Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

2 Reasons Guests Don’t Read What You Write

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 4.32.20 PM“You could write the most brilliant property description or sales pitch in the world. But if nobody reads it, you’ve accomplished nothing.”

I started this blog a few years back.

Back when my copywriting was good (not great).

Sure, I could describe a technique or spell out an explanation.

(And for my rentals I could conjure up wonderful imagery.)

But in looking back on those articles, I kinda cringe with embarrassment…mainly, because they weren’t written for the web.

Sentences were long and paragraphs were even longer.

But I’ve learned something important along this process — in addition to The Magical Goldfish Trick — and that’s brevity.


Brevity Rules! (Both Literally & Figuratively)


The ability to write short, concise messages MONUMENTALLY increases your chance at getting them read.

And when it comes to guest correspondence or listing site descriptions, that’s the name of the game.

Especially on the web where people read hundreds of thousands of words every single day.

People are busy!

And if you don’t layout your content well, it’s very likely to be skimmed or simply overlooked.

So here are two reasons your words aren’t being entirely read by your prospective guests (and how to fix that):

[Note: this article, impressively, abides by them both]


1. Your Sentences Are More Than 20 Words


I know that may seem hard.

But in the words of Mark Twain, “If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.”

Spend a weekend trimming your email template sentences down to less than 20 words.

If you need to say more, split the sentence into two.

Anything that doesn’t need to be said, can be left out.

The shorter and more articulate, the better.

Just avoid the long, run-on, complicated sentence at all costs.

Think staccato.

Embrace the period.


2. Your Paragraphs Are More Than 1 Sentence


Spreading out your text makes it much more approachable on the eye.

Long paragraphs are daunting and tend to lose the reader, whereas short ones keep them hooked.

Especially when they are likely looking at other properties or reading other emails (especially when on their mobile device).

Utilizing these two tips, my copywriting has become much more engaging, both with my readers and my vacation rental guests.

The rules also resolve some of the first (biggest) mistakes I see from owners and managers on websites, in emails, on listing site descriptions and the like.

And I’m guessing that some of my competitors (other vacation rental consultants out there) will start adopting this strategy now too!

But it’s really not a secret that I’m hiding: practice makes perfect.

So start slowly (try with your next email, let’s say) and watch it work for you!


About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)

  • Maria Rekrut

    You’re absolutely right, I’ve taken your advice and it works!!

    • Matt (Himself)

      Maria, this is actually something that I’ve only really learned over the past year or two. So we’re in the same boat together!!!

      • Teena NH

        Years ago I changed my ad format to be sentences with bulleted lists below. I like the look and feel of that… I recently hired a copywriter and she didn’t agree. 🙂

        • I have used the bullet list ever since I started.

          It has worked very well and of course I found a copy cat (copied the whole thing right off) on VRBO, so I guess more people thought so. 🙂

          • Matt (Himself)

            I suppose imitation is the most sincere form of flattery 🙂

  • Tyann Marcink

    Written communication is a key skill that that must be grasped and honed if a person wants to succeed. One should not be shy about taking a class to learn more.

    Besides online courses, many community colleges and standard universities will allow a person to audit a class at a minimal cost.

    Journalism is a very good subject to learn the skills needed for internet writing. There are many writing “secrets” that I am thankful to have learned in those journalism courses way back in my college days!

    • Matt (Himself)

      And I would take it a step further and recommend reading up on famed copywriters like David Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins. Copywriting for ads defies a lot of the rules we learn in traditional writing courses at school.

      Claude Hopkins

      • Tyann Marcink

        Exactly, Matt. Copywriting for newspapers and ads…different rules and different skill sets. Although traditional grammar is a must for learning how to spell!

  • I apply the same rules to my emails. When I want something to stand out, I start a new paragraph and isolate that sentence. It may seem contrary to what we were taught in freshman English, but that’s writing for grammar. This is writing for the reader’s attention. Just remember to use it sparingly!

    • Matt (Himself)

      Totally. I’ve started using this strategy with ANYTHING I write online. Especially emails to friends and family. Let’s get straight to the point!

  • Matt, I read everything that you write because you are so very informative. I will definitely incorporate this on my website and see what kind of response I get.
    Thanks again for a great article.

    • Matt (Himself)

      Thanks for the kind words Barbara! Let us know how it works!

  • zenki

    While short and sweet is important the main reason inquiring guests repeatedly ask the same questions is they cut and past their inquiries to as many places as as they might want to stay in.

    An easy solution is to create templates or canned responses where you have all the answers to all the questions you will get over the years at a click of a button.

    Web users have a short tolerance limit waiting for we pages to load. No matter what, even after booked they will shoot off an email from a mobile device rather than going to your site for the info.

  • Holly W

    Thanks Matt. I will try it! Guests ask me questions that are covered on my website or response email so this topic resonates with me.

    • Matt (Himself)

      It’s much easier to glaze over a fact that’s buried in the middle of a long paragraph, than one that’s standing alone as it’s own paragraph.

      • Holly W

        Ok! First response written in this style. It was a qualified lead so let’s see if I get a conversion! 😉

  • Hi Matt:

    When you initially changed your writing style, I honestly didn’t like it. I felt like I was being addressed as a 5th grader. It’s not the way I like to read things.

    Still, at this point in time I see the benefits.

    I’ve started breaking up my arrival information to our guests. I’ve gone to a couple of my listing sites and although they are not filled with one-liners, I’ve broken out certain things to stand alone. Like “No Pets” and “Toddlers Welcome”. I’m examining now where else it makes sense to use this style.

    It’s too soon to know if this makes any real difference, but I imagine the reactions might be too subtle to identify? How do you KNOW this is effective? Fewer redundant questions?

    • Matt (Himself)

      Good points Debi. I just tend to get much more engagement from this style (then again, I think it’s only one facet of my improvement in writing in general, so it could be null). It’s also what most of the world’s top web copywriting coaches whom I follow preach. Give it a shot and see what you think…

  • Matt do you find you are writing differently as well as just changing the punctuation? If you write one sentence on one line then it perhaps becomes unnatural to deliver a complex concept as your train of thought is a stream of simple ideas?

    • Matt (Himself)

      Really good question. And I’m not sure I know the answer. Complex concepts are more aligned with bigger paragraphs for sure.

  • I took your advice to a degree when I read this post for the first time last month.

    I have not gotten questions for quite a while about things that are already in my listing.

    Is that the main goal? Or is this another reason to break things up?

    I do have some longer paragraphs – mainly one about the kitchen with the list of items provided.

    Is it still too lengthy?

  • Thomas Schardt

    Good point Matt. Puts me to action to change our property description as well as our confirmation e-mails.