Having a web site and/or a good listing on a major site may be enough to maximize your vacation rental occupancy , however most owners can do with a little extra help in filling up low and shoulder season availability. I have been a Twitter devotee for a few months now and already reap the benefits of this mode of social networking, so for those of you who have never thought of jumping on this bandwagon, here’s 25 ways to use Twitter as a promotional and networking tool.
There’s lots of beginner guides to Twitter and you may have come across some already. This one from Lifehack is one of my favourites:
The most popular Twitter users are the ones that understand the networking potential of following and being followed. They strike a great balance between self promotion and marketing, and support and help for others. They ask questions; reply to questions posed by other Twitter users; link to a wide variety of interesting things; retweet (RT) messages to generate buzz for their followers, and are generally active and supportive. If you create this type of Twitter persona, you will attract a lot of followers, who in turn have their own followers who will hear about you. That is the power of Twitter.
1 Follow other owners
There’s lots of owners on Twitter and they’re a helpful, friendly bunch. You can find them by searching for ‘vacation rental’ on Tweetdeck or checking owner signatures on the Lay My Hat forum.
2 Tweet about what you are doing.
This doesn’t mean telling the world in 140 characters what you had for breakfast or are watching on TV, but if you are doing something of interest related to your vacation rental business, write about it. There was a recent conversation spawned by a Tweet simply saying. “Heading off to buy a decent knife set for my holiday rental”.
3 Ask for help
Twitter is a great place for finding help and there’s plenty of other owners willing to offer help or answer questions. If there’s lots of Twitter users in your area, they are a great resource for local knowledge.
4 Announce an event
Let potential renters know of an upcoming event in your area, and include a link to your vacation rental for accommodation.
5 Provide a link to a golf course in the area
Linking to local attractions, golf courses, restaurants etc are a great way to generate some interest in your property.
6 Recommend a listing site to other owners
If you find something good that other owners may find useful, tell them about it. Share the good stuff
7 Provide a series of renters tips
Offer a regular tip for renters – either specific to your place or general suggestions and advice. For example: “Make sure you buy a fishing licence before you cast your rod – don’t risk a fine”. These types of tweets will get retweeted which will get you more visibility and followers.
8 Post a picture you have just taken
Use Twitpic to post a photo you have just taken of something in and around your property. Wildlife, a beautiful sunset, someone fishing off a dock etc
9 Recommend a guide book of your area
Don’t miss the chance to make a little money by using your Amazon associate link to promote a guidebook of your area. You could even write your own.
10 Link to a video
Use YouTube to video your property or just to talk about an aspect of your location. Keep it short and interesting. Make sure your YouTube channel clearly shows your web address or links to your listing
11 Tweet about things to do
Make suggestions and recommendations for things to do in the area of your property. Attract outdoorsy types by tweeting about hiking trails; cycle routes and cross country ski areas. Using keywords in your Tweets like hiking, biking, golf, geocaching etc, that will be picked up by others searching for those words. This can boost your follower count.
12 Say thank you to people who retweet (RT) your posts or mention you in their tweets
Tweet love is created by being polite and courteous. Saying thank you to a tweeter who has taken time to RT one of your tweets is a polite gesture to make. Just make sure you put the @ symbol before their Twitter user name to ensure it gets to their Twitter stream.
13 Recommend people on Follow Friday
On Friday’s you will see plenty of posts with #followfriday included in the text. This is the day when tweeters recommend their followers to others. It works best when you describe why you are recommending them.
14 Answer someone else’s question
If you come across a question someone has asked and feel you can provide them with a worthwhile reply, go ahead and offer your response. It will be welcomed.
15 Create an offline network
Tweeter meet-ups are a great opportunity to get together off-line with people you meet on Twitter and can create a valuable off-line network. Mastermind groups can develop from these as you all share your expertise.
16 Use Tweetdeck to create groups so you can follow topics
Creating groups is a great way of keeping track of what is being saying on a particular topic. It’s best to be more specific in your topics such as ‘vacation rental’ and ‘holiday rental’ rather than ‘travel’ for example.
17 Use hashtags
Hashtags are another way of tracking topics and making sure your messages are being seen by your target audience. Check out this Hashtag tutorial for more help on this one.
18 Keep your Tweets shorter than 140 characters if you want them retweeted
When a message is retweeted by one of your followers, they may want to put a brief message at the end of it, such as ‘I liked this’, or ‘Check this out’. You want that to happen as it is an endorsement of your message to their followers. However if your original Tweet takes up all the characters, there’s no room for this, so it’s good practice to leave 20 characters or so to spare.
19 It’s OK to self promote occasionally
Marketing yourself and your property is what it’s all about but make sure you don’t bombard your followers with self promotion messages. Intersperse with chat, questions, retweets and information sharing.
20 Find travel writers to follow
Keep in touch with travel writers and journalists on Twitter – when they are looking for sources or references for a travel story in your area, you will be remembered and noticed. Follow them and they will usually follow you back. If your place is family friendly you should be following all of the Traveling Mamas:
21 Link back to your blog
If you have a blog and post to it regularly, use Twitter to let your followers know when a new post has been published. Shorten the URL of the post and add it to the end of your brief message promoting it. Watch your site visitors grow!
22 Recommend great resource sites for your area
You are the expert on your area. Share the knowledge and recommend sites that will help your guests plan their vacation.
23 Let people know what’s new
Installed a hot tub or sauna? Bought a hammock or new kayak? Let people know what is new at your property. Even if you have just added 10 new DVDs to your movie collection, each little nugget of information will be spread among your followers and theirs.
24 Promote a themed weekend, special offer or discount
Create a themed package that ties into a local event or activity and use Twitter to advertise it. You could offer your Twitter followers a special discount.
25 Be consistent
Like a blog, a Twitter stream needs consistent attention to keep interest going. When you tweet regularly, informatively and with a variety of posts, your followers will stay interested in what you have to say.
Twitter will never take the place of your listing, blog or web site, but it is a very useful addition to your marketing toolbox, and used well could have a really positive outcome. Let me know how it works for you.