The Ultimate Guide to Launching and Growing Your Successful Short-Term Rental Business

STEP 7: Branding & Marketing
as a Property Manager

'Marketing Mastery'
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This page is part of a step-by-step guide to get your business up and running.  There’s no fluff here - just information, help, and suggestions for doing it right - the first time!

Everything in this guide comes from experience.

Not a mere 6 months of experience in running an Airbnb, nor a year of co-hosting.

This is from 25 years of being in the vacation rental business, owning 7 properties and owning a seriously successful property management company with over 180 properties.

Our team have attended and presented at countless conferences and we continue our education by sitting in on hundreds of educational presentations, and still do to this day.  So, we can bring you the learning from all those experts as well.

So, sit back and enjoy the ride…or the read!

Contents of this step:

This step of 'The Ultimate Guide to Launching and Growing your Successful Short-Term Rental Business' is written by vacation rental formula business schools own head of education Heather Bayer.

It seems a long time since I started in the business. There was not much in the way of assistance in branding and marketing

Congratulations on your journey as a property manager!

Having already gained experience in the short-term rental business, you are now venturing into a new realm of managing properties for others.

As you take this significant step, it's crucial to understand the power of branding and effective marketing strategies to thrive in the competitive vacation rental market.

This guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to establish a strong brand identity and implement successful marketing techniques.

Whether you're managing a single property or a portfolio of rentals, the principles outlined here will help you attract the right guests, maximize bookings, and create unforgettable experiences.

By delving into the realm of branding, we will explore how to define your unique selling proposition (USP) and cultivate a compelling brand identity that resonates with your target audience.

From creating a memorable brand name and logo to developing a cohesive visual identity and brand voice, we will guide you through the process of crafting a brand that stands out in the crowded marketplace.

In the realm of marketing, we will delve into the various channels and strategies that will elevate your online presence and increase your property's visibility. From optimizing your website for search engines to utilizing popular vacation rental platforms and leveraging the power of social media, we will explore how to reach and engage with your target audience effectively.

Moreover, we will discuss the art of crafting persuasive property descriptions, utilizing captivating visuals, and providing exceptional guest experiences. You will learn how to tell compelling stories about your properties, highlight their unique features, and build relationships with guests that go beyond mere transactions.

Throughout this guide, we will emphasize the importance of data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement. By monitoring key performance indicators, analyzing guest feedback, and staying up-to-date with industry trends, you will be able to adapt your strategies to meet evolving guest expectations and achieve long-term success.

As you embark on this exciting new chapter of managing properties for others, remember that effective branding and marketing strategies can significantly impact your business's growth and success. By following the principles and best practices outlined in this guide, you will position yourself as a trusted and sought-after rental property manager in the industry.

So, let's dive in and unlock the secrets to building a remarkable brand, attracting guests, and maximizing your property's potential through the power of strategic marketing. Get ready to elevate your property management journey to new heights

Understanding Your Target Audience

Most new managers start by using the SAAW Principle…they throw spaghetti against a wall and hope something sticks.  This is otherwise known as Spray & Pray in marketing circles.

You do not want to do this for a number of reasons, but primarily because it doesn’t work.  

You might capture a few leads but because it’s not clearly targeted you’ll be missing more leads than you actually get.

Generally speaking, consumers want personalized solutions to their problems on their terms and not determined by how the seller wants to sell to them. Consumers disregard everything else as “white noise” if it isn’t targeted to their current wants and needs.

This is very relevant to our business and it’s why the OTAs are now using algorithms and AI to present information to site visitors that specifically meets their needs.

Most of us don’t have the benefit of the wealth of data the big companies are able to collect, but we can:

  • Conduct market research to identify your ideal guests.

  • Define guest personas to understand their preferences and needs.

  • Tailor your branding and marketing efforts to attract your target audience.

Sue Allen from East Ruston Cottages has done this very effectively because she markets to a very niche audience - her guests have multiple dogs.  Sue started her company after trying to find a place for herself and a friend to stay that would accept 4 pets - she and her friend both have two dogs.  She saw the need for a place for people with multiple dogs and those that were often excluded from other accommodation such as certain breeds, large dogs or those with reactivity issues.

Her guest personas are very specific and her branding and marketing is specifically tailored to them.

Developing a Brand Identity

To establish a strong brand identity for your business, you need to really think about what makes your properties unique and appealing to guests.  This means you need to:

  • Define your unique selling proposition (USP) and brand values.

  • Create a memorable and compelling brand name, logo, and tagline.

  • Design a cohesive visual identity, including color schemes and fonts.

  • Craft a brand voice that resonates with your target audience.

First off, define the distinctive qualities that set your properties apart from the competition?  This becomes your unique selling proposition (USP) 

Then, identify the key features, amenities, or experiences that make your properties exceptional and emphasize them in your branding efforts.

Next, create a brand name that reflects the essence of your properties and resonates with your target audience. 

To complement your brand name, design a visually appealing logo that represents your business and creates an immediate connection with potential guests. The logo should encapsulate the personality, values, and unique characteristics of your brand. 

Crafting a consistent brand voice is equally important. Define the tone and language that reflect your brand's personality – whether it's friendly and informal, professional and sophisticated, or somewhere in between.

Consistency in your brand voice across all communication channels will help build recognition and trust among your guests.

Brittany Blackman has achieved all this with Breathe Easy Rentals  Every aspect of her brand is encapsulated in the website.  From the home page to listings to the About Us section, her personality and values are reflected in every area.

Optimizing Your Online Presence

If you are harnessing the power of direct bookings, a fully optimized website is essential.

To optimize your online presence as a new property manager, there are several key steps you should take.

  • Build an appealing and user-friendly website for your rental properties.

  • Optimize your website for search engines (SEO) to improve visibility.

  • Utilize high-quality visuals, including professional photos and virtual tours.

  • Implement an easy and secure online booking system.

First and foremost, focus on building a visually appealing and user-friendly website that showcases your rental properties effectively. Ensure that the layout is intuitive, the navigation is seamless, and the content is engaging.

Next, prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your website's visibility in search results. Conduct keyword research related to your property's location and amenities, and incorporate those keywords strategically into your website's content, meta tags, and headers.

To captivate potential guests, make sure you have high-quality visuals on your website. Invest in professional photography to showcase your properties in the best light, and consider incorporating virtual tours or 360-degree images to provide an immersive experience. Visual content plays a significant role in attracting and engaging visitors, increasing the likelihood of bookings. 

Lastly, implement an easy and secure online booking system to streamline the reservation process for guests. Ensure that the booking system is user-friendly, with a simple and intuitive interface. 

Prioritize security measures to protect guests' personal and financial information, giving them peace of mind when making reservations through your website.  This creates the trust that is so important for a direct book strategy.

By optimizing your website and online presence through these steps, you will enhance your visibility, engage potential guests, and ultimately increase bookings for your rental properties.

Robin Craigen’s site Moving Mountains is a beautiful example of an optimized site incorporating all of these factors.

Creating Effective Property Descriptions

When crafting effective property descriptions for your short-term rental properties, it's important to create compelling narratives that capture the attention and imagination of potential guests. Start by highlighting the unique features and selling points of each property. Whether it's a breathtaking view, luxurious amenities, or charming architectural details, emphasize what sets your rentals apart from the rest.

In addition to showcasing the property itself, don't forget to highlight the surrounding amenities, location advantages, and nearby attractions. Discuss proximity to popular landmarks, beaches, restaurants, shopping centers, or recreational activities. By painting a vivid picture of the experiences and conveniences available to guests, you can enhance the appeal of your properties and attract those seeking a memorable stay.

To evoke emotions and entice potential guests, use persuasive language in your property descriptions. Tap into the power of sensory words to create a vivid and enticing experience in their minds. Describe the feeling of lounging by the pool, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, or the tranquility of a private garden. Use adjectives and phrases that evoke positive emotions and make guests yearn for the experience you're offering.

Incorporating storytelling techniques is another effective way to create a connection with your audience. Share the history or unique stories behind the property, the neighborhood, or the local community. Engage guests by providing context and creating a sense of authenticity. By weaving narratives into your descriptions, you can foster a deeper emotional connection and inspire potential guests to choose your property over others.

Remember, a well-crafted property description is more than just a list of features and amenities. It's an opportunity to engage potential guests on an emotional level and spark their imagination. By using  captivating language, highlighting unique aspects, and incorporating storytelling, you can create compelling property descriptions that resonate with your audience and increase the likelihood of bookings.

Use ChatGPT for ideas and an outline but make sure your listings are written in your brand voice.

Using Online Booking Platforms On Your Terms

While having a book direct site is important, your goal should not be to free yourself entirely from the online booking platforms.  


Because if you use the platforms on your own terms, they become a source of guests who will ultimately become your brand ambassadors.  

They find you an endless parade of guests who you can then convert to direct bookers and who will share their experience with their networks.

So, embrace the opportunities presented by these platforms while implementing strategies that align with your business goals and target audience.

List your properties on the popular vacation rental platforms; optimize your listings with engaging titles and descriptions; monitor and respond promptly to guest reviews and inquiries and offer competitive pricing and special deals to attract guests.

There are multiple ways to connect with them in the lead up to their vacation and then ensure you have your branding visible in the property - print material, digital guides, branded gifts etc.  

Use a platform like Stayfi to collect email addresses from all guests for retargeting after the stay.

Becoming A Social Media Ninja

Online entrepreneur, Pat Flynn, once said you should “Be Everywhere” meaning that engaging in all social media networks ought to be your goal.

That is fine if you have 28 hours in a day and focus your life on creating posts, reacting to reactions, commenting back, and have an editorial calendar that commands attention at all times.

OK - not practical.  But when Pat Flynn put this out there around 2012 there wasn’t the range of networks available nor was there the competition we have now.

Today, we have to take a different approach and simply put, it looks like this:

  • Identify relevant social media platforms frequented by your target audience.

  • Develop a social media strategy to engage and build a community.

  • Share visually appealing content, such as property highlights and local recommendations.

  • Collaborate with local influencers and participate in relevant hashtags.

Whether it's Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or others, understanding where your potential guests spend their time online will allow you to focus your efforts effectively.

If you have created your avatars then your target audience is clearly identified and you know where they hang out

The next steps is to define your goals, whether it's increasing brand awareness, driving bookings, or nurturing guest loyalty. Create a consistent posting schedule and plan content that aligns with your brand identity and resonates with your audience. Encourage engagement by asking questions, responding to comments, and actively participating in discussions related to travel and vacation experiences.

It’s common to see company Facebook pages that are just a list of listings.

This. Doesn’t. Work!!!

When it comes to content, visually appealing posts are essential to captivate and inspire your audience. Share stunning photos and videos that showcase the best aspects of your properties, from breathtaking views to stylish interiors. Highlight local attractions, activities, and recommendations that can enhance the overall guest experience. This can include featuring nearby landmarks, hidden gems, or local events that align with the interests of your target audience.

Additionally, consider incorporating user-generated content, such as guest photos or testimonials, to showcase the positive experiences others have had at your properties.

Engaging content, community building, and visually appealing posts will help you create a compelling social media strategy that drives awareness, engagement, and ultimately, bookings for your properties.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Spend some time exploring your competitors social media accounts.  What do they do that reaches a lot of people?  Are they getting engagement on their posts?  Follow those who are engaging with them.  


It’s not about you.

It’s about your target market and what they want to see and hear.

Visit Cottages To Castles Facebook Page for some ideas.

Establishing Local Partnerships

Building partnerships with local businesses can be a valuable strategy to enhance the guest experience and expand your reach within the community. Start by reaching out to local restaurants, tour operators, spas, or other relevant service providers. Then you can collaborate with them to offer guests a comprehensive and curated experience during their stay.

You could offer exclusive discounts or packages , negotiating special rates, or bundle offers with your partners.  This all provides added value and incentives for guests to choose your properties. These exclusive deals can be highlighted in your property descriptions, on your website, and through marketing channels, enticing guests to book with you.

Another mutually beneficial aspect of local partnerships is to cross-promote each other's services. This can include featuring their offerings on your website or social media channels and vice versa. By tapping into each other's customer base, you can expand your reach and visibility to a broader audience.

Caleb Hannon at Stay Lake Norman does this very effectively, partnering with a range of local businesses.

Monitoring and Analyzing Performance

While marketing and branding all sounds fun and interesting - which it is of course - there is a side of this aspect that shouldn’t be avoided.

That is monitoring and analysis, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), and using analytic tools to measure website traffic, conversion rates, and user behavior to understand how effectively your online presence is driving bookings.

Boring, right?

On the contrary, once you really dig into what works and what doesn’t it’s surprising how quickly you’ll get hooked into all this stuff.

I’m a cloud-based person, meaning I take a top-down approach to business.  That is a fancy way of saying I’m a dreamer who loves ideas, creativity and yes, all the fun stuff.  But even I got into Google Analytics (now known as GA4), once I began to understand the importance of monitoring what we were doing on the marketing side.

If you have no idea how to do this, Google have a bunch of free tutorials here.

Your guest feedback and reviews play an important role in assessing guest satisfaction and identifying areas for improvement. Regularly analyze guest feedback to identify common themes, address any issues promptly, and continuously enhance the guest experience. You can use positive reviews as testimonials to build credibility and attract potential guests.

When looking at all this data, it's important to take what’s called a data-driven approach to make informed decisions. That would be the opposite to deciding to do something based on a gut feeling!

With this type of approach, you’d see what trends and patterns show up in your data to help you figure out what’s working well and what you may need to refine.

It could be as simple as seeing that a particular Youtube video is getting way more views than others, or a Facebook post is getting lots of comments.  This is data that you can use to inform what you do going forward i.e. make more videos or posts similar to the popular ones.

And conversely, if something hasn’t worked - don’t bother doing it again!.

There is a common thread among property managers who, when asked what their biggest mistakes were over the course of their business, said they wished they had started networking earlier.

I agree with that.

I’d been in business 8 years before I went to my first conference in 2012.  That was a Home Away Summit where I met two people who would have tremendous influence on what I did going forward.

Matt Landau, and Tyann Marcink were both in Phoenix for those two days, and were just starting in the business. They have remained good friends ever since and excepting the pandemic years, I’ve met up with them every year since

Attending events like this and networking with peers and leaders in the industry helps you establish your brand within the industry.  This, along with engaging and contributing in social media channels and becoming involved in advocacy groups, will propel your business forward.

Another benefit is that you will be among the leading edge of operators who embrace emerging technologies and who have powerful branding messages.  

If you are not active on Linkedin - get in there and start networking.  Join our Facebook group - The Business of Short Term Rental and Property Management

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide and feel you are in the driver's seat of your branding journey.  I’d love to see the results of the branding and marketing you do so message us on any of our platforms.