Vacation Rental Marketing Guide: 4P Formula to Increase Revenue

With a great variety of marketing information today, it's important to use the basic strategies for promoting short-term rental properties on a high-competitive market. Check the 4Ps vacation rental marketing guide created by iGMS team for making your short-term rental more attractive and lucrative!

“Eight out of 10 businesses fail and the vacation rental industry is not an exception. Innovate, or otherwise your business will fail. Marketing techniques will be your lifeline in the coming years.” — Ivan Levchenko, CEO of iGMS

It’s hard to overestimate the role of vacation rental marketing for your success in today’s short-term rental industry. You can be a great host and have a fascinating property and still wonder why travelers choose your competitors over you. 

If that’s the case, take a closer look at your vacation rental marketing plan and promotional strategies. Do you use marketing tactics and techniques to the fullest? Are you taking extra steps to promote your listings to a wider audience? 

vacation rental marketing guide

There’s no doubt that the short-term rental industry is booming and to keep up with the competition is getting tougher. In fact, on Airbnb alone, there are over 7 million vacation rental listings. With so many properties listed, how do you make your place stand out from the crowd? An increasing number of homeowners are reaping the benefits of vacation rentals and making money from the industry. 

Competition is certainly fierce, and 50% of hosts report that they could do with some help when it comes to marketing their rental properties, and that’s where we come in! Here at iGMS, we’ve taken the liberty of creating a guide aimed at helping hosts to get to grips with marketing.

We manage more than 83,000 vacation rental listings, and that puts us in a great position to analyze our clients’ businesses and understand current vacation rental trends. We’ve used our experience and knowledge to come up with a practical guide, designed to outline the major trends in the vacation industry. Our guide also illustrates how utilizing the ideal marketing mix can increase your occupancy rate and earn you more money.

Vacation rental marketing mix: Understanding and embracing the 4P’s

“Some of the top challenges property managers are facing today include building trust with prospective guests and marketing as widely as possible across channels. It’s important to pay attention to the trends and adapt to what the industry is telling you to do as soon as possible. 

If you don’t adapt, your client base will decrease and so will your prices. Change is good. My advice to vacation rental managers is don’t fight the waves, just jump in.” — Micah Berg, CEO of RealJoy Vacations

Property owners spend approximately $1,150 every year on marketing their properties, but many feel they aren’t doing enough. In fact, around 94% of owners feel they could be doing more to promote their property.

As a host, you need to stay ahead of the competition, and knowing how to market your vacation rental property gives you a huge competitive advantage. Coming up with a successful marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task, but it’s not as challenging as it first appears. To generate a great marketing campaign you simply need to remember the 4P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Let’s explore how the 4P’s of the marketing mix can be tailored for vacation rental owners:

vacation rental marketing strategy

Product: How to make your listing stand out from all the rest

“Remember YOU’RE NOT an Airbnb… Market your home accordingly with its own brand. It can start by mentioning the name of your home in all the communication.” — Evelyn Badia, Founder of The Hosting Journey

Нow do you ensure people book your place over the countless others offered by your competitors? In a nutshell, you need a fabulous listing — get that spot on and you can expect plenty of views, inquiries, and bookings. So, improving your listing should be the first step in your vacation rental marketing plan. You can achieve this by incorporating four key elements:

1. Eye-Catching Title

A great Airbnb listing needs a great title, and you need to make it catchy if you want to maximize bookings. Not only will a better title rank higher in the Airbnb search results, but you are also more likely to generate immediate interest from potential guests.

  • Use the entire space — every word you use should encourage potential guests to browse your listing. Narrow your focus, e.g. include the location with a landmark.
  • Highlight the best features or mention any special offers in the title — good deals always attract attention.
  • Use symbols & abbreviations to save on characters. However, don’t overuse them — guests should be able to understand your title and take it seriously.

Now that you have a better idea of how to write a catchy Airbnb title, try using these proven formulas:

[Adjective] [Property Type] w/ [Top Features]

Example: Rustic Private Cottage w/ King Bed + Oceanside View

[Adjective] [Property Type] Near [Landmark] – [Distance]

Example: Spacious 1 BR Near Eiffel Tour – 5 Min Walk

[Adjective] [Property Type] Perfect for [Experience Type]

Example: Luxury Beach House Perfect for Romantic Weekend Getaway

Enjoy [Selling Point] at [Adjective] [Property Type] in/at [Location]

Example: Enjoy Sunsets at Fully Equipped 2BR Condo at the Beach

vacation rental marketing for hosts

2. Punchy Description

Writing a punchy description doesn’t have to be a chore. Follow a few simple steps and you can create a clear, compelling description that quickly conveys key information and provides potential guests with an insight into your home.

  • Avoid general adjectives such as “nice”, “spectacular” or “outstanding”. Instead, opt for specific descriptions that people can actually visualize.
  • Make your property sound as desirable as possible, but don’t be dishonest or oversell your pad.
  • Add subheadings so people can quickly skip to the information they need.
  • Avoid heavy, block text (it puts off the reader), break up text to be it not longer than 4 lines long.
  • Avoid stern rules as they can make your guests feel unwelcome. Including abrasive language such as, “Absolutely no pets. No exceptions.”, can be very off-putting to potential guests.

💡PRO Tip

Use active language, you should “talk” directly to readers in a bid to engage potential guests. Restructure wordy, passive sentences to make them more active, direct, and concise.

vacation rental marketing tacticsvacation rental marketing hacks

3. Beautiful Photographs

Stunning photographs can be a persuasive tool in the quest to encourage potential guests to view your listing. Your vacation rental marketing strategy should include a plan to fine-tune your property photos. Your goal is to promote your property. So, make sure any picture you use looks professional and appealing. Here are a few top tips on how to take beautiful photographs of your property:

  • Turn on the lights (even during the daytime), this will eliminate shadows and any dark corners.
  • Make sure you open all the blinds and curtains — let the natural sunlight flood in.
  • Shoot from a corner, this will give a unique view of your place and a true sense of perspective when it comes to room sizes. Take photographs of the local area—potential guests like to get a feel for the locality as well as the property itself.
  • Take panoramic shots, try and show off an entire room in a single photo.
  • Pay attention to detail — showcase the personality of your property by highlighting the special things you offer to make your guests feel welcome.

💡PRO Tip

Hire a professional photographer and invest in some high-quality pictures of your place. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but you need your property to look its best — prospective customers will be drawn to clear, professional photographs. Plus, you should be able to recoup the costs from the bookings that follow.

vacation rental marketing guide for hosts

4. Effective Personal Profile

Remember—you’re not just promoting your property—you are also promoting yourself. Another step in your vacation rental marketing strategy is to improve your personal profile. If you want to create an effective personal profile, pay attention to these key elements:

Profile photo: This should be clear and of high quality, aim to exude personality, and give the impression that you are a friendly, professional, and reliable host (we’re sure you are)! Appearance-wise, smart-casual is best—your LinkedIn profile image should be ideal.

Description: Write a detailed description of who you are—you never know what part of your profile a guest will relate to.

References: They are particularly important if you’re just starting out and don’t have any reviews yet. References also have a positive influence on your ranking.

Profile Verification: If the platform requires it, you might need to provide validation such as government ID. You should also check if social media is fully compliant. This gives credibility to your listings, and to you as a host.

vacation rental marketing tips and tricksvacation rental marketing strategies

As the vacation rental industry has become extremely competitive, it’s crucial to perfect each aspect of your listing to stay ahead of your competitors and get more bookings. 

Here are more resources for you to make your listing second to none: 

Airbnb Titles: Proven Formulas That Attract 5x More Bookings

7 Steps to Listing Your Airbnb Properties Like a Pro

Airbnb Photo: 7 Not-So-Obvious Tips for Taking Property Pictures

How to Write an Outstanding Airbnb Profile [6 Step-Strategy]

Airbnb Listing Optimization

6 Questions to Ask Before Making an Airbnb Listing

7 Ways to Tweak Your Listing to Get Vacation Rental Reservations

Vacation Rental Marketing Infographic

Price: The importance of setting your price correctly and changing it regularly

“People are about to become a lot more sophisticated when it comes to their pricing. Tools such as Airbnb pricing are actually depressing the prices and when this is combined with the enhanced supply we are able to see a certain dive in the prices. This is about to change as people will start using more comprehensive technology to formulate their prices.” — Ian McHenry, CEO of Beyond Pricing

Price is another essential component of your vacation rental marketing mix. To start earning with your vacation rental business, you need to be sure that your price looks attractive to potential guests and covers your expenses. 

About 60% of your potential income comes from the intrinsic value of your property, location, and amenities. The other 40% is dependent upon an effective pricing strategy. Here’s how you can better assess the demand for your place and adjust your prices accordingly:

Research Competing Properties

Before setting the price, research how much your competitors charge for their rentals. Check on vacation rental websites or use specialized tools like AirDNA to find competing properties in your area. Next, create a comparison price table that will help you to calculate both the occupancy rate and the average revenue of your closest competitors (select competitive listings that have at least 10 reviews from guests).

Undercut the Competition

As a first-timer, you’ll need to reduce the daily price, especially for your first booking. Price your place 25% under your estimated market value, then slowly increase your rates as the reviews start coming in. Use this strategy before getting your first 5 reviews.

Achieve Maximum Occupancy

Popular vacation seasons vary greatly, but in metropolitan areas, there’s fairly consistent year-round travel. Check the following chart as a rule of thumb for achieving maximum occupancy at the best rates:

short-term rental marketing

Dynamic Pricing Guarantees More Views

Guests are always on the lookout for the best deal. The aim of the game is to improve your ranking, you will want to be near the top when potential customers carry out searches to find the right vacation property to suit their needs.

Having a fixed price all-year-round is not the best way to make money. Instead, opt for dynamic pricing—make sure your prices are competitive, and change in line with demand. 

Having to fiddle with your pricing structure can take time, but it’s totally worth it for boosting your profit.

Weekend versus weekday pricing

Lower the price for Monday and Thursday and increase your rates for Friday and Saturday. An additional benefit of increasing weekend rates is that guests may choose to stay longer or arrive earlier if they see the lower price advertised for the extra day(s).

Provide more to ask for more

If you add value to your rental you can justifiably request a higher nightly rate. There are certain elements you can’t change like the location or view. But, you can improve your pad by adding special touches that will appeal to potential guests—doing this will allow you to charge more. For example, you can put a barbecue on the balcony, invest in a hot tub, or offer extra services such as bicycle/motorcycle rental.

💡PRO Tip

If you have more than 25% of your nights booked for 3 months into the future, you need to consider increasing your prices!

Take the time to think about what you really have to offer potential guests, get to know your target market, and your competition too.

Once you’ve done that check out the numerous strategies available to help get the most from your listing. If you would like to learn more about pricing and yield the maximum profit, take a look at our additional resources: 

Master Class Summary on Pricing Strategies

Airbnb Host Calculator: How to Determine Profitability

How to Skyrocket Your Airbnb Occupancy Rate

Promotion: How to reach your potential guests

“As vacation rental professionals, we ​need to stay agile and adapt to change. I’ve always believed that the emotional story about you and your business that resonates on a deep level with travelers is the DNA of all great independent marketing.” — Matt Landau, Founder of VRMB

Promotion is an indispensable component of your vacation rental marketing mix. It includes advertising, special offers, promotions, and public relations.

Promotion and placement are closely tied together. If you use promotional techniques at the right place and time, you can maximize your reach and drive more traffic to your listing.

The key to effective promotion lies in using marketing techniques and methods on the platforms where your target audience actually is. Here are a few less obvious, but very effective ways, to promote your vacation rental listing.

1. Forums

When you join vacation rental forums, you’ll get to interact with other hosts about all sorts of issues—allowing you to learn how to manage and grow your business more effectively. You will also benefit from word of mouth advertising to promote your vacation rental listing. What’s more, fellow hosts from the community may have a yearning to travel too, and this is a great opportunity to promote your property as a place they might like to book for themselves.

2. Opinion Leaders & Bloggers

Lifestyle bloggers have tons of followers on social media, as well as journalists, who can bring you some serious publicity. However, you might wonder how to find the best ones to promote your property. There are plenty of tools to help you find the best bloggers and opinion leaders such as BuzzSumo, BuzzStream, Pitchbox, etc.

Try contacting influencers directly and show that you respect their expertise. You could allow them to stay in your property for free so that they can review it and, hopefully, write wonderful things about it.

3. Social Media

Social media is fast becoming a marketing necessity, but there are so many platforms that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few top tips to help you master the variety of social media platforms now on offer:

Instagram

Set up your Instagram account: Create an Instagram account, with your Facebook account, email address, and phone number.

  • Fill in your bio: include your location and a short, enticing description of your property. Include a link to your listing as well. 
  • Post story tours of your neighborhood: Posting weekly story tours of your neighborhood on Instagram shows the depth of your knowledge—prove that you are a local real estate expert.
  • Tag and follow Influencers in your industry: Hospitality, real estate, and local tourist destination influencers can provide a welcome boost by sharing your content.
  • Post about things to do in your area: Incorporate regular posts about interesting things to do in your area, such as a local park or cafe.
  • Use local hashtags: Hashtags help rental accommodation to stand out in tourist destinations and reveal what type of content is preferred by travelers.
  • Create live videos: When you have the opportunity to create a video (even with your phone camera), take it and use it for the post, story, or even live video.
  • Come up with your own branded hashtag: This way you can raise awareness and encourage users to mention your branded hashtag in their posts related to your brand.
vacation rental marketing promotion

YouTube

  • Set up your brand account: Pick the channel cover image and icon. Check that the main components (logo, taglines, text) remain visible on different devices.
  • Make videos from slides/images: This is a simple way to present your property on YouTube (and better still it requires minimum investment).
  • Showcase your property: Provide virtual tour videos, this gives potential guests an insight into your property, so they can decide if it’s right for them.
  • Highlight your local area: Upload videos to show off what your local area has to offer. You could also make a list of top travel apps or things to do in your local area depending on the season.
  • Educate with how-to videos & tips: International guests might be considering a stay in your property, and if so the language barrier could be problematic. Solve this by producing simple slideshows or how-to videos to demonstrate how your guests can access parking, use smart locks, etc.
  • Optimize your channel: Include keywords for your business, as well as local keywords. Optimize your video description and title with a target keyword.

Facebook

  • Add a detailed “About” description: This should be clear and informative, so potential guests know who you are and what your vacation rental home has to offer. Include a link to your property listing and/or website.
  • Create a Call-to-Action button: Select the “Book now” CTA-button (that appears on the right-hand side of the cover photo) and add a link to your listing page.
  • Activate Facebook places: Increase your exposure by allowing guests to check-in at your property on Facebook.
  • Run contests & surveys: Create a buzz of excitement around your page and more importantly, your VR.
  • Manage Facebook review tabs: The reviews from your guests are visible on a separate Facebook tab — a great place to demonstrate your professionalism, inspire trust and encourage conversation.
  • Get additional exposure: Share local or travel-related content such as restaurant reviews, local events, top tourist spots, and attractions.

💡PRO Tip

As a rule of thumb, promote your listing in 30% of posts (but make it natural and not sales-oriented). Make the remaining 70% tell about local events and top places to visit in your neighborhood or city. Remember — the more interesting your content is, the more likely travelers and guests will be to share it.

4. Get additional exposure on the web

Social media is fast becoming a marketing necessity, but there are many other platforms that are worth taking a look at when building your vacation rental marketing strategy. Here are a few top tips to help you master the variety of platforms now on offer:

  • Submit photos of your property to design blogs: Provide interior design and real estate blogs with some fresh content and they might link back to your listing. This boosts your search engine rankings.
  • Reach out to small real estate companies that have blogs: Smaller companies are more likely to be receptive to your proposition, and you could easily get published on dozens of blogs.
  • Get listed with tourism websites in your area: Find trusted resources for out of town visitors, find out how to get listed there, and boost your bookings!
  • Discount, specials, and promotions websites: Explore local sites that promote discounts and special offers e.g. extended stay discounts, last-minute reservations, and get yourself listed.

5. Personal Website for Short-Term Rentals: Is It Worth Having?

Hosts often ask whether or not they should invest in building a personal website for their short-term rental? A personal website can provide exposure, but you should also consider the following:

You’ll have to spend additional time & money to build and customize your website.

You’ll need to do your own marketing and invest resources in promoting both your personal website and your listing on vacation rental websites.

The truth is, on average, 97% of reservations take place on vacation rental platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo/HomeAway, etc.

It’s up to you to decide on whether you go ahead with a personal website, but if you want to make your short-term rental business a success you will undoubtedly have to invest time and effort in promoting it. In terms of traffic and SEO, you will find it almost impossible to beat such giants as Airbnb or Vrbo. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on promoting your property by leveraging other methods, rather than investing in a personal website.  

To enhance your vacation rental marketing efforts, check out our other helpful resources:

Airbnb Marketing Strategy

6 Types of Vacation Rental Guests and How to Attract Them

8 Ways to Promote Your Airbnb Listing

Promotion Through Video Marketing

How to Create an Airbnb Video to Market Your Property

5 Videos You Should Make to Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings

Making the Most of Social Media

How to Promote Your Airbnb Instagram Account

How to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Airbnb Listing

Boosting Your Airbnb Ranking

Airbnb SEO: 10 Proven Tips to Boost Your Ranking

Airbnb Ranking: 7 Techniques to Boost Your Airbnb Traffic

10 Unique Tips to Ranking Among Airbnb’s Best Listings

Place: Vacation rental sites comparison

The vacation rental industry is growing rapidly and there are many platforms available where you can list your property. Are you wondering which vacation rental site is the best one for listing your property on? There is no absolute answer to this question, as it all depends on your preferences and on what you are looking for as a host. 

Nevertheless, we’ve crunched the numbers for the top 10 listing sites (Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, and more) so you can determine where you’ll get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

vacation rental sites

The best course of action would be to use several platforms — providing you with the opportunity to gain more exposure and increase your occupancy rate. If you have to choose just one listing site, then pick the one that makes the most sense for your vacation rental.

Focus on what matters to you as a host, such as getting the best price, being able to generate the most qualified traffic, or finding the right audience for your rental property.

If you want to learn more about each of the platforms, check out the following articles: 

A Complete Guide to the Top 10 Vacation Rental Sites

Airbnb or VRBO: Which Is Better for Hosts?

Listing on Airbnb and Vrbo: Getting Maximum Results From Using Both

HomeAway vs. Airbnb: Where to List Your Vacation Rental

Magic of the 4P mix: What to expect?

Now that you know all the practical tips and hacks, we can move on to incorporating the three major results of the 4P mix implementation:

1. Get on top of vacation rental search rankings

All of the tips listed in this guide are targeted to the specific page ranking factors, and when done correctly will give you an impressive boost to get you to the top of those all-important searches! If you optimize all the elements of your listing and choose the right pricing strategy you will cover most of the ranking factors.

2. Improve your occupancy rate

Maximizing your occupancy rate, especially during the peak season, requires a proactive strategy and paying constant attention to your guests and listings. Put on your marketing hat—test all the channels at your disposal and use the best-working ones to promote your listing. We suggest you use the tips and hacks from part “Promotion” to help you!

3. Increase Average Revenue

If you rank among the top search results on the vacation rental website and have a high occupancy rate, your average nightly rate will be 10-15% higher than your competitors.

Here is another fact for you: 40% of the night rate depends upon the effectiveness of your marketing & pricing strategy. Listings with high occupancy rates generate revenue, and vacation rental sites reward the efforts of the host by marking the listing with a badge stating that a vacancy at the property is “rare to find”.

Bonus: Marketing your property in the post-pandemic era

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many hosts and vacation rental managers faced numerous cancelations and, consequently, experienced a significant profit loss. As traveling is slowly resuming, vacation rental marketing is becoming even more important to secure more bookings. 

You have to put yourself in your guests’ shoes and understand what matters most to them at the moment. This will help you to promote your property in a way that resonates with your audience. 

Explore new marketing channels and add your property listing to other vacation rentals sites to expand your reach. By enhancing your vacation rental marketing efforts and ensuring you can deliver the guest experience travelers are looking for, you will be able to get your business back on track. 

Discover handy techniques and tactics to include in your post-pandemic vacation rental marketing strategy: 

Coronavirus: 7 Strategies to Sustain Your Vacation Rental Business Growth

How to Market Your Vacation Rental Property to Domestic Travelers?

Safety Vacation Rental Property Checklists (COVID-19)

7 Crisis Coping Vacation Rental Strategies Shared by Hosts [Survey Findings]

As hosts are searching for new ways to cut down on their operational expenses, the usage of automation tools is increasing. Vacation rental software, such as iGMS, can help you manage various aspects of your business without a big team in place. You can take advantage of the following advanced features:

  • Unified Inbox for all your Airbnb, Vrbo/HomeAway messages;
  • Managing your multiple accounts within a single dashboard;
  • Automating the process of leaving reviews of your guests;
  • Cleaning and team management;
  • Financial reporting.  
Change To Our Vacation Rental Software To See Real Changes In Efficiency Instantly