Advertising Vacation Rentals: Get More Bookings

The benefit of having effective marketing for your vacation rentals is obvious. You can get more bookings during off-peak seasons, increase overall demand for your property, and gain trust/credibility with your prospective renters. 

Advertising vacation rentals is an excellent way to get more bookings. Assuming you have the basics covered – like having a listing on Airbnb, creating a business website, and establishing a social media presence….there are quite a few opportunities to advertise vacation rentals to get more bookings.

To get the most out of your online presence, there are a few basic initiatives you should consider:

  • Setting Up & Maintaining a Google My Business (GMB) Account 
  • Establishing Your Presence on Google Search Ads
  • Incorporate SEO Best Practices
  • Establishing Your Presence on Social Media (Facebook/Instagram/TikTok)

Each of these initiatives is a fantastic opportunity to get more bookings. Creating and managing these different initiatives can be overwhelming at first. This article will provide you with a framework for getting started.

In this article, we will review the top online advertising channels and provide expert advice.

Top Online Advertising Channels

There are a plethora of opportunities for advertising vacation rentals. The question is – what channels should you consider and what does it take to get started?

Here are the top channels based upon our past experience advertising vacation rentals and prior industry research:

Airbnb/VRBO/Vacation Listing Sites

While there isn’t an option to advertise directly on Airbnb/VRBO, you can optimize your listing for search results. This is a great place to start because people visiting these sites have the intention of finding a vacation rental (or at least doing research on their options). 

Before you begin advertising vacation rentals, you should make sure you’re getting the most out of your listings on these sites. We will go over specific tips to enhance your listing on these sites & your general online presence in the next section. For now, here are specific things you should consider to get your listing to show more often:

  • Understand your Target Audience – it may sound like a no-brainer, but a lot of renters get stumped by this early on. Some people try to market to anyone/everyone that could be a renter, others are too narrow with their selection criteria. It would be a good idea to consider who is best suited for your vacation rental based upon the following:
    • Potential group size vs your vacation rental’s occupancy
    • The quality of your rental vs the price
    • Location – what are you nearby and what will people do when they stay with you in your area
    • Seasonality – is there a particular time of year that is best suited for your target audience? Are they more inclined to book if your price is lower vs higher? Is there a time of year when you might need more support from advertising vacation rental vs just having an organic listing?
  • Quality Content – this varies a bit by listing site but there are some general considerations that all listing sites keep in mind. Based upon Airbnb’s criteria, this includes the quality of the listing photos, reviews of the listing, and listing characteristics. The quality of your content should match what your potential renter is looking for. 
  • Popularity – this includes how people engage with your listing (views, adding to the wish list, booking conversion rate, bounce rate, etc). Listing sites use algorithms to engage people and get them to book. They want to increase their odds of getting someone to book by presenting them with listings that are more engaging to increase the odds of getting a booking. As your listing gets data, you should consider whether your listing is above or below average.
  • Price – probably one of the easiest things to consider. A listing that is at or below the market average relative to similar listings will likely get shown more often. There can be a lot to consider with pricing so it would be a good idea to get a pricing tool or do some research.
  • Social Proofing – this includes being a superhost, getting more 5 star reviews, being featured on travel industry sites, and so forth. There’s direct social proofing for your listing specifically and indirect social proofing for your area that can help or harm your listing’s potential to get bookings.

Google Ads

Your next best marketing channel besides listing on travel websites like Airbnb/VRBO is Google. What’s great about Google is that you can reach even more people that are actively searching for a vacation rental.

The example above shows the value of advertising vacation rentals on Google Search. You can show an ad for people searching for specific terms based upon your location, your listing, and activities people do in your area. Best of all, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. That means you can advertise your vacation rental to get people to see your listing more.

Here are the steps you can take to get started on Google Ads. If you want expert support from our team, please feel free to set up a meeting today.

  1. Go to Google Ads to create an account if you don’t have one already.
    1. Simply click the “Start Now” button and follow the prompts to begin.
    2. We recommend starting off with your business information and not creating a campaign until your account is set up.
  2. Determine your monthly budget and what keywords you ideally want to show ads on.
    1. Your monthly budget should either reflect a realistic test budget vs your total marketing budget.
    2. We have a mathematical way to determine your budget if you need support as well.
    3. You should list out the top keywords you think your customers will use to find your property and that relate to your property.
    4. You can also use Google’s keyword planner in your account to get started as well.
  3. Create ad copy for your campaign. Determine the top headlines/descriptions based upon the following:
    1. Your headlines need to be 30 characters or less and your descriptions need to be 90 characters or less.
    2. You should ideally have 3-15 headlines and 2-4 descriptions for your search ad copy.
    3. Mirror keyword intent – for example, if someone is looking for a vacation rental in tahoe, you should have a headline that says, “Vacation Rentals in Tahoe”
    4. Use proper capitalization to highlight your headlines
    5. Use key benefits/features to differentiate yourself from competing offers
    6. Give people the “so what” so they know why they should rent with you vs someone else.
  4. Create your campaign using the keywords/copy you have come up with. In campaigns, you will see a “+” sign that you can click on to create your search campaign. If you need help, we can set your campaign(s) up for you.

There are quite a few additional opportunities to consider in Google on top of search such as:

  • SEO – You can get your website to rank for the same keywords you advertise on to get more traffic to your website.
  • Google Hotel Ads – not quite paid search, not quite SEO. This feature allows you to connect your vacation rental listings to Google to promote your presence on Google Maps when people are searching for places to stay.
  • Google My Business – allows people to review you on Google which can enable your Google Ads & SEO presence. 

Social Media Ads

You can advertise vacation rentals on a wide variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more. Social media is great for sharing experiences with family and friends. It is also a very visual marketing channel. 

The travel industry has benefited from being able to show people the experiences they can partake in. You can do this either by showing off the photos/videos of your listing or by promoting user generated content (UGC). Social media is all about turning interest into intent because people are usually on social media to pursue their interests or connect with people. This is slowly changing as social media channels develop their search algorithms, but for now, the main utility of social media is turning interest into intent.

This is still powerful because a lot of people are interested in traveling. What’s great about social media is people actively give this information to platforms like Meta (Facebook/Instagram) and TikTok. That means you can target people that are interested in traveling to your location.

There are some very useful guides to getting started with Facebook/Instagram Ads & Tiktok Ads. If you want support setting up your account or to have an expert set it up for you, please book a meeting with us today.

I will review some of the topics you should consider to help you get started in general here:

  • Target Audiences – there are quite a few opportunities at your disposal that tend to fall into these categories:
    • Remarketing – target people that have seen your website or ads
    • Interests – people that have engaged with groups/pages/posts/ads that relate to specific themes (ex. trips to mexico, etc)
    • Customer Lists – targeting people that rented with you in the past or lookalike audiences of people that rented with you.
    • Detailed Targeting – to target specific demographics/user behaviors like frequent international travelers, people that are married, and more.
  • Ad Creative – here are tips/advice to help you get started:
    • Have a meaningful hook – even if people are interested in traveling to your destination, they are likely on social media doing something other than searching for a vacation rental. That means you need to attract their attention.
    • Callout key benefits/features – know what your potential renters care about the most and highlight that in your ad creative.
    • Call to Action – give them the so what or the next step to get them to view your listing.
    • Visuals – show people the best photos/videos of your property, of the activities they tend to enjoy when they visit, and candid shots of people enjoying your property. 
    • Reviews – social proofing is great on social media. People love to hear more from people that have already rented from you to consider why they should rent with you.
  • Ad Platform Features Worth Considering:
    • Facebook Ads for vacation rentals can be accomplished in a couple of different manners. One approach is to create a campaign to send people to your website or listing. The other is to upload a catalog feed of your listings to advertise directly on Facebook. 
    • Make sure your pixel is set up on your site/listing before you advertise. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see if your campaign generated bookings.
    • A smaller, well defined audience is better than a larger, broader audience to start off. If you know that your top renters are married, ages 25-45, live in New York, and want to go rafting; then you should start off by targeting that audience first before expanding to other states.

Expert Advice for Advertising Vacation Rentals

There are a variety of benefits from advertising vacation rentals. The key takeaway is that advertising can accelerate your ability to get more bookings. Here are expert tips we have found to be very helpful as we are advertising vacation rentals for our clients:

  • Start with free/low cost initiatives – the best things in life are free. This is especially true getting new customers. You should use everything that is free to start with before paying for ads. After all, you could get more clients just by establishing your listings, email marketing campaigns, GMB profile, and organic social presence.
  • Know what you’re paying for – figure out what you can afford and what you need to make to get a reasonable return from your advertising. If you don’t set a budget early on, you could run the risk of overspending or not effectively testing new campaigns for long enough.
  • Know who your ideal renters are – know which people are more likely to book, what they care about, and what makes your rental different from others in your area.
  • Content is King – you should have a website/listing that shows off your reviews, pictures of your rental (ideally videos since they are very easy to engage with), and gives potential clients an idea of what they could get when they rent with you.
  • Have a process for collecting reviews –  this will help when you show reviews on GMB, social media, and Google Search because customers like to compare. Customers rely heavily on the reviews to see if they should trust you.
  • Start small – target exact match terms on Google Search, keep your daily budgets for ads smaller, and try to get as much out of your budget as possible. That way, you can more effectively scale to get more leads later on. The same thing goes for Facebook or TikTok. Focus on remarketing to people that haven’t booked with you yet and people that are most similar to your past renters.
  • Consider your off-season vs peak season offerings – you might want to offer a lower price or incentive to book with you during slower times of year. While you may benefit from increasing the price during peak season when you have a ton of demand.

Final Thoughts

You should be in a great position to advertise vacation rentals after reading this article. If you need more help or don’t have the time to manage your advertising efforts, we’re here for you. Book a free consultation with us today and we’ll go over how to get started and get more bookings.

Centaur Consulting Group

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