VRS297 – How We Saved The Summer For Our Vacation Rental Agency

For the last 15 years, we’ve seen a continuous pattern of high demand and low inventory in our property management business in July and August. It’s why we’ve been able to almost guarantee 100% occupancy to new owners, providing they priced competitively and delivered an attractively presented property. Until summer 2019, when in mid-June we realized our open weeks were glaringly open, and we had to make a couple of rapid decisions to save our summer.

Fortunately, I know two digital marketing experts who were also experienced in the vacation rental business. In six weeks we were back on track, had the busiest July on record, and halted a scary decline in traffic.

In this episode, Jason Beaton, the Chief Marketing Officer at the Vacation Rental Formula joins me to explain what he found when taking a deep dive into our analytics, and what he and Mike (VRF CEO) proposed to get the vacant weeks booked and to prevent our business ever flat-lining again.

From establishing where we were leaking traffic (on our booking page), to creating newsletters that got read and converted, to building landing pages and pop-ups, the team behind the Big Kahuna Service were racing against time to fill up the vacancies. We were hearing from owners every day wondering why their places had empty weeks when this had never happened before.

By early August our staff were begging for mercy as booking after booking came in and daily income records were broken.

The strategy had worked.

Long story short…we’d become complacent, expecting this year to be the same as the one before and the one before that, and the one before that.

We were hit by the changing nature of traveler planning – something that is impacting owners and managers across North America and Europe. Guests are making more last-minute bookings and wanting shorter periods on vacation.

There will still be those who want weekly rentals in the traditional holiday spots, but more flexibility and readiness for same or next-day bookings is something we should expect more of in the future.

So, now we are heaving a collective sigh of relief that summer has been saved and all but a handful of owners are contented with their income levels. And, we are working on the others!

In this episode Jason shares

  • How he used analytics to uncover leaks allowing guests to bounce out
  • The problem with our reservations page
  • How an Amazon voucher saved the abandoned cart
  • How we increased our conversion rate on one page from 16% – 29%
  • What retargeting actually means and the impact on traffic
  • Why they waited until a few weeks in to add a cold traffic campaign
  • How Live Chat aided conversions

Links discussed in this episode:

Big Kahuna Service
Active Campaign (A)
Live Chat (A)
Facebook Ads
Google Ads