Kigo Blog

How Discounts Can Convert ‘Maybe’ Customers

In the development of our new revenue management tool, we have been talking a lot about the differences between yield management and discounting your properties. Which is more effective, and when is the best times to try something out of the ordinary? We came to the conclusion that adapting your prices for different periods of demand is very different to offering special discounts and that both can be used to get guests booking with your business. They compliment each other and should be used together.

  Revenue management is a way to get the maximum price when demand changes. In periods of high demand, your property is worth more. We see revenue management as the science of offering the right price when the value of your property changes, not a discounted price. A Saturday night in mid-summer, three months in advance is a more valuable commodity than a lone Tuesday night next week. Your guests know this and they will already expect that this price is lower because the property is worth less to them at this time. It almost doesn’t seem like a discount in the traditional sense of the word for your guests.

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You can see how Kigo revenue management sets the optimum prices for your properties based on demand here. We understand property managers adapt their price to changing demand, but how can you use special discounts to convert even more guests and also to increase loyalty? Today we’re going to talk about how you can use more personal and limited discounts to convert customers that are in two minds about booking and reward repeat bookers.

 A discount should be an incentive to convert a booking. What successful discount campaigns do is offer something out of the ordinary, something special that is different to your regular pricing structure. Effective discounting is designed to convert customers that may be wavering in their decision or have not tried your company before.

 Here is a great example of how you can use a discount to convert a customer that may be looking at multiple vacation rental companies:You send them the required booking information and offer a 5% discount if they confirm their booking that day or the following. Using a special coupon code means that you can send individual offers to new guests or have a widespread offer that you can advertise on social media or via an email campaign. Kigo websites come with the option to add these codes to any property and even the ability to offer a free night if a guest books a certain number with you.

This does a number of things

Firstly, it gives them all the information they need as well as an incentive to book. Secondly, it shows that you are serious, professional and can deal with enquiries quickly. When faced with the prospect of having to trawl and contact various other websites and companies, a small discount and efficient service can be enough to sway ‘maybe’ customers into booking right then and there.

It is a small gesture that will not have too much of an impact on your final revenue but will present your business in a positive light before your guests have even arrived. It marks your business out as one that is committed to providing more than the basic standard for their customers.

It is also limited by time, which makes your guests think that this offer is scarce and they should take advantage of it right away. The less time and fewer emails you have to send means that your expenditure per booking will reduce which will help to offset the discount to your initial price. If you were really concerned about your margins you could experiment with a higher initial price as this discount is designed to convert already interested prospects. They would not email you if the initial price wasn’t appealing enough, so taking 5 or even 10 percent off that could be the perfect impetus to book.

Having discounts such as this alongside the regular pricing you make to accommodate the changes in demand can keep your off-season booked and help to convert new customers to your business.

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9 Clichéd Property Descriptions That Need to Be Avoided!

The image of the shameless estate agent using language that is creative at best, and dishonest at worst, is a familiar one for many people. Property descriptions that are filled with these cliches, jargon and doublespeak may make a middling property seem more appealing but, we’ve worked out their code. We can read between the lines and spot the subtext in these property descriptions. Many of the more common phrases now cause the opposite effect of their intention as we know what the words are trying to disguise.

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With pictures and video being standard on every website, guests now expect to know everything about your property before booking, so having a cliched description can put guests off more than attract them. Guests want specific information rather than meaningless buzzwords and phrases.

Today we’re listing some of the most common phrases that your guests will see right through. And, what they really see when they read them. You property may well be everything your description promises, but these phrases have been abused so freely over the years that savvy guests can’t help but read them with a touch of cynicism.

Bijou:  Small. It may sound urban and refined, but a bijou property is just a code word for a limited space. This is the classic example of trying to turn a negative into a positive and has been used so frequently it now sends warning signs to potential guests. Why not try intimate, snug or comfortable instead?

 Cosy: Cosy is now so synonymous with small that the words are pretty much interchangeable in property descriptions. Let your pictures convey this sense.

 Vibrant Area:  Noisy. This could be exactly what you are looking for, but disguising noise as a charming feature of the area is not going to please guests looking to rest.

 Good Transport links: Miles out of the city centre but within reach of a bus stop or train station. Having good transport links generally signifies to guests that a property is a good distance away from anywhere of note. London has a good transport link to Paris but, but they are by no means close. Maps and exact times on foot, by car and on public transport will be of far more use to your guests.

 Rustic: Dilapidated and run down. A rustic property could well suggest an opportunistic property manager  taking advantage of the recent trend in design and furnishing to avoid updating an older property. This is another word best left to your pictures to convey.

 A Stone’s throw from…: This could be a five minute walk or it could be a 20 minute drive. This tells your guest nothing that they can use and makes it seem like you’re keeping the real distance hidden because the property is perhaps not as close to the attractions as you would like to admit. Accurate measurements will always be more appreciated than vague approximations.

 Luxury: The power of this word has been destroyed. Luxury used to mean something truly special, something out of the ordinary and worthy of comment. Indiscriminate use by chocolatiers and shampoo companies means that luxury either really means something closer to ‘fairly nice’ now. Luxury has become something of a warning sign to many guests, just let your services and facilities speak for themselves.

 Hidden Gem: How hidden can your property be if you are advertising it and your guests are looking at the pictures? This phrase does more to suggest that the property will be hard to find from the airport than to add an air of mystery and exclusivity.

 Cutting Edge:  It’s difficult to imagine the latest in technology or design when hearing a phrase that has been so blunted by overuse. ‘Cutting edge’ has the sense of a 80s imagination of what the future would like, with hoverboards and entire meals in just a pill. The phrase has become an oxymoron and should be avoided. The simpler ‘modern’ conveys the same meaning with less.

If you are struggling with using the same words and phrases in your property descriptions, why not try a thesaurus tool. This is a quick way to find ways of describing your property that injects the excitement and originality that a one-off property should inspire. Removing clichés will make the rest of your description seem far more accurate, and will avoid disappointed and misled guests that will leave bad reviews.

 Words come in and out of fashion and we think it’s time these were retired from property descriptions. Phrases and words like these just don’t sound natural anymore. They actually build a barrier between property managers and guests. Let your property speak for itself and create a short, accurate description that is designed to inform rather than sell. Your guests will feel that this is more accurate, more genuine and will be a better reflection of what it is like to stay at your property.

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April 21st – The Google Countdown Starts Now!

What happens on April 21st you ask?

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This is the date when non-optimised sites are no longer going to be shown in Google search results from mobiles. Any site that is not optimised will be effectively blacklisted from Google mobile searches. This will be a quick and severe blow to sites that are not mobile optimized. Google announced this on their blog and many other sites have picked up on just how important this is going to be for not only the travel industry, but the entire process of using search engines. It is one of the most measurable changes to be implemented in years. The effects will be real and they will be quick to affect your site.

With roughly half of all Google searches now coming from mobile initial searches that result in bookings may first be done on mobiles and the actual booking done on a desktop or laptop at a later time. Taking the chance on not appearing in over 50% of all searches is not worth the risk. Even if the majority of your bookings come from desktop computers as opposed to mobiles or tablets, this is still a major cause for concern. With such a high frequency of searches coming from mobile, at least some of your customers will have had initial content with your site from a mobile search. As of April the 21st, these guests will not be able to find your site. They will be seeing sites that are optimized for mobile and, they will not know the difference, they will only notice the sites in their search results.

Property managers need to get their sites ready for this change. Mobile searches will often be used for initial research perhaps more than final bookings. But, these initial searches can be very profitable for vacation rental companies. It is a way for customers to encounter their sites outside of just the major portals, leading to repeat custom from satisfied guests that want to use their business again.

You can test your page here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Did you pass? If not then you have less than a month to make the required changes to your site. And that’s all there is. One date, a deadline to get your site ready or suffer an overnight hit in your site traffic. Making your site mobile responsive can be a time-consuming process so if your site is not passing the test, you will need to get the process started as soon as possible. Kigo websites come optimized for mobile and are responsive on every type of device.

If you have been considering making your site mobile responsive but were not sure, then this is the time to take the plunge. There has never been a more important time to make this change to your business. This is the only takeaway. Property managers need to check their site is mobile responsive and make any changes as soon as possible. Travel searches are becoming increasingly mobile-centric, this is going to have a major effect on how vacation rental websites are found by potential guests.

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5 Things Property Managers Forget Which Cost Them $ Every Year

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.

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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 Automation
Booking 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.

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Choosing Your Ultimate SEO KeyWords

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.

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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.

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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…

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