SEO is difficult. It can take months to implement successfully. The results can be hard to measure and even when you think you have everything together, the algorithms and criteria are liable to change at any time. So, alongside traditional SEO efforts and organic search optimization, using Google Adwords and pay per click advertising is a way for smaller businesses like vacation rental companies to get on that all important first page of Google.For those of you not familiar with Google Adwords or pay per click advertising the basic premise is: You select the exact keywords that you want and your advert will be displayed alongside those organic search results. You only pay once the customer clicks on your link. The more popular the keywords you choose, the more you will have to pay for each click. You then set a total budget for what you want to spend, once this has been used up your advert will no longer appear for these keywords.In this blog, we’re going to demonstrate the advantages of using Google Adwords and pay per click advertising to promote your vacation rental business. These 5 tips will help you see the benefit of using Google AdWords to promote your vacation rental business.Geo-Target Set your adverts to reach people in specific locations. This can be useful for reaching new markets in new countries or reaching more local people to offer a last minute promotion. You can also make sure that your adverts are not being wasted on uninterested markets, or people that don’t generally speak the language of your website. Check, Measure and Re-calibrate As soon as your adverts are live, you can check the results and the impact they are having. This is especially useful when you are advertising against a range of keywords. For example, if you see that the most expensive keyword you chose is not bringing in as many clicks as a more specific, cheaper phrase then you can remove this from your strategy and try out other phrases at a relatively low cost. Test your Keywords against your customer clicks and use this information for your organic search efforts. Once you have got some information about the words and phrases that people are searching for and clicking your site, you can use this to boost your organic search ranking and aid your content marketing. Take your most effective keyword and create a blog post around this topic, make sure it is in your page titles and the meta description of your pages. If you search for a popular topic, you will see that large companies occupy the top position in the paid advertising section and the organic search results. This is the holy grail for SEO and it is possible for smaller vacation rental businesses to achieve with the right strategy.Only Reach Interested Customers You only pay for the clicks that your adverts get. You only pay to reach people that are interested in your business and your service. If your campaign is not working and no-one clicks your advert then you lose nothing. You can try a new approach and only start eating into your marketing budget once your AdWords campaign starts to brook results. Stop and Start at any Time and Use Time-Specific Promotions If you have a limited budget, or just want to test the service then you can use it for just a brief period, check your results and then decide if you want to continue. You can also control the price and your maximum expenditure meaning that you can set exact budgets for your marketing and stay within.Whilst AdWords can bring you plenty of new leads, using it is not without its risks. If you are not familiar with using it, make sure you set low limits for your maximum budget for your initial campaigns. It can take a period of trial and error to find the exact combination of keywords that work for your business and if you do not set limits it could be a costly mistake.Using paid advertising won’t interfere with your organic SEO efforts, it will help. You don’t have to make a choice between the two. Using Google Adwords does that mean that you will have to speculate some of your budget on your advertising, but it is one of the few options that will give you a guaranteed number of results for your initial outlay.Photo Credit
For any football fans amongst you, this week Chelsea only managed to draw with Paris Saint-Germain, meaning that the French team progresses in the Champion’s League and the English club are out of the competition. At this point, you might well be asking ‘What does this have to do with vacation rentals?’, and you’d be right to ask. From the outside, the result of one football match means nothing to anyone but London based hosts. But, this could be a goal that ends up costing them bookings that they were relying on. This result could end up taking a major chunk out of their expected revenues for the month. In this blog, we’re looking at the risks of saving your most sought after days for last minute and the very highest price.There is a tendency to exaggerate the importance of football, but its impact on people cannot be denied. The Champion’s League is a global force. Every game is attended by up to 60,000 people. Even just one game can have a huge impact on the demand for accommodation. Wednesday’s game in London will have brought thousands of visitors into the city, the travellers are not just French fans but people from around the country drawn in by the game. And there are all people that are all looking for accommodation at short notice and are willing to pay top prices to be close to the stadium.Many hosts may leave their properties open, gambling on getting a higher price if the local football team manages to progress. Meaning that this loss could have had them screaming to the heavens even if they don’t follow football at all. Chelsea’s exit means that they will play no more part in the competition, missing out on the visits of thousands of potential fans coming to watch the English leg of the next round.So, at this point we are asking if you gamble on results with your properties and what can the hosts that gamble and lose then do? The matches are never more a few weeks apart so now instead of having thousands of European fans looking to rent last minute accommodation, you have empty accommodation with only a few weeks and a normal level of demand.We’ve talked before about last minute tactics like auctioning off stays in your property and selling entire weeks at a discounted rate but what seems clear is that if you experience a sudden drop in demand for your property, you will have to drop your prices to reflect this. This is a basic principle of managing the revenue of a vacation rental and it doesn’t have to involve gambling on the outcome of sporting events to capitalise on it.But if you do want to try this tactic, it is worth remembering that holding out for the maximum price from popular events can pay off, and it’s not just football matches and sporting events that can cause a sudden spike in demand. Why not look for other events that will bring an extra raft of visitors to your city and your property? Check listings for upcoming concerts, popular events or exhibitions and make sure that your current system allows for day to day price alterations to make sure that you are able to make the changes that the demand requires. Create content surrounding the event to maximise the SEO potential and try to drum up interest over social media. If you don’t like to gamble with your business but still want to maximise the revenue from every single night then have a look at Kigo’s guide to revenue management here and, you’ll be pleased to hear, we will be adding a specifically designed revenue management service very soon! Photo Credit
It may seem that some of your properties need a little work before they could be considered the most desirable properties for your guests to rent. You may have the perfect location and stunning views, but you are being let down by interior design that is turning guests away. In today’s post, we are going to run through 9 tips to transform a property into the sort of location that guests can’t help but book.There can be a temptation to go as neutral as possible with your design, as if you were renting your property long term or even selling it. But, when renting a vacation rental property guests want to experience a little of the unfamiliar and new. Your guests need to be able to imagine themselves there, but themselves slightly transformed. If you property is old artist’s quarters in Amsterdam then reflect this. People don’t book Texan ranch houses expecting the same off-white painted walls as they have at home. Guests booking your property will want to be able to relax on their holiday as they would at home whilst experiencing a slice of something new.When choosing a design it can feel like you are walking the fine line between charming and overbearing, or individual and strange. There are plenty of resources like blogs and instructional videos on design so we have taken some of their tips and chosen the ones most suited to transforming a property into an appealing vacation rental prospect for as many guests as possible.
- Reflect the area you live in People choose the area or the country they want to visit first, not the property. Think about some of the defining characteristics of your area and try to reflect this. An urban loft design is always going to seem at odds with anyway other than a downtown city centre apartment
- Choose a theme and stick to it Once you have settled on your design, do your best to stick to this theme. It can be tempting to add furniture and features that you like as you see them but make sure that they align with your overriding theme. Having one thing that stands out will spoil the overall effect.
- Add Art A touch of personality to bare walls, aesthetically pleasing, art is an easy way to add some instant charm to any room. Choose prints that appeal to you and make sure they are well framed. Even the most fervent critic will appreciate this touch.
- Clean Lines Any clutter or unused additions are going to spoil the overall effects of your efforts. Try to keep any items down to the essentials and one or two extra decorative pieces and your home will look clean and inviting for guests that want to stay.
- Maximise Natural Light Sunlight is the king of the lights. If you have it; use it. Make sure it’s not blocked and that you take your listing photos during the sunniest part of the day.
- Flowers and Plants A small touch like this add a new life to your property and make it seem more inviting for guests. But, always remember to list this in your site, some guests will have allergies and will require forewarning.
- Modern Amenities Any design efforts will be undone if your appliances and amenities let you down. As well being possibly faulty, the old fashioned design will destroy the effect of the rest of your design and date your property making it far less inviting.
- Match Each Room If you advertise your property to accommodate a certain number of people then this needs to be consistent throughout the other rooms in the house, such as seats in the dining room and front room.
- Keep it up to Date Nothing is going to turn away bookings like an outdated design. Walk through your property frequently and make sure updates are done as often as required to keep your property modern and competitive.
Food tourism. It is something that has been creeping into the travel sector for a number of years. The rise in popularity of cooking exotic and new dishes has been noticeable from the sheer amount of books and television programs dedicated to showing people how. But now, reading or watching isn’t enough for some people, they want to see it, try it and cook these dishes for themselves. This is what has lead to what we are calling ‘Food Tourism’. Skift have produced a detailed report on the rise of this trend, we’re going to give you some practical tips to help you turn this popularity into bookings for your vacation rental business. Firstly, this isn’t just a minor fad; it’s becoming a movement. We have access to more and culture and experience from other cultures that we ever did before. You can buy kiwifruit during a Norwegian winter, order Thai food in a Manchester airport. Unique experiences, that are not only new to you, but new to your group of peers are becoming harder to find, so people are travelling to them. Food tourism is about new and authentic experiences that you cannot have at home. The 2013 “American Culinary Traveler Report,” published by Mandala Research, showed that the percentage of U.S. leisure travelers who travel to learn about and enjoy unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013. Enjoying new and exciting cuisines is not just something that people do on holiday anymore, it is becoming a reason for people to go on holiday. What we’re discussing are the ways that you can market your vacation business to capitalise on this trend. Hotels are starting to offer more than the just standard lobby restaurants for dedicated fans of food tourism. For example, New York’s Hotel Plaza Athénée introduced services geared toward China’s rapidly growing numbers of outbound travelers including in-room tea kettles, Chinese breakfast items, and Chinese-language newspapers. So, what can vacation rentals do?It may just be the latest trend but if you can put your properties and your business under the focus of this attention then you could see a real rise bookings brought to you directly by food tourism. Vacation rentals are adaptable to the changing climates. You can almost present them as a blank canvas for people to project their own passions onto. This is the appeal of renting for many guests so a way to use this is to highlight the kitchens in your property. This is an area that is already popular with vacation rental guests, but there are things that you can do to make it into the factor that convinces people to book. You can appeal to the creative side of your guests by showing them where local people get the ingredients to create the local dishes themselves. Including a map or a short guide to local restaurants or markets will be indispensable information for anyone interested in food tourism.Optional extras such as cookery courses could be combined with renting your property so your guests can organise everything at the time of booking. This could be done by combining with a local culinary school, or by having a chef come to your property to teach your guests. Hotels have some of the best restaurants in the world, but they can’t compete with the pleasure and satisfaction of making a local delicacy yourself. If you do not have a famous food culture in your area, why not take some steps to establishing one for your guests? You could create a route of the best local bars and restaurants, write blogs about special and individual places in your area and the local dishes that visitors may have never heard of. But the report also informs us that the destination still priority over the appeal of local food. In short, people will still look for interesting local cuisine but the destination is likely to be the first thing they search for. This means that you should think about this when creating your content that is designed to appeal to ‘Food Tourists’. Your blogs and social media posts should use your city or location as a keyword and then focus on the different foods and places to eat in secondly. Create content that will bring food tourists to your site. Think of questions that people are going to put into Google. ’10 best restaurants in…’ ,’5 places to eat in…’ If you can market the appeal of your property and the appeal of the local area at the same time you will have a much better chance of converting potential guests interested in things like food tourism. Photo Credit
SkyScanner has completed its forecast for how travel will look in 2024. A sleek infographic with fantastic research and a bold foresight. We’re looking at its predictions and imagining how the future will look for vacation rentals. It is convinced that the days of scouring the web for the perfect components of your trip are over. We will all have an individual ‘E-Agent’. A feature of our wearable AI (Artificial Intelligence) Device that is not only able to find each of your requirements but learn your taste as it searches and harvests. The report envisages a future where this technology will know when we want to book and suggest options without even being asked. The report envisages a future in which unsolicited lifestyle tips from your wristwatch will be welcomed, rather than seen as hideous and intrusive.This blog does not envisage such a future. There are some predictions that seem, at best, far fetched. Space travel may not be a commercial viability for many years to come. Underwater hotels are also proving difficult to make the leap from concept to reality.The section on transforming the airport experience also mostly reads like wishful thinking. At times straying more toward deluded advertisers trying to believe their own content about making airports anything more than an oppressive, commercial bear-trap. In the near future, airports will be an intrinsic part of the holiday experience, a place that we enjoy spending time in. Airports will be about giving people a better sense of wellbeing during travel. -NAH‘Passenger spend will soar, and airport commercial areas will evolve’.-YAHA recurring point in the report is that guest information is going to be used to provide personal and individual experiences. Social profiles will be linked to companies, smart technology will be used to automate nearly everything. Searches will get more and accurate and tailored to every different person. It predicts soon technology will be able to analyse minute facial expressions when you view search results, evaluate your reactions and bring you more and more specific results. Imagine searching a site and the properties being returned in order of your personal taste. You could then confirm, book and pay with just one, secure voice-command. Wearable technology that has learnt the idiosyncrasies of your voice and sifts through the overload of search results means that trips can go from ideas to bookings in minutes.Skyscanner’s Director of Hotels Nik Gupta says: ‘’2024, advances in digital technology will mean that travelers will have no need to encounter a single human being from the time that they enter their chosen hotel to the time that they check out of their room”.Whilst this sounds just a little bit sad and dystopian, the point seems to be that the future of travel is focused on reducing the time spent planning and altering the smaller elements of our trips. If you can check-in during our transfer from the airport, then that is more time to enjoy your holiday. It’s not wrong to want to dedicate your time to your friends and family, but a part of travel is the interactions with others. Whilst greeting the concierge at the Four Seasons may not be fully immersing oneself in the culture of a place, cutting out the times we encounter others can’t help but feel like we are losing things rather than gaining them. This is where vacation rentals have an option. At present, they are seen as a more authentic or real experience than a large hotel. They are for the traveller, rather than the tourist. The question is whether this can compete with the increased ease and speed that big business will be able to offer.Nik Gupta also says: ‘The fight back against peer-to-peer travel will see hotels empower their guests with incredible levels of hyper-personalization through their mobile devices to provide the unique experiences they want.’Vacation rentals are in a strange hinterland here. If this prediction for the next 10 years is accurate, they need to decide where they stand. If they want to try to compete with the ‘hyper-personalization’ of hotel experiences or market themselves with the more particular and social style of the current peer-to-peer travel sector. The peer-peer market is set to continue growing, the report suggests that between 5-10% of the world’s population will be renting out space to travellers. This means that vacation rentals and peer-to-peer networks do not have to go into a straight fight with hotels and large chains. They will have a large enough market for themselves.What seems evident is that there is going to be a widening gulf between the two. The hotel industry found itself caught a little unawares by the rapid expansion of both peer-to-peer rentals and established vacation rental businesses. They were being undercut by places offering greater space and comfort. Now hotels are using their greater resources to fight back and become more than just a bed for the night. Predictions include in-room 3-D printers, holographic personal trainers and ‘High-frequency sounds and chromotherapy deployed in bathrooms that will literally shake dirt off bodies with sound waves while soothing various pain points with color technology.’ The upcoming decade seems to herald the age of the unique experience, but as a later sentence explains: ‘The big problem scientists have is the effect these high-frequency sounds will have on the eardrums. They could blow them out.’ These unique experiences may not be quite ready yet. The SkyScanner report suggests that the being the last person to do something will replace the cultural kudos of being the first. ‘Without any instructions from him, she begins to compile journey possibilities that she knows he’ll love. Perhaps a trip to see Africa’s disappearing elephant herds? ‘Only 20 years before they’re gone for good,’ If you ignore the almost gleeful tone, describing the destruction of an entire species as a great example of scarcity marketing, then there is a point here. The widespread opportunities for travel have reduced the amount of trips that come with ‘bragging rights’ – the social currency of being the first to do something. The finite nature of our natural resources are being realised and people are eager to witness them before the opportunity is no longer afforded. This also links in with using tourism alongside conservation and the raising of awareness. These trips can provide much-needed money to conservation and research projects whilst the traveller can also use social media to depict and share their passion.The role of social media is also not to be underestimated. Experiences are now a public commodity and status symbol. And as sort of heartbreaking as it is, people are going to semi-consciously consider the social resonance of their trip as part of the booking process. How many Likes will a picture of another tired sunset over the Grand Canyon get when it is compared to a shot of the Moon rising over the curve of the Earth, taken from a hotel window, hanging in Inner-space? Or a video of the last blue whale grazing up against the glass in your underwater suite? Whatever technology from these predictions actually makes it into the mainstream is anyone’s guess. What seems clear is that travel is set to change drastically. In a generation we have seen air travel change from a giddy, novel thrill into a tedious necessity. No-one is impressed by a overpriced mini bar or a Corby trouser press in their rooms anymore. SkyScanner´s report suggests that travellers want to be amazed again.What vacation rentals will have to decide is if their property needs to try. You can read our debate on home automation and Smart technology here. In the age of underwater hotels and Virgin Galactic we are forgetting that a holiday is just a break from your routine, maybe somewhere new. Anything is work when you have to do it. Having to check in through your phone will soon be just as irritating as doing it now. The bar for tolerance is just getting lower. Reduce the amount the amount of things your guests have to do, don’t try to make these things easier.But with all this there seems to be a big caveat left out. All of these amazing options are if you can afford them. Are we going to see a industry-wide shift towards this micro technology or will there be a divide? The exceedingly wealthy adopting this technology as the world muddles on fine without it. There is also another big question that the report ignores- will people be so quick to hand over this personal information about themselves? People may not want a hotel chain to know their shoe size, or evening drink preference. If not, then half of these systems will be obsolete. The report paints an nice image where everyone has worked together to iron out any inconvenience from the travel experience and give us trips full of unadulterated wonder and ease. But there is an ignored question of complicity from the traveller. Will we go along with this? And should vacation rentals try to follow suit? In these times of big data, would there not be an opportunity to just offer privacy and serenity? A option for an experience where people don’t know what you want at all time, or make everything contactless and easy- but allow you to try new things and experiences for yourself?The advances in technology certainly are impressive. But can these touches really improve a holiday? Is controlling the thermostat and closing the electronic curtains from a tablet device really going to be anymore more than a briefly pleasing novelty before just becoming another chore? Are holidays and travel not better serviced by relaxation and adventure rather than gadgets or slightly less waiting time. Technology cannot manufacture experience in the way that it is seeking to. The advocates of these advances in technology and the harvesting of Big Data or ‘Big Friendly Data’ -as the report subtly rebrands it – want to believe they can. They want a future where instead of a mini bar full of drinks you don’t like, you will be greeted by a knock. The campari and soda you usually like at this time on a Friday is here, delivered by an endangered Sumatran Orangutan.