The problem with social media marketing strategy guides for vacation rentals is that they are generic. They haven’t been made specifically for my business.
Vacation rental businesses are unique, located in different destinations. They have multiple listings with specific operational tasks, and a differing knowledge level of marketing.
So how do we go about it? In this post we aim to cover actionable tactics that you can repeat on your accounts.
Anyone with a little bit of time, patience and (sometimes) money can make this happen.
Let’s take a look.
Who should take care of my marketing?
Most hosts and indeed business owners don’t have time to manage a social media campaign, so you might want to hire a dedicated person to manage your social media marketing.
This is what the SMM routine looks like:
- Choose 2-3 social platforms
- Upgrade your social account description
- Build and update a social posting plan
- Create and repurpose content
- Regular posting in formats: post, stories, reels
- Bootstrap posts with hashtags, @-tagging and other magic
- Boost some posts (arbitrary paid effort)
The level of clarity and understanding you have about the above tasks will define your marketing success (which is to boost your bookings, right?).
So, the decision to hire a dedicated person for marketing if you do not know how to design Instagram stories or have 2 hours a week for promotion – is the right decision.
You might ask a savvy family member to assist you or find a freelancer on websites like fiverr.com or in some Facebook groups for SMM freelancers.
Choose your short term rentals niche
The niche is about the people you are going to receive as lodgers. Define your ideal guest profile:
- families / couples
- business travellers
- large groups
- younger audience
Read about different habits of Millennials versus generation Z or X travellers. Baby cots and grills definitely deserve attention in the eyes of the family travellers. Wifi is almost a must. And everyone loves pools.
If you aim for group visits, indicate how large groups could you receive? Event-agencies are interested in workshops for 100+ visitors.
This understanding will help you define the wording of your marketing content and the platforms for promotion.
Choose the right social media platforms for short term rentals
This is the 2022 report on social media platforms usage in the US.
Based on your ideal guest profile you can choose the channels with the most exposure. The default would be Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Maybe you want to experiment with Pinterest or Twitter.
Some channels are focused on visuals and short annotations while others like LinkedIn are for longform content.
Also think how any social network integrates with your working routines: are you OK to receive bookings to Instagram direct? Do you open Linkedin to check booking requests?
Write the best vacation rentals description on Instagram
You can get inspired with any Instagram account’s description, but stay focused on the vacation rentals niche when it comes to formulating yours.
Here are some good examples of the Instagram description for some vacation rental hosts in Spain aimed at receiving international guests.
Start with your direct competitors accounts in your location. If they mention one feature, maybe it’s good to think of another unique feature?
If your competitor accounts are not that impressive try searching by popular hashtags to find accounts that impress you.
Don’t forget to keep your target audience in mind: a good move from the Stayourway_bcn account in our example was to mention ‘Perfect for families / couples’.
What language do they speak? Maybe you need to run several accounts?
Use bullet points.
Use your own hashtags (we’ll cover on hashtags later).
Provide a link to your direct booking page. It’s recommended to create a short link with tracking parameters. Or maybe you need many links? You can use Linktr.ee proxy page for all your buttons.
Don’t have a direct booking website? Get the one from Your.Rentals.
Build a collection of evergreen stories – with meaningful topics that will resonate with your target audience. Play with icons. The cleaner, the better.
Instagram guides – when you have posts on your account you can join them by topics, for example ‘What to eat’, ’Things to see’ and so on.
Social media planning for holiday rentals
Regularity is king in social media. The minimum ideal output is three posts a week, 1-5 stories per day and several Reels a month.
Blogging news for vacation rentals covers three topics:
- Posts about your apartments (30-50% of content)
- What to do around the place? (30-50% of content)
- Sales and promotions (10-20% of content)
We can sort posts by our intent: informational, inspirational and promotional. As a second dimension for our media plan we may try: our apartments, reviews/guests stories, best things to do, our team.
And finally you come up with a table similar to this:
Some hosts prefer to schedule and set dates for the future posts, but it is more fun to pick randomly from the planned topics each time you want to post.
As a next step you spread available hashtags across your posts. Mix popular ones with your own navigational hashtags.
Posting plan for vacation rental Stories
Stories are the most interactive part of Instagram. That is why you need a dedicated social media manager to stay on top of your Stories in order to make your account great.
Stories are simple because it’s a casual style, you don’t need polished photos or videos. These are imprints in the moment.
But stories are difficult because it requires a personal touch and creativity.
A Stories media plan can be formed from your general posting plan with some modifications based on your situation or inspiration.
Many stories a day is good (that’s why they’re called stories!).
Vacation rentals social media post ideas
Social media managers should be aware of the most critical things that your future guests need to know about. As an owner you know it for yourself, but don’t forget to share it with your outsourced marketer.
Put yourself in the position of a random guest. Why would he or she want to like your social account? Probably, because she liked some pics of your rentals and she doesn’t want to lose you. That’s it. No love.
To engage users, you need to speak about what matters to your target audience. Food, good sleep, sex, things to do, best beaches, baby cot, night life, temperature in autumn, massage resorts and you name it.
Direct bookings, own website and social media
The ultimate goal of all social media efforts is to drive new reservations.
Technically you just need a booking widget or a special form where guests can make reservations and ideally pay for them in advance.
So a website can be a place for bookings. In fact, this could be any site including Facebook, Twitter or some free posting platform like Medium.com.
This is where Your.Rentals booking widget comes handy: you can grab the special link and share it on Twitter, WhatsApp or anywhere. The link leads to a listing page where guests can book.
Usually as a host you want to strive for your own websites where you can integrate the same booking widget in the form of a code.
With this scenario, you will need to manually edit every listing page you have and think about how to sync the listings information there.
There’s a third way – an integrated website with a management system synced to your listings. You have a standalone site with your own domain and listings management where bookings are literally made easier to manage for you as a host.
Okay, enough technical stuff. Back to marketing.
Social media traffic generation for holiday rentals business
A website makes no sense unless it has some traffic. Account on social media makes little sense if there is no call to action or a form to get orders/bookings.
By now you should start to see the synergy of these two assets and how powerful they can be in your direct booking strategy.
So what could be the sources of traffic to my direct booking website? It is:
- Social traffic:
- links from the Instagram story or reels
- link from the Instagram bio
- Links in the YouTube video description
- Links from Pinterest, LinkedIn, Airbnb, etc.
- Email traffic:
- Links in your emails
- Organic traffic:
- People landing directly to your listings pages (if they’re SEO friendly)
- Partner traffic:
- Links from partner email campaigns
- Links on the partner websites
Your goal is to make the ball rolling: use all methods of link-building – directly to your lovely direct booking widgets. It is so much better than leaving the email everywhere.
Why YouTube is a great social media for vacation rentals
Youtube should be a part of your social media strategy, because video is an organic format which can highlight vacation rentals apartments really well.
Don’t think of it as a big expensive media project with spectacular video production. At the start it could be just a phone-shot collection of apartment views featuring random humans.
The tactic is to create a video overview of every prominent apartment that you have that you can later leverage in many ways:
- Enrich your listing page with videos
- Gain organic SEO traffic from Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc.
- Repurpose video content for posts and stories and ‘Top places’ type of videos
Here is an SEO friendly Youtube video title for vacation rentals videos:
Holiday apartment with a roof-top terrace in the centre of Copenhagen at MakeMyStay.com
The template for this title would be:
[type of property] + [peculiarity] + [location] + [Brand website]
- Type of property: vacation apartment, lodge, holiday room, cabin, old chalet
- Peculiarity: major amenity (terrace, pool, grill) or attracting USP (proximity to a place, roof-top view)
- Location: Country, province or city, or combinations of these
- Brand site or just the brand if you don’t yet have a site (ohh, you should get one!).
Add your booking link in the video description as close to the beginning as possible. That way you ensure the link shows above the Show more button.
When publishing your video indicate a geo location of the video. It will also help your video SEO. For example, this video is in the top 10 results for ‘Malaga vacation rentals’:
Unlike on this screenshot with the direct booking engine on your site you can provide a direct link to listing or to a category on your site, where users can explore and book the same apartment as in the video.
Listings with the video have 2x higher conversion rate to booking.
Now when we covered the juice of direct bookings it’s time for a boring manual on how to manage your social media account.
Practical SMM guide for short term rentals
Let’s analyse a marketing landscape for a typical vacation rentals company with apartments in Malaga, Spain.
To kick off we can navigate to the Instagram search and start with a query like ‘#Airbnbspain’. We find some recent posts. Hover over them to see the amount of likes/comments. The biggest ones we want to open.
After playing around we can figure out a couple of decent posts that we want to explore more.
- What is so special about this photo?
- What is the post about, does it seem to have cheat likes?
- What are some good hashtags we can steal?
In the end we come up with 2-3 good and relevant vacation rentals accounts, that have good post reactions and an overall appealing profile.
Write a compelling holiday rentals bio
Time to write or edit our own bio! If you find competitors in your area – try to stand out by highlighting different USPs (unique selling points). If there are no decent competitor accounts in your area – build your own pitch and finish it with a call to action (a link).
To build multiple links use a free tool like Linktr.ee, so when a user clicks on your Bio link the new page opens. The final result can look like this:
Next, it’s time to work on the content plan. We have already covered the posting table or schedule. Ideally, you will populate the plan yourself. No one knows your holiday rental like you do!
How to use hashtags for vacation rentals
When it comes to hashtags you can either manually collect them by browsing relevant posts of STR and hotels or use an automation tool. Most good tools are paid for, but you can always try out a free version for a limited period.
This is what I have generated with one tool regarding the key phrase ‘Spain vacations’:
But don’t overcomplicate life with tags. Their importance for account growth is debatable, since they trigger many bot comments.
You should introduce navigational hashtags – the ones that can help your visitors navigate categories of your social blog. These should be account specific, like #feelluxury_food, #feelluxury_beach, #feelluxury_rooms.
Spread hashtags evenly between your planned posts and keep the same proportion of to top keywords, long-tail phrases and your own brand hashtags for each post. You can also add hashtags after you have published posts.
Publishing your content for holiday rentals
When it comes to publishing, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use geotags.
They can help users navigate your photos by popular destinations or serve as a guide to show pictures of your different apartments (in case you have multiple rental properties in different locations).
Geotags can be especially helpful when publishing a travel Reels video. Reels posts get good coverage on Instagram.
Similarly, geotags for your feed is a must for every post.
@ mentions and @ tagging people
You can @-mention people or profiles in any image or video that you publish or comment under other posts. The person that was @-mentioned receives a notification to his Instagram Direct. Just put @ before any username on your mind when you edit your text.
To increase engagement on your account you need to @mention usernames of the local events, photographers, other businesses working with your target audience, maybe some influencer accounts if your post is relevant to them.
To the contrary @tagging is done on the publishers’ own posts. It adds labels with other usernames who also get notifications.
As a vacation rentals business you should encourage your visitors to both @mention and @tag you. This is a nice chance to get the user generated content and share someone else’s view on your rental business.
If you get their permission you can re-share their posts to your feed.
Boosting your short term rentals posts on Facebook and Instagram
Whenever you see a good offer, the time is right or you just have some marketing budget to spend, you can set up a paid post boost.
Within the housing sector, there are limitations by the ads platforms that you need to be aware of.
If your post contains words like ‘vacation”, ‘rentals’, ‘apartment for rent’ it will most surely fall into the Meta’s Special Ad Category (Housing). It means you will be required to explicitly set an ads category (Housing) and which will significantly limit the ads targeting.
According to the Facebook rules your ads will not be shown based on: age, gender, ZIP code or postal code, exclusion targeting, lookalike audiences and saved audiences.
The pro advice is to be attentive to the ad’s messaging, that could be focused more on the place or inspiration, but not direct selling of your place to stay. We don’t know exactly what would work, so it’s a challenge for everyone.
We have covered the settings and the guide on how to do SMM for short term rentals business. Feel free to steal some of our tactics and combine them with yours.
We haven’t covered your website’s SEO or an email marketing strategy, as well as other lesser aspects of a vacation rental marketing strategy.
The process for you would be to:
- Find a marketing specialist
- Choose and set your accounts with proper bio, proper links that lead to your booking pages.
- Make a posting plan – and follow it. Update every month.
- Differentiate between account grow and direct booking growth tactics. Use both.
- Actively use the platform’s functionality: geo tags, hashtags, @mentions and @tags. Learn to use @links in Stories and Reels.
- Integrate promotional campaigns with Your.Rentals direct booking tools: promotions, booking widgets, personal offers.
- Run paid campaigns in a way that you don’t get rejected on the ads platforms.
Good luck in your marketing endeavours and stay tuned!