Top 5 Tools to Grow your Vacation Rental Inventory
I'm always on the hunt to curate useful and applicable information for our readers. Sometimes we will feature original content from thought leaders in the space.
This guest post is by Brooke Pfautz. Brooke is the CEO of Vintory where his company's mission is to help VRM's grow their property inventory. His thought leadership has been featured in industry publications such as VRM Intel, Vacation Rental Formula and other industry podcasts.
After consulting with hundreds of vacation rental management companies, industry expert Brooke Pfautz has mastered the art and science of adding new properties to your program.
Here are the top five tools he has personally curated for you to convert your leads and maximize your revenue.
The more properties you manage, the more revenue you bring in - it’s as simple as that. But first off let’s get real, leads are expensive. If you actually calculate your Cost Per Lead (CPL) to get a new inbound owner lead it can be incredibly costly.
I built my own vacation management company from the ground up and I’ve interviewed hundreds of executives from various vacation rental management companies. After years in the industry I have come to find, learn about and be amazed by the results of a few simple and inexpensive tools. And these tools will help you attract and convert more leads, and most importantly, make more profit from your customers than it costs to acquire them.
Using my expertise, experience and the latest research in marketing, I’ve rounded up the top five tools that will help you grow your inventory, at a low cost (read: many are FREE!) and I’m providing you with all of the links, contacts and companies I personally use. Enjoy!
#1. Expertly Manage Your Leads and Relationships with Homeowners
As I mentioned before, getting a new inbound owner lead can be expensive - it doesn’t have to be - but at the end of the day it will take time and money. To make your investment worthwhile, you absolutely want to make sure you are following up on these leads and tracking your contact with them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited on site with partners and they are using sticky notes - this is not going to cut it. If you’re not managing your customer relationships, you’re losing income and setting your company up for a lack in business development.
So what tools do I recommend?
There are a ton of different Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools out there: Salesforce and Zoho or something as simple as Google Sheets. It doesn’t have to be fancy, the key is that you just need to keep track of leads coming in.
You can leverage the free version and it works great. There is a lot of native integration with third party apps and many of our partners use this tool. You can integrate apps like CallRail - another tool we recommend that records your calls, sends you alerts that a new lead is coming in and automatically uploads it into Hubspot for you to manage.
Call tracking is also extremely important to your lead management for two reasons:
One: You will have the details and notes you need for a lead recorded (think - no note taking while you’re driving)
Two: When you tie every single marketing campaign to a unique phone number you can pull metrics on which marketing campaign is delivering the best results
Okay, so I’ve already given you five different tools to check out to add to your arsenal - let’s move onto landing pages!
#2. Create Audience Specific Landing Pages
One of the number one mistakes I see when I work with a new business is a landing page that is not optimized for converting leads, or worse yet NO landing page that is audience specific to signing up new homeowners.
This is also one of the simplest things you can fix and will have an immediate ROI.
Go to your company website and look at the following:
Do you have a landing page specific to acquiring new owners? Do you have a page that says “List With Us” or “List Your Property”? If the answer is no - you absolutely need to create one. If the answer is yes - proceed to the next step.
Is your landing page optimized to convert new leads into sales? “What does this look like?” you might ask. Here’s my breakdown for how to create a landing page that converts here.
Additionally, if you’re doing outbound marketing, at Vintory, we absolutely recommend creating a specific landing page for each campaign you run. A great tool that does this easily is www.unbounce.com. This landing page builder will let you create as many landing pages as you want and it’s super easy to track your response rate by campaign.
#3. Leverage the Power of Explainer Videos
Do you think your attention span is longer or shorter than a goldfish? Well if you’ve gotten this far in this article, my hunch is yours is longer. BUT - research shows that the average American’s attention span is 8 seconds. Yup...8 seconds, which is SHORTER than a goldfish which has an attention span of 9 seconds. What does this mean to marketers? Businesses only have 8 seconds to capture the attention of customers.
It is absolutely vital to create engaging content that is at the forefront of your marketing assets, and explainer videos can do just that. A great example of this is the Dropbox case study. They changed their entire homepage to be one explainer video and that resulted in a 10% increase in sign-ups. Salesforce did something similar and their conversions went up 20%.
While video can be pricey, it doesn’t have to be. There are incredibly talented freelancers out there who will create an effective explainer video at an affordable cost. At Vintory we’ve had a lot of luck with Fiver and Upwork.
#4. Impress your Leads with Value-add Interactive Content
Many companies use interactive content just because it’s flashy. I make sure my partners use it to deliver value to their contacts and leads. One of my favorite examples of this is an interactive calculator. These are a great lead capturing strategy. A potential owner can come to your landing page, insert parameters such as their ADR, occupancy and expenses and the calculator will instantly generate how much that home will cost and make. The best part? You don’t need to know how to write code to do this - we use an inexpensive tool called Calconic. You simply create your calculator and embed it right into one of your pages.
Another favorite resource of ours is BatchGeo. We have embedded this interactive map onto the web pages of our partners to identify the top 20 properties currently listed on the market that we thought would make great rentals. We uploaded proformas for those properties to BatchGeo and anyone can download those proformas. Real estate agents love this - and guess what? These proformas are branded with our partner’s information. We have also set this up to be “gated content,” which means that you need to enter an email address to access the content, and we can integrate these leads right into HubSpot.
#5. Reap the Rewards from the Rule of Reciprocity
The book - Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion - is a widely hailed book on marketing. In this book, Dr. Cialdini talks about the six principles of influence, and the number one principle is called the rule of reciprocity. The rule of reciprocity states that human beings are hardwired to return favors. No one wants to be a mooch. If you receive a gift, you are likely to feel obligated to give something in return.
If you really look at the value of adding a new rental property to your program, it becomes clear that if you have to make a smaller investment up front - it’s worth it. We’ve created some incredible examples of this with our partners, where we surprised and delighted leads with a special gift that left them ready to sign on. One of my favorite examples of this is when we created what we called “The Pineapple Button,” for one of our partners. Intrigued?? In this video I tell the story of how we did this.
My goal writing this article was to make sure that it was jam packed with tools, links and companies that will help you grow your inventory. I highlighted my favorite resources but I have so many more examples that I could share: like using Loom videos in your emails, creating downloadable proformas, and more! If you’re interested in learning about more examples and tools, check out my YouTube channel - The Vintory Learning Studio or connect directly with me if you have any questions!