Are you fed up with the abusive conditions imposed by Airbnb, Booking, or Abritel on owners and professionals in the vacation rental sector? Is there any other way to promote y+our properties to get noticed on the web?
It is true that the first instinct of the cybernauts, when they are looking for a vacation rental on the web, is to consult OTAs or comparators, because they expect to find the best price. They also want to book on these platforms in order to get a lot of benefits, like better customer service or greater secure payment methods with more flexible possibilities for cancelling or modifying the reservation.
However, consumers are more and more vigilant by checking up the prices displayed for the same accommodation on several sites before booking it… They are actively looking for a good deal!
This is why your website and your company must be correctly referenced by search engines so your future tenants can find you easily. The digital world offers different options to promote your properties. Although « Directory Marketing » is the most widely used, there are several other options available for you:
- Marketing on directory sites
- Local Marketing or Geolocated Targeting
- SEO marketing or natural referencing
- SEA Marketing or Paid Marketing
- Differentiate your prices automatically with a Channel Manager
- The Marketing Mix – The different web marketing strategies
1. Marketing on directory sites
Marketing on directory sites is the most used in the holiday rental’s industry. It works on the same principle as traditional paper directories, but in a digital format. These are sites that list the properties of other websites and categorise them by topic.
Some of the websites offering a wide choice of seasonal rentals, such as Airbnb, Booking or Abritel will most certainly be known to you. However, there are hundreds of other sites specialising in specific types of properties or services, with less restrictive conditions than those imposed by the main players in the market. This means, as part of your web marketing strategy, that you can publish your properties on directories that are truly adapted to the image of your company, and the standing of your properties.
This practice is effective! However, registering and updating your properties on many different directories will take time and can quickly become laborious, since it is up to you to submit your listing requests and update your ads. Fortunately, many solutions are available on the market to manage all your publications from a single platform. These are the channel managers.
A channel manager simplifies the management of your establishment, by automating the publication of your properties and automatically updating their calendars and availability, on the channels of your choice. By channels, we mean online travel agencies (Expedia or Booking.com for example), meta-search sites (Trivago, Google, etc.), online distribution systems (GDS) and direct channels ( such as your institution’s website),. and your social networks.
2. Local Marketing or Geolocated Targeting
What is local marketing?
Local marketing offers benefits such as targeting users looking for a company in a specific city.
Indeed, when a person enters a geolocated search term on Google, your company will automatically be displayed upstream of international sites such as Airbnb, Booking or Abritel, in the local pack.
How can you rank at the top positions?
By using specific keywords on your website, with a reference to your location like, for example “4 bedroom house with pool in Ottawa”
By promoting your website on local directories (Link Building), such as that of your town hall, the professional sites of your community, or an association site in your town.
People need to talk about you! Feel free to share content and useful information referring to your city and region. Share this one on social networks, and border websites. This is about creating a real digital interaction with those around you.
Create a Google My Business account. This will allow you to reference your agency on Google maps, and in the local pack. In addition, your future customers will trust you more when they see the comments of Internet users who have already used your services.
What is the Local Pack?
This is the page that appears at the top of your search results. It is made up of 3 establishments which, as you will have understood, are much more visible than the rest of the signs displayed. Consequently, they concentrate the considerations of Internet users and represent, for them, the most obvious choices. If you want to attract more customers, it will be important for you to be referenced here.
The importance of Google My Business for your local marketing
Local marketing is based on several strategies, among which the optimisation of web content, the exchange of links. One of the most important things to keep in mind is optimizing your Google My Business listing. The information and work you put into it, will determine your position in Google’s local pack search results.
3. SEO marketing or natural referencing
Your website is your digital image
SEO referencing is based on the referencing work done carried out on your website – The keywords used by your future customers, to find your agency and your products on the web, the exchange of links, articles, and the optimisation of the notoriety of your company on the web (the more people talk about you, the better your SEO will be). The truth is that all of that is hard work or/ I won’t lie to you, all of that is hard work I do not hide from you that this is a heavy job, which will be easier for you to leave in the hands of a professional agency. But if this marketing is well done, it will allow you to promote your properties for free on the first pages of the main search engines, without having to go through an intermediary.
Just like your services, your vacation rental website represents your agency. It is therefore important to take care of every detail. Unlike publishing platforms like Airbnb or Abritel, the only master on board is you! It will therefore be possible for you through this tool to promote your brand image, your services, and to humanise your teams with Internet users. You will also be able at all times to market your properties in the best possible way, highlighting the best offers and bargains that will help generate bookings. To make it attractive, you will need professional photos, well-written descriptions and optimised for SEO. Before embarking on the creation of your website, you will have to think, upstream, of the content that it will have to contain, to improve the user experience, such as:
- An online payment module
- A blog (This one will allow you to boost the visibility of your site)
- A list of services offered by your company
- A directory of your properties, with a search bar, easy to use
You will also need other technical tools:
- Tool for analysing the traffic and keywords of your site
- Tool for automatic creation of a sitemap, allowing google to better understand your site
- Tool for creating meta-tags, to improve the visibility of your pages in search engines
And, if you’re working with a channel manager, make sure to plug it to your website, to keep your calendars up to date.
4. SEA Marketing or Paid Marketing
SEA is an acronym for Search Engine Advertising. It is a paid referencing technique, carried out through the Google Adwords interface.
Advertising space, in SEA marketing, is typically purchased through auctions and pay per click for targeted queries with keywords. However, this type of paid referencing is not without limits. It can complement other techniques such as natural referencing, but it does not replace them.
Successful SEA campaigns aren’t just about paying for good visibility, either. You also need to stay on top of keywords and know the market to rank successfully in search engines.
The advantages of SEA MArketing
Paid referencing, unlike natural referencing, allows you to quickly promote your site in the first results of search engines. This option is the most recommended if you want to achieve significant results in a short time. Complementary to natural referencing, paid referencing is easier to use to reach a specific target, in particular by using different marketing techniques. The SEA will often allow you to start your SEO campaign and periodically support it. Paid search allows you to make careful changes to your campaigns and budgets for optimal performance.
5. Differentiate your prices automatically with a Channel Manager
By offering your properties on sites like Airbnb and Booking, it is essential to work with tools that allow you to customise prices according to the different channels (as several Channel Managers available on the market allow), because you drastically reduce your chances to convert customers wishing to book accommodation directly on your site. Your ability to make a sale increases significantly if you display a lower price than the one published on OTAs. If your conversion rate is 2.98% (or about 3 out of 100 visitors), that converts to 4.66% (which translates to 1 sale in 25 visitors being created). It is therefore imperative to offer the best price on your site.
Several studies show that if you do not display better prices on your site, you reduce your conversion rate by half.
In conclusion, it makes sense that your customers find a better price by booking directly with you. You will therefore gain more « live » customers while maintaining good relations with OTAs, and thus avoid telephone negotiations with customers coming from these platforms.
6. Marketing Mix – The best way to go along, without Airbnb
Even though I didn’t mention it, apart from the type of marketing seen above, I also recommend following this strategy for marketing, which are a word by themselves. But if you use them well, they can give you a great return on investment:
- Community base marketing (Facebook, Instagram, TiKtok, LinkedIn, etc…)
- Newsletters (Last but not least)
A good web strategy involving all the types of marketing mentioned above (Marketing Mix) is decisive to do without the big players like Airbnb or Booking .
You will have certainly figured out by now that few holiday rental agencies or conciergeries use all the digital sales channels available to them. There is therefore a field of possibilities to stand out from the competition and position yourself on the first page of search engines.
Also, there are many reasons why having a website for your vacation rental agency is beneficial. It helps you push bookings and market your properties in the best possible way, and without any middleman, you will get more visitors, which will lead to more requests for bookings. The profitability of your website will therefore be improved.