In our branding series, The Key 3: Building Your Brand From What You’ve Got, we’re taking a look at the three cornerstones of vacation rental brands—your approach to guests, your location, and your property’s signature vibe—and showing you how to leverage these to create a recognizable, relatable brand that calls to your ideal guests.
It goes without saying that your destination will have an impact on your brand. (You won’t have much luck convincing guests to book a ski cabin in Cancun, for example.)
But one common mistake among vacation rental owners and managers is relying on the location to determine a brand’s entire identity.
In this post in our branding series, we’ll show you how to think about your rental(s) relationship to their location—and help you determine which aspect of your destination you should focus on to create a brand that sets you apart.
We’ll also check in with Mark and Layla, our example vacation rental managers in Newport, Rhode Island, to see how they’ve used their property’s location to their advantage.
Ready to get started? Let’s kick it off by zooming out to the big picture.
What is your destination known for?
Take a second and make a list of the reasons why people visit your destination—not necessarily your rental specifically, but your town or community. Are you in the heart of wine country? Next to sugar-sand beaches? Do people come to eat delicious cuisine? To tour museums? To hike trails through old-growth trees?
Really dig down as far into specifics as you can. “To explore the outdoors” is pretty general. Better to say something like, “to ski world-class trails at the resorts,” or “to snorkel on the reef.”
If you’re in a well-known destination, your work is a little easier at this step. But if you’re a bit off the beaten path, work doubly hard to identify every reason why your town is one worth visiting.
Once you’ve gotten the big picture, it’s time to get specific.
How do your rentals fit into your destination?
In the last step, you probably came to the conclusion that there’s a lot to love about your destination. In this step, you’re going to figure out what you have to offer for the folks that already love your corner of the world.
Go through your list and choose one item that your rental uniquely allows guests to experience.
Maybe you’re a certified foodie who has connections at local restaurants (or exceptional dishes to recommend). Maybe guests can walk out your front door and onto a great hiking trail. These are your way in!
We’re not saying that guests won’t be able to enjoy every aspect of your location when they visit—of course they can. But if you speak to too broad of an audience, you risk appearing as if you don’t understand the needs or wants of those your rental is best suited for.
How do you stand apart from your neighbors?
The key here is to really think about why/how you’re better than your neighbors.
If you’ve chosen to highlight your close proximity to the beaches, how is staying at your home a better way to enjoy the beach than staying at the home next door? Are you fully stocked with beach toys and towels, perhaps? Is your home designed to maximize ocean views?
Note for property managers: If you have several homes in various places in the area, you can still have a local focus. Think about how your standard amenities and hosting cater to your destination. Like that aforementioned collection of beach goodies, for example. Or your decades of knowledge about which beaches are best.
The answers you arrive at here may be similar to what you came up with when establishing your host personality—for example, if you’ve landed on your local expertise and willingness to share it.
If so, that’s a good sign! The more connected these three aspects of your brand are, the stronger your brand will be.
Layla & Mark’s Location Identity
Let’s take a look at Layla & Mark, our fictitious owners of beach cottages in Newport, Rhode Island.
Together, with input from their past guests, they came up with a list of reasons why people visit Newport, including:
- Visit the beaches
- Go to festivals
- Tour the mansions
- Shop and visit galleries downtown
- Sailing/sailing events
- Attend a wedding
- Fishing and seafood
While different guests have visited for every reason on the list, their cottages’ proximity to Bellevue Avenue, home of many of the historic mansions, leads them to choose touring the mansions as their focus.
But how can they set themselves apart from other nearby rentals? If you remember from our last post, Mark’s a Rhode Island native and history buff. His interest in the mansions and insider knowledge—paired with Layla’s communication skills—will allow them to deepen their brand identity. Here’s how we’d define the second cornerstone of their brand.
Historic Mansion Enthusiasts
Layla and Mark’s brand should incorporate their proximity to, and knowledge of, the Newport’s historic mansions. Social media posts and newsletter content should provide unique insight into the area’s history, and design—including the logo—should incorporate some elements of elegance as a nod to the mansions. Consider including references to the mansions when naming properties, and tie both the history of both the area and Mark’s interest in it into the brand story.
In our next post, we’ll talk about the third and final cornerstone of your brand: the vibe of your rentals.