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Skift || Here’s a First Look at the Expedia-HomeAway Vacation Rental Experiment

Expedia

After announcing a partnership late last year, Expedia and HomeAway have just launched a beta version of their combined vacation rental search.

The user experience is a little rough, explained Skift’s Dennis Schaal, saying that it “functions more like an advertising relationship would than a tightly integrated booking process.” He also notes, however, that these are only first steps; much will likely change as they gain information and feedback.

Poster for the United States Travel Bureau promoting tourism, showing two cowboys on horseback by stream near desert rock formation. Created for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, by Frank S. Nicholson, between 1936 and 1939. [PD] This picture is in the public domain.

Travel Daily News || Vacation rentals even more popular with U.S. travelers in 2014

A recent survey by TripAdvisor found that 52 percent of American travelers plan to stay at a vacation rental in 2014—up from 44 percent last year.

Where are they planning to go, what are they willing to spend, and what amenities are they looking for? Reporter Theodore Koumelis covers the survey’s highlights. Continue Reading…

Guest post by Madoline Hatter

MyVR on Pinterest

Connect with MyVR on Pinterest.

While sharing interesting content via a blog can support your vacation rental business, adding images—and taking advantage of an image-based social network—can improve the experience exponentially. Like the adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Pinterest is a growing social media hub that can help boost your blog; pairing the two creates a powerful way for you to connect with new visitors.

Draw in new travelers

Even though it’s relatively new, Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than several other social networks combined. It’s easy to direct people back to your blog: add short snippets of information to each picture and link them back to your main blog or website.

Unique and well-developed pictures can spread, generating additional traffic from other sites such as Facebook or Reddit—a strong argument for hiring a professional photographer. The more attention any single image can receive, the better your chances of getting attention from a potential guest.

Boost your marketing efficiently

It’s not just about pointing people back to your website, either. By adding a Pinterest link to your website, it’s easy for visitors to find more images from you or others. Use these photos to showcase your rental property and nearby attractions. This could easily entice visitors to explore further and find out more about your property or the location itself.

The more you can draw website visitors in with eye-catching photos, the more often those visits will turn into bookings. And Pinterest makes it easy: not only can you integrate it with your blog, it’s also free to use. Continue Reading…

Guest post by Tyann Marcink

It was three weeks ago.

Well, maybe just two weeks—but it seems like an eternity.

No emails. No phone calls. Just a message from “Marie in NY” that was obviously a phishing attempt. Why haven’t the inquiries flooded in? How is it that a scammer found your property, but the legit folk seem to no longer be taking vacations?

"click" on flickr, by inna dee (CC BY 2.0)

After checking the number of views on the brand new listing, the realization hits: nobody is even clicking through to look at your property.

Take a deep breath. The travelers are there. They really, truly do want to find a vacation rental just like yours. But are you giving them a reason to click? Continue Reading…

"Belles Feuilles - home near Trocadéro" on flickr, by ParisSharing (CC BY 2.0)Whether you’ve hired a professional photographer—one of our top tips!—or prefer to take your own photos, staging your property can have a positive impact on your booking results.

Staging your vacation rental for photos is like staging it for the arrival of your guests: You want your home to make a great first impression.

The description you write and photos you use sell your vacation rental for you. If a traveler isn’t drawn in, you’ll never know—you won’t hear from them.

Some photographers will do some arranging, while others will stage your home for a fee. If you do the prep work yourself, what can you do to set the stage for images that earn inquiries? Here are five DIY tips. Continue Reading…

"iPad and iPhone" by Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)If you caught MyVR’s presentation at the HomeAway Summit earlier this year, you’ll know I’m a fan of video; we included it on our list of minimal-effort activities that can have a medium-to-high impact on your marketing efforts.

I believe video can be quick, engaging and memorable. While professional video can be well worth the investment, even brief “home videos” can inspire wistful desire in would-be guests.

More than half of Americans own smartphones and chances are good that you have a video camera nearby — if not on your phone, then a digital camera with video capability.

Devices and tablets make working with digital video much more accessible than it has been in the past, from complex tools to basic apps that all but walk you through the process from start to finish. Here are a few of the more popular options. Continue Reading…

A lot of Facebook Page owners ignore the rules, but if you’ve been trying to keep your vacation rental Page on the straight and narrow, there’s good news: recent changes to Facebook’s Page guidelines have made this prime piece of screen real estate a lot more useful.

In the past, cover photos were rather restricted. For example, photos couldn’t include a lot of text or any promotional information (including contact details), references to Facebook features (such as the Like button), and calls to action were strictly verboten.

The rules have changed

There’s still one important rule when it comes to your Facebook cover photo: text must be limited to 20 percent of the image or less. But beyond that, you now have a lot more flexibility.  Continue Reading…

Guest post by Tyann Marcink

Can just the angle or the way you frame a listing photo for your vacation rental property really make that big of a difference? Absolutely.

There is a massive difference between just taking a shot and composing a photograph.

Let’s take a look at an example…

photo collage comparing two photos of swimming pools (credit: Tyann Marcink)

Here are two photos of the same swimming pool. Both of these photos give us basic information that a traveler would be interested in:

  • the rental property has access to a swimming pool
  • the pool is a decent size
  • there are chairs to sit in
  • there is a playground nearby
  • the area is fenced for safety

However, at which pool would you rather be spending your time? The one in the second photo? Me, too!

Why is that? Let’s take a look at the composition of the photos and the subconscious psychology that is created. Continue Reading…

Budget imageVacation rentals have standard costs, which vary depending on your property:

  • Property-related expenses, like mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, or condo fees
  • Utility costs, like electricity, phone, cable, Internet and water
  • Ongoing maintenance, like cleaning services or a property manager.

Once you have your more set costs sorted, how do you budget for the rest? A lot of owners don’t have a strict budget for their vacation rental, but we connected with three owners to find out what they prioritized — and how — as they got their rental business up and running.

Continue Reading…

inquiry formOnce 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”.

Categories — broad topics used to group blog posts. For example, MyVR’s categories include “Contracts & Payments”, “Inquiries & Bookings”, and “Social Media”. (See also Keywords, Tags.) Continue Reading…

professional photoFor the fifth day of MyVR Marketing Tips, schedule a photo shoot for your rental property — with yourself or somebody else behind the lens.

You should already have high-quality photos that accurately reflect the quality and decor of your home. However, unless these photos are relatively recent, they can become dated over time as you repaint walls, replace a piece of furniture or two, or rearrange the backyard.

Good photos are arguably the most critical piece of your marketing tools. HomeAway recommends these seven must-have vacation rental photos for your promotional materials:

  • View
  • Exterior
  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Master bedroom
  • Each additional bedroom
  • Outdoor amenities

HomeAway recommends against bathroom shots, unless yours is particularly spectacular, and suggests you don’t overdo it with the scenery shots.

If you still have a great set of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) photos, look for new images to add to your selection. Perhaps you could add a few photos of the local community, or highlight different features on your property?

While you don’t want to overdo it, you also want to ensure your rental is well represented; According to Flipkey, travelers are 83 percent more likely to make an inquiry on your property listing if you have more than 20 photos.

Choose your best photos and add as many as you can to any websites where you promote your vacation rental.

References:

 

This post is part of our 12 Days of Vacation Rental Marketing series. Subscribe to the blog and we’ll send you an email each day with a new post.

photo credit: Images by Ora