Guest Hook just returned from the “conference circuit”—the VRMA in New Orleans and the last HomeAway Summit of the year, in Austin. Along with finally meeting good friends in person, we’re feeling super-energized and pensive (in a good way).
At these events, we listened to many owners and property managers explain their struggles with creating good vacation rental website content—listing site descriptions, blogs, newsletters, and more…
And we discovered many owners/managers fall into one of two camps.
Well, three camps.
1. Those with no time to write. Property managers and owners are busy people. And crafting the right words takes time. It’s simply too much to add vacation rental website management to the cascading list of tasks.
2. Those with no idea where to start. Some do have time—and energy—to write, and may even enjoy it. But they don’t know what works. It makes sense: the VR industry isn’t entirely clear on what good copy and content even is yet.
But we’re working on it!
3. Those who don’t see the value in content and copy at all. Some people simply can’t be convinced that copy makes a difference on their vacation rental website. But this means good things for those owners and managers who do put time and attention in to communicating effectively. Those who know their words are their voice—and they better get singing—are going to shoot ahead of the pack.
One thing that unites all three of these groups?
Everyone needs a little inspiration sometimes.
Here are 4 vacation rental websites that are all doing copy differently…and all are doing it just right for their market.
1. Coastal Vibe Vacations
Founder David Jenn is a selective vacation rental property manager with a smartly managed portfolio of twelve properties in Destin, Florida. And if you read the descriptions on his website, you’ll notice each property gets star treatment.
What David does right:
Style. This is not cookie-cutter copy. It positively crackles with personality, energy, and zest. Check out the opening lines of his Sandpiper L-06 description:
Fire up the grill – there’s something to celebrate! It could be the sound of ecstatic children, giggling with joy as they float down a 700-foot lazy river (aka your front yard). Or perhaps it’s the massive, split level patio that you’re currently stretched out on, in easy view of the tiki bar, gas grill, numerous picnic tables and comfy benches. Or maybe it’s everything: this beautiful home, this spacious patio, this complementary bottle of wine, this impossibly sweet sea breeze – all yours, for as long as you’d like.[/color-box]
How could you not be excited about staying there?!
Differentiation. Same destination. Same target audience. Yet each property in David’s portfolio is treated as wholly unique. Each has its own unique selling points, which David zeros in on and introduces right away.
Browse a few of his listings and see how each rental is extra-special in its own way—and how he makes sure potential guests know it right away.
2. Alastair Sawday’s
This European vacation rental website (“self-catering rentals” on that side of the pond) is my go-to when I need copywriting inspiration. Their brief but evocative descriptions never fail to put me right there in their fantastical settings.
What Sawday’s does right:
Brevity. It’s a classic question: How long should my copy be? Some say 1,000 words. Others say 1,000 characters (about 200 words). Our view? It depends (sorry). We’ve seen both succeed.
But you should always aim to be crisp, clear, and to the point. Cut the fluff and zero in on what matters most to your guests. Sawday’s nails this, with descriptions under 200 words on average.
Appealing to the senses. Sawday’s copywriter never fails to include rich, sensory details that put the potential guest in the scene. Here’s a description for a holiday rental in Lazio, Italy:
Lavender shortbread and baked peaches for breakfast at this most artistic of homes. The courtyard with magnolia and orange trees is divine. Cross the Tiber into maze-like Trastevere. Turn right for boisterous bars, left for cobblestoned tranquility. Here lies a place that is small and special – an artistic find behind solid green doors.
And that listing was picked totally at random! All of them are this well-drawn.
When we travel, our senses are heightened. The food, the new sights, the sounds…we absorb it all in a way we can’t do in the familiar setting of home.
Not sure where to go with your listing descriptions? Turn to the senses; they won’t fail you.
3. Smoky Mountains Vacation Rentals
Look to these guys when you need inspiration for how to handle that allusive beast: content marketing.
In addition to managing a growing portfolio of 50 properties in one of America’s most-visited places, Co-founders David Angotti and Wes Melton single-handedly created a DMO-level website that rises high above their competition.
What David & Wes do right:
They dream up new ideas. Hiking guides. Restaurant reviews. Recipes. Their now-famous Fall Foliage Map. You’ll be astounded at the sheer amount of content they have on their website—all of it reaching toward the singular goal of “helping, not selling” their potential guests.
They’re open to trying new things to engage their audience—and they don’t overthink; they just do.
They keep up with it. Who knows where their time and energy comes from, but David and Wes make marketing content a priority. They find time to update the website…even when they’re deep in the weeds of property managing.
[Here are some tips to help beat pesky procrastination habits when it comes to your vacation rental content marketing.]
Founder Nikki Woodson-Blair is kicking up dust in the vacation rental industry with a new approach: she offers and markets a curated list of family-friendly vacation rental properties that get her company’s stamp of approval.
And it’s not an easy approval to get: Nikki keeps a list of benchmarks a property must meet in order to be deemed truly family-friendly (hint: it’s much more than a highchair shoved in the back of a closet!)
What Nikki does right:
Targeting an audience. Nikki knows her audience well, because she’s one of them. And her entire website is shaped around targeted families who want to have the best vacation possible with their clan.
Engaging “About Us.” We love Nikki’s “About Us” page! Nikki’s bio, and the story of Clanventure, seamlessly transition into proof for why renting (or listing) with her is a great choice for travelers and VR owners:
[color-box]Clanventure was born out of an idea by our founder and director, Nikki Woodson Blair, family travel guru and admitted perfectionist. When planning trips for her family, she sifted through 100s of homes, looking for just the right place for her family’s holidays. Realizing that most parents don’t have the time or patience for such insanity, she created Clanventure, aiming to amass the best and safest family-friendly properties available.[/color-box]
Visitors to the Clanventure site know they’re in good hands—that Nikki is the sort of person who understands their vacation-planning struggles. And that “kindred spirit” feeling is magic when it comes to bookings!
When writing content for your vacation rental website, take your inspiration from a few of the themes which these killer websites exhibit:
[color-box]Inject some style; differentiate yourself (your USP’s); write with brevity; appeal to the senses; dream up new ideas; keep going/never give up; target copy to your audience; personally engage with readers.[/color-box]
But most important… write with passion. Without it these are words on a page!
Need more encouragement? Get in touch with Guest Hook. We’re happy to help you develop copy and strategies to reach your target guest.