short term rental marketing / vacation rental marketing

How to Use Social Media to Attract the Perfect Guest

Here’s why it’s important for your guests to find you on social media and how you can attract the perfect guest. Yes, it’s possible to appeal to the kind of guest you prefer!

Online bookings for vacation rentals are steadily increasing, and whether you’re reaching out to an international clientele or attracting local guests, your rental property needs to be found on the internet.

But you knew that already didn’t you? You’ve likely got a website up and running, a listing on several property rental sites and you’re hopeful your vacation property is getting the attention it needs. Are your bases covered? Let’s take a look.

How Guests Can Find Your Short Term Rental Property Online.

Keywords and search terms are a complete marketing topic on their own, but basically it’s what gets typed in to the search bar. Think about what your prospective guests will use to search for your property.

Once you understand what keywords guests are using to search for their holiday, you can decide what keywords to use in your marketing. Here’s some examples:

  • Searching on Google, Yahoo or Bing ex. with keywords  “closest bed and breakfast to Victoria Station UK”
  • Searching social media by keyword or hashtag ex. “wedding destination near me” #scottishcastle
  • Typing in a specific name or destination ex. “The Long Run Inn in El Segundo”

So guests type in their keyword search and hopefully, up pops your website.

If you’re also active on social media, guests have more opportunities to find your property. If they like what they see they’ll book. Being on social media lets you go that extra step. It allows you to create that oh so important personal connection with your guests.

Engaging with your guests on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram means guests get to know you beyond the guest/host transaction. If you stop and think about it, we all prefer to do business with people we know like and trust, don’t we?

When they see you “socially” it’s easier for guests to keep you top of mind when they’re thinking about where to spend their next vacation or long weekend.

Whatever their age and demographic, your guests are online.

Who’s booking their vacation rental online?

Number of online vacation rental bookings – about half that of hotels, but growing

2017 – 265,000+
2018 – 281,000+
2019 – 313,000+

Age range of those booking travel online

25-34 – 48%
35-44 – 51%
45-54 – 42%
55-64 – 37%
65+ – 20%

Income range of those booking travel online

Medium – 33.3%
High – 42.4%

Age range of guests using social media

With 3.02 billion online users predicted by 2021, here’s the current breakdown of who’s using social media as of 1/2018.

18-29 – 88%
30-49 – 78%
50-64 – 64%
65+ – 37%

First of all, understanding your ideal guest is the first step to knowing how to engage with them. Your social media marketing should be targeted directly to your perfect guest. Do you know their average age and income for example? Chances are you haven’t kept a spreadsheet on your guest bookings, but I’m guessing you know who you’d like your ideal guest to be. Who causes the least fuss and is willing and able to pay your rates?

You get to decide who your ideal guest is and that’s the secret to knowing where to find them on social media.

Although it’s not the only game in town, chances are they’re on Facebook. With the numbers of Facebook users worldwide, it’s where you’ll find them and where they’ll find you.

Worldwide 68% of online users are on Facebook, with 35% on Instagram and 29% on Pinterest.

50 million businesses worldwide have Facebook business pages. Do you have a page for your business?

Once you understand where your ideal guest is spending their time online, then you can target your social media to engage them in a meaningful way. We’ll talk later about focusing on the one to three platforms I believe vacation rental owners need to be on.

social media marketing for vacation rentals

Advantages to Using Social Media to Market Your Property

Think of social media as a free billboard. Got a weekend offer coming up? Is there a special event in your town or village you can feature? Simply post a notice with the details and a photo on your Facebook page.

Social media marketing is especially important if your business also offers experiences. Can it be marketed as a total special occasion destination? Weddings for example are a lovely way to have guests stay a bit longer and expect to spend a little more than they normally would. I can see it would be quite natural to take and post pictures of the wedding party (with permission of course) and voila, your cottage enjoys a unique USP! #somersetweddingcottage

Use Free Social Media to Market Your Rental

Social media is the ultimate free marketing tool. Yes it takes time to build and to manage, but you can woo your guests at no extra cost once you know what you’re doing.

Most social media accounts are free to create an account to use. Yes you can choose to pay for ads but if it’s possible to generate buzz and business without spending a penny. Initially you want to set up a personal account on Instagram and Pinterest. Once you’re comfortable with managing those accounts, you can switch over to a business account. It doesn’t cost any extra, but it does give you insights into analytics and other tools to grow your business. Both platforms also offer paid ads or sponsored content but for now let’s focus on what you can do for free.

You can set up a free business page on Facebook. A business page can be very useful to post notifications, opening hours and contact details, especially if you don’t have your own dedicated website.

What Should You Be Posting and When?

The tricky thing about social media is how to get the tone right. Unlike traditional advertising you don’t want to be continually “selling”. Think of it as a conversation instead of a pitch. You write about what’s going on locally and in your backyard, what interests you and what your guests might find intriguing and engaging.

Here’s an example of what to post and how often. Aim for 3-4 posts a week. You can do a little more or a little less, but consistency is the key. You’ll want to have a mix of interesting content or news, with a more sales oriented post sprinkled in every third post. Something like this would work on Facebook for example.

Monday – “Don’t forget first Monday market is April 1” with photo of last months market or a vendor
Wednesday – “Local attraction is hosting a craft show on April 22” with photo
Friday – “Come enjoy a spring weekend. During May, our weekend special is Book 2 nights, stay 3rd night half price” with photo of room
Sunday – “Look at all the lovely spring flowers in our village green” with photos

For posting on Instagram I’d suggest keeping a folder full of photos of both your property and the area, local attractions and historic areas of interest. If you’re not snappy with a camera or phone, get a friend or professional to take some for you. All photos must be original to have the right effect! You’re going for authenticity.

Post a photo with caption (the longer the better) and hashtags as often as you can manage. Aim for 3-4 times a week, but if you can post daily all the better.

Pinterest is a little different. It’s more like a search engine. You don’t engage with your followers or browsers as you do on Facebook and Instagram. The beauty of Pinterest is that your posts have a much longer shelf life. Anytime someone searches using keywords for your area or property, your post may get featured in their “feed”.

I would aim to post on Pinterest as often as you can, but aim for at least 1-3X a week. Your posts can be directly linked to your website which can positively increase visitor traffic! Make posts about the same topics you have on your other social media accounts, add relevant keywords and hashtags to the descriptions. If you have a blog, you simply link your blog post to create a pin. You’ll create relevant boards within your Pinterest account and pin to those boards. Your boards should have a keyword rich description so that users searching for your area will find pins in their feed.

social media marketing for vacation rentals

Which Social Media Platforms Do I Recommend for Vacation Rental Owners?

The three social media platforms I recommend for vacation rental owners are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. When guests are deciding where to book, they want to see visual proof. Photos and graphics are essential to selling your property experience and these three give you visual real estate. After all think of how real estate is sold. Beautiful photos to woo you into the perfect new lifestyle. You want guests to be wowed by your images.

Instagram – Instagram was designed to showcase beautiful images. Make sure yours are 1080 x 1080 px.
I like Instagram because it’s a unique opportunity to create a beautifully curated visual album of your property “story”. Look at your competition or search for similar properties to see how others brand their feed for maximum impact. Don’t forget to also add long captions and hashtags to your photos. Follow other accounts and engage, engage. The more you respond to other posters the more engagement you’ll get. This is so important!
Facebook – Facebook gives you multiple options to upload photos, albums, videos and create stories and do “live” video. Your Facebook page can function as a one stop business magnet. As with Instagram, you must engage with your followers! Ask and answer any questions and you’ll be rewarded with valuable feedback and positive engagement with prospective guests.
Pinterest – Pinterest is a search engine with pictures. Make sure yours are vertical. Approx. 735 x 1102 px is ideal. Because Pinterest is more of a visual search engine, your sole goal is to create gorgeous pins linked to great content. 85% of female pinners use Pinterest to plan “life moments”. For weddings to vacations, your guests are likely searching here for inspiration! Think of how your property can fit their aspirational goals.

Here’s a breakdown of users by age on the three social media platforms I recommend.

FacebookGlobally as of 1/2018
25-34 – 32% (US 18-29 – 81%)
35-44 – 16% (US 30-49 – 78%)
45-54 – 10% (US 50-64 – 65%)
55-64 – 6% (US 65+ – 41%)
65+ – 4%

You can see that Facebook users in the US are much more active especially in the over 30 age range.

InstagramGlobally as of 1/2019
18-24 – 32%
25-34 – 33%
35-44 – 16%
45-54 – 9%
55-64 – 3%
65+ – 2%

PinterestGlobally as of 1/2018
18-29 – 34%
30-49 – 34%
50-64 – 26%
65+ – 16%

Pinterest also attracts a higher number of women users than men, but use by men is growing. When you’re thinking about your ideal guest, know their age and their gender and where they hang out on social media.

What You Need to Know About Hashtags

Ok let’s talk about hashtags. Hashtags are a unique identifier. They allow you to search or brand a specific theme, place or trend.
Let’s say you were thinking about planning a wedding in Somerset and wanted to get ideas. You might search under #somersetwedding  in Instagram or Pinterest.

social media marketing for vacation rentals

Think of hashtags as keywords. Guests will use them to find you so you’ll add them to your Pinterest pin descriptions and your Instagram posts. Ideally you’ll put your hashtags after your comment or description.

So for example your post might look like this:

“Here’s a lovely view of the village now that spring has arrived. Our guests love that it’s an easy walk into the village and the fact the pub is only five minutes away is a bonus! What’s your favorite place to spend a long weekend? #villagegreen #localpub #springflowers #longweekend #somerset #guestcottage #somersetmillcottage”

Hashtags are also a great way to have your guests boost your social media! Remember that guest book and welcoming message board you set up? Why not add your own unique hashtag for guests to spread the word on their social media accounts.

Welcome to #somersetmillcottage

We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay and would love to see your photos online. Please share!

Sharing is the best feature of social media and spreads your message and property much further than you could reach on your own.

Hope you’ve gotten some great ideas on managing your social media and attracting your perfect guest. It takes a bit of work but I know you’ll love the results. You’ll get so much insight into your guests and create lasting relationships online and in person.

Just remember three things for great results:

  1. Creat an ideal guest profile
  2. Engage with your followers
  3. Be consistent

If I can answer any questions or help get you started, please get in touch!

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