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    A Brand New World for Vacation Rental Managers

    If you have attended any of the VRMA conferences over the years, one of the most requested and exciting topics year after year has centered on new ways to market your properties, and how to make your management company stand out from the competition. At the recent VRMA European Conference we heard from our European colleagues on the challenges and opportunities they face with working with large and niche OTAs, as well as creative ways they reach guests and homeowners through direct marketing. A common question among managers in attendance was “How do we attract more travelers and homeowners, directly to our company?”

    A hot topic as of late has centered on company branding, and whether or not it is important in today’s vacation rental marketing world. I guess this depends on what your motivation is and what the definition of “brand” means to you. Statistics will tell us that in the hotel industry, brand is secondary or lower when travelers are searching for accommodations. This makes sense with mostly homogenous inventory in geographic clusters with very little differentiation. However, from my experience in the vacation rental industry where each property is unique, and each homeowner has a different objective, and the destination you want to go to has 20 different neighborhoods, brand can mean a lot.

    Branding tells the story of who you are, and what your company stands for. At my company, Topsail Realty Vacations, we’ve had repeat guests that have stayed with us for close to 30 years. There is a comfort level and promise that we make to ensure that their one beach vacation each year will be exactly as they expect. And if something goes wrong, we’ll bend over backward to make it right. We are not trying to be all things to all people, or serve as a multiple destination management company. Our goal is to first be a trusted partner to our homeowner clients, and second to deliver top-notch vacation experiences for our guests that visit our area. Whether these guests have been staying with us for 30 years, or found us on an OTA, our goal is to make our brand stick with them for the next time they want to visit.

    While we understand times are changing as more competition enters our respective markets, my opinion is that the cream usually rises to the top. Branding your company may be getting harder from a pure marketing standpoint, but it is also as important as it’s ever been from a service level standpoint. Delivering and exceeding expectations, both on the homeowner side and guest side, is what will make your company brand matter most in this new world.

    It’s also no coincidence that most of the “cream” of the vacation rental industry are VRMA members. I’d encourage you to attend any of our upcoming VRMA events and reach out to your industry peers. Let’s keep moving forward together.

    This article is from the May 2018 print edition of Arrival. To receive all of the great content from the print version of Arrival, join VRMA today! If you're a member and you didn't receive the print issue, email vrma@vrma.org and let us know.

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