How to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings


Vacation rental accommodations have become increasingly popular after the pandemic. Travelers are able book vacation rentals with fewer restrictions which has been great for the industry. As you might expect, your competition has also realized this and as a result there is more competition in the market to get bookings

This article will give you 5 simple marketing strategies you can use to help increase your vacation rental bookings. We will also provide insights on how to use these strategies to effectively compete in the market.

5 Marketing Tactics to Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings

Before you continue to read, we are assuming that you already have an established online presence (website and a recurring monthly marketing budget on at least one online marketing channel). On top of that, we also assume that you’ve got multiple properties or even a hotel/resort that you’re trying to get more bookings for.

If you don’t – then you should start by establishing your online presence. We would be happy to help you with this if on a free consulting call.

1st – Define Your Target Audience (Write it Down)

You probably have a great idea of who likes to book your vacation rental the most, what they like to do, and why they go with you instead of another rental in the area.

One of the key differences between you and your competition can be how prepared you are to service your top target audiences. The best place to start is to write it down. Here are some of the key things you should consider:

  • Where are you located vs where your target audience lives
  • What activities do they like to do that are near your rental
  • Purpose for renting (business, family vacation, group outing, etc)
  • Amenities they can most about vs your best amenities that you offer
  • What they like to eat
  • Demographic information (age, gender, income, number of group members)
  • The reason they book with you
  • How they find you 

Here’s an example of a short persona grid we’ve set up in the past. You could do the same thing with the information above to compare/contrast the needs of your different target audiences:

We can walk through how we do this on a 1:1 brainstorming session as well. Usually it’s good to have a marketing partner go through this so you can focus on what your property is known for while we focus on where the market fit is.

2nd – Develop your listing(s)

Imagine someone is scrolling through Airbnb or on your site looking at the different rooms they can stay in. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think about what they would want to see to decide to book with you.

An easy tip to consider – we recommend that you have your basic listing information organized in one place to ensure you have consistent content on any listing outside of your website. This information should include photos, amenities, pricing, number of rooms, a description of the property, and ideally bonus content such as testimonials/availability.

Developing your listing based upon what you know about your target audience should allow you to convert more people to get more vacation bookings out of your current marketing budget. Here are some listing components to consider reviewing:

  • Photos – a picture is worth a thousand words and it could even be said that the photos do most of the work in the listing. You can say what you like about your property, but if it doesn’t look appealing then your ideal vacation renter will likely choose a different place to stay. Some photos to consider include the entrance, photos of each room, and amenities included on the property or in the listing (ex. Hot tubs, stainless steel appliances, etc). Here are some photos you could include to stand out to get more vacation rental bookings:
    • People enjoying their stay to allow people to envision themselves enjoying the rental (professional photos ideally)
    • Photos that give people an idea of how big the space is
    • Amenities that are contextually relevant for what they’re looking to do (ex. Ski racks in the garage for skiers, an office space for business professionals, a spacious mudroom for hikers, etc).
  • The Title – besides the photos, the title of the property is very important because it provides contextual intent (or lack thereof). It’s better to say something like “luxury 3 bedroom suite with a kitchen” vs “3 bedroom suite”. The details matter and can narrow down the user’s intent based upon what they’re looking for.
  • The Description – there will likely be a dropoff between people that read your title & see the photos vs those that review the description details. Using a tool like HotJar can help you see where users drop off. It varies from property to property, but getting an idea of where people drop off and what they do beforehand is good for figuring out where to improve. The people that do read the description are much more likely to be the type of people that book with you. That’s why it’s important to nail down your key value propositions so people know what they get by staying with you and why they should book with you. Throughout your listing you should create urgency to book the property by letting them know how desirable it is and how limited the availability is if they don’t book soon.

3rd – Be Present When Your Target Audience Is Looking for Vacation Rentals

Being present when people are looking for vacation rentals is half the battle. Besides converting people that see your listing, your marketing should be hyper focused on capturing high intent users looking for vacation rentals that fit what you offer. 

There are quite a few marketing channels you could consider in general. Here are some of the top options based upon our past experience:

  • Google Search – for both organic listings & paid ads. Google along with other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo allow you to bring people to your website that are looking for vacation rentals in your area or even for specific vacation rentals that match what you offer. If someone is looking for a beach vacation rental in the florida keys and that’s what you’re offering….they you should have an organic listing or paid ad up to bring them to your site.
  • Vacation Rental Listing Services – similar to Google, rental listings like AirBNB, VRBO, Tripadvisor, and so forth are excellent places to get more bookings. If you’re on AirBNB but not on VRBO, you have a very good opportunity to increase your bookings by establishing your presence on other booking sites. Here’s a list of a few of the more popular booking sites. Ideally you should have a presence on these sites and optimize it to show up more when someone searches for vacation rentals that match what you provide.
  • Social Media – there are two different ways you can use social media to start off. Either to get in front of people that are planning a trip and be there with content that’s useful to help them book or promote your property and the destination people are visiting. There are a wide variety of social media apps you can use like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Quora, Reddit, Travello, and so forth. The point is using these apps to get in front of people that are interested in traveling to get them to book with you or raise awareness of what you’re offering.
  • Email/SMS – at first it can be difficult to build up your email/text message audience, but overtime this is one of the best ways to get more new customers. You can either reach out to prior renters to see if they want to book again or reach out to prospective customers with a useful message to encourage them to book with you.

4th – Give People an Incentive for Booking with You

We recommend you use this based upon what goals you’re looking to achieve and what your customers care about. The idea behind this strategy is to drum up more interest during a time of year when it’s harder to get bookings or to stand out against the competition. Here are some example incentives you could consider using:

  • Discounts on local activities/attractions
  • Larger group discounts or discounts on longer stays
  • Giving a 4th or 5th night free (especially if you have a good LTV for your customers outside of rental revenue)
  • Flash discounts on rentals that are harder to book or that have a few spots left
  • Giveaways for something like a free activity (ski ticket, couples massage, tours, beer tasting, and so forth)
  • A lowest price guarantee if your competition is offering a cheaper price (be careful with how you use this one of course)
  • A social media promotion to increase engagement/site visits for something like….best halloween costume (ex people visiting Salem during Halloween), best Christmas gift idea, best vacation itinerary, and so on.

5th – Consider Different On vs Off Season Strategies

It’s easier to get more bookings if you can figure out when you need more bookings and what’s different about the rooms/times when you get more bookings vs those rooms/times when you get fewer bookings. 

A classic strategy is looking at your on-season vs off-season booking trends. Usually for something like a rafting resort or island getaway, there are times of year when you have more bookings than you can handle vs slower times when you need more bookings.

Part of this is due to the demand/market size. You might be seeing that there is interest for bookings during your slower time of year or you could book more at the beginning or end of the season. If this is the case, then you should consider who(m) in your area does well during this time of year (and what they do well), what people are looking for to entice them to book with you, and what barriers you could alleviate to get them to stay with you.

Increasing vacation rentals in the offseason can be a daunting task. Fortunately there are a variety of strategies you can use. Consider what your target audience likes to do during your offseason. Maybe they are working from home, maybe they’re going on a different vacation, or maybe they’re trying to save up for their next vacation. To get more rental bookings, you should consider this and develop your website messaging around what your target audience wants to do. You won’t be able to cater to everyone of course. If you can get a few vacation rentals from people that want to work remotely in a beautiful destination then that can be a huge win!

When we think about the on-season with our clients, we like to consider two different things. How can we increase vacation rentals in as efficient a manner as possible. Looking at what regions your vacation renters come from, what they like to do, and when they like to book can increase efficiency. This allows you to narrow down your target audience for your ad campaigns, email drips, and press releases to get more out of your current budget. That way you can get more exposure with people more likely to book your vacation rentals.

The other thing we look at is the shoulder seasons before and after our peak seasonality. We like to promote early to get people in the door and look for longer term rentals during the earlier part of the season. This allows us to either get more rentals in now or get rentals for later on in the year. Offer any sort of seasonal deals can be great to get folks to come back multiple times for activities like rafting, skiing, biking, fishing, and more. Later in the season we tend to focus more on urgency and take advantage of the remaining weekends. Early in the season is great for focusing on long term bookings for the year while later in the season is great for short term bookings.

Final Thoughts

Getting more vacation rental bookings can be challenging when there are a lot of competing offers. Implementing the tips we outlined above should help you increase your booking volume

If you need help getting more vacation rental bookings, then you should book a free consultation with us today. We would be happy to help and provide you with a 90 day project workflow to help you achieve your goals!

Centaur Consulting Group

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