Once you have your vacation rental management process figured out, it’s time to start getting guests through the door. With the growth of social media and the omnipresent Internet, marketing isn’t what it used to be — and it’s changing all the time.
As you start moving forward with your marketing plan, here are some terms you’ll likely hear, particularly when it comes to your website and online promotional activities.
Keep hearing a term that’s not on this list? Please post it in the comments section below.
Analytics — the numbers you use to measure progress and results, and watch for patterns. For example, you may keep track of your web conversions, like the number of website visitors who send you an inquiry. Or, you may use this information over time to monitor whether the number of visitors to your website peaks at particular times of the year. (See also Conversion Rate.)
Auto Responder — an email that is automatically sent when someone sends you a message or inquiry. They can be a great way to deliver better customer service and help connect people quickly with important information about your property.
Call to Action — a word or phrase that encourages your reader to take a particular action, like “continue to reservation” or “share your review”.
Characters — letters, spaces and punctuation used in a particular piece of web content. Traditionally, people paid more attention to word count. However, growth in the number of people who can easily create content online has made character counting more common. For example, the ideal headline for your vacation rental is only about 70 characters in length.
Creative Commons (CC) — a collection of copyright licenses that people who create content can use to make their work available under certain conditions. While it can apply to everything from educational curriculum to artwork, it can be very helpful for finding photos to use on your website. For example, the “Attribution-NoDerivs” license allows you to use a photo as long as you attribute it to the original photographer and don’t alter the photo. A good place to start your search for CC images is search.creativecommons.org.
Conversion Rate — the number of people who take a particular action that you want them to take. For example, this could apply to the number of people who visit your website and then contact you via your inquiry form, or the number of people who follow-up on inquiries by making reservations.
Dashboard — one web page that allows you to easily monitor or adjust multiple online activities. For example, MyVR-hosted websites have a dashboard where you can keep an eye on everything from your reservations calendar to your rates and photos.
Embed — to insert a piece of information so that it shows up on your website without someone having to separately download a file. This is commonly done with video, and is increasingly easy to do with documents and content from social websites, like Facebook and Twitter.
Inquiry Form — a web form you set up on your website for people to fill out, in addition to or instead of listing your email address. This form can help protect your email address from spam. However, more importantly, because you set the questions and prompts a form can help ensure you get the information you need up front, saving you the time of corresponding back-and-forth.
Keywords — the actual terms people will use in a search engine to find your property, like “Hilton Head golf resort rental house”. You should have a list of multiple keywords, which will influence everything from your listing site descriptions to the web address you choose and the Tags and Categories you use on your website. (See also Categories, Search Engine Optimization, Tags).
Listing Sites — directories that make it easy for travelers to find properties that fit their particular needs or preferences. People can browse properties by location, or filter homes by narrowing their search using specific criteria. Some popular listing sites include VRBO, FlipKey, VacationRentals.com, and Airbnb.
Local Advertising — the new classified ad! Whether online or offline, local advertising is just that: marketing that’s targeted to people interested in a particular location. Online, think of websites that organize information by location, like Craigslist, Google Places or Yahoo! Local. Offline, include your local Chamber of Commerce or other tourism and hospitality-focused groups.
Local Guide — information you compile that makes it easy for your guests to plan their vacation. You can include everything from maps to restaurant recommendations or local attractions. There are different ways to offer this information, like a printable document or section on your website.
Mobile Website — a version of your website that is optimized for small screens, like smartphones and tablets. Mobile sites are increasingly important, so you’ll likely see this term come up when you’re looking at website options and marketing advice.
Niche or Target Market — a particular group of potential guests who share common needs or characteristics. “Families”, for example, is a broad target group; you can also be more specific, like “grandparents traveling with their grandkids”. Targeting a particular group of people helps you anticipate things they might need and use your marketing efforts to more easily attract their attention.
Ranking or Search Ranking — where your website shows up when people look for related terms in search engines. A “high rank” means people will find you as they look through information: For example, a link that shows up on page one or two.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — “the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines,” describes SEOmoz. Search engines are one of the most commonly used tools for people researching travel options; you want people who might be interested in your vacation rental to be able to find it, and that’s the goal of SEO efforts. (See also Keywords, Tags, Ranking.)
Social Media — online interactive platforms that allow people to share content, news, opinions and information. Common networks include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; the Conversation Prism organizes many of the more popular sites into groups for a high-level overview.
Stock Photography — existing photos that are made available for use, usually for a licensing fee (prices may vary). Stock photos are generally of professional quality and can be a good option for finding people photos because models will have given permission for their images to be used. Some common sites include gettyimages and iStockphoto.
Tags — terms to describe a particular piece of web content, like a photo or blog post. Tags are comparable to the list of terms indexed at the back of a book; they should be specific and meaningful. (See also Categories, Keywords.)
Turnkey — a solution that’s essentially ready-to-go without any additional effort: “fully equipped; ready to go into operation” as explained by dictionary.com.