Top Educational Resources for Mastering Vacation Rental Marketing
Regardless of your educational and professional background, there are a number of digital educational resources available that can help you can master marketing and achieve your occupancy goals.
Don’t have much faith in that last statement? Last year a great article circulated around the tech scene about Nate Westheimer and Vinicius Vacanti, who needed to produce an app for a trade event, even though they had no prior development knowledge. The pair taught themselves how to code in less than a year and eventually became lead developers at venture-backed start-ups.
With seasonal transition preparations, you are probably thinking that you do not have time for education when you can use time for actually marketing your properties. And of course I know that no amount of, "It is an investment for your future!” will change that you need to increase your immediate occupancy rates. So here is my little helping hand; I have taken on the time-intensive task of looking for educational sources, and provide dyou with a basic cheat-sheet:
Community forums are an excellent place to obtain peer-to-peer marketing and general management tips. Whether you need to solve a marketing problem of your own, or you want to learn from the mistakes of others, you are bound to find useful resources on the following great forums:
What is it about? Inspired by the song "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home...", Lay My Hat is a great community forum from across the pond. With different terminology - holiday lets instead of vacation rentals- it might take a little time to adjust to the lingo, but it will be worth your time with great forum threads that focus on marketing, management and regional information for Europe.
My favorite feature: Lay My Hat owner, Paolo De Paolis, sends out great newsletters filled with tips on increasing bookings.
What is it about? This active community is bound to provide tips for any marketing problems you may have, with a great team of HomeAway ambassadors monitoring the threads and providing valuable information.
My favorite feature: Vacation rental marketing professionals from all around the world write great in-depth how-to articles and case-studies.
What is it about?LinkedIn groups are my personal favorite. With a handful of very active groups, users share their own personal experiences from vacation rental management, ask the community questions, as well as provide share the latest industry news.
My favorite feature: LinkedIn groups provide great networking opportunities, where you will be able to connect with like-minded VR professionals from all around the world. Best of all there is even a Vacation Rental Managers Association group.
You can never have too many blogs to read! Below are a great list of vacation rental focused blogs whose RSS feed I highly suggest you subscribe to:
What is it about? Heather has been writing high-quality vacation rental blog posts for the past 5 years. As a vacation rental owner who has experienced great media exposure in Canada, there is bound to be something you will pick up from Heather’s blog
My favorite feature: Cottage Blogger regularly features podcast interviews with industry professionals. Listen to these useful podcasts while you are on the road or at the office on a quiet afternoon.
What is it about? Matt has a talent when it comes to writing vacation rental marketing blog posts. His articles are both entertaining to read and have very valuable points. After successfully marketing his own vacation rentals in Panama, Matt turned to providing vacation rental owners with marketing tips.
My favorite feature: Matt is a great advocate when it comes to growing the vacation rental industry, whether it is encouraging us to sign a referral pledge or to encourage us to "help” rather than "sell”.
What is it about? You cannot write about blog posts and not include VRMA’s Key Insights blog. From marketing tips to emergency preparedness tips, VRMA covers a great variety of topics in its blog posts.
My favorite feature: The VRMA team has done a great job of getting vacation rental managers from a diverse range of positions, from marketing to property managers, to contribute to the blog with their expertise.
What is it about? I guess this is where I can toot my own horn just a little bit. There are a wide variety of vacation rental companies who write high quality educational blog posts. A common misconception with corporate blogs is that people assume that they are only about the products that the company sells. Although this may be true for a small percentage of corporate blogs, a large amount of them are focused on educating their readers, not selling to them.
Sample Corporate Blogs:
Kigo Vacation Rental Software: http://kigo.net/blog
Blizzard Internet Marketing: http://newsletter.blizzardinternet.com/
Schofields Holiday Home Insurance: http://www.schofields.ltd.uk/blog/
Conferences and Events:
VRMA Annual Conference: October 20-23- Nashville, Tennessee
Nothing beats a vacation rental conference for educational insights. Network, attend educational workshops, and find the latest vacation rental technology tools by attending the largest vacation rentals conference: VRMA's 2013 Annual Conference. This year VRMA's Annual Conference will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. (Register now; prices go up after Sept. 5!)
VRMA's European Seminar: 9-11 December- Bruges, Belgium
After a successful inaugural event in 2012, VRMA will again host its European Seminar in December of 2013. This event features a dozen informative educational sessions specifically designed for today's holiday rental professionals. Attendees have multiple opportunities to meet peers and vendor to exchange innovative ideas and best practices. Registration will open in September, but anyone interested in presenting can submit presentation ideas now.
Vacation rental industry surveys are a great source of current information that can help guide your marketing efforts. Whether it is a survey of why visitors choose vacation rentals over hotels or it is a survey about the general vacation rental industry trends, you are bound to find information in which you can capitalize on.
HomeAway Research Center:
What is it about? HomeAway's research includes quarterly vacation rental marketplace reports. Their research center is a great statistical resource, where you can review survey results that are split by seasons going back all the way to 2010.
What is it about? The Press Release and Member Resources section of VRMA house a plethora of great industry survey results. You will not only find valuable survey results, but conference recaps/past materials as well as content geared towards vacationers.
What is it about? Knowing your marketplace leads to better business decisions. VRMA members can receive monthly reports about national, state and local booking trends. These reports, powered by NAVIS, are valued at over $1,200 but are free to VRMA members who participate in the program.
Digital News Outlets:
There are a few great travel professionals-focused news websites that will be able to help you stay ahead of your competition by always being in the know-how with the latest trends. Below are my favorite travel news websites:
Tnooz: Latest travel technology news as it pertains to the whole travel industry. Learn from articles that are related to hotels, or read vacation rental specific articles and infographics.
Skift: Skift reports and curates travel news and market data from the travel industry, airline industry, and hotel industry for insiders and business travellers.
VRM Intel: Amy Hinote has done a great job of creating an educational news website that focuses solely on vacation rentals.
Last but not least on the list are eBooks that focus on vacation rental marketing. My favorite thing about eBooks is that you can take them offline and read them while you are lounging by the lake/sea/mountain. Below are a few free eBooks that I would recommend you download to read:
The Eureka Effect: How Vacation Rentals Become Great by Matt Landau
I hope you enjoyed the list of vacation rental marketing resources. If you think I have missed anything, feel free to share a resource with us in the comment section below.
As always, if you have any questions about your vacation rental marketing efforts, feel free to connect with me through LinkedIn or write a comment below.