Operating a successful vacation property management business is never simple but could you be making it even harder for yourself? Have you seen properties booked up one year, that then fade away and become less profitable with no apparent reason why whilst some companies seem to be continually successful? So, what do property managers do to keep this up year on year, and why are your properties not enjoying the same success every year? We’ve listed the five most costly things to forget in vacation property management.Not Renewing Your Listings Update your listings at least once a year. New photos, new descriptions. Keep it fresh and exciting. Make sure every photo is the best possible image of your property, bathed in natural light. Remember to include highlights from the previous year in your descriptions, local events and activities will add life to your descriptions and give potential guests ideas about their trip without even leaving your page. Also remember to check for new portal sites to list on and expand your network. Forgoing Repainting and Redecorating You may not have to do this every year but a quick inspection at the start of each year will help you keep your properties looking modern and spotless. Outdated decoration and appliances or flaking paintwork can be an instant turn off to prospective guests. Making sure you check at least once a year to see if there is anything that could be updated or modernised. Not Implementing Revenue Management Checking listings for local events is a great chance for property managers to maximise their revenue from the popularity of events that drive tourism. Check listings at the start and throughout the year and consider changing your prices to match the pockets of demand that a big event can cause. The earlier in the year you do this, the more time you will have to alter these prices if the popularity is not as high as you first imagined. Managing your price to meet times of high or low demand means you can increase occupancy and generate more revenue from your most popular dates. If you’re unsure of how to get started try a demo of Kigo’s new automated revenue management tool which is the first of its kind, anywhere in the industry. Ignoring AutomationBooking travel can sometimes feel like a race against the clock. Your guests want to book before the price rises or before the property or flight is fully booked. Once everything is booked you can sit back and start anticipating your holiday. However, you can’t do this if you have to wait 24 hours just to find out if a property is available. Forgetting this gap between guest interest and interaction is costing so many vacation rental managers bookings, and it is so easily avoidable. Making sure that you have automated replies setup for every property with availability and price information will keep your guests interested and convert far more inquiries into bookings.Failing to Encourage Repeat Guests This is one of the biggest things property manager forget to do every year and it is a great way to get loyal, reliable and happy guests into your properties. The easiest way to do this is to give them a reason to come back! Having an incentive to book for a second time, as well as keeping your properties updated, will encourage more guests to return to either the same property or choose another property from your business. This incentive could be a discount or an extra night with any trip they book. This will encourage loyalty and the extra cost will be offset by the ease and convenience of loyal guests.Repeat guests mean that you have a better idea of what your customers are looking for from your business, meaning you can personalise their trips and increase customer satisfaction. It also allows you to aim your marketing and promotions more accurately. Encouraging a repeat customer will always cost less than discovering a new customer. Ignoring your customers from last year will ultimately cost you revenue as you are forced to increase your budget for finding new customers and marketing. These are 5 things that property managers can forget to do, things that end up costing them bookings later in the year. Having a complete checklist for every property will help to boost bookings every single year. Photo Credit
We speak a lot about keywords, they form the basis of any successful SEO plan. But, how do you know which Keywords you should be using? How can you find out which are the words that are really going to bring people to your site? Today we’re discussing easy and effective ways you can find out which keywords will be the most effective for your vacation rental business and how to start ranking for them. How do you Research them? The first step is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were looking for accommodation in the area where your business is, what would you type into to search engines? See what the competition is for these words. Does the relevancy of the sites drop quickly or are there multiple pages of results that meet the criteria of your search? The more relevant, big names that appear, the higher the competition is for these words. Another key indicator is the amount of paid adverts that appear. If there are adverts above and alongside the organic results then it shows that this keyword or phrase has enough competition for people to warrant paying to rank for it.Then look at who your competitors are. Are they major, global brands? The more relevant and recognisable the sites are in your search results, the harder it will be to rank for this keyword. If you are a small or medium sized, local business then results like these are a good sign that the keywords you are researching are perhaps too generic for your business. Aim for more specific phrases that link to the exact service your business provides. How do you Choose them? Find the sweet spot between popularity of searches and competition. In our research, the term ‘vacation rental’ was a popular term with lots of competition from big sites. Adding just one more word to your phrase reduced this competition greatly. The simplest way to choose a keyword to try and rank for would be to focus on the location of your properties. These are going to be searched for by your potential guests but will weed out many general inquiries for the generic term of vacation rental.So, as well as the main keywords you choose, slight variations in the wording will produce different results. For example ‘vacation rental’ and vacation rental property’ have differences of thousands of weekly searches. How to choose the keywords that have enough searches to generate traffic to your site, but that don’t have so many results that you will not appear on the first page or reach too many generic searches is the question. Look at the number of searches for terms you would associate with your site and choose options that offer enough results without the major competition of the most searched term. How do you Measure them? As well as conducting your own research there are various tools available to measure the popularity and effectiveness of Keywords. Tools such as Google’s Keyword planner will give you information about the number of searches per month, the relative competition and the estimated cost of running a paid campaign for these words. You can see the click through rate of Google Searches for specific terms with tools like Analytics, seeing the exact numbers of people that click With Popularity comes Competition The basic crux of SEO and keyword ranking is that the more popular and relevant a keyword is, the harder it is to rank for it. As you get more specific and reduce your potential site impressions, it is easier to appear high in the rankings but you will be seeing far fewer searches for longer or more specific phrases.Big businesses can slash and burn their way to the top of the rankings for the most general of keywords. Try searching for something popular and generic such as ‘Hotels’. The brands that come up will be multinational, well known and expansive. Reaching the top for the most popular searches takes money and expertise. It is therefore important to make sure that your time is spent aiming for the keywords that are most likely to give you results. Long Tail Vs Short Tail This is where keyword research can get really interesting. Long tail refers to longer, more specific searches that are searched less often. Think ‘2 bedroom vacation rental property in Dallas’ as opposed to ‘vacation rental’.One advantage of aiming for the longer tail is that the people you reach are closer to the final purchase. They have conducted their initial research and now know the product that they want to buy. These keywords will have far fewer searches, but the conversion rate of searches to purchases with long tail keywords will be far higher.You can use the autocomplete function to find longer tail search queries that still generate results.You’re narrowing down a generic term whilst still seeing popular search options. You are also reaching customers that have a better idea of what they are looking to book, rather than those just doing research. It also tells us that beach and beachfront are popular searches so we should include them both in our plan. Beachfront will have fewer monthly searches, but the competition will be lower. Latent Semantic Indexing LSI is the latest trend from Google. As well as looking for instances of your keyword on your site, Google can now crawl through your site to make sure that your page contains other words that are linked, or synonymous with the keyword or phrase that was searched. For sites that rank for searches for ‘vacation rentals’, LSI will check the site for terms like ‘Holiday Accommodation’ – This is to ensure that site is complete and contains useful information for the person searching. This was a response to people stuffing their site with a particular keyword instead of creating pages and content that were of genuine interest. Keyword stuffing can now get you sanctioned by Google, forcing your site down the rankings. This is where having interesting and relevant content on your site comes in. It highlights the importance of blogging and creating original and relevant content. Ranking for a keyword now involves making sure your site is truly the most relevant result for the search phrase. If we use the long tail search example of ‘Vacation rental beachfront Florida’ then creating a post along the lines of ‘Top 10 Florida Beachfront activities’ will help your site rank for this phrase that will lead interested customers to your site. LSI will crawl your site and make sure that your content has been written properly and is not just an attempt to add the keyword as many times as possible.Finding the right keywords to use will require a lot of research, and a period of trial and error. To be successful you will also need to complete regular checks and research to always stay on top. These tips are designed to help you get started choosing keywords that will result in real conversions from organic searches. But this is just one part of an effective SEO campaign; after finding the words you want to use, the process of ranking for them begins… Photo Credit
How One Website Could Affect the Whole Industry There have been a number of attempts to create a successful meta search website for vacation rental properties but none of them have managed to take off with the popularity of other travel meta search engines such as Skyscanner or Kayak. These names dominate flight and hotel searches, but we do not yet have a household name that searches through numerous portal sites. Today we’re imagining some of the consequences if a powerful metasearch website for the vacation rental industry was to emerge.Metasearch has transformed the travel industry. From flights to hotels, they have given customers the opportunity to search numerous websites with just a couple of clicks. It lets consumers filter and search and then choose the product they want from a list of separate websites. It is often the best way to find the cheapest option that still satisfies all of your criteria. It promotes itself as a time saver and a way to find the right product at the cheapest price without having to visit multiple sites or even consult a search engine.So, what would metasearch giant mean for vacation rental companies? A site that not just existed, but dominated the booking process of vacation rental websites.The first point to mention is that metasearch tends to bypass brands and big portal names. Obviously, the consumer has the ultimate choice of which company they will end up purchasing with but, metasearch will give priority the properties that meet most of the search criteria over big name brands or portals. This would be an advantage for smaller vacation rental sites that think they have a quality product but miss out on bookings because they lack brand awareness or publicity. A dedicated metasearch engine for managed properties could be a way to distribute bookings amongst smaller companies that are breaking into the market with a competitive approach.It might be that the first big site to do vacation rental metasearch focuses on just a few major portals and you may see fewer bookings coming directly from your own website. This means that businesses will have to concentrate their efforts on advertising their properties on the major portals rather than their own websites.Only having a few selected portals to search means that guests will bypass the wider net of Google or other major search engines. If your website is not include in the meta search results then your business could be getting bypassed. Either by people heading to major portals or metasearch sites first, rather than traditional search engine results. The new SEO will be making sure that your site is first included in these searches, and then making sure each of your properties fit in as many criteria as possible to be featured first in the results.At this point in time, many customers already go to a major portal as their first port of call, then searching by location before choosing and booking a property. Many don’t search out local brands or websites. They will let their favoured portal search through all the properties they have listed because of familiarity, trust and previous successful bookings. A Metasearch engine would add to this.You may have worked hard to establish customer loyalty from your guests that is then partially undone by this. You are at risk of being undercut. Undercut by any company in your area. Branding efforts and reputation are cast aside when a metasearch giant steps into the frame. But it’s hard to say if a metasearch site could truly dominate vacation rentals as they are all so different. Flights between the same destinations are intrinsically similar so price often becomes the deciding factor. Two vacation rental properties in the same area, that sleep the same number could still be worlds apart in terms of quality and the overall enjoyment of experience. How do you quantify and measure this?Metasearch has had a profound effect on the travel industry so far and it would clearly have some advantages for guests looking to book vacation rental properties if a global leader ever emerged. But, do you think this would have a positive on your business? Would it drive traffic to your properties, or would it concentrate existing traffic on the largest portals, leaving smaller websites left out and without traffic?Share your thoughts with us.Photo Credit
Outdoor space is one of the biggest selling points for vacation rentals over other types of accommodation. It appeals to everyone, from families and couples, to business travelers looking to relax in the fresh air. If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space with any of your properties you may have wondered exactly what you can do to make it the true centerpiece of your property. Today we’re sharing 13 tips to make your garden into the reason guests fall in love with your property.
- Seating This is the simplest way to make your outdoor space seem appealing and inviting. Having seats for as many guests as your property holds is the first step in transforming your space into a reason to book your property over any others. A hammock or something similar will also give your garden a truly relaxing atmosphere
- Dining Transform your garden into an effective new room of your property with an option to dine alfresco. A folding table will be all you need to offer this option.
- Water Features The sound and sight of moving water are some of the most relaxing. A water feature will not only help transform your garden into an oasis, a well thought out and installed feature will add to the value of your property.
- Well Kempt Lawn Overgrown grass will make your garden look untidy and give off a careless impression. Keep it well mowed as part of your maintenance schedule. If you mow it in alternate directions you can even create the stripes you see on a football pitch.
- Rockery A well put together rockery is a quick and easy way to turn an outdoor space into a garden and somewhere for your guests to relax.
- Plants Bursts of colour and fragrance are going to look great and will really sell your property in your photographs. A variety of flowers and plants will have a tremendous effect on converting potentially interested website visitors into confirmed guests.
- Wildlife Few guests are going to want to have to look after your pet whilst they are on holiday or check the PH balance in your Koi pond but there are things you can do to attract natural wildlife into your garden or outdoor space. Bird feeders are a great place to start and combining this with a guide to the local wildlife that guests may be able to spot may just create a few enthusiasts.
- Shade During hot summer months, it can be tempting to stay indoors with the air conditioning rather than braving the mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun. An option for shade will be essential to turn your garden into an oasis for your guests.
- Lighting Understated and minimal. The right lighting means that outdoor space can become a setting for evenings too. Spotlights and smaller, more sporadic lighting will produce a better effect than large burning bulbs.
- Local Plants or Herbs Sipping a mojito with freshly grown mint from the garden is one use for outdoor space. Having local flora is a nice individual touch that you can add to your garden that will help to distinguish your property from any others.
- Something for the Kids Having a garden that appear too ornamental or pristine might put off families. Remind them that your outdoor space is somewhere to enjoy as well as be admired. Having fun activities as well decorative scenery will be a big draw to families without putting off other travellers.
- Terrace Unfortunately, this is not something that you can just grow, but if you have a terrace or a rooftop outdoor space, then a lot of these tips can still be applied. Plants, seats and dining facilities will be just, if not more, appealing in a rooftop setting.
- Outdoor Cooking If you really want to take it to the next level why not invest in a wood fired pizza oven, or just a traditional coal barbeque? An addition that lets your guests cook outdoors will be a sure fire way to see an increase in bookings.
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