When the winter chill sets in and the snow begins to fall, many of the usual suspect states up north, the wishing and hoping day-dreamers sit by a warm fire watching the snowflakes fall outside wondering to themselves: “What the heck am I doing here, again?” Then there is the person(s) who already owns a vacation rental where there is no snow and the sun shines nearly every day and you don’t need earmuffs or a thick parka jacket to wear, who says to themselves: “I wonder why nobody is calling to rent my property?!”
Well, here are several clever tips and ideas that may set you apart from the competitive groups who are suffering the same conundrum. But if you wish to avoid the “one-shot” rental deal and get a repeat customer winter-after-winter, you need a plan. And since your renter(s) will most likely be senior folks, keep in mind that they might not be using the computer/Internet as much as you. Thus, it is important to be creative yet comprehensive in your outreach initiatives. So first off, here are principles that must be instilled in your vacation rental operations from the beginning:
- The key word is: satisfaction. You won’t be able to attract new customers nor keep the ones you have if you don’t go out-of-your-way to nurture customer relations like you would a garden of roses.
- Keep in touch with renters even after the season is over. Send cards for special dates in their lives which many times will take some of the competition out of the equation; loyalty counts!
- Make sure you offer remarkable customer service. If there’s a complaint, deal with it immediately, not a week later. Give your “snowbirds” a good reason to tell the folks back home that you were treated like “family.” Word of mouth is better than any advertising you can do.
Now here are some tactics that you can implement into your marketing:
Outreach to Previous Renters:
- Send out handwritten post cards to your previous renters at the beginning of winter to remind them of the warm, beautiful experience they had last time at your property. You should also include updates to the property or neighborhood.
- You should also simultaneously be emailing them (not spamming them). Email is a great way to include more photos or videos that can raise your previous renters’ appetite.
- Phone calls although time consuming is a great way to cut through the clutter and demonstrate how much you care and appreciated their business.
- Always have deadlines when sharing special rates. People need to be pushed to take action.
- And if your previous renter cannot make it again this year, at least make it really simple for your previous renters to tell their family and friends about your property as an amazing vacation rental option.
Outreach to Potential Renters:
Free Online Methods:
- Youtube: Do you have videos* of your properties online yet? Make sure you spend some time on your video titles, tags and descriptions as these are key factors in ranking better in the results of search engines like Google. *Professional videos are not free but posting them to Youtube is free. And once videos are produced of your property, you can use them indefinitely.
- Listen and answer questions: If you do a search on Google or Twitter for phrases such as “where to go for vacation” or “vacation recommendations”, you can find recent questions and comments posted by people that are looking for their next vacation spot. As such, you can share your property and answer questions regarding your location.
Paid Online Methods:
- You can create a campaign targeted to your most common renter demographic (e.g. maybe it’s people between 45-55 years old that Like “sailing” and that live in Montreal, Canada). Using Facebook Ads, you can create your campaign to target those exact traits.
- If you have pinpointed a city or area where you know the majority of snowbirds come from, you could look at doing advertising on their local News websites.
Paid Print Methods:
- Knowing where the majority of the snowbirds are located will help you target publications in which you can do print advertising.
- You could also target a zip code and send out a postcard or brochure of your property, amenities and location information.
Remember to cherish your new renters. They may be back next year and the years after that. Above all else, they can at least become a great referral source for you.
Timing and placement is crucial in your marketing outreach. Being too late or not where their eyes are can result in low return on investment. Each year that the season comes and goes should provide lessons learned for the next time around.
Do you have any other snowbird property marketing tips you could add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.