Every client I work with, from a single-property owner vacation rental to a 500+ room hotel has one thing in common: a limited marketing budget.
The numbers (dollars) may be vastly different in terms of overall budget, but I’ve yet to work with a client that has an unlimited marketing budget (by the way, if you do, please contact me).
When you’ve felt like you’re making the best of your current marketing spend, then you have to get creative. Today, we’re going to cover places you can stretch your marketing dollars and get places to promote your vacation rentals, hotel or bed & breakfast for free (or often, really cheap). You won’t have a 100% success rate with the promotion ideas listed below, but you’ll likely snag a few bookings from these sites that you would not have otherwise. The ideas below take time, research and often content production effort as well. But, if you go through this process for your vacation rental, hotel or B&B, you will find good opportunities.
Looking For Places To List Your Rentals on Google
Finding places to list your rental on Google is probably something you think you do right now. If you just search
area name vacation rentals or
area name bed and breakfast into Google, you’ll likely find that you have lots of websites coming up. But, you know all of these websites, right? Competitors, VRBO, TripAdvisor and Craigslist are all common occurrences in the top of the search results.
If they are your competition, it’s going to border on impossible to get those websites to promote your rental company or hotel. If it’s a large listing website, you already are well aware of how to get listed there.
Instead, we’re going to look for pages that promote places to stay, but don’t likely rank for those terms in Google when you perform the above searches.
- Go to my favorite website, Google.com.
- Enter your area name or destination into the search box.
- Add the following phrase: “inurl:places to stay”.
- Start to review the list of websites.
Lots of these results in Google won’t be a good fit. Many are likely your competition, or you’ll have to pay to be listed on each website. Not to worry: finding these pages is quite like searching for good things to sell at a garage sale. You’ll find some junk, some overpriced items and also some gems too!
To show you this in action, check out the search below and replicate it for your area. I chose Orange Beach, Alabama because I have no clients in the area but it does seem like a large destination for hotels, vacation rentals and other accommodations.
As you can see, we start with 49,000,000 results about Orange Beach, Alabama. I’m sure that many are not relevant to our query, but Google has indexed billions of webpages and claims that those are close enough to show. However, did you see what happened when we added in our advanced search query into Google? From a list of 49 million results we go down to just 42,000. Now we can begin to prospect for opportunities.
Creating A Promotion Opportunity Prospecting Spreadsheet
Reviewing this list can be time consuming, so it’s important that we try to be as efficient with our time as possible. I like to create a spreadsheet using either Google Sheets or Excel. In that spreadsheet, I’ll have some key information to go gather from each website. Our example above was based on a single search and I was able to find nine different places to promote a vacation rental, hotel or B&B in Orange Beach, AL within about 20 minutes. If you take the time to search through and find all of the relevant information like contact, email and other data, you may spend about 1-3 hours searching for these listings.
Reaching Out To Websites With Emails
Once your list has a lot of targets on it, you’ll want to begin your outreach. As a marketing arm for my clients, I often perform this outreach in a structured and ordered way. Using just a simple Gmail account, I reach out to prospective websites that could promote my website. During our example today, my fictional rental properties are in Orange Beach, AL.
Outreach templates can make your work a lot easier — I often use BuzzStream for this exact purpose. Using a tool isn’t 100% necessary, but it can aid with tracking and keeping an eye on the success of your emails sent. If nothing else, use Banana Tag to track who has opened your message.
Make sure to follow up — it’s a major key to successful placements. For websites where there is no listings for sale, you’re asking the website owner to do work in exchange for nothing. How would you like an email adding an item to your todo list without benefit to you? Not ideal, right? This type of outreach can have a less-than-ideal response and reply rate: do not worry if that’s the case for you. However, I find that many opportunities exist by following up and getting more traction on the follow-up messages to help get placements.
Creating Partnerships With Local Businesses
Another tactic that goes beyond Google searches is local partnerships. Using your own CRM for local businesses as well as your local knowledge will probably give you lots of ideas for what businesses you could recommend. Popular ideas include:
- Fishing charters
- Equipment rental companies
- Events or concerts
- Water parks
- Ski rentals
- Kayak tour companies
And so on. Each area ends up being a bit different in terms of targets, but the goals remain the same. How can you get these companies to promote your company as a great place to stay? You could offer up a promo code for their customers (value), promote their company (sharing their company to your audience via email or social media) or even write a review on your website with a blog post and promote it. Local businesses in your destination are your partners: a thriving local economy is great both for your rentals and your destination.
Create “Destination Symbiosis” With Referral Traffic
“Symbiosis” is defined by Wikipedia as “a close and often long-term interaction between two different biological species.” Creating symbiotic relationships with local vendors has stellar benefits for your website traffic and bookings as well. If you have a “Things To Do” page on your website, then leveraging this is actually a great way to promote other local businesses. Instead of just picking businesses that have the ability to promote you on their websites, list all of the great attractions in your area. Link to their website, provide a photo if you can and include a tip about the area. Using the examples above, do searches on Google for these various websites and then search for a lodging page or similar on their site. You won’t find that every local business partnership will have a page that you can leverage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and work together in another way.
The Hidden Benefits Of A Promotion Strategy
I have a confession: this post was originally titled “Link Building Tips For Your Rental Properties” because that’s exactly what we’re doing. However, I learned that the term link building sounds intimidating to property owners and marketing managers. Nothing here is worth being intimidated about. But, here’s the great news: this type of promotion will result in links that will help your search rankings too. One of the major factors of ranking well (SEO) in search for your target keywords is website authority. As I wrote last month on Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, measuring Domain Authority is helpful when trying to evaluate if you’re going to rank for your targeted keywords in Google. As you build these links to your vacation rental website, you’ll see that benefit in search rankings.