We’re always advocating a more personal approach in vacation rental marketing. Guests are more likely to book when they see the real person behind the listing. It’s all about trust!
Why should Guest Hook be any different, then? No reason at all. And so we asked some of our clients to come up with 5 meaty questions to put to the team behind the Guest Hook badge. The questions weren’t easy to answer, but it was a lot of fun!
First up is Jessica Vozel…
As an experienced travel writer specializing in vacation rental copywriting, Jessica co-founded Guest Hook in April 2015 with Andy McNulty. Here are Jessica’s answers to those 5 challenging questions, providing a little insight into what makes her tick!
Q1. How did you get into travel copywriting and what was your first paid copywriting gig (of any kind)?
Starting out, I worked with copywriting clients across all kinds of industries. Tech, home improvement, safety equipment…even one client selling liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes. The variety was lots of fun. But to grow, I had to finally take the advice I’d been given many times: specialize. That is, find your “thing” and get really good at it.
Like many travel addicts who also love writing, I considered a career as a travel writer. But in my heart, I’m not much of a globe-trotting adventurer. I love the straightforwardness of copywriting—the clear goals, the potential for collaboration, working with words all day from my climate-controlled desk. And I was also drawn to the huge changes happening in the travel industry (and travel marketing).
Cue Christine Anderson, a travel copywriter and my guiding light! I emailed her for advice on how to crack the industry, and she generously spent a few months mentoring me. Before I knew it, Christine was transitioning to a sweet full-time job and recommending all her freelance clients to me. I’m still so grateful!
Q2. They say everyone has a book in them. If that is true, what book would you write (if you haven’t written one already)?
Great question! Before becoming a copywriter, I went to graduate school for my MFA in creative writing (fiction). While there, I finished a book of short stories, which I’m still perfecting, and there’s a novel in me somewhere, too.
Then, of course, I could probably write a book about how to write copy for vacation rentals, and maybe someday I will—there’s a surprising number of ways in which VR marketing is quite unique. Mostly because it’s full of individuals, not monolith corporate brands. (There are monolith brands, for sure. Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HomeAway. But those brands wouldn’t exist without individual owners and managers.)
Q3. Do you have a most treasured vacation rental memory? If so, what was so wonderful about it?
I have two. And they’re total opposites!
In 2012, my extended family (I think 24 of us) took a vacation to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We splurged. Our 8-bedroom house was over-the-top and right on the Chesapeake Bay. We feasted on blue crabs caught with a crab trap right off our dock, chartered a sailboat into the bay and learned about oysters from a local captain, lounged around the pool under old-growth trees. We’ve been doing a multi-generational family reunion every couple years for the last 20, and that was definitely a favorite!
The second was my first Airbnb experience. A close friend and I stayed with two jazz musicians in New Orleans, near Frenchman Street. One night, they invited us into their impromptu jam session in their backyard with a bunch of other supremely talented jazz artists. And I think it cost us $25 each a night to stay there. I was definitely an Airbnb convert after that!
Q4. What three things do you look for when choosing a vacation destination for yourself?
I just realized two things my favorite vacation rental memories have in common: they were both among the most “real” vacation experiences in my life. In both instances, I met locals, learned their life stories, ate food you really can’t find anywhere else. And I got to experience a new place with people I love.
In the end, like many people, I don’t want to feel like a “tourist.” Not that I want to claim any ownership over the place I’m visiting—I’m still an outsider, after all—but I want to leave feeling like I’ve gotten to peek into what it’s like to live there. And all the better if I get to share that with people I care about.
Q5. Finally – what are the most common copywriting ‘blunders’ that you come across in your work with VR owners and managers?
For individual VR owners, the biggest blunder is forgetting they’re selling themselves, too. People booking a vacation rental with an individual owner want to make sure this individual is A. not a scam artist, and B. easy to work with.
Copy is your chance to show the potential guest who you are, prove you’re real, and even create a connection with them through telling them a bit about your connection to the place, your family, your story.
For property managers, perhaps the biggest blunder I come across is over-selling (though this happens with individual owners, too).
By that I mean hyperbolic language with lots!!!!! of exclamation points and CAPITAL LETTERS all over the place. And all the while, they’re not talking about any specific aspects of a place that potential guests care about. Just AMAZING, BREATHTAKING LUXURY! So, what’s luxurious? The marble bathrooms? The resort-style pool?
As any writer will tell you, the key is to “show, don’t tell.” Prove it!