Email Marketing 101 for Vacation Rental Owners

Many of you may have read my article this past August, My Absolute Best Marketing Idea of 2012, in which I experiment with a "Groupon-style" deal offering $500 of credit towards a stay at our rentals for only $250. By offering this deal to all my previous guests, I was not only rewarding them for their loyalty, I was also enjoying the fact that repeat guests are way less difficult (and costly) to seal than new ones. This one example alone of email marketing for vacation rental owners returned my investment almost 700%.

Here are two strong facts that might make things clearer:

1. On average, it costs vacation rental owners anywhere from 5-8 times more to gain a new guest than to retaining an existing one. Considering all the time and money you put into online marketing, phone calls explaining the property, and inquiries that never go anywhere, the value of repeat guest bookings is astronomical.

2. Nearly 70% of all vacation rental guests will not stay at your property again if they feel unappreciated. If you don't stay connected with them, they won't stay connected with you.

Staying in touch with previous guests. It sounds so simple, but you'd be surprised at how many owners ignore this type of vacation rental marketing.

In sync with the release of Matt's Definitive Handbook On Email Marketing I want to encourage all owners to take advantage of what might be the cheapest, fastest way to generate more bookings. Here are 7 steps to start taking advantage of this untapped resource today.

  1. Gather the email addresses of all your former guests
  2. Sign up for one of the email marketing platforms that I use
  3. Start drafting the content for your first newsletter
  4. Remember that you need to offer more value to the recipient than to yourself AND that you need to send a first "opt-in" email to confirm their permission.
  5. Stick to a ratio of 9:1 (interesting content: offers)
  6. Test your email blast, stick to all the industry standard specifications, and be sure you've proofread everything and that all the links function
  7. Sit back and enjoy the leads


My first email newsletter was a stab in the dark. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I genuinely wanted to reconnect with all my previous guests: many of whom I really enjoyed getting to know during their stay: many of whom really inherited my trust. I sent the email out to almost 1,000 individuals who had stayed with us over the course of 4 years.

The response was phenomenal! Besides the huge amount of guests who responded saying, "Hey Matt, we loved hearing from you and we really cherished our family time in Casco Viejo," was the actual repeat bookings we got on the spot! 30 repeat bookings! No prompt needed!

In fact, since we began using email marketing to stay in touch with previous guests 4 years ago, here have been my estimated results on a year-to-year basis:


I would encourage any owner out there to take a look at Matt's Definitive Handbook On Email Marketing and start an email marketing campaign as soon as possible. Every month you neglect your former guests is a month your competitor can steal them for their next visit.

Matt is the founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and VRLeap, discounted tools and services for vacation rental owners and managers.