There are so many large hotel chains and dot-com travel companies dominating all areas of online marketing, as a small hotel or holiday home business trying to compete against these firms is not easy. How can you possibly build a brand that provides accommodation if your marketing budget cannot compete?
Well, there are people out there right now living very comfortable lives competing against large hotel brands like the Hilton. All you need to do is to form a smart business strategy that will get you there.
Admittedly, the budgetis not the only barrier to entry. Reputation management, brand identity, brand awareness, and quality of services also need your attention. As such the amount of capital needed to start such a venture may seem pointless.
Online Marketing in The Vacation Rental Business is Affordable!
Yes, so AdWords is cluttered with Airbnb, Agoda, Hilton, and so on. Search engine keyword search results such as Google’s are dominated by big brands. However, rather than be put off by this, you should be taking a closer look at what is being offered by some of these companies.
Here are some of the best online marketing tips we can give you that will get your hotel or vacation rental business off the ground using online marketing, so you can start building an established brand.
- List your hotel or website on as many websites as possible
The old saying goes “If you can’t beat them, then join them”. Most of the websites you see advertising online are not only looking for people to use their booking system to reserve accommodation. They are also looking for people that want to become hosts on their website.
What’s more is that most of these websites allow hosts to register for free. Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, VRBO, Booking.com, and many other online travel booking engines allow people to list their properties for free on their website. Effectively, you become a host on their website.
Why is listing your property for free such an effective strategy?
Let’s be honest, anything that is free in marketing is a bonus. Well on top of the free listing you also get free marketing and exposure. The websites that allow you to list your property for free spend millions of dollars on their marketing strategies. Their sole aim is to get as many people looking to book travel accommodation to use their website – and on their website is your listing.
You are not spending a penny while your property is appearing in searches made by people looking to book accommodation in the area your property is listed. Now multiply your listings across several websites and your property is getting free online exposure across the globe.
How do these websites make their money?
There is no long answer to this, but it is important to know when you are considering your online pricing strategy. Most of these websites firstly charge people booking via their website a 3% service fee, then the hosts are charged 10% to 20% of the value of the booking.
Now considering if you get a booking the marketing you did to get it was practically free, the cut taken out by the website is fairly reasonable.
- Set your prices correctly
Some people ask what pricing has to do with marketing. Well ‘Price is one of the original 4ps of marketing. Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.
If your listing is new, then you will not have any feedback. This will put some people off booking your property. On the other hand, if you go around 25 to 30 percent below the average market price for your place, then you should get some inquiries.
Most of these inquiries will be people asking why your property is so cheap. It is always best to have a graphic designer photoshop “New Property” or some text on the cover photo for your property. Also, in your property description, you should mentionthe reason the price is currently set low is because youare looking for people to book that can give you feedback.
Obviously, everyone must start somewhere, and this is what you should tell people interested inyour property.
Try a sales pitch like this:
“You are getting a bargain because I have no or little feedback and need people like you to take advantage of this great deal and leave me positive feedback. In theend,your feedback will help me build my business on this website”.
Now setting your price won’t be easy. Each and every website will be slightly different. You will 100% need to take into consideration the 4ps of marketing during your research.
- Product:Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen facilities, amenities etc…
- Place:Local transportation, shops, restaurants, tourist attractions
- Promotion:Off peak or peak season, feedback on your site, repeat guests
You can get your pricing correct just be using search filters on the websites your property is listed on. By doing this you will be able to see what others are offering within your area and according to the above points,you should be considering.
- Build your Own Branded Website Using a Professional Website Builder
Up until this point you have not had to spend a penny onyour online marketing. Maybe some graphic design costs, hiring a content writer to describe your listings, hiring someone to create the listings for you, and a professional photographer, but aside from this,you have not parted with much at all.
The best thing about all of this too is that you probably already had web design in mind for your marketing budget. Well, this is another place you can save a lot of cash.
Whether you are new or experienced in this industry, you can take advantage of website builders like the one offered by https://www.lodgify.com. A great option because the cost benefits and built-insoftware tools that come with specialist website builders today are remarkable.
- 24/7 Support Teams
Website builders havetheir own support teams that operate globally 24 hours a day and 365 days a week. Now if you had a custom website designed and you needed to get hold of your web developer because there is a flaw in the system, do think you would get 24/7 support? It is not going to happen in most cases!
Another point to make here is that most custom designed websites require the site owner to pay a monthly maintenance fee. Well as you are already paying the website builder a monthly fee, there are no maintenance fees. If there is a bug, then you report it and it’ll be fixed!
- Fully Responsive Themes
One of the problems with custom designed websites is that they become outdated. WordPress sites may eventually cease support or upgrades, pluginscan suddenly become unavailable and so on. Sites using Java or HTML can soon become outdated.
Yet, if you use a website builder, then the company that has produced the website builder will always be on top of new technology. Without you even knowing anything about it, their themes are updated for new screen sizes, resolutions and so on.
- Travel Industry Booking Tools
Now,most of your business will be coming via the websites that your property is listed on for free. That doesn’t mean that once those guests are staying at your property, you can’t leave a few business cards there with your website on that business card.
As website builders allow you to brand the entire website and come with built-incalendars systems that sync with other website calendars, as well as a full booking system, any repeat guests that liked your property can book via your website – but only as long as they know your website exists.
- Getting Regular Bookings Via Your Website
Remember also, that you can reduce the price on your website because you will not be paying 10% or 20% fees for any bookings that come via this sales channel. Firstly, this will encourage repeat guests to book on your website, and if they refer/recommend your place to friends or family, then they will almost certainly say that it is cheaper to book via your website.
The Secret to Building Your Brand in The Travel Accommodation Industry!
Weighing up everything in this guide, the idea is to build a brand in a competitive market where traditional marketing methods are too pricey.
By listing your property on travel accommodation booking websites that are free to list, you are taking advantage of their multi-million marketing campaigns to bring visitors to their website. You are also helping your accommodation offering get as much exposure as it possibly can.
You will need to take into consideration the 4ps of marketing, and maybe even look into the extended Ps of marketing to get your pricing strategy right and build up a reputable name for your brand.
Finally, once you do start getting busy, then you can begin buildinga unique travel accommodation brand reputation via your website. The best part about this is that you do not have to invest thousands of dollars into a custom designed website because there are plenty of website builders out there aimed at serving those that need a fully function travel accommodation booking website.