Email Marketing for your Vacation Rental: The Ultimate Guide
12 October 2021 - 10 mins
12 October 2021 - 10 mins
Email marketing is one of the most effective tools in your arsenal when it comes to generating direct bookings.
In this guide, we take an in-depth look at vacation rental email marketing and how it can be an invaluable way to build your brand, audience and revenue!
First things first – to build a successful vacation rental email marketing strategy, you’ll need some recipients! Here are a few ideas to build a receptive audience, fast…
Building your own email list is an essential part of generating direct bookings. As part of this, make sure your website features an email capture – inviting visitors to join your mailing list. This could be a simple form, or even a pop-up box.
You could also consider blog posts with an email capture as part of your call to action, free guides (a bit like this one!) that can be delivered directly to inboxes, or even VIP discounted prices in return for email sign-ups. Why not make it sound exclusive? Join our travel club to unlock exclusive perks, discounts and insider vacation tips…. now that sounds tempting.
Having a Wi-Fi sign-in form allows you to automate the process of email capture for guests already staying with you. In today’s digital age, you can be sure 99.9% of guests will use Wi-Fi at some point, so this is a great way to catch potential repeat customers.
There are many companies offering such tools, for instance StayFi , Beambox or SocialWiFi. Do be sure to provide an option for guests to opt-out of marketing messages however. If you don’t, you could fall foul of GDPR – more on this later…
Yes, this might be the least high-tech method of building your email list – but it’s also one of the most important things you can do. Vacation rental email marketing should always emphasise the personal, unique nature of stays – so why not just ask?
Maintaining contact with guests is essential for direct bookings and enables a more personalised service. If asking in-person doesn’t feel right, a complimentary slip with sign-up details (alongside your standard welcoming touches) could be another option.
As a final word of caution, remember to take General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) into account when collecting, storing and using any personal data (email addresses especially). This involves seeking unambiguous and explicit consent for processing someone’s data. If you’re at all unsure it’s worth reading-up on GDPR compliance.
You’ve now got a fantastic list of email sign-ups. What next? Well now it’s time to create superstar content that converts potential customers into loyal guests.
In vacation rental email marketing, it really does pay to send out welcome emails.
Did you know that compared with other promotional emails, welcome emails generate an average of 320% more revenue? Treat new subscribers like they are already loyal guests, with a personalised subject line, greeting and plenty of inspirational images and suggestions.
For anyone who’s already booked a stay – make sure to send both welcome and post-stay emails. These should thank guests, encourage feedback and reviews (which can also be shared in subsequent emails) as well as inviting returns with special offers to revisit.
When it comes to vacation rental email marketing – it’s vital to keep content visual. If you’re looking at a potential hotel, villa or restaurant – what’s one of the first things you look for? Yes, photos!
With this in mind, convey what guests will really experience when they’re at your property. Include the local landscape (can you boast pristine beaches, bustling towns or lush hillsides?) as well as seasonal shots of the property and activities (such as horse riding, trail walking etc.) that guests might enjoy.
Seasonality is a big issue for the travel industry – but it’s time to see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
Send emails offering guests a substantial (time-limited) discount for booking your property. Time-limited offers can also be used in conjunction with local events (winter fiesta anyone?), as well as to increase bookings after building works.
Make your vacation rental email marketing exclusive, i.e. “Be the *very first* to stay in our newly renovated villa. Now accepting autumn bookings.” – and you could even throw in some extra touches (such as a bottle of local wine or other delicacies) once guests arrive. This will not only make your guests feel they’ve got a great deal – but they’ll also appreciate those little extras.
You’re officially ready… it’s now time to send your emails! From designing bulk emails to choosing a sending service, there’s a few important considerations…
Bulk email companies often provide pre-formatted email templates (with spaces for images, texts, call-outs and more), which are fully optimised for mobile devices.
These templates are well-worth using, as over 81% of emails are opened and read on mobile devices. Your vacation rental email marketing must be as aesthetically pleasing on mobile as on computers – so do send yourself a test email when getting started. As part of this, remember to use short paragraphs, bullet-points and frequent links to your website. It all makes a difference!
There are so many email tools available (with both free and paid options), so it’s worthwhile doing a bit of research on which provider is best for you.
Mailchimp (who bill themselves as the “all-in-one marketing platform for small business”) is one of the most popular and most user-friendly tools, and our top-pick for getting started with vacation rental email marketing. As well as great automation and audience segmentation tools, you can easily import existing email lists and manually add any email addresses you’ve collected from guests.
Other popular services include Send in Blue (a complete SMS and email marketing software), Constant Contact (one of the fastest growing email marketing companies) and HubSpot Email Marketing… to name just a few. Each service offers slightly different functionality and reporting tools, so take advantage of free trials and test out the different providers for yourself.
If you’re wondering about frequency, this is something that you can actively test (more on this in the next section), but as a rule of thumb – a “standard” monthly email is enough to keep your property in guests’ minds without bombarding them with content.
So, you’ve built a fantastic list, created beautiful and engaging content and sent out your emails. Great! But how can you tell if all this effort is reaping rewards?
The four magic words for vacation rental email marketing are test, track, analyse and improve.
Keep experimenting with different subject lines, images, calls to action and messaging to see what resonates with your audience. Apply any learning to subsequent email campaigns, continuing to test, track and analyse to make sure you are consistently improving results.
Most bulk email sending systems have automated analysis tools, so you don’t need to worry about vast excel spreadsheets. But do think about what key performance indicators (KPIs) are most relevant to your business. For instance, open rates and click-through-rates are all well and good, but are these actually resulting in increased bookings? What about social media follows or website traffic?
According to Smart Insights, the average email open rate is just over 16%, with a 10% click-through-rate. For the accommodation sector as a whole (including hotels, B&Bs, camping sites and vacation rentals), open rates are higher – at just over 17% but click-through-rates are lower, at 8%.
Do bear in mind the type of email you are sending. “Triggered” emails (i.e. those automatically sent after a specific consumer action, for instance after a purchase) have the highest open rates – almost double that of standard “newsletter” emails. Similarly “welcome” emails also have higher open and click rates, as they’re also sent to people already engaging with your holiday rental.
If you’re currently building your vacation rental email marketing strategy, you’ll be off to the best possible start with this ultimate guide. For more inspiration and in-depth advice on growing your direct bookings, join the Rentalsystems Facebook Group. With a supportive community of like-minded owners, you’ll be able to grow your bookings and provide guests a truly fantastic holiday experience.
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