Tourism slowdowns are difficult periods for all short-term vacation rental owners. Whether the slowdown is a result of a health emergency such as the recent COVID-19 outbreak or an economic crisis, the only way to overcome it (and all the temporary difficulties) is to adapt and alter your business strategies.
Closing of borders, canceled flights, delayed international trips are all unfortunate circumstances that have a great impact on the vacation rental industry. The silver lining is that domestic travel and “staycations” are becoming more popular. Now is the time to focus on adapting your marketing strategies and putting in extra effort to attract domestic and local tourists to book with you.
Remember, there is no need to panic! The COVID-19 pandemic is just a temporary crisis, and it will pass. Keeping your vacation rental business up and running is the best way to be ahead of the curve as soon as things go back to normal. As long as you take all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure safety for you and your guests, everything will be fine.
Follow these vacation rental marketing tips to take full control of your business and learn more about how to market and manage your vacation rental property in times of crisis.
Domestic travelers are all tourists who travel within the country. Although domestic traveling is in the spotlight at the moment, this traveling trend is not brand-new. Many individuals opt for domestic travel or staycations because it is more convenient. It is easier for them to travel with kids or pets within close driving distance. This is a more affordable vacation option too, when compared to international trips.
Staycation is a term used to describe the approach rather than the type of travel. It is all about stressless, slow living and traveling within close driving distance. “Staycationers” are more likely to choose rentals that emphasize the slow life and relaxation.
In order to target domestic travelers and reach a wider audience, here’s what you will need to do:
Many individuals use filters when looking for a vacation rental. This tactic can help persuade guests to choose yours over any other rental in the area.
Allowing instant booking will place your listing among the selection of instantly bookable listings; this will increase your property’s visibility. Airbnb offers the Instant Book option, making it easy for hosts to provide this option to their guests.
It goes without saying that you need to adjust the pricing to the needs of your target audience. International traveling can be very expensive. Domestic travelers often opt for this type of traveling because of its affordability. You should adjust your rates now to attract more domestic guests and keep your profits under control.
Staycationers and domestic travelers have different expectations than international guests. They are more likely to opt for a shorter trip without obligation to pay for the minimum stay policy of, let’s say, 7 days.
Adjusting your minimum stay policy is a great way to target those looking for a nearby place for their weekend getaway. Consider lowering it, for now, to keep your business flow steady.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bookings that fall under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy are eligible for 100% refunds. Even though this is a temporary situation, cancelations are an inevitable consequence.
Clearly, no vacation rental owner wants or likes to think about cancelations. But, changing your cancelation policy to the Flexible one is much better than having no bookings at all.
Optimizing websites and listings using relevant keywords is necessary for all vacation rentals. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to do this. Think about what your target audience will type in a search engine when looking for a place to stay. Use location-specific keywords to target travelers searching in your area.
Research SEO techniques that can help you optimize your listing. Properly optimized listing increases the visibility and assists in reaching more domestic travelers.
Promote your rental on social media by emphasizing that it is risk-free. Include this information in the property listing description and title.
Offering discounts is also a great way to encourage more domestic travelers to book with you. For example, you can create special offers for specific dates or weekends and share them across all social media platforms.
It goes without saying that cleanliness should be your first priority now. To protect your property and your guests and lower the risk of the virus spreading, you must maintain a high level of cleanliness. Having a cleaning checklist at hand can help you be sure that you’ve covered and thoroughly cleaned all areas of your rental.
To ensure a safe environment for guests and protect yourself during the pandemic, provide safety and precautionary checklists. With these checklists at hand, your guests will rest assured that you are aware of the current situation and are following all necessary steps to keep your property risk-free.
Domestic travelers are more likely to book your rental if you offer remote office space. If you have enough space, create a comfortable spot where guests can work without distractions.
Be sure to promote your home office space by mentioning this feature in the listing title as well as in the description to attract more guests. Marketing vacation rentals as remote offices will also encourage guests to book longer stays since they will be able to work while on their staycation.
If you own a cottage or a house located far away from urban areas, take the location to your advantage and advertise your rental as a secluded retreat. Take photographs of the outdoor area and nearby nature and promote your property as a perfect place to isolate and relax during the pandemic.
To make your comfy cabin retreat stand out among many others, offer outdoor sports equipment to encourage an active vacation, such as bikes, kayaks, etc.
Many individuals visit local visitors center websites when planning their itinerary. This helps them plan their trip in detail as they get ideas on what to do and what to see in the area.
Connecting with the local tourism board will make your vacation rental more visible for potential guests. Being recommended by such an organization establishes you as a trusted vacation rental owner. This cooperation can help you get more bookings.
During a crisis like this, it is important that members of the travel community support each other. Partnering with local businesses is a great way to target domestic travelers, promote your vacation rental, and help other members of the community by drawing attention to their businesses.
A great example of cross-promotion is recommending a local restaurant you partnered up with and offering discounts on food delivery. This will attract more staycationers to book with you since they are more likely to order in and stay inside during their vacation.
Considering the situation, this may be the best way to help prevent the spread of the virus while running your business and helping other entrepreneurs.
Now is the best time to promote all the amenities that guests don’t usually have in their homes to encourage them to book your rental.
Highlight everything that can help them relax and unwind, such as home cinema system, collection of board games, hot tub/swimming pools, and so on. These amenities will ensure staycationers and domestic travelers have a wonderful stay at your rental.
Consider offering Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV or other online entertainment options. Use them to market your rental as a peaceful “stay-in resort” with everything your guests need right at their fingertips.
If your rental is in a secluded area, use that to your advantage. Promote the peace and quiet of the surroundings with an accent on the exploration of the off the beaten tracks.
Don’t forget to mention all the essential amenities as well. Provide hand sanitizers, gloves, and disinfectants to ensure a safe environment for your guests during the pandemic.
As mentioned before, many domestic travelers take family trips. If you want to attract more families, you need to make your rental family-friendly. This means removing any glass or ceramic objects to ensure safety. Childproof it with corner guards on tables, baby gates on staircases, cover outlets and place locks on cabinets.
Offer toys and games for children of different ages. Include games they can play with their parents, and make a list of various indoor activities (e.g. indoor treasure hunt). Improvise a playground area in the rental where parents can keep an eye on their kids. These simple upgrades will make your listing stand out and become a family favorite.
According to a Tripadvisor survey, about 53 percent of individuals travel with their pets. To make your rental more visible and reach a wider audience, consider making it pet-friendly.
With the option to bring pets with them, guests are more likely to book longer stays – and that means more work for you. You can include a pet fee and spell out specific rules for pets inside the rental.
Don’t forget to provide a list of dog parks in the area!
These tactics and tips on how to market a vacation rental property will help you with promoting your vacation rental to domestic travelers and attract more bookings in these difficult times.
Create a “staycationers’ getaway resort” with these simple upgrades and keep your vacation rental booked at all times. And look on the bright side – once the pandemic passes, many individuals will want to make up for their quarantine time and travel even more.
Adjusting your business and marketing strategies requires a lot of time and effort. This is not something you can do overnight. But, using vacation rental software for your business can help you keep things under control.
iGMS, all-in-one vacation rental software, offers a full range of features and tools for business automation. With our software, you will get more time to focus on your marketing activities and increase the efficiency of your operations.
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