Managers Marketing Owners Podcast There’s no doubt, being in the vacation rental business becomes more challenging every year. While we love the growth of the business it’s brought with it an increase in competition, a rise in guest expectations, and the need to be on top of technology. In this episode I wanted to share what I think we should all be doing in 2018 to, not only keep up with all the changes we’ve seen this year, but to get ahead of what’s to come. Because as sure as apples is apples, the rate of disruption is not going to slow down and we need to be fully prepared for everything that gets slung at us in the new year. 1. Create More Content To achieve any semblance of independence we must focus on content. It’s the one thing the OTAs cannot do! Travelers may go to an OTA for accommodation but they search elsewhere for information on the location they’ve chosen. And, since they usually decide on location before deciding on where they will stay, why not drive them to your own site with massively useful content. However, as this Huffington Post article says “If content marketers don’t know the basics of SEO, they stand to create content that isn’t as successful as it could be”, which means that you should ignore SEO at risk of creating content that goes nowhere. So, get going on a bunch of content for 2018. From evergreen articles for your website to blog posts, YouTube video, and Instagram Stories, content can be just about anything, as long as it is well optimised and drives traffic back to the core site. 2. Increase Twitter activity Back in the summer I was contacted by a journalist from The Toronto Star. She had found me on Twitter and wanted to ask a few questions about cottage rentals. We spent 40 minutes on the phone and around mid-July her article was published in the Star, which is one of Canada’s most popular newspapers. Just last week the same article was released with a winter spin on The Star’s website. If you want to get seen by journalists, you need to be on Twitter because that is where they hang out. Subscribe to a media Twitter list and keep up with what they are tweeting about 3. Make Video Make 2018 the year of making video. Just do it. No excuses. Because it works. Period. Here’s 5 ideas Make an intro to you video. Do it at your property; sit in the kitchen and just talk to your potential guests about what makes it great and how you want to welcome them. Do a how-to video. How to get in and out of a kayak; how to play bocce ball; how to fish in the ocean from the shore….. Stand out in the snow and tell them how great it is in winter. Talk about your best tips for a perfect vacation at your place Do a Facebook Live series from different attractions in the area See…easy. Let me know how you get on! 4. Network like crazy In my keynote presentation at VRSS in May I talked about collaboration and how amazing it was to network and work with others in this business. Yes, you can do it on Facebook, but getting together face-to-face is so much better. Last week I met up with six other property management companies and we networked. We talked about our similar issues; how to tackle the growing challenge of regulations, and how we could work together better. We came away with new insights into our businesses and a greater appreciation of how collaborating with our ‘competitors’ could make us all better There are so many opportunities to network in 2018, so plan on attending at least one. The cost of attendance is a business expense and the ROI can be evaluated in terms of the growth in your business after the event. 5. Do more email marketing I’ve listened to Jason Beaton enough to know we should do more email marketing. This means growing an email list, creating a series of lead magnets, setting up email automation systems and tracking everything you do. Automation doesn’t mean losing the personal touch. You can still respond on that individual level to guests, but when you need to just remind site visitors that they made an enquiry and you are still out there, it comes in really handy. 6. Learn more about your site visitors If you haven’t got to grips with Google Analytics for your site yet, make 2018 the year of learning. I am. GA is a phenomenal tool that can track just about everything on your website. Find out which pages are visited the most and how your content is really doing. You can track your visitors path across your site; see how effective any Facebook advertising is at sending people back to the site, and monitor simple stats such as bounce rates and page views. Take some time to learn the GA platform and it will help in understanding site visitors’ behaviour. 7. Outsource Last week I wanted a new Twitter and Facebook cover. I could have done it easily myself but it would have taken a bit of time, and I could use that more effectively elsewhere. So I went onto Fiverr.com and 24 hours later and for only $18 (which included a tip) I had a perfectly acceptable new cover for Twitter, Facebook and for our YouTube channel. Another job that went to Fiverr recently was a checklist that we wanted converting to a fillable PDF, so our owner clients could complete their inventory online. Another perfect task completed. Fiverr.com is great for the small jobs. There’s Upwork for bigger ones, and for taking on longer-term staff. And if you need full-time virtual assistants I highly recommend Virtual Staff Finder. You are a vacation rental professional and you know what you are best at. Don’t spend time on things that eat up your time, and someone more proficient can do in a fraction of the time. In this episode I’ve mentioned: Upwork Fiverr Google Analytics Huffington Post article Lodgify blog post on Mailchimp marketing How to Save Money on a Winter Cottage Rental – Toronto Star Virtual Staff Finder Are you struggling to put all of the pieces together for your Vacation Rental Business? CHECK OUT THE VACATION RENTAL MASTER PLAN!Learn how to build a blueprint for operations, bookings, and marketing! Bring all of your pieces together with ease!