The hospitality industry has seen huge shake-ups in terms of marketing strategy within the last few years. Gone are the days when guests would plan a vacation with the help of a travel agent, who handled all the booking.
Today, travel-bound web-browsers search for the best deals online, from their own computer or phone. They check out where their friends and family members have traveled by looking at their social media — and get ideas about where to plan their next vacation.
Consequently, hotel and vacation rental marketing are very different than it was a few decades ago. Hotels and property owners must compete with one another to grab the attention of front-line consumers — their potential guests — instead of networking with travel agents and relying on traditional print ads.
Moreover, a whole new peer-to-peer rental market opened up, which in turn has created a proliferating need for vacation rental marketing. These venues have created a safe, regulated marketplace for homeowners of otherwise empty residences to make some money, while travelers save — in many cases, getting far more privacy, and luxury than they would at a hotel.
Marketing trends for the hospitality industry in general
The marketing strategy of the hospitality industry has become a lot more of a grassroots operation in recent years. Even the biggest names in hospitality are shifting their focus away from paid advertising and leveraging the organic look of user-generated content to spread the word about the best places to stay, eat, and play around the world.
Diners, guests, and visitors are encouraged to share their experience on social media, with relevant shoutouts and hashtags — as if they didn’t want to already. Brands are also pairing up with social media influencers, whose sizeable and engaged following is fertile soil for the seeds of an effective marketing strategy.
Marketing trends for hotels
Hotels and hotel chains, in particular, have recognized the importance of leveraging influencer relationships and cultivating organic content across all their social media marketing channels. While this approach is broad in scope, hotels have also embraced more personalized experiences such as customized vacation packages.
Many hotels are also using social media and email marketing to generate content about the area around their hotel, tying their property into a layered narrative that can capture the attention of future travelers. History, art, culture, and food are brought together, turning the hotel and its environs into a destination — not just a place to stay.
Marketing trends for vacation rentals
There are a number of sites where a vacation rental manager can drop some property listings, but even stunning professional photos and flawless copy of a Condé Nast caliber won’t go very far. A successful vacation rental marketing plan will — without a doubt — leverage social media.
The most successful vacation rental enterprises will offer guests accompanying experiences, from local guided tours to themed itineraries to personal chefs. While the traditional players in hospitality have long appreciated the value of upselling guests and/or creating vacation packages, the plethora of integrated websites and the very local nature of the vacation rental industry is much more tailored to creating one-off, nuanced experiences.
Millennials are also embracing the idea of making a vacation rental property their home base for family and group trips. They offer more privacy and intimacy than larger hotel venues, at a much better price, with more possibility to enjoy local experiences. A good vacation rental marketing strategy will capitalize on the trend of group travel.
A solid vacation rental marketing strategy will also encourage previous guests to post some user-generated content. Managers and owners with clout or perseverance will also likely leverage influencer relationships to gain attention.
Finally, we will likely see that vacation rental owners and managers will leverage curated content, much as hotels have started to do. This will not only help them compete with other vacation rental venues in the same area, but it will help them compete with other destinations around the world. Using captivating photos and engaging copy, through social media and direct email marketing, vacation rental properties can become storied destinations that bump competing locations off the map.
There’s no doubt about it: the strategies for marketing a hotel or vacation rental property have definitely changed in recent years. The question for property owners and managers is how to make their way to the top of the list of millions of properties worldwide. Listing a property is no guarantee of making money; with so much competition, you’ve got to have a hotel or vacation rental marketing strategy, and that includes finding the best venue to list your property.
In many ways, hotel and vacation rental marketing will mimic overall trends in the hospitality industry: organic content, influencer relationships, and engaging content will all play a role. It will be interesting to see how hotels and vacation rental properties stack up against one another by the close of 2020. However, one thing is certain: will all the competition in the rental market, a solid vacation rental marketing strategy is a must for any property owner, company, or manager who wants to run a profitable business.
by Inna Shevchenko
Director of Marketing at iGMS
Inna has 10 years of experience in marketing and content writing specifically. Currently, she is the Director of Marketing at iGMS, a short-term rental management software company.