VRS164 – Facebook Marketing for Vacation Rentals with April Burns and David Thompson

Social media experts David Thompson and April Burns fromInterCoastal Net Designs, join me in this episode to talk about the importance of engagement on social media for vacation rental professionals.

We’re often told to ‘Be Everywhere’ and it’s tough to keep up. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Google+ is time consuming and can be frustrating.

What happens if you don’t get engagement?

What if nobody sees your posts?

Which one should you concentrate on?

These are some of the questions I posed to David and April and they were generous in their replies. They shared:

  • The key starting point for someone new to social media marketing
  • Why you need a goal to start with
  • Which platform is the ‘go-to’ in social media
  • The importance of a content calendar
  • Why you review the strategies of similar companies & what’s working for them
  • How the 80/20 rule applies to content (one of those is fun!)
  • Why you should Google ‘memes’
  • What makes a ‘fun’ post
  • How often to post and how to schedule them
  • How to schedule using Facebook’s scheduling tool
  • Why you shouldn’t get discouraged at lack of engagement and how to boost it
  • How to use Insights in Facebook
  • Keeping social media to be ‘social’
  • What to take on alongside Facebook
  • Why you should not use Facebook as an alternative to having your own website

Facebook Insights

A Beginners Guide to Facebook Insights (Kissmetrics)

Intercoastal Net Design

VRM Intel – Best Website Design 2016

Get More Engagement Through Social Media (April’s slide deck)


VRS155 – The Vacation Rental Conversion Conversation Part 2

I have a lot of questions about email marketing, and my go-to person for the answers is my son and business partner, Mike Bayer.

Mike has made digital marketing his specialty and he not only talks about it – he is consistently walking the talk. From our early days of using Aweber to our business decision to invest in the (arguable) market leader, Infusion Soft, Mike has immersed himself in the technical and operational aspects of these systems. From the front line work of creating broadcast emails and newsletters to the intricate and more esoteric areas of funnel management, he has built a knowledge of digital marketing he’s now sharing with our vacation rental community. [Read more…]

VRS130 – Paid Advertising For Vacation Rental With Conrad O’Connell

It was a real pleasure to invite Conrad back onto the podcast for Part 2 of our interview – this time featuring his great insights into paid advertising.

Our property management company has been in business for 12 years and we’ve never seen the need to use paid ads. Over the years we’ve built up a solid reputation and through the development of content we regularly hit Page 1 of Google for our keywords. In other words, we do well on organic search even for the some of the high ranking keywords.

This year we’ll be launching a new website and taking steps to really move on our competition so I wanted to learn a little more about the type of ads we might use…and the investment we’d need to make.

As before, Conrad over-delivered and gave an information packed interview, covering Google Ads & the Google Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, Google Display Network and talked at length about Facebook ad campaigns and the best ways to implement them.

And….don’t forget to sign up on Conrad’s mailing list so you don’t miss his posts .

Conrad explained:

  • Why it is important to know your market and do your research before investing a penny in paid ads.
  • How to research keywords in your area
  • How to find out what the cost per click is for your keywords
  • Why ‘fishing in Ontario’ may not be worth the investment for my market
  • The best thing about Google adwords and capturing traffic when their intent is high
  • The reason Adwords may not be the best direction for an independent owner to take – and when they should give it a try.
  • The importance of getting Google Analytics installed and configured
  • Setting goals in Google Analytics & why and when to use ecommerce tracking
  • How Facebook ads works
  • What the Facebook pixel is and why you need to set it up on your site today
  • How to track everyone that comes to your website and has a FB account
  • How to serve ads to your audience
  • Why Facebook Boost button is the easiest but the least effective of options
  • The best option to choose when targeting your audience
  • Using Google Network Display for retargeting

Links to sites mentioned:

VRS116 – Digital Marketing for Vacation Rentals with Conrad O’ConnellGoogle Display Network

9 Facebook Ad Campaign Ideas For Vacation Rental Marketers

Facebook Ads Manager

91 Digital

Google Keyword Tool

Where you can find Conrad:







VRS124 – Listing with a Niche Vacation Rental Site

When I first got into this business nearly 20 years ago, there were a lot of niche listing sites.   They were started by people with vision and passion who wanted to create the portals for home owners to take advantage of the fast growing interweb.

Then, along came Home Away and the beginnings of the end of independent sites.

But they haven’t gobbled them all up yet.

We have some very successful sites here in Ontario, such as one of my favourites, Cottages in Canada.

And owners in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have WeNeedAVacation.com.

Starting with just 100 listings in 1997, founders Jeff and Joan Talmadge have grown their company to over 4,000 listings today, and along the way have built a loyal and professional team to support their niche business.

Marketing Manager, Becky Fischer has been with the company since 2003 and joined me on the podcast to talk about her role in the company, the changing nature of the rental business in Cape Cod, and how she helps owners to create the best listings with great photos and videos.
In this episode we discussed: [Read more…]

VRS119 – March Mash-Up With Vacation Rental Marketing Expert Matt Landau

The advent of booking fees has caused quite a stir across the industry in the past few weeks and I invited VRS regular, Matt Landau, to give his viewpoint on the topic and to share what he believes owners should be doing to adapt to what seems to be ‘the new normal’ in this business.

We talked about the natural and understandable reaction, which is to voice complaint about what’s deemed to be an unfair and divisive practice by the listing sites, and why it’s more practical to take a different approach. [Read more…]

VRS116 – Digital Marketing for Vacation Rentals with Conrad O’Connell

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On my desk, there is a mighty tome called The Art of SEO. It is well used with highlighted sections, underlining and lots of notes in the margins. It’s an old friend because it taught me a lot about this weird world of search engine optimization and is always at hand when a term comes up that I don’t understand.   And…I’m about to replace it with the third edition.

So, having always had an interest in SEO and knowing this book is the 2010 version and most likely out-of-date in many sections, I jumped at the opportunity to talk to someone who lives, eats and breathes this stuff…..and can talk about it in layman’s terms.

I first met Conrad O’Connell, the founder of 91 Digital at the VRMA conference in New Orleans last October. He’s passionate about what he does, which is to create websites that really work for some of the very best vacation rental managers in the US, as well as ensuring they remain consistently competitive. And that is through digital marketing.

This has to be the most information-packed interview I have ever done – so much so, that Conrad has agreed to come back next month for a second round!

And thanks Conrad for the quote, ‘social media is the cigarette of the 21st century’. As a former smoker, I get it now! [Read more…]

VRS103 – How to Be a Location Influencer on Instagram with Thibault Masson

With 400 million monthly active users, and 70+ million users who access the platform daily, there’s clearly some potential for adding Instagram to our vacation rental marketing toolbox. And since it is free to use, and relatively easy to learn, there are few barriers to entry.

Some owners and VR marketers have embraced Instagram as their platform of choice so I naturally gravitated to one of these to get an experts view of how it should be used for the best effect and to create the most impact.

Thibault Masson has been a previous guest on Vacation Rental Success talking about his properties in Bali, St Barts in the West Indies and Paris, so it was a delight to have him join me again and share his insights into Instagram and how it has helped him to become a sought-after authority on his locations. [Read more…]

VRS101 – How to Become a Vacation Rental Twitter Expert

I’ve been on Twitter since 2008, off and on. Yes, I’ve blown hot and cold on it over the years…bingeing occasionally and then letting the account go dormant for a few months.

Over this time, the pattern has become clear.

Twitter is like my vegetable garden. When it is fed, watered and nurtured it grows, but if left unattended for any time, it withers and dies. Since I am now on a full-on nurturing binge, I want to share with you why this garden is flowering and producing a bumper crop of traffic.

Before you start or re-start your Twitter journey you need to know what your purpose is. What are your goals? Who do you want to reach? What content do you want to share?

Your goal should not be to get a booking from a tweet – that is not how it works and self-promotion is a big ‘no’. It should be about engaging with people, being seen as an influential person in your location, networking with peers, the media and other influencers and in general being part of the conversation.

Look at twitter as networking at a conference rather than you being the keynote speaker on stage delivering a sales pitch. Use twitter to develop a 2-way conversation. [Read more…]

VRS099 – The Digital Handshake With Will Franco

It’s no secret that video will give you an edge in social media marketing. Stats from Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus suggest that a short video can boost engagement and increase traffic to a website.

So why aren’t more people using it?

Most would argue that the cost of equipment, time involved in editing, and issues about just getting in front of that camera are the three major barriers for them. I get this, because in some way each of those barriers has impacted me too.

But, what if every time you got an enquiry for your property, or a prospective new listing if you are a PM, you followed up not by email but with a personalized 30 second video?

Then you sent another video to introduce your team after the booking or listing is confirmed, and finally a thank you message with a call to action.

Three short videos that take only a few minutes to produce but have a pronounced impact on your guests or clients.

My guest in this episode effectively dispels those concerns and describes how these mini-productions could give you a serious edge over your competition.

Will Franco is the founder of Jive Systems – a solution that can help you dominate your competition with short personalized video email messages and he shares some very simple steps you can take to revolutionize the way you do business with your clients.

In this episode Will talks about:

  • How a video message gives a mental framework making you memorable and trustworthy.
  • Using video for gaining more conversions, increasing authority, improving trust and rapport
  • How a Gulf Coast realtor and property manager boosted her business by 30% with a 30 second video
  • When to use personalized or evergreen video content
  • The only three video emails you need to send and how to create them effortlessly
  • The 3 hesitations most people encounter when thinking about doing video
  • Why there is no need to waste money on expensive cameras when a webcam will do the job just as well
  • The reason why editing is unnecessary
  • How you can go from start to publish in minutes

Will has an exclusive limited-time offer for Vacation Rental Success listeners and he is looking for a select few owners that he can invest his personal time with to learn more about them and help them get results.

There are only a few spots available so if you are interested, email me personally at heather@cottageblogger.com and I’ll forward your interest onto Will – he will then contact you directly.

Sites mentioned in this episode

Jive Systems

Digital Handshake training

Five Star Gulf Rentals

Webcam vs DSLR camera

How one sales agent increased closing ratios by 30%

VRS095 – Hooking Your Guests with Great Copywriting with Jessica Vozel

If you think about the last time you read a good novel, it probably wasn’t the story that got you immersed in the book to start with, it was the opening lines; the way the writer drew you into the narrative, and the descriptive text that had you identifying with the characters from the get-go.

You might not have thought about your vacation rental listing as an opportunity to tell a compelling story, but Jessica Vozel of Guest Hook, believes that is exactly what you should do.

In this episode, Jessica, who is a seasoned travel copywriter, walks us though the creation of a persuasive listing from headlines that pique interest through to captivating captions for your images. She uses some great examples such as the VRBO listings she found for an upcoming stay in Austin, Texas, that prompted the click through to the main listing page. And that is what we all want to happen. [Read more…]