1.7 million people are calling for an investigation into the Sochi Olympics this past week, when a Russian figure skater won the gold medal under some very...questionable...circumstances.
The judges in the case of figure skating wield so much power and are not necessarily as honest as we would like.
I mention this because my subscriber base exploded like a bottle rocket this past January, and I realized I’ve reached critical mass and now have something of a personal responsibility in our industry:
Beyond being responsible for conducting experiments…
Apart from participating in forums like the Community by HomeAway…
Aside from sharing all (or most) of my findings for free…
I realized that it’s my job more than anything else to be transparent.
It can be tempting for a consultant like me to try and exaggerate ease (“I Reached 100% Occupancy Over Night!”) or to instill fear or to leave out pertinent information that is critical to the success of any given technique so to keep you guys guessing and relying on me…
All in an effort to sell more books or videos or whatever.
But I am in this for the long haul...
And with my new-found "Transparency Mission" (not to mention, in keeping the Olympic spirit alive), I wanted to judge ten of the more publicized techniques and rank them (on a scale of 1-10) based on true levels of difficulty and required commitment...
Since most of my subscribers are not prodigy internet marketers, I hope this will help everyone prioritize (or at least calibrate) your to-do lists...
1. Blogging: Difficulty Level 2 out of 10
If you read my quick guide How To Create A Vacation Rental Blog In Under 5 Minutes, you know that getting a blog set up is super easy. What adds to the difficulty here is a) figuring out how to write good posts and b) doing so consistently. Once you've overcome the one-time hurdle, blogging is a downward slope. When I asked one of my most successful subscribers, Sophie Johansson of Spanish Vacation Rental how she increased her website traffic to 100 visitors per day, she said, "I am almost certain the main reason for the new readers is the blog."
2. Email Marketing: Difficulty Level 3 out of 10
Email marketing is arguably the most important thing nobody is doing and it consists of two components: a) getting your email marketing campaigns set up with a provider and b) actually being consistent about sending good information to your list. Since emails themselves are a cinch to write, the only barrier to entry here is getting comfortable with the platform. Once you’ve crossed these barriers, the difficulty level of email marketing stays consistently low.
3. Personal Website: Difficulty Level 7 out of 10
Launching your own site is one of those things that most owners/managers will probably need professional help with. If you have DIY blood running through your veins, use an assistance platform like MyVR.com or WebChalet. If you want control of a delivered product, look to VillaMarketers. If you want both a web presence and simultaneously nothing to do with any of this, check out Evolve Vacation Rentals. Because the difficulty level of building your own website is relatively high, it's smartest to use a service so not to waste your time.
4. Professional Photos: Difficulty Level 1 out of 10
The only hindrance to getting this done is procrastination. It should be no secret than any owner or manager worth her weight has professional photos. No excuses. And calling up the local architectural photographer or college photography student takes about 2 minutes. Don’t try and do them yourself – unless, of course, you are a professional photographer.
5. Search Engine Optimization: Difficulty Level 9 out of 10
The reason I don’t talk too much about search engine optimization on this blog is because it’s beyond most peoples’ grasps. There’s no point in trying to dissect the complications of an ever-evolving marketing trend without all the foundational elements (solid website, good content, compelling text…etc.) in place. Stick to the basics. Conquer them. Then read this guide.
6. Increasing Conversions (Inquiries>Bookings): Difficulty Level 4 out of 10
This is a task that all of us face and the good news is that you need ZERO resources to improve (apart from some time). The difficulty level here requires patience, diligence, organization, and the ability to stay methodical. Track your efforts like an A/B testing scientists and there is absolutely positively NO way you can NOT improve.
7. Listing Site Optimization: Difficulty Level 2 out of 10
If you have a listing page on VRBO or HomeAway and have not edited it since you first signed up, it is not because you are not capable of improving. It is because you are lazy. Read 3 Interviews With Vacation Rental Listing Specialists and realize that the only thing standing between you and a more optimized listing is focus.
8. Automated Booking Software: Difficulty Level 4 out of 10
There is one reason (alone) that adopting online booking software is considered “difficult” and that is intimidation. Fear is a very real deterrent: don’t think that I don’t understand that. But it is NOT an excuse to not proceed and streamline your vacation rental business like a professional. Realize that from fulfillment to profitability, some of the most optimal vacation rental marketing experiences take place when a difficult task has been conquered. Services like Lodgix and Rezernet make this difficulty jump as easy as possible.
9. Getting Featured In The Press: Difficulty Level 7 out of 10
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…getting featured in major press publications is not simple! The good news is that when you get featured in one medium, the rest fall into place like dominoes (and it can change your vacation rental business FOREVER). If you have the time to implement any number of press suggested tips, you’ll realize that the challenge is less skill and more persistence.
10. Analytics: Difficulty Level “Undefined”
“Getting Analytical” was the subject of my talk at the HomeAway Summit in Scottsdale. And since then, I have come to realize that getting analytical is both very easy and very difficult for owners and managers of all skill levels. What’s easy? Something as rudimentary as a little chart scribbled on paper that tracks where your inquiries are coming from. What’s more difficult? Analyzing and pouring over data in a full-blown analytics account like Google Analytics or Rentallect. Analytics is a theme that divides many of us: depending on your level of commitment, the challenge could really fall either way.
Your fearless vacation rental marketing leader,
Matt is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog (the largest free database of vacation rental marketing articles online) and VRLeap (an online marketplace for tools and services for vacation rental owners up to 90% OFF). To receive his updates, you can sign up HERE.