Influencer marketing has become all the rage in the past few years, but how can you tap into travel trends and apply them to your vacation rental business? Isn’t it just for light beer and foundation brands? Not at all! Let’s get into what you can learn from this growing vacation rental marketing strategy.
Influencers are just ordinary people, like you and me, who have, by sheer luck, managed to amass thousands of followers on social media. Just kidding! What they accomplish comes from a mixture of hard work, charisma, and often an excellent understanding of social media marketing and channel management…
Influencers are the celebrities of the internet, having built solid reputations around a specific niche. They get paid to work as ambassadors for brands, often getting thousands of dollars, and occasionally paid in goods and services. If you have something they might want, like a free stay in a beautiful resort, they might be willing to post a picture of themselves enjoying a complimentary cocktail and lounging by the heated pool on top of a snowy mountain under the stars.
So basically, influencer marketing is a social media strategy where in exchange for cash or goods, they endorse a brand’s product to their followers. If you wanted to get Formstack form integration trending, you could ask them to use the hashtag #formstackformintegration, for example.
Instagram is the most popular influencer marketing channel, but it’s not the only one. TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, and Twitch are also popular social media platforms to advertise to followers.
Influencer marketing is a hot topic, with many businesses using this avenue to turn a profit. In 2022, influencers sold 3.6 billion dollars worth of goods. So, let’s dive in deeper to see what some of the benefits of this type of digital marketing are.
People follow influencers because they feel a connection to the person. Influencers have trust with their target audience via authenticity and engagement. Unlike many Hollywood celebrities before social media was invented, they feel real and relatable to their interested social media followers. This is a quality that brands with the same sets of values can use to their advantage. Travel influencers can be the bridge between the audience and your vacation rental. If they like your short-term rental property, then maybe their followers would as well!
A clear benefit to hiring the right influencer is the access they offer to their audience. Many brands use the social media platform Instagram for influencer marketing campaigns, of which the number of monthly active users in 2021 was 2000 million. They can get more people interested in CCaaS meaning with a single story on Instagram.
Considering that many people use ad blockers, in-app adverts via influencers are a useful way to reach those people. Depending on what type of influencer you choose and what your goals as a vacation rental owner or property manager are, you can reach wide audiences or niche groups of people in the vacation rental market. Breadth or depth, the choice is yours! Is your vacation rental something anyone would enjoy, or do you want to target people who are into hot tubs and glamping?
As well as turnover, vacation rental managers can also measure social engagement from influencer marketing. Having more people follow you on Instagram and engage with your posts will boost your presence on social media, and can lead to more long-term results, increased direct bookings, and relationship building.
Another great benefit of influencer marketing that we can’t leave out is the pretty staggering ROI you can see from influencer marketing. Businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, according to a poll of digital marketing professionals by Tomoson. The poll also found that marketers rate influencer marketing above organic search and email marketing campaign when it comes to customer acquisition.
You may be wondering how any of this can be applied to the vacation rental business and your beautiful cabin in Vermont or your amazing treehouse in Massachusetts. Well, we will give you some ideas for that now!
One major benefit of owning your own vacation rentals is that you have the ideal area to provide some excellent lifestyle images for your vacation rental marketing campaign. In the past, many short-term rental business owners might have asked celebrities who frequented their joint for a photo to put up on the wall. That might still happen, but now you can get those photos put on the celebrity’s “wall” as well.
Depending on the influencer the property managers choose, you may be able to offer an all-expenses covered stay at your short term rental in exchange for some marketing from them. At a minimum, you can offer a (probably heavily) discounted stay in exchange for content for their Instagram account, and at most, you would pay them to stay at your vacation rentals, and cover the cost of travel. The payment depends on the influencer level you choose (i.e. how many followers they have). The more followers they have, the more you will have to pay them.
You can either organize for them to create a static post promoting your product on their Instagram account for a predefined length of time, a dynamic post in their stories which lasts 24 hours, or a link in their bio which is a more direct route from them to you. Come to a clear agreement with your travel influencer from the start regarding your preferred posting schedule to avoid confusion about what you expect.
Another great way to leverage an influencer’s power is to have them promote a competition. This could be something like one night free at your rental, maybe with some champagne thrown in.
This would take the usual format of asking people to follow your brand’s page, like certain posts and tag their friends, which is great for generating engagement with your target audience and increase your follower count. However, this has the great added benefit of reaching a larger and more targeted audience, increasing your chances of a successful giveaway event with plenty of engagement.
A lot of brands will get influencers to promote a special discount, exclusive to the influencer in question. The influencer will try the product, or in this case, talk about your amazing short-term rentals, and offer their followers an exclusive discount code for a stay with you. It could be something like “and you can use [insert name of influencer]23 as a code at checkout for 15% off your booking!”
Finally, there’s no reason why property managers can’t opt for all of the above as part of a growth marketing strategy for your property management business. For the sake of making your life easier, we would suggest finding a travel influencer who is fairly local to your vacation spot so that it’s easier for them to travel, reduces your costs if you have to cover their travel and will help you target short-termal to your area.
You can have influencers stay at one of your short-term rentals AND offer a discount, AND advertise a giveaway. However, the more you get, the more expensive this all becomes. If you prefer to spread your vacation rental marketing budget out over a longer period of time, then you can do that and contact multiple different travel influencers to get a wider audience. This also gives you the chance to see how your direct bookings and social media engagement have been affected by this investment.
Property managers probably don’t want to choose just any influencer to work with. It will take some consideration, and you will have to come to a collaboration agreement that you are both happy with. Here we present to you our top tips for your successful vacation rental marketing campaign.
Your first step is to check in with social media and see what everyone else is doing in the travel industry. Is Janet marketing the heck out of her recreational rentals with Anne the Adorable Alpaca? (Yes you can use animal influencers too!) Has Juan convinced one of the Wilson brothers to tag themselves in his treetop escape?
Property management companies and owners can learn a lot from other brands in the hospitality industry. What works for them? What seems like a hit? It’s not cheating to copy them – it’s flattering, and it’s the name of the game when it comes to vacation rental marketing. Some tools even help you compare your own Instagram account’s success with another so you can see which of your competitors in the short term rental industry are performing the best.
You can also look at like minded professionals that you aren’t in competition with but who may have a similar audience to you. If you own an STR business specializing in mountain-top cabins, then it’s likely that people who follow clothing brands that specialize in hiking equipment could be interested in what you have to offer.
You should also research your brand’s story in order to be able to relay it to your influencer of choice. Are you all about quiet and nature, or more about energy and the razzle-dazzle of city life? Think about what aspects and values of your rental you really want to convey. Is there a cool story behind the well on your property? Do you have luxurious furnishings? What makes it special? Can you use these things to boost revenue and attract more guests?
Property managers want to balance their own desires with their influencer’s style, which means setting a brief that outlines their goals and what they want to highlight about their short-term rentals. Do you want to promote your dynamic pricing or easy booking process? Or perhaps you want to emphasize your relaxing atmosphere or the other services you offer to wow your guest expectations.
Whatever your goals remember to let your digital marketing strategist take on creative direction and create something that sounds like them for social media. After all, they have their own image to uphold as well.
You will also be more successful in the vacation rental industry if you allow them this creative freedom because they are an expert in what works for their audience. People follow them for a reason, so don’t stifle them in the influencer contract.
Do: Trust them to create something that is truly engaging and authentic for your influencer campaign.
Don’t: Insist that they have to pose next to your well and use a corny catchphrase like “What a well-placed well!
When you have your vision set, the next step is to choose influencers for your project. They can cost a lot of money so you want to get this part right. You probably don’t want someone who makes videos with titles like “what does VOIP number mean”, unless your target audience is tech nerds.
You can find influencers for all types of things. For recreation rentals, you might want a local influencer, someone who posts mainly about travel, or anything else that’s relevant to your place. If you specialize in eco-friendly, off-the-grid systems, then you could find an influencer who’s all about that life.
Think about the reach you want your influencer to have in your property management business. Macro influencers target a much wider audience and help you get ahead in the short term rental market. However, don’t discount micro influencers, they may have a much smaller follower but they usually have very specific audiences that could be more in line with your short-term rentals.
A good way to find the right people is by using Instagram hashtag searches to find the most popular posts with that hashtag, or find the top hashtags in your market and then go to the posts with the highest engagement (in other words the ones people like and comment on the most).
You can also often see which influencers your competitors are using to promote similar properties for inspiration. Who is getting tagged in their posts? Follow those breadcrumbs!
Another option is to search for a location on Instagram, and see which posts are getting the most engagement with that geolocation tag. Maybe one of them can lead you to a useful influencer in your physical proximity.
When you’ve narrowed down a list of potential influencers in your journey online, you might want to ask yourself the following two questions:
The closer the fit between vacation rental professionals (vacation rental owners, property managers, or property management companies) and the influencer, the more natural their endorsement will feel to their target audience. This makes it more likely that they will follow their recommendation and head to your direct booking website to reserve a stay at your rental.
You should also check out their posts’ engagement levels, and not just the number of followers or likes they have. It’s possible to buy Instagram likes to boost a page, after all. Engagement is better if it doesn’t just consist of generic comments like emojis or two-word phrases, but rather more thoughtful and longer comments as well as direct messages.
Choosing an influencer who shares your brand’s values and interests can not only lead to a more natural endorsement, but can also provide travel inspiration for their followers who are looking for unique and authentic vacation experiences.
Being in the vacation rental industry is a fantastic opportunity to get some great influencer marketing through pictures and videos in the form of posts, stories, and links. You may be able to offer a free stay in return for some publicity, or pay an influencer if your budget allows. They may even end up becoming a brand ambassador if the collaboration is very successful for both the property owners and the influencer.
Just make sure you choose to contact influencers who match the image you’re going for. If you have a rooftop apartment in a vibrant city close to an American Football arena, then perhaps choose an influencer who is city-based and likes American Football! If you own a ranch in Montana, maybe find an internet-famous cowboy to generate hype about your place. Good luck!
iGMS‘ software can help you run your short-term rental unit by automating a number of day-to-day tasks. Some of these include:
Alwayne Powell, Director of International Digital Marketing, is an experienced performance marketing leader with an extensive background in the digital space, working client and agency side to provide paid search, SEO and CRO solutions in the B2B and B2C sectors. They are the current Senior Digital Marketing Manager at leading communication platform providers with features like 8×8 auto dialer phone systems. You can find them on LinkedIn.
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