Could Twitter Be Your Competitive Edge?

twitter Every day I talk to people who want to rent a vacation home. Mostly, they are frustrated and confused with so many sites; so little information and so much uncertainty about the choice they are making. As one lady said yesterday:

“I’d love to go back to the good old days where I could talk to a travel agent who had been to the place I wanted to go and could give me an objective opinion. It’s so difficult to tell what is truth and what is embellishment on these listings”

I can understand that point of view. The monster rental site Home Away lists over 18,000 properties in Florida for example. I’m sure if a renter knows where they want to go and has some strict criteria to work from, they could drill down and shortlist a few hundred before they finally made a choice. But, if your property is in that few hundred, how can you make it stand out from the rest?

I’ve talked about making sure the photos are wonderful, the text is accurate and informative and how important it is to have a good looking web site to capture the VR surfers on their trip through cyberspace. That’s not enough though, because if there’s a ton of listings just like yours, it could be just the luck of the draw that brings a potential renter to your door.

Could Twitter be your answer? Since 50% of visitors to this blog are now coming via Twitter, I could be preaching to the converted here, but since this is a new medium for me, let’s just go with it for a moment.

When someone first suggested I use Twitter, I scoffed at the idea. Telling the world what I was doing in 140 characters or less seemed a total waste of time. Who wants to know whether I’m watching Oprah or CNN; about to go shopping, or eating a cheeseburger? But I did register; I followed a few people; others started following me, and within three weeks I’ve discovered a whole new world of networking.

There must be something to Twitter when the Obama marketing campaign used it to such great effect by telling supporters where he was and what he was doing every day of the campaign. Major online and offline companies are using it to communicate with their customers at grass roots levels, and I was fascinated by this article on the Mr Tweet blog telling how an online invoicing company is using Twitter to demonstrate its customer service edge.

So, what good is this to the vacation rental owners? I’m still trying this out but just for starters, I follow over a hundred travel writers on my Twitter account. These people write blogs, articles and post on Twitter about the places they’ve been and where they are planning on going next. How good would it be if I got just one of them to take an interest in my neck of the woods and write a post or blog about it? I’m now networking with people who can talk about my cottage rental business and spread the word; they visit my blog and come to my website. This is so cool.

What is stopping you from trying this out? Why not give it a whirl? Here’s a great beginner’s guide to help you out. Let me know how it’s working for you.

Image by Pandemia on Flickr

  • http://www.iledereholidayhomes.com Jenny

    Hi,

    Interesting post, and good luck with your Twitter marketing, Heather.

    I’m trying the same thing for our vacation rental homes on the other side of the Atlantic, in France. I can see the great potential of Twitter, but remain a little sceptical for the time being, as it’s far from mainstream as yet – in Europe, at least. I’m getting one or two Twitter referrals to my website, but can’t really see bookings flooding in via this route. Early days, though, and I remain optimistic. I’m particularly excited about http://twisitorcenter.com/ and am now using hashtags to flag posts about my geographic area in the hope of creating a useful resource for all to use.

    Catch me at @iledere !

  • http://www.travelsavvymom.com jamie

    I think fortune will favor the early adopters, and it never hurts to put a personal face on your business.

    My experience with social media is that it doesn’t pay immediate tangible benefits, but grows slowly—sorta like trust ;).

    I occasionally get a question like, “Where should I stay with my kids in Paris?”. Answering that question doesn’t do much for my bottom line, but answering that question publicly helps establish credibility and also potentially widens my reach.

    On a side note, my site http://www.travelsavvymom.com may be able to offer some value to vacation rental property owners. We can send a a writer to review, photograph, and video family friendly properties. We then post the review on our site, and blog about the destination (with links).

    jamie’s last blog post..Sidetracked! Madame Tussauds London

  • http://thesociety.com McFads

    I’m a tweeter and I use Twirl on my laptop and TwitterBerry on my cell phone.

    We get a good number of visits from twitter to our site as well.

    It’s worth a shot. Follow me @McFads.

    Cheers, Mike

  • http://www.infinite42.com Dr Richard

    Twitter is definitely one of those sites where you start off thinking “what can this possibly do for me?” but the results can be pretty exciting, just as you say! Some people still view it as a total waste of time, but if you focus your Tweets, follow relevant people and get involved in conversations, you can definitely make it successful for your vacation rental.

    Dr Richard’s last blog post..Welcome Back to My Vacation Rental Website

  • http://www.bavarian-forest-holidays.com Margaret Leach

    In my case, I pretty soon got fed up with the time wasters – I am really not interested in when someone is going to bed and how much they had to drink last night.

    I have set up a separate Twitter account called BavarianForest where I am posting brief news items most days, entirely factual. I think this has the potential to get people interested in the area. Certainly the number of people following that account is growing faster than for my ‘personal’ account. It only takes a few minutes a day.

    As for my use of Twitter for myself, I find the items with links to interesting articles and websites by far the most useful.

  • http://www.travel-mazatlan.com Gina

    I feel the same way with the lady said, you don’t really know what’s real here in the internet. They were so many website, so many links that is saying they are offering this stuff, this vacation rentals but many of this isn’t true and you’re so unsure of the information they put on their website. We’ve been to Mexico, and have just found the place to stay through internet. Luckily, we haven’t got problems with it, it’s at mazatlan apartments for rent on where we stayed for 2 months.