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How hosts can ace the vacation rental marketing game

The vacation rental market is booming, with travellers seeking unique and private escapes. But with so many options available, how do you make your property stand out and attract a steady stream of bookings? Whether you're a seasoned host or just starting your holiday rental journey, we'll cover everything from crafting a polished website to leveraging the power of social media. Get ready to transform your marketing approach and welcome a wave of new guests to your holiday let!

Craft a captivating first impression 

Your online presence is the first thing potential guests will encounter. Think of it as your digital storefront window. Here's how to make it shine and grab attention in search results:

  • Invest in a user-friendly website

In today's fast-paced world, a user-friendly website is essential. Easy navigation, clear information, and a mobile-responsive design are crucial for a positive first impression. Optimise your website title tags and meta descriptions with relevant keywords to help potential guests find you in search engine results.
Check out our top 21 website templates for vacation rental properties.

  • High-quality photos and videos

High-resolution photos and captivating videos are the best way to showcase your property's charm. Highlight not just the aesthetics, but also the unique features and amenities that set your rental apart. Consider professional photography, or hone your skills to capture stunning visuals of your property's best features, breathtaking views, cosy fireplaces, or a relaxing pool area.

  • Partner with a web designer

Don't have the time or expertise to create a professional website and high-quality visuals? Companies like ACT Studios specialise in creating websites and stunning visuals specifically for vacation rentals. They can help you develop a user-friendly website, capture professional photos and even create 3D virtual tours that allow potential guests to explore your property virtually before booking.

Know your ideal guest 

Understanding your target audience is vital for crafting targeted marketing messages that resonate with potential guests. Here's how to identify your ideal guest and tailor your marketing materials:

  • Identify your ideal guest: take time to create a profile of your ideal guest. Are they families seeking adventure activities near your location? Couples on a romantic getaway looking for a peaceful escape? Or remote workers in need of a well-equipped workspace and reliable Wi-Fi? 
  • Craft targeted marketing materials: Once you know your ideal guest, tailor your marketing materials to their specific interests and needs. Highlight the amenities and experiences that would be most appealing to them. For example, families might be drawn to a property with a game room and a fenced-in yard, while couples might be more interested in a fireplace and a luxurious spa bathroom.

For more info on how to target your ideal guest, check out this blog

Embrace direct bookings

While online travel agencies (OTAs) offer convenience for travellers, they also take a chunk of your revenue through commission fees. Encouraging direct bookings through your website allows you to keep more profit in your pocket and build stronger relationships with your guests. However, attracting visitors to your site in the first place requires a strategic marketing plan. Here's a breakdown of the benefits and challenges of direct bookings, along with solutions to help you succeed:

Benefits of direct bookings:

  • Increased revenue: keep more of your hard-earned income by avoiding commission fees charged by OTAs.
  • Control over your brand: you have complete control over how your property is presented and the booking process.
  • Build guest relationships: direct bookings allow for better communication and a more personalised experience for your guests.

Challenges of direct bookings:

  • Reaching potential guests: standing out amidst fierce competition from other vacation rentals and OTAs can be difficult.


Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that uses SEO best practices, social media marketing, and potentially targeted online advertising to drive traffic to your website.

Multi-channel marketing magic 

Don't limit yourself to a single marketing platform! Use a variety of channels to reach your target audience and maximise your exposure. Here are some effective channels to consider:

Social media marketing:

  • Leverage the power of social media platforms like Instagram to showcase captivating visuals and stories about your property and the surrounding area. Share high-quality photos, videos, and engaging content that would entice your ideal guest to book a stay.
    Check out our webinar on mastering social media for short-term rentals
  • Consider platforms like Vrbo, which caters heavily to families, if your ideal guest demographic includes families with young children. Explore advertising options on these platforms to reach a wider audience.

Other channels:

Depending on your ideal guest and budget, explore additional marketing channels like email marketing, partnerships with local businesses, or travel blogs that cater to your niche.

The power of storytelling 

People connect with stories. Use the power of storytelling to capture the imagination of potential guests and make your vacation rental stand out:

  • Highlight unique features: does your property boast a rich history? Is it a meticulously restored cabin nestled amongst towering redwoods? Unveiling the unique features of your rental adds intrigue and sets the stage for an unforgettable experience.
  • Offer experiences: go beyond just a place to stay. Showcase the experiences your rental unlocks. Is it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking trails right outside the door? Or a perfect escape for relaxation, complete with an in-house spa and yoga studio?
  • Let your storytelling abilities shine through: craft compelling descriptions for your website and marketing materials. Use vivid language and evocative imagery to paint a picture of the perfect vacation that awaits guests at your rental.

Leverage guest advocacy 

Positive guest experiences are your best marketing tool. Here's how to turn satisfied guests into brand advocates:

  • Encourage guest reviews: request reviews from satisfied guests after their stay. Positive reviews on your website and online travel agencies (OTAs) build trust and credibility with potential guests. Consider offering incentives, like discounts on future stays, to encourage guests to leave reviews.
  • Share recommendations: showcase guest testimonials and recommendations on your social media platforms and website. User-generated content featuring real guests enjoying your rental adds a layer of authenticity and social proof that resonates with potential bookers.
  • Foster a sense of community: build relationships with past guests. Send out occasional newsletters with updates about your property or the surrounding area. Engage with them on social media and respond to their comments and questions. By fostering a sense of community, you can encourage repeat bookings and turn past guests into loyal brand ambassadors.

Become a local area expert 

Travellers often seek more than just a place to stay; they crave authentic experiences. Position yourself as a local expert and add value to your guests' stay:

  • Provide recommendations: go beyond the typical tourist attractions. Compile a list of hidden gems, local restaurants frequented by residents, and unique experiences that guests might not find elsewhere. Offer this information on your website or create a digital guidebook for guests.
    Check out our blog on how to create the perfect local area guide.
  • Showcase your knowledge of the area: highlight your property's proximity to local attractions, landmarks, and outdoor activities. Embed a map on your website showcasing nearby points of interest. By showcasing your knowledge of the area, you position yourself as a trusted resource for guests and enhance their overall vacation experience.

Continuous improvement 

The vacation rental market is dynamic. Stay ahead of the curve by constantly adapting to market trends and guest preferences:

  • Keep up-to-date with guest preferences: pay attention to industry reports and online reviews to identify current guest preferences and travel trends. Are there new amenities or experiences that travellers are increasingly seeking?
  • Refine your marketing strategies: don't be afraid to experiment and refine your marketing strategies based on data and analytics. Track website traffic sources, analyse guest demographics, and see what marketing efforts are yielding the best results. Continuously adapt your approach to maximise your return on investment.

By following these comprehensive marketing strategies and infusing your approach with captivating storytelling, you can transform your vacation rental from a hidden gem to a thriving business. 

Try a Touch Stay digital guidebook to create unforgettable guest experiences!