Well, it’s now 2014 and if you’ve been renting your vacation rental or investment property in the last 12 months, you’ve noticed just how crowded and difficult it is to get your listing to stand out in from the crowd. In fact, if there’s one thing we CAN count on in the vacation rental space is that CHANGE is the norm. Airbnb continues to be the powerhouse of rapid, hotel-disrupting growth, but instant-booking sites like Expedia.com, Booking.com and even Google are getting into the mix. The days of setting up your VRBO account and watching the bookings roll in are over.
It has NEVER been more vital to build your own brand and consistently market your properties to specific audiences. The costs associated with paid listing sites will continue to increase and your ROI on the major web portals will continue to dwindle, therefore it’s necessary to step outside of the downward spiral and look for alternative ways to build your brand.
One extremely powerful method to optimize your occupancy and increase your revenue is to practice niche marketing. Niche marketing involves concentrating your marketing efforts on a small but specific and well-defined segment of the renter population. People who chose to forgo the hotel and rent a vacation home used to be a niche market by themselves, however consumer habits have changed and renting a vacation home has become much more mainstream.
In order to practice niche marketing, you first need to decide which niche to pursue. Start with the basics. Like a funnel, we’re going to shoot high and wide at first and narrow down to a specific targeted consumer group of vacation renters.
First, where are you located? You can position your value based on the surrounding geography, which is often what people use to search for vacation rentals. Consider some of the following descriptors:
- Sunny beach house
- Extreme adventure and outdoor activities
- Urban getaway
- Nature lover’s retreat
- The golfer’s dream vacation
- Ski bum Getaway
Then, take a look in the mirror and decide what type of renters your comfortable hosting. For example:
- Do you allow pets?
- Are you kid friendly?
- Is it a smoking or non-smoking property?
- How many people can sleep in the property?
- How long can people stay?
- Is it handicap accessible?
- Any additional services you provide?
Now that you’ve defined your property and the type of renters you seek, you can start narrowing down to your theme or niche market. Here are some examples of growing niche travel markets:
- Luxury vacations
- Women only
- Men only
- Gay and lesbian travel
- Adventure and outdoor vacations
- Traveling with disabilities
- Traveling with pets
- Grandparents and “empty nesters”
The more you begin to cater to a specific niche market, the more you will learn their travel and buying habits. Keep a list, like the one below and jot down your notes every few months and soon you’ll have a well-defined outline of your ideal renters.
- What are the current and preferred destinations for your travelers?
- What do they do on holiday?
- How/When do they plan and book travel?
- What transportation do they use to arrive at their destinations?
- What are their motives for travel?
- What are the new travel markets for these new travelers?
- How much do they spend on holiday?
- Do they travel independently or use packaged tours?
The more you can learn about your niche market the easier you can make it for them to find you, the better prepared you will be to host them and the more income you will generate.