Over Memorial Day weekend, we threw a bachelorette party for my friend Lisa in Sonoma, California. (Sorry, it won’t be that kind of story. What happens in Sonoma…)
Before the trip, a group of us – nine women from various eras of Lisa’s life – were tasked with finding the perfect wine country vacation rental.
We needed a place that could sleep at least 10 people. On Memorial Day weekend. (Would you believe that’s not an easy thing to do? Who would have thought!)
Otherwise, we based our decision on what Lisa would love.
Many of us in the group had never met before. We live in places scattered across the country, and we’re all on various life paths. We hardly knew each other.
But we all know Lisa.
After we conducted our HomeAway/Airbnb/VRBO search we realized we’d found a place that just “felt like Lisa.”
The farmhouse architecture. The 8 acres of vineyards. The classic-not-stuffy interior. The relaxed pool and al fresco dining table under a trellis weaved with green vines.
We could all picture Lisa – our genuine, kind, wine-loving, low-maintenance friend – walking in and loving it (and loving us for finding it).
And she did.
We ended up spending more time back at the rental than out exploring – we loved it that much. (We loved it so much we had to do a photo shoot of just the house before we said our goodbyes.)
Did our winning home have a “brand”? It sure did. A classic – not rustic – farmhouse for wine country visitors who are choosy, but not fussy. “Stone and wood” over “marble and granite.” Soft corners over hard edges.
The vacation rental had a brand. And it’s brand was also 100% Lisa.
Branding Helps Your Guests
Your guests have an internal – probably subconscious – monologue when they book a trip: “Am I a “city-apartment” type? Or a “cabin-in-the-woods” type? A connoisseur of luxury, or a lover of the simple things?
In other words, does this purchasing decision uniquely fit me and my group?
It’s a big, noisy world out there. And we have many, many decisions to make. Booking a vacation is no exception – in fact, it’s often ranked among our most stressful decisions. Seems counterintuitive, right? Vacations are about stress-relief!
But it’s precisely because vacations make a promise of a future time without stress that we stress about it. We save. We plan. We wait. We worry. We anticipate.
Anecdotally, I find most people actually procrastinate booking their vacations because they’re intimidated by the choices, and they’re afraid of making the wrong ones and ruining their rare and cherished getaway.
We want to make sure our choice of accommodation (and destination) fits our identity and/or that of our group.
This is where you – as a vacation rental owner or manager – step in and prove that you are the absolute perfect choice.
You want guests to have that “I found the one” reaction. You can’t do that without a brand identity.
And More Importantly, Branding Helps You
You already have a brand. If you have a vacation rental and an idea of the guests your property attracts, or will attract, you have a vacation rental brand. It’s just a matter of being able to articulate it – and use it to your advantage in your marketing.
Being able to identify your brand helps you know yourself and your business. Your goals. Your strategy for getting there.
If you’re one of six hundred beachfront condos on the Gulf of Mexico, that noise is going to be tough to cut through. Especially if you’re relying on HomeAway and Airbnb to bring you bookings.
One all-star vacation rental owner, Nancy McAleer
In the end, she parted ways with that management company. And doubled her projected bookings.
That’s because Nancy had a brand. Though she wasn’t beachfront, she was waterfront, near fishing piers and docks – a hit with boaters.
Her design scheme is Caribbean-inspired and just plain fun – reminiscent of seaside adventures and a colorful place to call home. Hers is not a cookie cutter condo with beige walls and a few pastel seashell paintings. For the right guests, the bright, cheery ambiance beats gulf-front any day.
And when the right guests find the right rental, it’s a beautiful thing. You feel comfortable leaving your home in their hands. They leave awesome reviews.
Most importantly? They become repeat guests. Our bachelorette group is already thinking about a “bachelorette party reunion.” And we know exactly which rental we’re going to book.
Coming Next in the Foundation Series
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.
Catch up on the first article in this series: Why Copywriting Matters in the Vacation Rental Industry