As a vacation rental owner or manager, you’re destined to write many words about your rental (and your rental’s town or city) in the coming months or – depending on your goals – years.
Even if you keep your marketing efforts light, you will at the very least exchange emails with guests, respond to guest reviews, and write a property description for your rental’s online listing.
More advanced folks will blog, send newsletters, writer insider guides, craft social media posts, and more. (But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
All of those words – even if you pen only the bare minimum – will work to achieve a singular goal: attract more guests.
And not just any guests, but guests you will be glad to host. Guests who do the dishes, leave five-star reviews, tag you on social media, and come back again next year.
These are the folks that make this entire vacation rental adventure worth it, right?
Your words are your most effective tool for reaching them.
Aren’t Photos and Visual Media the Difference-Maker?
It’s true: in 2016, we’re fluent in the language of visual media.
Photos and video are instant attention-getters, especially in the extraordinarily photogenic travel industry. What grabs the heart faster than a well-shot photo of a sprawling mountain vista at sunrise?
No matter how many pretty words we type to describe the same scene, nothing beats the visual proof of an incredible photo or dramatic sweep of a video camera.
But visual media doesn’t tell the whole story. A vista photo speaks to the soul, yes; but great copywriting speaks to the mind.
Where is that vista located? Is it better than the neighbor’s? Is that view from the back deck or the bedroom window?
And beyond the view – who is the person whose home I’m renting? Can I trust them? What kind of experience will I have? Will my family be impressed or disappointed?
A photo can’t answer those questions. That’s where copy (and its bosom buddy, content) come in.
The Difference Between Copy and Content
We’ll be talking a lot about copy and content in this series. Like wine and cheese, these two marketing elements work best when they work together.
Here’s a quick primer on the key goals of each:
The goal of copy is to convince a guest to take action – to book with you. Copy appears on your website landing page (if you have one) and your property description.
It’s your call-to-action, your engaging headline, your clear acknowledgement of the guest’s concerns – and your proof that you are uniquely prepared to address them.
The goal of content, on the other hand, is to educate and build a rapport with your audience – to create trust by giving them something they can use.
In vacation rentals, “content” means blogs about your destination from a local’s perspective (yours, of course). It means suggested itineraries for families visiting your destination. It means a handy print-out with the most-used phrases in the area’s native language.
Copy is the grandfather of marketing. Think the iconic VW “Lemon” print ad, studied by copywriters everywhere.
Meanwhile, content speaks to our modern, collective disillusionment: we’ve spent the last 60 years being aggressively sold to. We’ve gotten smart about cutting out the noise.
Content acknowledges that we over-stimulated humans read what is relevant to us and let the rest of it filter right through.
Your Words Tell Your Story
Here’s one element of your copy & content that will catch people’s attention: storytelling.
From cave walls to campfires, stories knit humanity together. Their emotional effects are profound…and we lose something when we overvalue facts and figures. Sure, facts and numbers are static and trustworthy, but don’t forget the power of the “gut feeling.” Especially when it comes to something as valuable as vacations!
People are looking for something to relate to – a context for their life and their decisions.
So, before you start writing, you should get comfy with your “origin story.” What got you into vacation rentals in the first place?
Obviously, money/investment/nest egg-building will be an answer that many of you share. But the most powerful origin stories offer a unique take, like: “I inherited my family’s hunting cabin and remodeled it into a modern retreat that honors our family history.”
History and context are prime creators of the “gut feeling.” Your rental isn’t just four walls with a couple beds; it has a story and a unique place in the world. Your copy and content tell it.
Your Words Build Trust
This is worth stressing again.
Priority #1 for almost every guest is, quite simply, to book a vacation with confidence. They want to know – with as much certainty as possible – that the imagined vacation catastrophes keeping them up at night won’t actually happen.
If they trust you to also want to avoid those catastrophes, they’ll be more likely to turn their vacation over to you.
In the world of Book-it-Now, we’re moving away from long conversations prior to booking. It’s less likely that you’ll be able to sway your potential guests with well thought-out emails and personal phone calls.
That’s why your property descriptions, owner bios, and other static words become an important space to showcase that you are welcoming, considerate, and care – truly – about providing great vacations.
Your words show your personality – or the personality of your rental company. And they speak the language of your target guest.
Coming Next in the Foundation Series
What Is Your Vacation Rental Brand? Read about what happened when Jessica and her friends threw a bachelorette party for their friend Lisa over Memorial Day weekend. Yep, it really is relevant to your vacation rental brand!
And wrapping it up the Foundations series after that: Why Most Unique Selling Points Aren’t Actually Unique! Swimming pool? Proximity to Disney World? Free WiFi? Learn why these key pieces of information are not your USPs.