Marketing No-one can tell what effect the economic crisis will have on vacation rentals in 2009. Some say that more people will be staying closer to home therefore the industry is in a good position to promote family vacations to the domestic market. Others are concerned that belts will be tightened to the extent that vacations will either be vetoed altogether or left to such a last minute that uncertainty will remain into the high season. Whatever happens, owners who have previously relied on listing services should be ramping up their marketing efforts to tackle the competition and make their property stand out from the rest. We all know that great photos can sell a property to a potential renter. It's all about creating the dream and this is done the best through the visual field. Who hasn't checked out a You Tube video recently? Key in ‘cottage rentals' to You Tube and there are nearly 6,000 results; ‘ontario cottage rentals' brings up just 29, so there are not many out there at the moment. Including a video or virtual tour on your web site or as a link on your listing – if they allow you to do that – needs a lot of planning, some expertise and a lot of staging. Do it in a hurry and you're likely to achieve the opposite effect and turn people off your property rather than making it more appealing. The DIY method will require a video camera and tripod, media software for editing, skill at putting it all together, and a lot of time. It's not simply a matter of filming every room and showing a 2-3 minute video of wall, floor and furniture. The outcome should be a polished commercial of your property, complete with audio and voiceover, that will entice viewers to book their vacation with you. If you don't feel you can do that, get a professional company in to create it for you. A word of caution here. If you do your own video and want to add music to it, you must buy the rights to use it. Don't even think of adding tracks from your own CD collection as you will be breaking copyright laws. We have recently added a listing to our rental management site and the owner provide us with a virtual tour. I quite liked it although it was clearly done on a dull and rainy day and there were a couple of staging issues (the deck shots could have been better organised). Take a look at Mapleview and see what you think. This was done by a local company in south eastern Ontario and the owner was impressed with their professional approach. Personally, I like the video option better because there is more scope for editing and creativity along with the voice-over, but whatever your preference, this is something owners should be adding to their marketing mix.