VRS373 – The Art of Story Telling To Attract Guests And Owners

This episode of the Vacation Rental Success Podcast is sponsored by NoiseAware
Prevent parties, property damage, and loss of rental revenue with one simple solution

From primitive cave paintings to digital ways of sharing information, the art of storytelling has been with us forever.

Stories have a unique place in the human brain – they can change levels of oxytocin and cortisol – both associated with trust, attention, and generosity, and we have the power to do this with the stories we create across our marketing platforms.

From website content to email campaigns, listing information to social media posts, telling a story can change indifference to loyalty.  In understanding the why, the how, and the where, of storytelling, you’ll have the tools to create trust and attention.

In last week’s podcast, Matt Landau suggested writing an open-heart letter – a story…and it prompted me to think about the importance of storytelling in what we do and how we can use it to create more business.

“A perfectly placed, impeccably delivered story can transport a person to a place beyond interested, straight past paying attention, and into a state of complete captivation. When it comes to a great story, we really can't help ourselves. A shift happens in us: a shift in our understanding, a shift in our desires. This is the shift so many of us seek. It turns customers into converts. It transforms employees into evangelists. Executives into leaders. It changes the nature and impact of marketing, and perhaps most importantly, it can change how we see ourselves. You can create that shift by harnessing the power of storytelling.”

Kindra Hall – Stories That Stick

Why we should tell stories in our marketing is simple – they illustrate what we are trying to convey in a way that captures the attention of our audience.

Simply saying a condo unit has a water-facing aspect is very different from describing the first time you stood on the balcony and saw a school of dolphins.

Stating the fact that you started your business in 2003 and have been successful ever since is not going to have the same impact as talking about the exact moment when you felt the passion to get it off the ground.

That’s a decent enough why and most people understand our draw to a good story. It’s why the Budweiser commercials make it into the top 5 of Superbowl ads.

After all, who doesn’t love a good story about a puppy getting lost in the city and being miraculously rescued by a team of the most majestic Shire horses?

It’s the ‘How' that often holds us back.  We are not advertising executives spending hours over storyboards and getting focus groups to comment on every scene.

We just want to get our message across that direct booking is important, we can be trusted with your hard-earned vacation money, and the vacation will be just as expected if not more.

Simple, right?

A good story has a few basic elements.  It needs a relatable character, some emotion, a significant moment in time, and specific details.

Hall says,

“The specific details component involves the use of specific, descriptive, sometimes unexpected details and imagery that are relevant to the intended audience in an effort to create and draw the listeners into a world that sounds familiar to their own. The finer the detail, the better. The strongest, stickiest stories are those that master this final component.”

Kindra Hall

The most successful owners and property managers are telling these stories.  In their About Us pages, on the listings, in their newsletters, and email marketing campaigns.

Kati Ruotola from Budahome in Budapest tells a riveting story of her grandmother starting a guest house in Communist Hungary at a time when private business was not just discouraged but mostly prohibited.

The story has drama, intrigue, a great character, and detail on how problems were overcome.  Now Kati owns that same building and that story is the backbone of her business and marketing.

In the days when Matt Landau owned Los Cuatros Tulipanes – his hotel in Panama City, he told the story of how it came about and some of the dangers involved in running it and attracting guests to what may have been considered a dangerous part of the city.

These are founder stories which are one of the four categories of story Hall suggests we create, the others being our value story, purpose story, and customer story.  Intertwining these throughout your marketing activities will maximize the trust and attention we should be seeking.

This is not just the case for owners and managers.  Think of some suppliers you use – have you noticed those with a back story are better known and respected.

The founder of Noise Aware, Dave Krauss, has an illuminating foundation story about his rental being closed down after a party broke out and numerous noise complaints were made.

A good story is remembered!

Where you put your stories is an easy one.


A page on your site for owners should tell the story of how you came to do so well through your own experience.  What happened that made you realize you could manage other owners’ properties?  Highlight that moment in time.

An email campaign could be a series of tales about your area and how your guests experience it.  How much better to tell a story about the Dad who wanted to teach his son to fish than to just say it’s a great spot for fishing.

Every listing can have a story embedded into it by weaving in interesting anecdotes about something in the area or something about a previous owner and his/her legacy of the property.

When you start to think about stories rather than simply delivering the basic information, your creativity may come alight.

Ann Handley Newsletter


Creating an About Us page

Dave Krauss – co-Founder Noise Aware

Stories that Stick – Kindra Hall