Twitter and Vacation Rentals - A Good Marketing Mix?

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OK – I have just shut my Tweetdeck down, finished all the @replies and retweets I’m doing this morning and am working on getting my followers up to 500 by the end of the week. I am suffering badly from TMT (Too Much Twitter) and bad pun syndrome having just read a post called Twick or Tweet! And probably half my readers have absolutely no clue what I’m on about.

It’s Twitter folks – my latest addiction, and in fact if you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s time to come out of hibernation. It seems it’s everywhere and everyone is talking about it, so I thought I’d wade in and share my experience of the past 4 weeks as a ‘Twitterer’, and offer some thoughts on the value of using it as a part of your vacation rental marketing.

I’ve been signed up for Twitter for quite a while now but hadn’t used it because all I was seeing were posts telling me what people were having for breakfast, watching on TV, or planning on having for dinner. I found a site where I could put in a keyword and it would bring up all the Tweets that included my chosen search word or phrase – ‘cottage’. You would not believe the discussions people have about cottage pie and cottage cheese! So, Twitter got put on the back burner for several months – along with all those cottage pies.

Then a friend urged me to give it another whirl and I got stuck in. I found a few beginner guides that weren’t written in geekspeak; got connected with some folks who had been tweeting for much longer than me and seemed to know what they were doing, and am now reaping some benefits of this way of networking.

Here’s some links to useful stuff that helped me get off to a flying start:

This Guide to Getting Started is simple and specific and following the recommendations will get you following and being followed fairly quickly

50 Great Travel Tweeters – This list from the UK Telegraph isn’t exhaustive in any way but it’s a good start if you are stuck for people to follow.

After you’ve got set up on Twitter, sign up for Tweetdeck to manage your account. This list of FAQs is really helpful.

And if you are wondering why no-one is following you, the reason could be here in The Top Ten Reasons I Will Not Follow You in Return on Twitter

OK so if you are now thinking that this all seems pointless, why not follow some other vacation rental owners and see what they are doing market their properties:

Windermere Lodge uses this media at its best and has a dedicated Twitter page on the award-winning Windermere Lodge website

Bavarian Forest posts interesting facts and snippets of information on the area.

TorreviejaVilla uses her Twitter account to chat with other owners; promote special offers and give suggestions on activities and attractions in her area of Spain. She also posts as TorreTwit so follow both to keep up with her.

La Vache posts on a whole range of topics relating to the vacation rental industry.

Frenchywilson  markets the lovely Peyrenegre  with a web site run on the WordPress platform ( I admire this one but that’s another post!)

Rentfrance  offers great tips like this one: “Knowing the difference between “tailler” (to cut back) and “élaguer” (to thin out) is crucial when dealing with French tree trimmers.” Should be in the Twitter bible under “ How to offer value content in under 140 characters”!

Basse Copette joined Twitter a few days ago and is already in the swing of chat and @replies.

If I haven't listed you here, drop in and comment and I'll add you to the VR Twitter List and keep it updated.

As a vacation rental owner, much of the value is in bringing information on my part of the world to the attention of people who may not have thought of coming here before.

I’m also learning a lot from people who post links to things that interest me Around 40% of my follows are travel writers or connected with travel in some way; 30% are directly involved in the vacation rental industry and the remainder are in the networking/internet marketing/blogging world. And apart from anything else, it's a lot of fun.

It has to be used well and integrated with your blog or web site. A constant stream of links to your site isn’t going to win you any followers, while a balanced mix of personal comment, @ replies, interesting links and retweets of posts you have enjoyed and think others will find useful, will get you a loyal band of followers. Asking questions is a good way of becoming involved too.

A few more links if you haven't enough already!

List of websites that interact with Twitter

Thanks to Ryan Scott Miller for this one on How to Create a Makeshift Address Book on Twitter

A website run by vacation rental owners – you should get listed here Your Holiday Matters.

I'm told that Holiday Crunch will be the place to list last minute offers, special deals etc.  Check it out.

Finally, you can even go on a cruise and talk Twitter at sea

And let's not forget Slow Travel

There is so much more to Twitter than the first glance shows – give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Image by Futileboy