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The Big Vacation Rental Review – Attention Grabbing Headlines

Some dos, don’ts and maybes

Hello and welcome to part two of our “best vacation rental review” series and this week we are looking at headlines and how to craft them.
For those that missed part one of this series you can read it here..
The best vacation rental review you will ever have part 1

As we are all aware our headlines form a very important part of our listings make up. After the photos they are the next most eye-catching element and they can convey information that is not apparent just by scanning the images.

In short they are the most important piece of text within your listing advert.

So, lets look at how best to go about building headlines…


1. Firstly, find out the maximum number of characters that your listings company allows you to use in your headline.

  • Look through their guidelines to determine this figure.
  • Currently Homeaway allows for 70 characters, VRBO allows up to 62 and Flipkey allows a maximum of 50
  • Check other individual sites. There is nothing more annoying than writing a headline that does not fit.

2. Aim to use as near to the maximum allowable number of characters as possible.

  • You have paid for this text real estate so utilize it as best as you can.
  • Where one company allows 70 characters and another allows 50 write a different headline for each listing.
  • Don’t be lazy here, maximize each individual headline.

3. Bear in mind that spaces count as characters too.

  • As, of course, do commas.
  • When planning I denote spaces with an underscore.
  • Don’t forget the space to the next word too.

4. Plan carefully – This is key!

  • Treat it as a word game.
  • Set some time aside and shortlist a number of words or phrases that come to mind.
  • You are not trying to build headlines at this stage.
  • Just build lists of key individual components that you can mix, match, cut and paste into headlines later.

5. Think of each word or phrase in terms of a score (including its space/s)

  • Free_WiFi_ (10)
  • This makes totaling characters easier when it comes to compiling headlines later on.

6. Start with some highlights

  • Time to start making some lists!
  • What sets your property apart? Why are you so special?
  • If you don’t tell then, they won’t know!
  • 5_Mins_To_Disney_ (17), Private_Pool_ (13), Beachfront_Access_ (18), Ski_in_Ski_out_ (15)
  • City_Center_ (12), Historic_Waterfront_ (20), Mountain_Views_ (15)

7. Define your type of property

  • Your headline needs to state which type of property you own,
  • Apartment_ (10), Condo_ (6), Cottage_ (8), Cabin_ (6), Villa_ (6)
  • Townhouse_ (10), Farmhouse_ (10), Holiday_Home_ (13), Penthouse_ (10)

8. Mention extra touches  – What else do you have to offer?

  • Build a list of further temptation…
  • Near_Golf_ (10), Hot_Tub_ (8), BBQ_Grill_ (10),
  • Sauna_ (6), Free_WiFi_ (10), Open_Fireplace_ (15), Sea_View_ (9)
  • Daily_Maid_Service_ (19),
  • When adding extras you may need to add commas.
  • Hyphens and the plus sign may save you a space or two. For example: Deck+BBQ_Grill (14)

9. Mention special groups or references

  • Bringing even more specialized information to the reader…
  • Walkers_Welcome_ (16), Pet_Friendly_ (13), Wheelchair_Access_ (18), Gated_Community_ (16)
  • With_Guest_House_ (17),

10. Big it up with an adjective or two!

  • An “emotional” word or two can, and does, bring a headline to life and help trigger click-throughs.
  • Here are a few examples;
  • Breathtaking_ (13), Prestigious_ (12), Enchanting_ (11), Fantastic_(10), Gorgeous_ (9), Romantic_ (9), Private_(8), Luxury_ (7), Great_(6), Cozy_ (5), Wow_ (4)



 A. (don’t) Mention how many bedrooms or Bathrooms you have.

  • These numbers are displayed just under your headline.
  • So, don’t waste valuable characters with the likes of,
  • 6_Bedrooms_ (11), 3_bath_ (7) or Sleeps_12 (9)

There's no need to mention bedrooms


B. (don’t) Waste space with location information

  • This too is shown just below your headline

Location is displayed below the headline

C. (don’t) Publish your headline before spell checking it and reading it.

  • Before you hit that publish button make sure that you spell check your headline,
  • And that it reads well.



headline news

Ok, I’m going to put the cat amongst the pigeons here, but here goes anyway.

Most of the listings companies guidelines state that you should not write your headlines using all capital letters.
They state that this “shouts” at web visitors.

Well isn’t that the idea of a headline? It’s supposed to grab the attention.
Most newspaper headlines are written in capital letters (as above) for this reason.

Most vacation rental owners write their headlines in camel case, so if you write yours in caps lock mode you will stand out from the crowd.

And standing out from the crown wins clicks!


Putting it all together

Once you have your various lists of words you can start to string these together in to hard hitting, attention grabbing, headlines.

Start along these lines: Adjective_Type of property_Highlight_ then add your extra temptations and take it from there.
So UNIQUE WINDMILL WITH OUTSTANDING VIEWS, BLA, BLA, BLA, for example, working your way to the maximum character number.
You may well have to add some “stop” words like “with” in this case.

Aim to create at least 5 headlines. The more the merrier.
Put these aside for a day or two. Then review them and choose the best.


Keeping your headlines fresh

I came across this great advice from sfvacationhut on the community.homeaway.com forum,

I change my headlines all the time.  I have noticed that my inquiries really GO UP when I change my headline to certain things, such as highlighting certain groups such as grandparents, children, babies, foodies, techies, hippies, sun worshippers, architecture and history buffs, etc.  I only change it for a few days to one thing, and if I’m not getting a lot of responses, then I change it to something else.

 Sometimes I put something really unusual like Foodie Paradise for Vegans and Meat Lovers Alike!  … and suddenly I get lots of new inquiries.  I think when people see something strange like that, it catches their eye, and they click on it.

But it’s weird .. the effect seems to wear off in a few days, and then I have to change it to something else.

 Think outside the box

Here’s the vacation rental marketing takeaway


Attention grabbing headlines are all about getting noticed.

You know my mantra –

You have to stand out from the crowd.
Well, great headlines will help you do this.

They get you noticed, they get you read and they entice click-throughs.


You have to craft great headlines, you can’t just throw them together!

So set aside some time and have a look through the listings. Make some notes regarding headlines that grab your attention.

Google “crafting great headlines” and have a read up on the subject in more detail.

More importantly, set aside an hour or two and create your words and phrases list and start crafting your own attention grabbing headlines.


I will be looking at reviewing your vacation rental listings photos next week…..So stay tuned.

What do you do?

How do you build your headlines?
What’s worked best for you?

I would like to hear your views and I would love to see examples.
Use the comments section at the bottom of the page to share your thoughts and examples.


Need more help?

I hope that you found this article on Attention Grabbing Headlines useful
I have also written a number of guides that teach, in an easy to follow, pictorial way, how to make a great impression.

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