Can sales and marketing tools truly be a “disrupter” for vacation rental managers? In a word, yes. The bigger question is whether you let these tools be a disrupter for your business or against your business.
We caught up with Jeff Robertson with NAVIS, who taps into his more than 25 years of marketing and sales experience in hospitality, consumer products and B2B services for a discussion on how to engage vacation rental professionals, hoteliers, and company staff.
In what ways can sales and marketing tools become a “disruptor” to the advantage of vacation rental managers?
Robertson: Knowledge is power, and VRs need more power to disrupt one of the most troubling trends in our industry: Constantly increasing guest acquisition costs thru OTAs and listing sites.
To disrupt this trend, property managers are bolstering the capabilities of their revenue-producing teams — namely their reservation sales and marketing teams. Giving your agents and marketers the knowledge, in the form of real-time business intelligence, and the tools they need to perform at higher levels every day will allow you to rely less on costly third-party booking channels.
In the U.S., interest in vacation rental properties is at an all-time high. The vast majority of property managers have far more demand than available rentals — they just don’t know it and continue to throw unnecessary dollars at driving more demand.
The secret to disrupting this costly trend is capturing more of the existing demand your marketing investments are already generating. Software tools that enable agents to more efficiently manage the avalanche of high-season inquiries and convert more, and that enable marketers to smartly and automatically nurture each inquiry are proven to drive substantial increases in revenue. Revenue that gives you the power to reverse this troubling trend.
What are the marketing and sales tools that professionals in this industry should be investing in right now?
Robertson: Invest immediately in tools that enable your agent and marketing teams to perform at higher levels, because booking more guests directly is a guaranteed way to make more money on every rental.
Performing at higher levels on a daily basis requires better workflows, systems, and guest insights. Today, property managers typically have a collection of systems the usual suspects —like phone, email inboxes, PMS, a CRM or other marketing database, and an email service engine.
Unfortunately, the manual labor required to manage these stand-alone systems – moving data from one system to the next - prohibits your people from doing their best work. Our clients tell us these impediments slowed them considerably, and in some cases completely stopped an initiative in its tracks because it required too much effort as the window of opportunity closed. With competition heating up, you cannot afford to be slow.
For reservation teams, consider integrated systems that automatically consolidate multiple reservation inquiries from the same person across channels into one booking lead. That will enable agents to quickly and professionally serve more potential guests every day, and help them convert more reservation leads into bookings before your competitors book these guests.
Marketing teams should consider integrated and automated systems that measure campaign success by revenue booked online and by phone to avoid wasting marketing dollars. Look for solutions that personally and programmatically nurture every reservation lead, connect your CRM and email engines, and use dynamic send profiles so you’ll never have to update another list or manually send a guest email. All of this functionality helps marketers meaningfully impact your company’s revenue production.
What is the biggest threat to marketing and sales strategies today, and how should vacation rental professionals best prepare?
Robertson: The biggest threat to vacation rental marketing and sales strategies is not having a complete and accurate picture of what’s working and what’s not. Poor data leads to poor decisions; it’s as simple and true as that.
Today, measuring what’s working is made more difficult by travelers using multiple devices and channels to plan their vacation. Connecting all the digital breadcrumbs seems hard enough; but layering in offline interactions like phone calls makes it seem damn near impossible. This is where innovative technologies come to the rescue.
A second, but related threat to vacation rental marketing and sales strategies is thinking these innovative marketing and reservation sales tools are out of your reach—either from a cost or ease-of-adoption perspective. With ROIs as high as 110 to 1, wise technology investments are essential for arming your reservation sales and marketing teams. And for making more money.
As you begin to explore the possibilities, be sure to look for modular technologies that align with your needs, and systems that integrate well with your PMS. Make sure any solution you buy is fully supported so you don’t end up with another piece of technology that collects dust.