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Vacation Rental Marketing – The trouble with social media…

I am pleased to announce that I have started writing about vacation rental marketing for the VRMA (The Vacation Rental Managers Association) and I thought that I would share the first article here as this social media thinking applies to individual owners as well as managers.

Here it is…

Vacation rental marketing
How many times have you heard other vacation rental managers bemoan social media marketing? Some say it’s a waste of time. Others say it just doesn’t work. Others want to nail the ROI.

The fact is it’s difficult to understand the mechanics of it. So let’s get down to basics, one word at a time:


99% of vacation rental managers fall at the very first hurdle when it comes to social media marketing because they behave anti-socially. That’s the ugly truth. That’s not anyone’s fault. Social media didn’t come with a handbook. It wasn’t born. It evolved. It’s still evolving. But we just applied our previous marketing techniques to this new media.

We shout a lot. We tell people about what we have to sell. “Look at me,” “Look at my website,” “Look at my properties.”

Forget that approach.

Forget TV ads and print media classifieds.

Think dinner party instead.

You have been invited to a recurring dinner party.

You have an opportunity to sit down at the table with a whole bunch of potential guests and the idea here is to be invited back. Again and again.

You need to be on your best behavior. You need to be your interesting, witty, knowledgable and charming self. You need to join in with the conversation–you want people to like you. Ideally you want to make new friends. Shouting will get you nowhere.

Social mantra: Dialogue Not Monologue

2. Media

Once again this is an area where managers fall down.

Talk to most PM’s about social media and they will start on about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and Linkedin.

But these are the channels not the media.

The media are mobile devices. Smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Two billion and rising. Over 300 million smartphones were sold in the last quarter of last year alone. Just about every potential guest has a smartphone.

Think of that smartphone as a digital billboard that you can reach through social media.

If you don’t have a social marketing strategy those same potential guests will never see your content on their screens.

Gain a follower by being social and you gain direct access to his or her digital media billboard. This is more powerful than any previous form of media. This makes print marketing, TV advertising and listing site offerings look like cave paintings by comparison.

Media mantra : Gain followers to gain access to mobile devices

3. Marketing

Marketing, believe it or not, is the biggest current fail of all as far as vacation rental managers and social media go. Our marketing hasn’t evolved in terms of thinking or in terms of using technology since we started to use the internet 15 odd years ago. To be honest the vast majority of PM’s are still marketing on the same basis as they were back in the days of print.

Just about every aspect of vacation rental marketing is property based.

But you have to realize that guests don’t go on vacation rental, they go on vacation. If you manage 50 properties outside Orlando and your website goes down for a month, people are still going to come to Orlando. No one EVER came to Orlando because you manage properties there. This goes for every location.

What to do?

To give you an example, there are 1,481 golf courses in Florida. This is one of the driving factors why people come to Orlando.

If instead of advertising those same 50 villas you were to write a short piece each day spotlighting just one golf course–just one– and post a photo of the signature hole, a little blurb, a quote from the PGA professional, list course fees and contact details and the club’s location (relevant to your nearest rental)… you could do that every day for 4 years without mentioning the same course twice.

Every one of these posts can be lightly branded and can contain a link back to your website. If you do this, you become associated with Florida golf. People have an opportunity to find your golf offerings prior to the “where are we going to stay” stage of their golf vacation planning journey.

Within three months of starting this campaign you find yourself one of the “go to” Florida golf experts. You are welcome at virtual golf dinner parties. People follow your golf offerings. Your golfing posts appear on smartphones across the globe. Google loves your hyper-fresh golf insights.

Now I can already hear lots of you saying “but that doesn’t work if we all do that” and others saying “I’m not in Florida, I’m in a small village outside Back Woods Creek.” But every location has its assets, its highlights and its reasons why people visit. It’s these places and things to do that PM’s need to be marketing.

Sure enough nothing works if everyone does it, but no one is doing this, everyone’s shouting.

 You have 2 choices…

List your properties and tell me all about them and you will bore me in under 10 minutes.

Drip feed me the things to see and do in your location and you can spark my imagination, grab my attention and hold my interest for months.

This is modern social marketing.

Marketing mantra: Share don’t sell. Adopt a guest-centric position. Provide real insight.
Dispense your local knowledge – That’s your USP.

 Here’s the takeaway:

If you only remember one thing from this article, remember this:

Social media marketing is not marketing on social media.


If anyone wants to know how to go about adopting a social marketing strategy for their property or properties please visit bookingsplus4g.com for our comprehensive online video training.

2 thoughts on “Social Media Saturday

  1. Maria Rekrut says:

    I love the way you explain Social Media is like you’re going to a dinner party and sharing conversation. Well said Alan!!

    1. Alan Egan says:

      Thanks Maria, I’m glad you like the analogy. This is the crux to a successful social media strategy. Social media is a social event and needs to be treated as such. If you invite me round for afternoon tea and I spend my time trying to sell you a used car (because I’m a used car salesmen) most likely that’s not what you had in mind. I will have annoyed you and I won’t be invited back.
      If I come round and we chat you may invite me back. Over time we become friends – Then if your car packs up… You know who to call.

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