“Choose three and only three words to define your goals for the year.”
These were the words I read an article long ago that encouraged marketers of all shapes and sizes to choose three words to live by over the course of 365 days.
The author wrote, "In an effort to tell bigger stories, I've found that the concept of three words allows me to think in more dimensions about what I want to do with my life and it lets me apply lots of tangible goals instead of what most people do when they focus on just a finite task. It's a bit like turbo-charged goal planning."
I really loved this concept and so, in 2013, my theme was Help, Don’t Sell.
This theme featured prominently in all my work throughout the past year: helping travelers instead of trying to hit them over the head with the hard sell of my rentals.
When I sat down to really consolidate my goals for 2014, I knew I had a tough theme to beat…
Especially because the online portion of the vacation rental industry (my specialty) is changing so massively…
In a recent Google travel study, vacation homes and rentals houses showed the largest jump (of all lodging types) from 2012 to 2013, making significant headway on more traditional upscale hotels.
The study showed that affluent travelers were found to rely on digital platforms more and more for travel inspiration as well as research and bookings…
That these travelers are increasingly comparison shopping for places to stay...
And that 52% of them plan to spend more time “shopping around” or researching online in 2014 before booking their accommodations because finding value for their money is most important.
[Note: to anyone who gets annoyed at the plethora of inquiries from listing sites compared to the dearth of actual bookings, this reason should make complete sense.]
So what’s clear is that the Internet is as essential today for inspiring new travel as it has ever been before...
And amidst this “alignment of stars” that we are all so blessed with, I have decided that 2014 needs to be about the following three words:
Create Optimal Experiences.
Let me explain this a bit further...
What makes a vacation rental genuinely successful is a series of optimal experiences.
From a marketing perspective, these experiences start with the first point of contact: maybe the traveler reads a story you have written or signs up to get your Insider Guide or gets forwarded an email marketing message you have wrote.
These experiences segue into the query portion of the funnel: they define how frictionless your booking process can possibly be, how their desires match up with the experience your offer, and how many “holes” you can plug up so that every guest that inquires actually books.
This leads into the actual vacation experience (pretty self explanatory and not something I plan to elaborate on a whole lot since so many of you run impeccable vacation rentals).
Lastly comes the experience of staying connected with guests after their stay. How optimal is the relationship experience you provide to make sure your guest comes back (or sends a referral your way)?
My personal goal for 2014 is to control the way these experiences play out…not just to leave them to chance.
In the same way that I presented the HomeAway Summit in Scottsdale a presentation called Getting Analyical, I would like to use these same scientific methods to optimize every marketing effort that my guests experience...
To identify what works best (and what doesn’t) so that my rentals (and yours too) are as optimal as humanly possibly.
Through The Most Daring Vacation Rental Project Ever, I hope to order the information that goes into these optimal experiences in an easily digestible way.
With it, I hope you can find momentum in your own marketing and greatly improve the performance of your property’s bottom line.
Your fearless vacation rental marketing leader,