VRS184 – Vacation Rental Marketing 2.0 with Mike Bayer

Marketing for your vacation rental business can seem like a hard slog. There’s always something to do and be planning, even when you only have a finite number of weeks to rent. It can be overwhelming and often feels like an uphill challenge given the nature of OTAs and their ever-changing demands.

The first thing to grasp is that it’s a business, and like any other business there are strategic and operational aspects to it, each of which needs to be systematically approached. Once you have those in hand, it should all come together and become a seamless process.

In principle that sounds simple, but we all know the reality is different and it’s what Mike Bayer and Jason Beaton addressed in their one-day workshop at the Vacation Rental Success Summit.

VR Marketing 2.0 covered a complete system for a new or established owner to create a solid business marketingframework. From identifying an avatar or persona to developing a website, methods of list building to branding and remarking, the workshop was a comprehensive package.

In this episode, Mike delivers a Cliff’s (or Cole’s) Notes summary of the workshop with some tips and suggestions you can use to take immediate action to start the process of creating a new marketing strategy.

In this episode Mike shares:

  • The importance of defining your ideal guest
  • Why building a website is the foundation of everything you will do
  • The reason WordPress is the best platform
  • How good branding can impact your web traffic
  • Why you don’t ask for a marriage commitment on a first date!
  • His favourite digital marketers and online experts

And much more….

Links and websites mentioned in this episode:

Fetch My Guest

Airtight Marketing (Jason Beaton)

Active Campaign

Digital Marketer

Seahorse Diamond Beach

VRS165 – PR for Vacation Rentals with Jessica Gillingham

VRS183 – Why Content Will Win For Your Vacation Rental Business with Alan Egan

There’s two types of vacation rental owners. Those that accept bookings, and those that make bookings. So says today’s guest, the one and only Alan Egan. For those of you who know Alan, he has been in and around this industry for over two decades and was one of the first owners/managers blogging about how we should create niche sites for ourselves and become independent from the pack, before the pack really evolved into what it is now.

Alan believes strongly that our current marketing is failing us, and while we may be booked solid now, this won’t be the case in a few years’ time if we continue to go along with the dictates of the current behemoth listing sites. His argument is that we need to create massive and brilliant content that can be used to guide travellers back to our own websites, and it’s an argument that has proved successful for a lot of owners he has coached and trained over the years.

Alan has featured on this podcast twice before – the first time to discuss his strategies for Google Plus which he still feels are effective for those who are using it the right way. On the second occasion we moved onto his real passion – WordPress websites. More recently, Alan has been giving away websites to anyone willing to do the work to set one up under his video tutelage.

In this episode Alan shares:

  • His views on the current state of vacation rental marketing
  • Why we need to stop griping about traveller fees and start working on the alternatives
  • Why we cannot go back to the ‘way it used to be’
  • The five core topics you need to create content around
  • The need to understand how social media works
  • How one family flew from China just to go to a remote California location
  • The real reason owners don’t create content

Sites mentioned in this episode:

Holidays on Bornholm (Alan’s site)

The WordPress Website Giveaway

Rent More Weeks

Smoky Mountains.com

Emerald Coast By Owner

St Johns Villa Rentals

Wherewaterfalls.com (Amy Blomquist)

Amy’s Google Plus page

VRS182 – How to Create a Vacation Rental Mastermind Group With Ellory Wells

As we saw at the recent Vacation Rental Success Summit, getting together can be the start of something awesome. We saw owners and managers deep in conversation and hopefully they went onto exchange contact details and promise to stay in touch.

We all know that when the busy-ness of business takes over, that these intentions can often get filed away, along with the business cards, and often it’s not until the next event that people reconnect and recall the buzz of motivation that networking can bring.

Starting a Mastermind group is one way of keeping together long after the energy and group-hype of a conference has died away. We’ve heard about them, and perhaps you’ve considered joining one, but if you’ve never taken the leap to organise a group you might not have experienced the power that binds these groups together.

The expression as it relates to groups was coined by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich. He described a mastermind ‘alliance’ as:

“A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”

He believed that when two or more people come together in a friendly environment, for a particular purpose, there’s a powerful element of creativity and support, that individual endeavours cannot emulate.

With this in mind I wanted to find someone who was thoroughly experienced with Mastermind groups who could explain exactly what they are, how they work, and what it takes to get a successful group formed, and maintained.

Ellory Wells is a a business coach to entrepreneurs and he joins me to share his wisdom on creating and running a successful group. Those who were at the Vacation Rental Success Summit may have chatted with Ellory, as he was there to support one of his clients, Jason Beaton who was giving a presentation on digital marketing. Ellory wrote a great post after the event that really summed it up – We’re More Alike Than Different

In this episode Ellory talks about:

  • What a mastermind group is and where the concept came from
  • How joining a group can benefit a vacation rental owner or manager
  • Why it may be beneficial to include people outside the industry
  • The general rules of running a successful group
  • How to ask people if they want to join
  • The two essentials for Mastermind success
  • The common reasons for a Mastermind to fail
  • The best platforms to run a group on
  • Why it doesn’t have to be all business all the time
  • General tips on getting a group started.

To download Ellory’s guide to creating a successful Mastermind go to ellorywells.com/heather

Links mentioned:

Ellory Wells Mastermind Weekend

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Zoom.US (Meeting Platform)

VRS181 – Where to find knowledge in the vacation rental business

Where do you look for education and resources to help you manage your vacation rental business better? Maybe you have a go-to expert, or regularly visit a Facebook group or forum, or you’ve bought a book from Amazon that claims to be the A-Z of the industry.

Wherever you go, it’s clear that education in vacation rentals is as fragmented as the industry itself. If you went into real estate, you’d find a prescribed route to achieving a licence, but there is no college course or standardized curriculum that can guide you along the exact path you need for success in all the elements that make up this business.

So, we muddle along and pick up bits and pieces of information from here and there, and generally hope for the best. Unfortunately, the growth of vacation rentals has spawned a lot of ‘pop-up experts’ – mostly in the Airbnb space – who claim they’ve uncovered the holy grail that will lead to 6 figure incomes, if you just get your listing posted. Buy their ebook, or training course, and you’ll be on the way to wealth before you know it.

For most of us who have done the hard graft, we know there is a lot more to creating a solid and consistent income-producing business than throwing up some photos, a grainy profile pic, and waiting for the rewards to come.

If you’ve listened to a few episodes of Vacation Rental Success you’ll know I only recommend resources I’ve tried and feel merit mention. This goes for all the resources I’m sharing in this episode as I talk about where you should go to find balanced expertise.

From podcasts, to forums, blogs on social media, digital marketing and general VR issues, print and online magazines, to face-to-face events, there’s a range of resources now available. Here’s my recommendations, and you can listen to why I’ve made them in great detall.

https://91digital.net/blog/ (Posts on digital marketing for vacation rentals)

http://vacationrentaltravels.com/ (Online Travelers magazine)

http://rentalsunited.com/en/ (Who’s Who in Vacation Rentals; List of VR Events

https://www.lodgify.com/blog/ (Range of posts of interest to owners and managers)

http://www.vrmintel.com/ (Online and free paper magazine with excellent content)

https://www.smarthosts.org/ (Content aggregator)

http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/blog/ (Matt Landau’s blog)

http://vrmastered.com/ (Boot Camp event limited to 20 attendees in Nashville Tennessee – October)

http://www.vacationrentalsuccesssummit.com/ (Next event San Antonio, spring 2018)

http://www.vacationrentalworldsummit.com/ (Next Event, Florence, Italy, September 2017)

https://www.facebook.com/TheHostingJourney/ (Evelyn Badia’s Facebook Group)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/568782883285173/ (Say No To VRBO Facebook Group)

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/69889 (Vacation Rental Professionals Linkedin Group)

https://www.lodgify.com/blog/podcasts-vacation-rental-pro/ (7 Podcasts that will turn you into a vacation rental pro

VRS180 – Direct from VRSS17 Vacation Rental Sofa Talk From The Goldfish Bowl

After a great first day at the Vacation Rental Success Summit, we set up our podcast studio in the ‘goldfish bowl’, a small room off the social centre and bar, and invited whoever wanted to come in to chat, to join us on the sofa. It was so great to have a stream of owners, managers, and exhibitors coming through to share their insights.

David Angotti shared how a small nugget of information from a 2016 keynote had impacted the way his staff provided excellence, while Rick Oster also picked out one tip from the previous year that he had implemented and then shared with someone else.

Of course, we invited Matt Landau to the sofa and asked about his Friday meet up with Inner Circle members. He admitted to getting ‘teary’ when he looked around at the 45 people who turned up and realised the impact his Inner Circle was having on them.

In this episode you’ll also hear from Andrew McConnell from Rented.com, John Bower (Your Welcome), Dean Curtis (Serenity Vacation Rentals), Rick Oster from Oster Golf Homes and many more.

You’ll hear about:

  • Why you have to be excellent in the eyes of your guests
  • How being 100% impactful is the only way in today’s industry
  • Not being everything to everyone and why that can lead you to more success
  • The small things that make a difference
  • Why carving out a niche and being narrowly focused can achieve greater profitability
  • Adding video reviews to a Your Welcome tablet
  • Facebook lead ads

You’ll hear from:

Andrew McConnell (Rented.com)

Matt Landau (VRMB)

David Angotti (Smoky Mountains.com)

John Bower (Your Welcome)

Dean Curtis (Serenity Vacation Rentals)

Conrad O’Connell (91 Digital)

Mark Pedeferri

Phillip Kendall (Futurestay)

Nikki Woodson Blair (Clanventure)

Rick Oster (Oster Golf Houses)

Sybille Kim (Villa Ausblick)

VRS179 – Vacation Rentals – A Risky Business

Whatever you do to protect your interests, there is risk in this business. It could be from potential overcrowding, noise, liability, general damage and use of amenities such as hot tubs or pools, or any number of other issues.

Mitigating those risks is an important element in your business plan and isn’t something that you just do at the start of the business. It should be revisited annually. Whether it’s updating an emergency plan, rewriting guest contracts or sourcing new products to make the process more efficient and effective, working on the plan is an ongoing task.

One of today’s guests talks about it as being like the advent of the Model T Ford. At the time of its production, there were few vehicles on the road, there were minimal safety measures, and no licensing for would-be drivers. Yet, over the years the industry changed dramatically and the function and design of vehicles had to change too, to meet the demands of rapidly advancing technology.

When I first started out in vacation rentals, it was all simple. A few lines in a classified ad would get some interested people on the phone to talk about their wants for a vacation. Now, online booking is wiping out the element of personal relationships and we have to trust that what we are being told on a profile is an accurate representation of the guests motivation to rent.

This can lead to the types of stories that both guests on this episode have to tell and why they were driven to find a solution to some of the problems they encountered. Amanda Mills from Party Squasher and David Krauss from Noise Aware have both developed products that can help in mitigating risk from overcrowding and neighbour issues when guests get rowdy and the noise gets out of hand.

Amanda and Dave talk about their respective journey’s to the development of Party Squasher and Noiseaware, and how these devices are a part responsible ownership.

Special Offer for Listeners of the Vacation Rental Success Podcast
Order on Party Squasher and get a 20% Discount off the published price.
Use code VRF17

Party Squasher

Noise Aware

VRS178 – Practical Vacation Rental Investment Part 2 with Michael Hamilton

Do vacation rentals make a good investment?

This is a question you see occasionally cropping up on the investor websites such as Bigger Pockets, and is invariably answered in the negative. The argument is that they are too time-consuming, are way more involved to set up than a traditional residential rental, and don’t have consistent cash-flow. However, there are many vacation rental owners who consider themselves to be investors and see the process in a different way.

Michael Hamilton is one of these. He was my guest on VRS170 when he talked about his properties in San Diego and South Carolina; how he has renovated them to bring the highest return and why Airbnb is his favoured platform for marketing. In today’s episode Michael helps me understand more about the principles of vacation rental investment.

He explains why it’s important to define the type of investor you are before you make your purchasing decision and why you need to start with the end in mind.

Michael offers a detailed 7-point investment plan that covers market knowledge, financial analysis, and how to develop systems to remove yourself from working in the business so you can spend more time ‘on it’.

If you are considering investing for the first time in vacation rental real estate, this is a brief but concise strategic and operational tour through the steps to be successful. And if you are already in the business, and thinking about your next property, you’ll find it equally valuable.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • How not to get on over your head
  • Evaluating your money ‘mindset’
  • The ways to look at it in the long term
  • How to find the intimate market knowledge so you can laser focus on location
  • Evaluating cash flow, returns, and upside potential
  • Ways to identify potential investment opportunities
  • The basics of a vacation rental investment plan
  • Reducing and eliminating ‘time for money’ work

Enjoyed this episode? Be sure to listen to Part 1 > VRS170

VRS177 – The Vacation Rental Collaboration Revolution with Vince Perez of Fetch My Guest

There’s a lot of talk about independence in our industry; how to achieve success without being swallowed up by the behemoth listing sites, and whether branding is worth the time and effort.

I have a personal stake in all this. As a small property manager facing the challenge from sites wanting to wipe out our personal touch in the name of a more streamlined booking experience, we are in the thick of it. Every day we face the frustration of not being able to talk with our guests before they book; we hear their annoyance when they realise they are paying additional fees for the privilege of booking, and we salvage what we can out of the mess. And, we wonder if we are a dying breed at times.

Then I talk to today’s guest who not only understands the issues but has spent the last few years working on solutions. Vince Perez first joined me in September 2015 when we talked about his company Fetch My Guest. Vince has first-hand experience with his involvement with California-based Beach House Rentals, and he brings this in-depth knowledge of the industry, along with a passion for hospitality and technology.

In this episode we talk about:

• Marketing and automation in the VR business
• How we can break free of the OTA stranglehold
• The continued impact of branding
• What owners can do to regain control over their business
• How collaboration works to deliver more guests
• Vince’s session at the Vacation Rental Success Summit
Sites mentioned in this episode:

Beach House Rentals
Fetch My Guest

VRS176 – April Vacation Rental Mash Up with Matt Landau

Matt Landau from the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog (VRMB.com) and the Inner Circle, joins me in one of our occasional rambles on various vacation rental topics. We talk about collaboration and learning in the industry, best books on business, forums and Facebook groups, Airbnb experiences and why branding for independent owners may not be as worthless as was claimed at the VRMA event in Amsterdam.

Of course we also discuss the Vacation Rental Success Summit and how the advent of smaller independent conferences is good for our industry.

Links to all we discussed in this episode:

The Hosting Journey

Customer Service Revolution by John di Julius

Youtility by Jay Baer

The One Thing by Gary Keller

The Compass and the Nail

Vacation Rental Marketing Blog

Vacation Rental Success Summit

VRS175 – PR for Vacation Rentals with Jessica Gillingham

Have you ever wondered how to get your vacation rental mentioned in a media article, or thought you may have a story that would be interesting enough to feature in a travel blog?

Some years ago when I was running our UK based company, Clearwater Holidays, we wanted to get the message out about our cottage area here in Ontario. It was tough. Few people were aware that this beautiful region of lakes and rivers existed, and that is was so close to Toronto. Yes, they knew about Niagara Falls and the CN Tower, but our mission was to get them to drive a couple of hours north and experience the magic of cottage country.

So, we hired a PR company. Over a 6-month period, they delivered a stream of press releases to their media contacts and we began to see the results.

There was a visit from a well-known travel writer to our River House that resulted in a double page spread in the Sunday Times describing the area, and talking about ending their day ‘jumping into the cool water of the river and then relaxing in the hot tub, under millions of stars in the clearest sky imaginable’.

We had multiple mentions in local newspapers up and down the country, and were featured in several glossy magazines. We hosted half a dozen journalists in our cottages, and although it was often several months before an article appeared, when it did, the immediacy of the public response was incredible.

In short, it was one of the best investments in marketing we made in our time as a travel company.

But what if you just have one property and want to connect with media and travel writers yourself? Well of course, we have the answer.

Today’s guest is a public relations professional who specialises in vacation rentals, and who tells us how to connect with the travel media, using traditional methods as well as social media outlets.

Jessica Gillingham honed her PR skills in the travel industry and has recently launched Abode-PR, a company specialising in promoting and marketing vacation rentals. She will be presenting at the Vacation Rental Success Summit in Toronto in May, and in this episode she shares some of her tips and PR secrets.

We talk about:

  • The change in the PR approach in the past decade
  • How to contact a journalist – and how not to
  • The best social media platforms for connecting with the travel press
  • Why you need a ‘hook’
  • Why the press release is still alive and kicking
  • What journalists write about – and hint…it’s not about your property
  • How to create a media kit on your website
  • The importance of having hi-res images to share
  • How to capture the attention of a busy travel writer
  • Where to find media lists

Links mentioned in this episode:

Abode-PR  – Jessica’s PR Company