The Vacation Rental Owner’s #1 Untapped Resource

As a vacation rental marketing blogger, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “what is the cheapest and fastest way to increase my bookings?” And because …

As a vacation rental marketing blogger, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “what is the cheapest and fastest way to increase my bookings?” And because vacation rental marketing isn’t magic, which is to say, it rarely happens “over night,” my answer is usually some variation of the same topic: email marketing.

When I first tried email marketing to improve my vacation rental bookings, I had no idea what I was doing.
We had an excel file with hundreds of former guests names and email addresses sitting around gathering dust. So I decided to sign up for an email provider, upload those contacts, and send out an off-the-cuff newsletter telling all my former guests how much I missed them and detailing some updates in our neighborhood including the filming of James Bond’s Quantum of Solace. This was a totally innocent attempt at staying connected with my former guests.
What I got in response was simply unbelievable.
Not only did a giant majority of my former guests write back to say how wonderful it was to hear from us and that they cherished and missed their time in Casco Viejo, but 30 of them booked a repeat visit to our rentals right there on the spot! 30 bookings!!!
Considering the newsletter took me about one hour to write and the service cost me about $15/month, the amount of revenue generated seemed almost, well…magical.
Did you know that, according to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association), the return on investment of email marketing for 2011 was $40.56 for every $1 invested? And that the figure for 2012 is predicted to "fall" to $39.40?
This might not sound so outrageous when you consider my second successful email blast…
Over the years, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that nine times out of ten, when promoting vacation rentals with email marketing, you must offer more value to the recipient than to yourself. Which is to say, if your ratio of useful, informative email content doesn’t outweigh your special offers by 9:1, you won’t be maximizing the technique.
So when you do decide to take that plunge and make a special offer, you’ll want to consider the experiment featured in my ebook "Matt’s Definitive Handbook On Email Marketing" (FREE for the next 48 hours) with “Groupon-style” deals:
Let’s say you’re sending out email newsletters every month or so to all your former guests, as a great way to stay connected. Let’s also say bookings are a little slow at the moment and you need to bump up cash flow.
Here’s what I did; I decided to offer $500 in gift certificate credit at a discounted price of only $250. This meant that any former guest who received the email had the opportunity to stay with us again at half price.
[Note: Of course I made some rules like “this voucher expires in 2 years” and “this voucher applies only to yet-to-be-booked reservations”…etc.]
The results from my email blast were insanely successful. Of the roughly 1,000 former guests that received the email, 28 took us up on the offer! We were so excited about this! We brought in $7,000 on a Tuesday in low season! And the best part? They were all getting a great deal so it was a win-win for both parties!
From there, we simply noted their names on a ledger and credited their account when they were ready to make the actual bookings.
It is estimated that vacation rental owners spend 5 times as much time and money acquiring new guests (marketing, advertising, emails, phone calls…etc) than it takes to cater to former guests. This means that former guests are worth  “5 in the bush.” Sure, you might say that we were cannibalizing our potential leads by offering 50% off. But never underestimate the time and energy saved (not to mention, word of mouth marketing) when hosting repeat guests. Plus, they’re loyal individuals and they deserve it!

Follow Matt on Twitter @bookmorenights

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As NuWire’s designated vacation rental expert, Matt is the author of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, and the founder of, offering impactful tools for vacation rental owners and managers at seriously reduced prices. Matt is also a regular columnist for FlipKey and HomeAway, the two most reputable names in the vacation rental marketplace.



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