looking at things you can do to your property to make more accessible for everyone.

Ramps and Rails
These are some of the biggest additions you can make to your property to increase the accessibility. Building additions to your property is likely to be expensive and time consuming so make sure anything you build complies with any regulations in your area.

Braille or Audio Signs
Visual or hearing impaired travellers may need the important information about your property in a different form. Things like emergency service information are a good place to start when adding new forms of information to the handbook for your property.

Information on the Accessibility of Local Sights
As well as your property, people will be travelling to see the local area, visit the sights and experience the area. Collecting some information about the accessibility of the local sites to include on your website will be valuable for anyone considering booking who needs information like this.

Elderly People
Making your property accessible does not just extend to making it available to people with mobility problems. Older people may also require or appreciate certain modifications such as railings, good lighting and reducing the risk of slippery surfaces.

Transport links
Think about getting to and from your properties. Are there public transport links, and are these accessible for everyone? Just providing information is the first step to letting people choose if your property is suitable for them.

It is likely that many countries will introduce more and more regulations for vacation rentals in the coming years. Part of this will involve standardising the requirements for access and amenities for people with disabilities staying in vacation rentals. So, not only will you be providing a very welcome service for a lot of people, you will be getting a head-start on possible changes that the industry may be expected to make shortly.

You can use disabled travel sites and blogs to find out and build up the knowledge and information on your website so potential guests are given the answers to all of their concerns before they book. Whilst you can never plan for every scenario, having as much information about your property and the local area will be the first step in making your property more accessible for everyone.

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Could your Vacation Rental Be Being Used For Crime?

This is not a suggestion for a new demographic to try and market to. It is a legitimate concern for some owners. With the relatively limited amount of personal information that is required to book a property, enterprising criminals are taking advantage of this anonymity. Vacation rentals don’t have doorman or cameras like hotels. They have space and isolation. The qualities that make for a relaxing holiday are also some of the features that make vacation rentals appealing to people conducting illicit activity.

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 As well as moral objections, property owners could find themselves liable if illegal activity takes place on their property. Police can even have the power to seize property or assets that have been used for crime. Even if you had no knowledge of the activity, your property can be taken by the police. There have even been cases of properties being retained after the crimes of the renters had been dis-proven in court.

And of course, not all of these concerns are about sophisticated crime syndicates but just opportunistic thieves. A host found that renters had booked her apartment with the sole intention of ransacking it. The portal the property was listed on realised that they had no provisions in place for this type of problem. They covered the losses and since then have implemented a $1 million guarantee for crime or damage sustained whilst renting out property.

We look at some of the crimes being committed and ways to protect yourself should your property be involved. It can be that your property has been used for illegal activity without you ever knowing it.

 Prostitution, Gambling and Drugs
All illegal activities that require space to operate and a high level of secrecy. A vacation rental in the hills, or a quiet apartment with a buzzer and disinterested neighbours is always going to be more discreet than the bustling lobby of the Altamont. Prostitution, gambling and drugs have all used vacation rental properties to ply their trade.

Another reason for the potential for crime is simple economics. Business minded criminals will use rental properties as opposed to other types of accommodation simply because they are cheaper. A horror story of a New York city apartment being rented then used as a brothel attests to this. What can be done to prevent this, or how would you know? If you ever did find out, apart from simply reporting it, what could you do? Prevention is always better than the cure so we’re looking at few measures that you can take to reduce the risk of your property being used for criminal activity.

Insurance
Where do you stand with your insurance providers if a guest creates an illegal meth lab in your property and subsequently burns it down? There would certainly be some rather convoluted paperwork to negotiate. Vacation rental owners can take out specialised insurance to protect themselves from the liability of their guests’ actions.

Guest verification
Cross reference your guests’ details with a scan of their government issued ID such as a passport or driving licence. If you can match these details with the details on the credit card then you will have a good record of your guests’ identity. You can also provide this information yourself to assure your guests that your business is legitimate and not part of a vacation rental phishing scam.

The point of this is not to worry needlessly but to be prepared if the worst case scenario does happen. As vacation rental managers will tell you, the majority of their interactions with customers are enjoyable and pleasant. Crime is not a major concern for most but there have been instances where vacation rentals have been targeted and the owners are the ones left to resolve the damage.

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Working Together with Local Charities

How small gestures can make a big difference. Vacation rentals can work together with charities to benefit everyone.

Vacation rentals are often seen as a greener, more ethical way to take a holiday than traditional types of accommodation. They are not owned by large multi-nationals or have dubious corporate interests. They do not have the level of waste and emissions that big hotels have. The impact per guest is considerably lower and they are mostly more sustainable. They are generally integrated within the community, often ran by local people. This is a big reason why some people choose vacation rentals. Guests can have more control of the environmental and social impact they have. They allow people to make their own decisions and enjoy their holiday without having to compromise anything to do so.

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By staying in a vacation rental they can choose to recycle, have more say what products they use and how they spend their holiday. So why not see if there is more that can be done to cement this reputation and help local people. Today we are looking at a small way in which vacation rental managers can help local charities and reinforce this aspect of responsibility.

One idea is to offer a discount on the cost of a stay in your property if your guests donates an amount to local charities. You could match the discount to the donation or even increase it to a set limit. The guests cannot lose, they save money on the property and get to donate. The charities receive the money and the impact on your bottom line is relatively small. It may even be the small extra touch that convinces people to choose your business over other companies. It will also be a chance to get some organic publicity as people talk about this promotion and other businesses take notice and perhaps follow suit.

If you can, try to chose charities or non-profit that have links to your local area and are part of the reason that the area is attractive to tourists. Lifeguards for coastal areas or conservation charities for places with links to nature. Not only will you help preserve these natural features but you will demonstrate that your business is part of the community that people are here to visit. Responsible tourism is not just dreamt up by local councils and tourism boards. It is being driven by tourists themselves. People don’t want to detract from places – they want to be a part of it, if only just for a short time.

The charity you choose and its supporters may also choose to refer business to you meaning a boost in publicity and word of mouth. Another idea would be to auction off a week in your property at a charity event, or do so independently and donate the proceeds. You can choose set dates during a quieter period. You will generate great publicity for your business in the area all whilst raising money for a good cause. Check local events in the area that you can become involved with.

This isn’t about a cynical attempt to wring out good publicity. It is a great way for your business to become involved with the community and the charities around it. Investing in sustaining the local area that your business is in always makes sense. These tips for working with charities are just a small thing you can do.

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