At Guest Hook, we’ve found that many of our vacation rental clients fit one of two profiles when it comes to marketing:
The Logicians who want to just give potential guests the facts about the rentals. No “flowery” stuff! And…
The Creatives who want their property descriptions and photography to have more panache – an emotional appeal, a lush description of a sunset, a striking photo.
We can break down the demographics a bit more, too: Property managers tend to be more logical – they study ROI, demographics, the science of marketing.
Individual owners, on the other hand, want to find the perfect poetic words and the dreamiest photo to capture everything they love about their home.
It makes total sense! Property managers prioritize the bottom line for the sake of their homeowners and the health of their company. Homeowners care about the bottom line, too, of course – but they also have a stronger emotional connection to their property, and they want their marketing to convey that connection.
It’s differences like these that make our industry so damn interesting, right? And, of course, neither is wrong in their approach.
In fact, both groups can learn something from one another. Logic and creativity are not mutually exclusive, and it’s actually critical that both make their way into your marketing strategy.
In the end, facts are not more important than flourish. Nor is an interesting “voice,” artistic photos, and poetic language enough to convince someone to stay at your vacation rental.
You need the golden combo.
Words: Facts or Stories?
In your listing description on say, HomeAway or Airbnb, you only have so much space to work with – not to mention the battle you’ll undertake with your potential guest’s attention span.
When you pick and choose your material, does the number of bedrooms and bathrooms at your rental trump the story of the time a guest proposed to his girlfriend from your deck overlooking the mountains?
Logicians would say, oh yes, definitely. People really only care about whether the rental will fit all their family members. While creative would say no, absolutely not, and in fact, make that engagement story the focus of the entire listing!
But the real skill is in combining both: presenting factual information in an engaging, creative and concise way.
Here’s how to combine the best of both logic and creativity. Facts and flourish.
Are you a “Creative”?
Then be mindful of wordiness and over-expression in your property description.
Forget the five-paragraph story (you may find another place in your marketing for it… just not your listing site property description!). Weave in a quick story, instead: “Our back deck facing the mountain view is so incredible, it inspired one couple to get engaged right there in that spot.”
Also pare back on the long, drawn-out descriptions of, say, the backyard, distilling them instead into just a few poignant words. Rather than using multiple lines to describe the color of the morning dew on the back lawn and the birds singing in the trees, choose one short and evocative phrase, like “as green and manicured as a golf course” or “lush with wildflowers.”
Are you a “Logician”?
If you’re mostly concerned with presenting the straight facts of the rental – the hard sell, in other words – you’re missing the chance to appeal to your potential guest’s emotions.
Don’t be afraid to inject personality into your words. Make the potential guest feel like they’re in conversation with you. Add a joke, if it fits your personality. Set the stage with some details of how guests can use the house.
And if the sunset really is spectacular? Try your hand at describing it – briefly.
That’s called emotional appeal. And it works!
Photos: Proof or Emotion?
Photos are, first and foremost, about proof. They verify for your potential guest that you do, in fact, provide the features and amenities you claim to have.
But that’s not all they accomplish. If photos were solely about logical proof-making, then it wouldn’t matter if those photos were grainy shots from an iPhone 3 or stunning photos snapped by a professional photographer.
As we know by now, those grainy shots aren’t enough to cut it.
They have to display a depth of feeling. They have to set the scene in a compelling way, and they have to be so sharp, crisp and inviting that your guests imagine sitting down to dinner at that al fresco table, settling in with a coffee in front of that ocean view, or splashing in that sparkling pool.
Here’s how Tyann Marcink, professional photographer and VR owner, sees it:
Emotion sells and facts justify the purchase. The images must create a desire in the guest to have the same experience shown in the pictures. Elicit an emotional response from the traveler, and she is more likely to become your guest!
As a society, we may be cynical…especially when it comes to being sold to. After all, we’re decades into being bombarded by “the hard sell” our filters are very well-developed at this point. But that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the ability to be moved.
Garage door salespeople may struggle, but you’re selling a vacation – a highly emotional purchase. Present authenticity and beauty – not just logic and figures – and people will respond.