Turn 5 Vacation Rental Copywriting Mistakes into Marketing Gold

Written By: Conrad
Last Updated: May 10, 2024

When you tell the world about your vacation rental, you want to make sure your message booms loud and clear.

That’s why, after you write your listing descriptions, website copy, or other words about your VR, you should add an extra step: scan for these common copywriting mistakes. They’ll dilute the impact of your message, sell your property short, and—worst case—have your potential guests clicking elsewhere.

The good news? Once you learn how to find these missteps, they’re easy to flip into positives that intrigue, reassure, and convert your target audience.

It’s a powerful weapon!

Mistake #1: Using cliché language

In our list of VR copy blunders, cliché words and phrases get top billing. Nothing disengages your audience faster than dead words like “amazing,” “beautiful,” and “home away from home.”

It comes from a good place! VR owners and managers want to convey the awesomeness of the rental…so they use the word “awesome.” A lot. The problem is that everyone else uses that word, too. So potential guests skip right over it as, essentially, meaningless fluff.

In other words, clichés are white noise when want you want is a symphony.

A few drafts are fine!

So how do you recognize a cliché in your writing?

First, clichés often fail to create a concrete image.

The phrase “amazing kitchen” brings no specifics to mind. Is it roomy and sleek, with gleaming new appliances? Or is it the kind of cozy, light-washed kitchen where you want to griddle pancakes on a Sunday morning? Consider the four senses and choose evocative words that point to specifics.

Another trick for finding clichés? Simply read what you’ve written.

If you get to the end of a paragraph or page and realize you haven’t paid attention to a word of it…you’ve probably got a cliché problem. If you bore yourself, in other words, your potential guests will likely have the same experience.

Mistake #2: Forgetting the emotional appeal.

Some owners and managers treat their copy like a business transaction. They assume people are looking for straight facts. How many bedrooms? How far to the beach?

Of course, potential guests are looking for this info—and it’s logical to supply it to them. Early and often.

But travel is also an emotional experience.

People save up all year for it. They savor it as a time to reconnect with loved ones in the midst of busy lives. They seek it out to establish family traditions, give their kids happy memories, and explore new places.

Appeal to their heads and their hearts.

A bulleted list of amenities leaves no room for any of this.

Great travel copywriting targets your ideal guests with words that speak to their travel wants, needs, and daydreams. If you often host families, for example, mention the way kids’ eyes will light up when their parents bring s’mores ingredients to the backyard fire pit. Simply writing “fire pit in backyard” can’t create the same connection.

Mistake #3: Not incorporating a sense of you.

As vacation rental industry experts say all the time, vacation rentals have some serious marketing advantages over hotels. Specifically, the personal connection between owner and guest.

You are your own most valuable asset in the VR industry.

So it doesn’t make sense to create copy that imitates the polished, focus-group-tested, impersonal copy hotels and resorts use.

Instead, speak to your guests like old friends. Make them feel welcome and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to use a little humor, if it fits your personality. Use personal pronouns like “we,” “us,” “our.” Tell a little story about your rental.

Being welcoming also means leaving out the defensive rules—at least when it comes to copy that introduces potential guests to your property. You know what we’re talking about: the ALL CAPS warnings and scolding directives like SMOKING IS GROSS AND OUR RENTAL IS NO PLACE FOR IT!

You might be thinking, I don’t care if I put off smokers and pet owners. They’re not my target audience, anyway. But if handled the wrong way, your copy will also put off non-smokers and travelers without pets who will read you as demanding and difficult.

There are gentler ways to convey rules.

Try this, instead: “If you’re traveling with your pet companions, ‘The Blue House’ won’t be a good fit for you. We love animals—but unfortunately can’t welcome them at our rental home.”

Or just save the rules for after you’ve closed the booking.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the competition.

VR owners pour their hearts and souls into their rentals—remodeling, redecorating, making big  decisions and hiring a photographer for the glamour shots.

After all that backbreaking work, understandably, they become too close to their rental and can’t objectively evaluate where it sits in comparison to its competition. Of course it’s the best one on the block!

But it’s essential to check out what other rentals in the area have to offer. Most likely, they’ll have some advantages your rentals lack, and you’ll have some features they don’t.

Don’t be afraid to mention your weaknesses, in fact, and how you overcome them. For example, a recent client was looking to write a compelling description for his mountain cabin without an outdoor hot tub. He understands, realistically, that this can be a downside for some guests.

Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room (or lack thereof), we were sure to point out though there isn’t a hot tub, the owner took the money he would have spent on a hot tub and invested it in a high-end, 8-jet Jacuzzi tub for two in the en suite master bathroom—a cleaner, more private alternative.

Mistake #5: Writing giant blocks of text and run-on sentences.

Short paragraphs are your friend. So are short sentences. This is just the way people read online…for better or worse. Enough said!

Thanks for reading the Guest Hook blog’s inaugural post!

We’re the first-ever vacation rental-specific copywriting agency, helping owners and managers craft everything from targeted descriptions of their properties, to engaging blog posts and newsletters, to press releases and other PR…and a lot more.

Want to increase bookings and look like a travel industry pro? Send us a message to see how we can help!

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