Kigo Blog

68% of Leisure Travellers Don’t Even Consider Vacation Rentals

This is the latest statistic from a US industry report and it could be a big part of why you have empty rooms. Whilst the industry has grown exponentially over the last decade, vacation rentals are still not even an option for more than half of the American market. Whether through a lack of awareness of the options or a lack of recognised brands, vacation rentals simply do not register. In fact, only 17% of leisure travellers in the last year decided to stay in a vacation rental.free-seats This may sound like bad news but it means there is still 83% of the market to appeal to. What can be done to turn vacation rentals into a viable option for these people?Awareness With 68% of people not even considering a rental the biggest problem seems to be exposure. As a relatively new force in the travel industry, few businesses have the resources to compete with the marketing of major travel brands. Vacation rentals have been forced to pursue online reviews and social media as a way to promote themselves. This has been a great way to establish an identity and build reputations for smaller business, but it just cannot have the same impact as a multi-media marketing campaign from a large company. Whilst it can seem that your social media and current advertising campaigns are reaching sufficient people, remember that 68% of people basically don’t know that you exist.Perception The next problem is perception. For some people vacation rentals have connotations with sharing a room in a flat, or even just a sofa. There is an attitude that vacation rentals are just rented time in a stranger’s home rather than a business that cares about the the quality of your stay. You will have to fit your holiday around the wants and needs of the property owner, rather than the other way round. Good reviews, social media posts combined with accurate photos and listings have helped to show the true nature of vacation rentals. What this study shows is that the industry still needs to accurately define itself in the minds of a large portion of the market.One of the best ways to do this will be to utilise the power and popularity of the many different portals. Names like HomeAway, FlipKey and Booking.com are developing into globally recognisable brands. By listing your property on these you can capitalise on their publicity and the confidence that the public have in these companies. Take a look how our Channel Manager can help you administer your properties on over 45 of these portals at once.Advertising Have you ever considered alternative forms of advertising? Think about if you didn’t know about vacation rentals, how would you go about booking a holiday? Travel agents, magazines and TV are all options that people look to when booking. Paid internet ads, such as Google Adwords can be a good way to promote your site to people that will start by searching for their holiday location rather than the term ‘Vacation rentals’. You can read a case study about how a small business used paid ads and the results here. Investing more of your budget into new advertising campaigns is certainly a risk but there are so many potential customers to reach that the rewards could quickly outstrip the initial outlay.And despite Internet transactions being almost ubiquitous there are still large pockets of mistrust. When paying large amounts over the Internet you need to know you are dealing with a reputable and professional website. We’ve all heard horror stories from people arriving at half-built hotels or shysters with fraudulent pages. Having your own properly produced and professional website will inspire trust from first time customers. A quick response time and an active on-line presence will show that you are in control of your business and can be relied on to provide dedicated and competent service and assistance.Services Finally, out of the 68% of people not even considering vacation rentals, half of these say it because of the lack of services that travellers have come to expect. Front desk staff, concierges and room service have become a part of the luxury experience that people want from a holiday. It seems that people are reticent to give up these services. For some, a vacation rental just provides a space or location and misses out the things that make a holiday truly relaxing. If you provide these services, make sure you let your customers know. If you have it; promote it. Owners need to demonstrate that their businesses are not just a side project, but a full time and properly run operation.Whether you can convert any of the 68% that don’t consider vacation rentals is secondary. The first step is understanding the scale and accepting that the industry has a great deal of scope to grow and develop. Constantly experimenting and diversifying your approach to promotion and exposure will help to ensure that more and more people see your business and then begin to seriously consider vacation rentals.Photo Credit 

Marketing and Media Guides: Using the Data to get Results

What time are you reading this? One guide says I should have sent it at 10pm. Another says 3pm would be better. What is the magic time that I can use to guarantee that my social media content is read? The answer is…14:28 – no. As ever, there is no one answer. The secret is not just to use guides but to try, check, and try again. If you want your vacation rentals to get exposure the best way is just to give it a go. You can then see what reaches your customers, and at what time it is most effective.2294006000_3f693f8e2b_o The first thing to decide is what you are actually going to say. There is an established concept in social marketing that your output should vary between producing content, advertising your business and just interacting with people in your networks. Another established theory is that only 10% of your output should really be considered as advertising. This blog calls it ‘Stock and Flow’. You should be making content that will last- blog posts, articles and infographics. This is your ‘Stock’. You should also have shorter, less permanent posts; comments on articles, Tweets, Likes, and Shares. This is your ‘Flow’. A good social media presence will show that you are involved and immersed in the industry. You converse with your customers and competitors, and value their input and opinions. You offer useful content as well as being focused on your own business. Experiment to find the right balance.Another contentious issue is ‘when’. What time will Facebook, Twitter or G+ updates give you the best results? There are plenty of very logical sounding guides in all of these sites. Tweeting between 1-3pm on a Monday gets the most reach. So, this is when you should post on Twitter, right? What you will need to consider is that this an average, based on world-wide results. The chances that your business or your content fits this paradigm might be more remote than first seems. What blogs like these offer is a great place to start.Once you have your times set then comes frequency.This is where updating your social media can feel like a full-time job. However, as always, think about your business first. Companies such as news outlets are going to need to update far more often than vacation rentals. There is a fine line between inundating and having an active presence. Post a few times a day and see when your likes, comments and retweets seem to drop off. This will give you a good indication of when your audience have reached their limit with your content.Next up is how many times you should say it. Repeating your high quality content will always manage to reach a few more people that missed it first time round. It will also reach new followers you have acquired since the original post.You social media should refer to your site, but this doesn’t have to be one way. It should be seen as an intrinsic part of your business, not just an alternative channel to your website. Your site should also link to your social media. Have a look how these Kigo templates feature social media links and the other social media packages we offer.There is so much advice out there about using social media it can be tempting to move from one set of ‘must-read’ rules to another. We think the best way is to test, analyse and modify. No site or blog truly knows your target audience, or the profile of your customers. The person that knows this best is you. There is plenty of great advice available but you will always need to put it through the filter of your own business. It may sound obvious but little things like knowing the timezone that the majority of your customers are in is part of this. If you tweet at 9am on the recommendation of a blog post but forget that it is 3am where the majority of your customers are, you are not going to get the results you want.So read and post, all the time. Have a look at your most impactful social media posts, how do they differ from your less successful ones? Could it be the time, or the content? Perhaps it coincided with a major news story and got buried amongst the traffic. The one secret is to use guides, but to trust your results.Photo Credit 

Simplicity VS High Tech: Which Side Do You Choose?

We look at both sides of the argument.img-flickr-animal-desk  High Tech – The Home Gadgets of the FutureIt is 2014. By now I am supposed to be living in a floating city, writing this telepathically as my robot butler delivers me my food pill for the week. But, unfortunately, I’m not. It seems the technological ambition of the 80’s and 90’s far outstripped what we are actually able to do.Today we’re looking at the ways you can automate the processes in your home, and turn it into a SmartHouse. Holidays are about leaving work and responsibilities behind so what could be better than a rental that does nearly everything for you.Keyless entrykeyless1 Imagine not having to hand over your keys or have the worry of ever losing them. Keyless systems make your life easier and your home safer.Nest Thermostat nest     Easy temperature control for your guests whilst being able to turn it off remotely whenever your property is empty. Save money, and the environment at the swipe of a phone.LeakSmartSAMSUNG CSC       Just imagine a pipe bursting as your are 300 miles away, guests are arriving and it is midnight. Now imagine getting an update with a warning 2 weeks before this ever happened. LeakSmart could save you from a waking nightmare.Nest Smoke CO2 detector

nest co2

Far more than just a gadget or a toy, this technology can save lives. It has a human voice that tell occupants of danger from smoke or carbon monoxide.Transparent TVtransparent-tv-invisio-from-loewe        This TV blends perfectly into the background before turning on, offering the same resonant colours, deep blacks and sharp images of a standard LCD TV. Practical and breathtaking.LED Ceiling led      Allow your guests to paint the ceiling in light. A truly special touch for families.Wifi Fridgewifi fridge       Never run out of the essentials again. This fridge can monitor the levels in your fridge and send you reminders when you are running low.These features are more than just the latest fad. Exquisitely designed and produced, they are the perfect way to manage a home remotely and make your property individual and exciting. Low Tech – Simplicity is KingAs the queues for the new iPhone, snaking through cities, will attest: People always want the latest development in technology. But is it ever right to rush into the latest gadgets and devices for your property?If, like me you seem to be connected to some sort of network, with some sort of device at all times, you might want a respite from this on holiday. I’m relaxing when suddenly my WIFI-enabled fridge reminds me about my work emails piling up as I grab a beer. The toaster chimes in with a log of my carbohydrate intake. By the end of the holiday I have abandoned civilisation and am living in the woods, catching fish with a spear.Today we look at whether choosing technology is always the right option.A holiday should be a respite from the daily buzz, a time spent doing something different to the usual grind- have a look at how these vacation rentals have embraced this by highlighting just how ‘off the grid’ they are.If we think of words that describe a great vacation rental, what comes to mind? Secluded? Remote? Peaceful? Relaxing? Kitting out your property could be an expensive and time consuming way to make it less appealing. Do you think guests are enticed by the latest household equipment, or would any of them truly make your life easier? Would you be better off concentrating your time and resources on just making your properties as comfortable and well designed as possible?New technology is just going to be the latest thing collecting dust in your property. If you have the most important things about your property right, your guests won’t care about toys and gadgets. A truly great vacation rental is about the property and the setting and this is what you should concentrate on. A great property should be too eye-catching and engaging for your guests to be looking at a tablet or a computer. So what do you think? Are you a technology lover or do you relish the escapism? Would you use any of the products we have listed or do you think you’re better off keeping it simple?Photo Credit 

7 Steps to Reach Lapsed Guests With Effective Email Marketing

Ever had a guest that stayed once, seemed to have a great time but then never used your business again? Frustrating, right? This doesn’t mean that they had a bad experience, or don’t want to use your service. It may just mean that your business has slipped from their mind. Well-timed email marketing to your mailing list with new content can help bring your property back to the forefront when it comes time to book a trip.5082119795_5514c66855_b Keep it Relevant and Interesting Don’t bombard with sales. Keep in mind that this person has not requested any information from you. Your goal should be to refresh your customers with your business. A general update to your mailing list is a good place to start. Another idea is to contact people when there is an event happening near your property. If the focus of your mail is on this event then you can include a reminder about your property towards the end. This gives your mail purpose and separates it from other generic sales clutter.Mention any new features A new property or just a new addition is a perfect opportunity to send out an email. Include lots of pictures to make it interesting and focus on how you have improved things. I can have a good experience with a company but will often want to try new experiences before returning. If you have a new location or exciting feature, a short and engaging email is a great way to show this off. You can offer a new experience, but with the assurance of the same quality and service they know to expect from you.Ask for Feedback If you are tailoring your email marketing to guests that have not booked in a long time it may be because there was something they didn’t like. You can show that you value the opinions and concerns of your guests. Worst comes to worst, you may just get some feedback or ideas to improve your business.Use Pictures and Links If you can make your email interesting and appealing enough to click on then that is half the battle. Your goal is get customers to engage with your business again. It may be that many don’t click the email or end up booking but a good campaign will ensure that some do. Even if your email is just clicked and discarded for now it means that customers that used your business once are seeing your name again. You are back in their minds.Include an Offer or Incentive Having a sale on or a promotion is a perfect reason to start an email campaign. A ‘returning guest’ extra night or a 10% discount will show that you are recognising that as a customer, they are important. You are including them in a different category to new customers, showing that their business is still important to you.Personalise Wherever You Can As you have the opportunity to collect information from your guests’ stays then you will be able to add individual touches to your email campaigns. For example, if you see that you have a vacancy for the same week a guest booked last year this could be a good opportunity to create a personal email.Add a CTA or Link As mentioned, your email should have a point to it. There needs to be a reason why you are sending it out, rather than just to garner sales. The main body should be interesting content. However, you should include a ‘Call to Action’ towards the end. This can be a link to your site, showing the new pictures you have put up, or a link to a local event.Good email marketing can reach a lot of people that may have forgotten your business. Not only can you fill your calendars but well-tailored and personal messages will ensure that you are remembered in the future. Photo Credit 

Kigo is Heading to the VRMA Conference!

From October 26th-29th Kigo will be at the annual VRMA conference. This year’s event is being held in San Diego, California. It is the biggest event of its kind and we can’t wait to get to San Diego to meet everyone to reveal what we have been working on.

It has been an eventful year for Kigo after being acquired by Realpage. Having expanded our team we have been working together to look how Kigo can keep improving. At the VRMA conference we are going to be unveiling how we are working to make Kigo the only software vacation rental managers will need to run their businesses.

VRMA 2014 imageVRMA 2013

Last year’s event, this time held in Nashville, attracted thousands of keen industry insiders, including 900 vacation rental managers. With 90% of them saying they would recommend the event, San Diego 2014 promises to be unmissable.In 2013 we were able to meet a wide range of professionals and managed to forge connections and links that we still use today. These are not just in regard to sales. We met people that helped us understand our product, and what vacation rental managers want from it in the future. Learn, grow and expand. These are the basic reasons why Kigo attends events like the VRMA. We want to provide the best product possible. It is simply the best way to find out what your customers need, get them in a room and ask them!

Must attend sessions

There will be more than 55 educational sessions from expert speakers over the course of the event. We are in a great position to learn from the people that have made this industry the success it is and are focused on driving it forward.We are particularly looking forward to attending the session on Remote Property Management – where else can you find out exactly what challenges your customers are facing? A vacation manager that has properties up 10 hours from her home explains how she manages them all as efficiently as if they were down the road. We want to learn about the tools successful managers use to organise and communicate with their business and see what we can learn to make Kigo even more effective.The 5 Major Trends Changing the Vacation Rental Industry is another must-attend. If we don’t know where the industry is headed then we are unable to change and develop our product to fit it.We are also hoping to attend sessions on Third-Party Channels hosted by a whole panel of industry leaders. We want to see what they think the next step will be for sites that have so far revolutionised the business. In between these sessions our team will be demoing Kigo throughout the event and will be available to answer any questions you may have.If you’re attending come and say hello – our team will be at Booth 308/310 from the 26th-29th and will be providing demos of the changes and improvements we have made.