If you haven’t heard, I am working to totally makeover one lucky vacation rental owner’s marketing portfolio live (and step-by-step) for my subscribers to follow. You can read all the prior posts here.
So we are a little more than a month into my makeover with Amy Firmani and already, some things are starting to become abundantly clear…
In fact, in this short period of time, Amy confessed that she’s had four mini-revelations…
Perspectives or changes in opinion that she didn’t have before that have changed the way she looks at her marketing…
Now considering we have not even launched her new website, published her new photos, started her email marketing or made public any of the other items on our list, it should be clear that these mini-revelations came from what we were ALREADY working with (and at no monetary cost).
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Your Time Commitment Is Directly Related To Your Bookings
Amy is busy like every other owner and manager on the planet. And so the amount of time she was able to dedicate to marketing her property was (and still is) limited.
What she has discovered, however, is that “sheer time spent working on marketing makes a huge difference.”
“I have been working so much more on it now and that does pay off with bookings and good conversations.”
Matt’s Actionable Advice: This is not to say that you should all immediately abandon your normal responsibilities. But realize that if you want performance, you must take the time out of your busy schedule and give your marketing (think of it like a plant) the nourishment it deserves.
2. What Works For Others, Doesn’t Necessarily Work For You
I asked Amy to be totally transparent about everything we do…
And in a handful of instances, she felt like some changes were not her style…“too hotel like” in some cases.
In other cases, she used her family and friends as a research panel: getting a true gauge on whether or not a new description or email response sounded “like her.”
“I had a lot of my friends and family look at the changes we made and some did not care for them. They said it lost the personal touch and sounded cold. So I went in and added a bit of my comments here and there – building on what was changed and suddenly…WOW…I’ve already quoted a few bookings since the change last week!”
“So I do think that this process is about learning what draws the tenant in and I think the personal nature of it for my home works best.”
Matt’s Actionable Advice: Just because I say something works well for me or your neighbor says something works well for his property, does not mean it will work great for you. Be sure to match your marketing tactics with your own personality. Test it out on your circle of family and friends to determine whether it’s the right fit. If not, you’ve got incongruity which doesn’t help anyone.
3. Do Not Use Generic Responses
This is a topic that I featured front and center in my Email Correspondence Experiment…
Generic responses are one of the fastest ways to kill a booking.
And while I touched on some of the more effective tips that were working well for Amy in VRMM Episode 1.2: Email Correspondence, when Amy took a 50,000-foot view of the situation here is what resonated with her most:
“Yes. Personalized responses to all inquiries take time. A lot of time. But it is fun and I truly have made fun friends in the last few weeks. I had no idea how important this would be,” she said.
In fact, when we last spoke (Friday, March 7th), Amy had converted 6 bookings in the last 10 days.
She’s on a roll!!!
I often ask owners “if I could guarantee that by spending 2x as much time on your marketing, you would increase your bookings by 200%, would you do it?”
This has a wonderful way of dividing people: those who are willing to commit versus those who aren’t terribly serious about improvements.
Matt’s Actionable Advice: Give yourself one month of responding to inquiries with personalized messages (yes, write every one from scratch). Sure, you can use templates or copy/paste for the details you find yourself writing again and again. But the mere act of sitting down to respond to an email personally has a way of connecting with guests: you read their whole message: you try to address their needs. After that month, I’d be surprised if you don’t sense an immediate difference.
4. Enter The Process With An Open Mind
Because many of us were not “business people” before we started getting serious about our vacation rental marketing, we have preconceived notions…
Because many of us did extremely well with VRBO in it’s early days, we tend to be critical or damning or even spoiled by any changes to the industry…
As it relates to mentality going into this process, Amy’s fourth and final mini-revelation was the following:
“Do not be afraid to try something. If it doesn’t work: read, ask questions and try again.”
To me, this is such an important attitude to take with regards to vacation rental marketing…
It is fearlessness, combined with calculated risk, combined with a desire to improve.
Matt’s Actionable Advice: Taking this into account, go through my article database [Link], and pick out one new technique or methodology to try per week for the next 4 weeks. Actually force yourself to do this. If you find it working well, continue with it. If, after giving it a legitimate chance, you find it doing nothing, ditch it and try something new. Your goal, like that of mine with Amy, should be to test out so many techniques, that in the end, only the crème of the crop is left to form a lean and effective marketing portfolio.